Thursday, March 5, 2015

Three Books

Until recently, my reading momentum was stalled.  I read almost nothing over the holidays and couldn't get back into a rhythm in January or February.  I was reading a little, but I wasn't finishing much.  I kept jumping from one book to another.  Now, I think I'm back on track, more focused.

It might help that I've been reading mostly library books.  You MUST read those first because you're under a deadline.  So here's what I've finished in the last week, all library books.

A book blogger mentioned reading one of Nick Hornby's collections of the columns he wrote for Believe magazine, thereby reminding me that I had read More Baths, Less Talking and would probably enjoy reading another.  His essays on books and reading seemed like just the thing.  I could finish them in a reasonable amount of time and they don't require sustained attention.  I borrowed Housekeeping vs. The Dirt from the library and dove in.  Just the trick.  

The chapters are usually only a few pages long and begin with a list of books he's bought during the month and a list of books he's read.  The lists don't correspond to each other.  We all buy more books than we can possibly read, don't we?  And we often buy books but put off reading them until later.  Or never.

I'm not going to go into the books he's read and written about.  He's an eclectic reader, so there's something for everyone.  Hornby's essays are personal and amusing.  I found myself smiling and nodding my head in agreement.  We readers have many things in common.  If you need a book to nudge you out of a reading slump, you might want to try one of Hornby's collections of reviews.

Next up is the latest in Laurie R. King's Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series.  It's a sort of prequel.  Russell and Holmes return to their home to find that a rock etched with a chrysanthemum has been artistically placed in their garden.  It can only have come from friends they made in Japan.  Dreaming Spies (a play on Matthew Arnold's name for Oxford, England, 'dreaming spires') finds Russell and Holmes taking a cruise from an adventure in India to San Francisco and then on to England.

On the ship, they meet Lord Darley, his much younger second wife, and his son.  Holmes suspects that Darley the elder is a sometimes blackmailer, something that he abhors.  They also meet an interesting young Japanese woman, Haruki.  She tells Mary that she and her family are acrobats.  They are, but they are much more than that.  Haruki recruits Russell and Holmes to help her recover a book that was accidentally given to the English royal family.  The book contains a secret that is being used to blackmail the Japanese royal family.

Haruki teaches Russell and Holmes the intricacies of Japanese customs.  There is a lot of detail about clothing, tea, Japanese baths, and food.  There is haiku and Basho, a famed poet who travelled all over Japan.  All that was interesting.  

Things come to an exciting finish back in England, at the Darley estate.

I like the Mary Russell series, but I liked the earlier books better.  Unless my memory deceives me, they were more exciting.  These later books seem to get bogged down in the details of places and often take a while to get exciting.  Details add much, but too many details seems like a tutorial, not a mystery.  Dreaming Spies was better than some of the recent books.

Now this is a cracking good read.  I'm always amused that this series of mysteries about a Maine Game Warden was introduced to me by Elaine, who lives in England.  I lived in New England most of my life and still own land in Maine.  But, thanks, Elaine for the tip.  I love this series, partly because I've been to many of the places mentioned in the book, partly because it's fast paced and exciting.

Mike Bowditch was a Maine Game Warden, but has resigned to live a less political life as a Maine hunting and fishing guide.  Unfortunately, he can't stay out of trouble.

Kathy Frost, Mike's former Game Warden mentor, and her new partner, Danielle Tate, shoot and kill a veteran of the Afghanistan war.  He had been horribly injured by an IED and had been scarred physically and mentally.  His mother calls to report that he's in the barn with a shotgun and she thinks he's going to hurt himself.  The wardens shoot him in self-defense.

Mike goes to visit Kathy and both of them are shot, she critically.  Even though he's no longer in law enforcement, he has to find out who shot her.  

His search leads him through Portland and Camden and up into the Maine woods.  He butts heads with the game wardens and the police.  He takes a couple of wrong turns and saves a life along the way.  There are a few women who distract him, too.  But Mike gets his man.  

I read this in two days.  It was hard to put down, pulling me along faster and faster.  The action starts right at the beginning and is sustained throughout the book.

More Mike Bowditch!


  1. Thanks for the tip on the Nick Hornby book. He's usually good for some smiles.

    1. I'm a sucker for books about other readers and about books. I just added The Year of Reading Dangerously to my TBR list, recommended by Belle at

  2. Isn't Hornby great? I love his book essays. Glad to hear you reading slump has come to an end!