Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: Leaving Everything Most Loved, by Jacqueline Winspear (from Harper, March 26, 2013).

The year is 1933. Maisie Dobbs is contacted by an Indian gentleman who has come to England in the hopes of finding out who killed his sister two months ago. Scotland Yard failed to make any arrest in the case, and there is reason to believe they failed to conduct a thorough investigation. The case becomes even more challenging when another Indian woman is murdered just hours before a scheduled interview. Meanwhile, unfinished business from a previous case becomes a distraction, as does a new development in Maisie's personal life.

This is another series I've been following for a while. I picked up the first one because I was interested in the time period; they're set between the world wars, mostly in England. And I liked the character of Maisie, finding her way as a professional woman in a profession she doesn't share with very many people. I think these would be great mysteries to recommend to people who don't read mysteries, but like historical fiction.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.  So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: What Darkness Brings, by C.S. Harris (from NAL, March 5, 2013).

The death of a notorious London diamond merchant draws aristocratic investigator Sebastian St. Cyr and his new wife Hero into a sordid world of greed, desperation, and the occult, when the husband of Sebastian’s former lover Kat Boleyn is accused of the murder.

Regency England, September 1812: After a long night spent dealing with the tragic death of a former military comrade, a heart-sick Sebastian learns of a new calamity: Russell Yates, the dashing, one-time privateer who married Kat a year ago, has been found standing over the corpse of Benjamin Eisler, a wealthy gem dealer. Yates insists he is innocent, but he will surely hang unless Sebastian can unmask the real killer.

For the sake of Kat, the woman he once loved and lost, Sebastian plunges into a treacherous circle of intrigue. Although Eisler’s clients included the Prince Regent and the Emperor Napoleon, he was a despicable man with many enemies and a number of dangerous, well-kept secrets—including a passion for arcane texts and black magic. Central to the case is a magnificent blue diamond, believed to have once formed part of the French crown jewels, which disappeared on the night of Eisler’s death. As Sebastian traces the diamond’s ownership, he uncovers links that implicate an eccentric, powerful financier named Hope and stretch back into the darkest days of the French Revolution.

I used to read a lot of Regency romances, and I've read some nonfiction about the period as well, so this series of historical mysteries set in the early 1800s is right up my alley. I stumbled across the first one when it was new and I was still searching for a series to take the place of the late Kate Ross's Julian Kestrel novels, and I was completely smitten with Sebastian St Cyr on first meeting.

I have to admit, though, I've fallen behind on this series; I've got, I think, two to catch up on before I can go on to this one.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday (1)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. Given that my List of Books I Want to Read Before I Die only seems to get longer, never shorter, this is one way of assuring that I never lack for something to post at least once a week.

So here's a thing I'm looking forward to: Six-Gun Snow White, by Catherynne M. Valente (a limited edition from Subterranean Press, release date February 28, 2013).

Valente’s adaptation of the fairy tale to the Old West provides a witty read with complex reverberations from the real world. Snow White is the daughter of a Crow woman abducted and forced into marriage by an unloving white magnate called only Mr. H. She gets her name in mockery, as white is “the one thing I was not and could never be.” When her father remarries, Snow White’s glimpse into the second Mrs. H’s mirror suggests they share the yoke of female subservience, but the two are inevitably at odds—so the young woman dons a man’s clothes and, like Huck Finn, chooses the “Indian Territory” that so frightens Mr. H’s world. Enter a pursuing Pinkerton’s detective, a pony named Charming, seven kick-ass outlaw ladies, and a variety of showdowns as Snow White searches for meaning, love, and a semblance of belonging. Any attempt to derive a simple message from this work would be an injustice to the originality of the atmosphere, the complexity of the interplay of its elements, and the simple pleasure of savoring Valente’s exuberant writing.

This is not the description of the book on Amazon; I found this one on the blog, which posted an excerpt. I generally like retold fairy tales anyway, but I'm particularly looking forward to this one because I read the first few pages on the blog and I'm dying to know what happens next. I just hope I manage to get hold of it; the product page for it at Subterranean indicates it's a limited edition of 1,000 signed and numbered copies, so it may sell out pretty quick.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kinsey and Me

This book collects a number of short stories by Sue Grafton; the first half of the book is devoted to Kinsey Millhone stories, followed by a number of more personal stories that Grafton wrote to deal with her own reaction to her mother's suicide (that would be the "and me" section). Separating the two is an essay on the nature of the hard boiled private investigator.

It's oddly disassociative to read the whole book; the two halves don't seem to go together. The Kinsey stories are little gems, and would make great episodes for a TV series; reading them made my husband regret that he'd once heard Grafton describe the measures she's taken to ensure that Kinsey never ever appears on screen. The "and me" stories are more like reflective vignettes, beautifully written but largely plotless and much darker in tone; and that's saying something when you consider I'm comparing them to hard-boiled detective stories where people are pushed off roofs and shot on the freeway.

I enjoyed the book; I'm just not sure what to make of the second part of it.