I am so sick of winter. Tired of being cold. Tired of wind. And snow. Of trying to convince myself that spring is just around the corner. Tired of pretending that I’ll be wearing spring jackets and sneakers any day now. I give up, people. I’m waving the white flag. I’m retiring to my couch to whimper by the fire with a cup of tea and a good book. Or five.
This is what I’ve been reading lately. Mostly mysteries and crime fiction. I haven’t had the patience for anything more literary. And as I’ve always contended, there are many fine and literary mystery writers out there from which to choose.
|Recently finished and currently reading.
I finished Val McDermid’s Splinter the Silence a while ago. I like McDermid’s writing, although I find myself becoming exasperated at times with the ongoing backstories of her characters, the Carol Jordan and Tony Hill saga being one example. But I enjoyed this one. Recommended it to my Mum, and to Hubby, who both liked it as well.
For the past week, I’ve been on a Peter Lovesey binge. I can’t remember who recommended his work to me, someone who reads this blog, so thanks for that. Hubby and I have read a number of his books now. We both like them. I enjoy Lovesey’s irreverent, overweight, frequently exasperated, and sometimes exasperating main character Peter Diamond. He’s a bit like Reginald Hill’s Andy Daziel. Not as funny or as finely crafted as Daziel. But never mind; few writers can be favorably compared to Hill in my opinion. Lovesey’s plots are well crafted, and the fact that they’re set in Bath is an extra enticement for me. I loved Bath when I visited there last fall, and I love being reminded of the city and its landmarks. So all that, plus the fact that each book has a couple of laugh out loud moments, keeps us coming back for more.
I’ve also been on a bit of a Jim Kelly kick this past month. When I was at my Mum’s, I read two of his Inspector Shaw/ DS Valentine series set in the ancient seaport town of King’s Lynn in Norfolk. Kelly’s books are sometimes hard to get in Canada; the library has only a few on its shelves. So, I’ve been reading them on the Kindle ap on my i-pad. Easier for travel anyway. I really like Kelly’s work. His characters are great, especially DS George Valentine. Valentine is a heavy-smoking, hard-drinking, loner, who can’t sleep, and haunts the cemetery where his wife is buried, sitting and smoking into the wee hours when he is troubled. He could easily become a crime-fiction cliché. Except he doesn’t seem cliché at all. Just very real.
If you haven’t read Jim Kelly’s books, and you like moody mysteries where landscape is so important that it’s almost a character in the novel, you should try them. I’m very fond of his Philip Dryden novels, set in the flat and watery Fenland area around Ely. The main character in this series is journalist Philip Dryden. Stranded in the fens because his wife is in a coma in a local hospital, following a tragic car accident where he was driving, Dryden ditches his big time job in London and finds another writing for a small local paper, so he can stay close to his wife. He is so traumatized by the accident, he’s unable to drive. And he relies on a local underemployed cabby named Humph, who seems to do little but sit in his car, eat take-out food, wait for Dryden, and listen to foreign language tapes. Humph has his own problems, estranged from his wife and missing his two young daughters, he eats, and plans foreign trip after foreign trip, but never leaves home.
I think I like Kelly’s Dryden series even more than the Shaw/Valentine books. Partly because they are so quirky. Partly because the setting is so evocative. Even Dryden comes to love the Fenlands. And partly because Dryden’s wife’s condition gradually gets better and better with each book. Phew. If Kelly had killed her off I would have been right royally pissed at him.
So that’s what I’ve been reading. And this is what’s waiting for me on my bookshelf.
My book club buddy, Rachel, lent me Linda Grant’s novel The Clothes on Their Backs about a family of Jewish-Hungarian immigrants who arrived in London in 1938 with nothing but the proverbial clothes on their backs. Apparently it’s a novel about identity and belonging… and clothes. I took a verrry, verrry quick look at a review to get that much, mostly squinting with one eye so I didn’t read any more than absolutely necessary. Ha. I hate reading reviews of books I’m about to read. I don’t want to be told too much too soon. Weird, eh?
I’ve also used my trusty Christmas Chapters/Indigo gift card to order Tobi Tobias’s Obsessed by Dress, which was recommended as required reading by Grant in her book The Thoughtful Dresser. I’m sure that most of you have probably already read Grant’s novel, and Tobias’s book. I’m behind the curve here, I know.
And when I’m done those two, I’ll be going to Paris with Mrs. Harris. On Dottoressa’s recommendation, seconded by Frances over at Materfamilas Writes, I’ve ordered from our library Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico. Ha. Are you spying a theme here, folks?
|First on my “To Read” list
Winter can be murder. So to while away the hours and hours when it’s too freaking cold to walk, and too icy to ski, it’s best to sublimate one’s fruitless anger and frustration by reading about murder. Or about clothes. Don’t you think?
I mean it’s going down to -15° C tonight. Sheesh. Does that sound like spring to you?
I don’t know why I’m so tired of winter this year, why I am wishing and hoping for spring so darned soon. It’s not officially spring until next week. And two years ago we even had snow in April. But I shouldn’t say “we,” Hubby and I were in South Carolina when that event happened. Soaking up a little sunshine and eating lots of great food. Sigh. Not this year, though.
Still. Mustn’t grumble. I think I’ll survive. Especially when there are great books to read. And a nice fire to curl up beside. And a lovely Hubby to make dinner while I’m doing all that.
Ha. It could be so, so much worse.
How about you folks? How are you staying sane until spring arrives? Any good books you want to recommend? Or other helpful coping strategies?