Fear in Writing: Books and books and books...and books

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Friday, April 16, 2010

Books and books and books...and books

And now for something completely different...

As you know, I don't do reviews.  But I thought I'd clue you in on a few of the books I have read lately.  There will be no negative comments in this post.  That doesn't mean all of these works deserve the Critics Choice Award.  They just are what they are, and good reads for different reasons.

Just finished The Beautiful Cigar Girl.  I discovered this book through a (now debunked) report posted on The Hollywood Spy, claiming Joaquin Phoenix would play Edgar A. Poe in the movie version.  The mention of Poe sent my nerves tingling and I immediately picked up this book.  It didn't disappoint.
Let me be clear, I am not one for nonfiction.  However, this tightly woven twining of Poe, the murdered Rogers, and New York City in the early 19th century is scintillating.

Another recent finish--Diamonds for the Dead.  Blogger and author Alan Orloff will be a guest on this blog in a few weeks, so I won't share too many secrets now, except to say it was an entertaining read, with an interesting look at father-son dynamics and the American Jewish community.

I also read A Reliable Wife last month.  At first I was a little disappointed in the plot--I felt like I'd seen it before.  Then...I got wrapped up in Goolrick's writing style.  Sharp, image-forming, even shocking at times--he has a definite style all his own.  And I loved it.

Earlier in March, I read Mark Mills' The Savage Garden.  I was smitten with his intricate overlay of murder, Italy in the 1950s, young academics, and a savage family with a secret garden.  So, I read his other work, Amagansett.  Equally beautiful in imagery and plot structure.  In this book, Mills takes on post-WWII life in the Hamptons--from the locals' perspective.  Add in a touch of murder, dangerous seas, and some hyper-wealthy characters, and you have a literary tale worthy of Dickens and Melville.

So that is what I have been reading lately.  Right now, I am caught up in the dirty world of Timothy Hallinan's Bangkok, in his book, A Nail Through the Heart.  There are several things I love about this book, one of which is entirely structural: Hallinan uses a catching phrase from each chapter as the title of that chapter.  Then there is the intriguing plot, the likable protagonist, the kids you want to save, and the consuming array of crime in Thailand.  Read it.  I certainly will be diving in to his other works.

What are you reading?  What have you recently finished?  Any recommendations?


  1. You are reading a lot more than I am! Thanks for these reviews...they'll help me at the store. I'm about to get geared up for spring/summer reading!


    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. I don't think Joaquin Phoenix will be doing any roles for a while. He's a little off the deep end right now.

  3. I haven't been reading as much as I like lately. Thanks for the reviews

  4. Michelle, thank you so much for the kind words. NAIL is the darkest book in the series in terms of content, and I'm glad you haven't thrown it across the room.

    I really appreciate the mention.

  5. Elizabeth- I should be writing more!

    Alex- You are so right. But it's still a good read.

    Michelle- I hope you pick some of these up, they are great reads.

    Timothy- I finished it Friday night! LOVED it! And you are right, very dark.