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Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Sirens Sang of Murder by Sarah Caudwell

The latest attempt at Book 60, The Sirens Sang of Murder, ended up on the reject pile, I hated the style of the first few pages. It is proving very hard to find anything worth reading on this bookcase, which is the last outstanding crime bookcase.

I'll come back again at a future date but for now I move to on "Quick Pick", which is Bookcase 62, and sits in between the Crime section and the A-Z fiction which I still haven't even started (many people would regard this untouched area as "The Library" I suspect). I presume "Quick Pick" are books which the library themselves are recommending. Who, what, or how this selection process takes place I do not know. Nevertheless, it was a mixed bag of fiction books from which I selected this one:

I've heard of Gustave Flaubert before of course, but I don't think I had ever read anything by him before, otherwise - under my own rules - I wouldn't be allowed to read this book. I always imagined though that I would be able to try a few "new" (to me) Classics writers during this project, and this will be the first one I believe. I've read a fair few classics in my time but there are probably hundreds if not thousands of "probably should read" books that I haven't read. It'll also be the first short story collection that I've read. They aren't my favourite genre. It always takes me a while to get into a book and with this sort of thing by the time it has your full attention it's finished! But let's see - anything has to beat mass murder crime thrillers.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango

Book 61, The Truth and Other Lies, at its heart is quite a simple idea.

A bestselling author actually writes none of his books, his wife does, and he kills her by mistake when he is intending to kill his mistress. What let's it down is the sub-plots of a man driven to expose the writer as a fake, and the police detective investigating the case. For me they are just a distraction and just get in the way of the main storyline. I think this book is one you'd categorise as having elements of magic realism, as things happen which can't possibility take place in real life, but are portrayed as reality.

Yes I know I am always complaining about fiction which adheres to a strict formula, and now I am moaning about the opposite, but this didn't quite do it for me. It's been translated from German, so maybe something is lost in the process.

I have returned to Bookcase 60 for another crime book, there seems to be a dearth of anything decent on this bookcase, but I have managed to find this, my second attempt to navigate this case:

It's set in the legal profession, as we my first ever book in this challenge: Errors of Judgement by Caro Fraser. One this bookcase is out the way then Crime and Thrillers is completed.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri

Book 60, The Patience of the Spider, is one of those "atmospheric" crime novels where some foreign detective (Montalbano) investigates yet another murder in an exotic location. I tossed it aside after 10 pages, I have to confess. I struggled to grasp the plot but somehow knew I wouldn't like it.

So I will return to Bookcase 60 when I have located another crime book I can stomach from it. In the meantime I have a more promising book from bookcase 61 which is The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango

This is a book about plagiarism, not murder. That's a good sign (at least to me) because the best fiction book I have read so far (The Last Chapter by Edmund Power) was also a crime novel about plagiarism. I just hope they haven't nicked one another's stories.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford

Book 59, The Pocket Wife, saw me return to Crime, the section in the library where it all started. It's a Dostoevskian tale of a woman who thinks she has murdered her neighbour in alcoholic blackout, and the effect on her of the subsequent guilt. The police detective investigating the case also has a direct interest in it, as his estranged son turns out to also been involved with the neighbour (unlikely as that might seem as he doesn't live in the area at all). Guilt in turn affects the detective in a different way.

I actually didn't like the book at all. I couldn't get interested in any of the characters and felt the plot was a bit light for the length of book. Nothing really happens in large parts of it. Two individuals, tortured by guilt, plod along, until some sort of climax and all is revealed. Dostoevsky could definitely do a better job, and Susan Crawford scored just 3 out of 10.

It's one of those books that is vaguely inspirational but you instantly forget. There were a few things I got from it that I hope will stay with me for a bit. Firstly, it's better to spend money on experiences than things, and secondly that money will never make you happy for very long. Other than that it's all a bit vague and gets 5 out of 10.

Next up for Book 60 is another crime book which looks a bit different from the formula fiction I hate so much. I have gone for The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri.

Let's hope it doesn't tax my patience!