Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Book Report

Poor old Osan, I know I mostly write about the lousy things. But there are a few sweet bonuses here if you look hard. Really hard. One of them is the library- it annoys me that it doesn't open until 10 a.m., but it IS open every day, unlike many stateside public libraries. Our community is small and a lot of people just use the library for internet access. I go several times a week and I rarely see anyone else checking out books, but there are always a bunch of people on the computers. That's good for me, because I can often snap up brand new books I'd normally have to wait months to read. Some books I've recently read are Ted Kennedy's 'True Compass' and Patricia Cornwell's 'The Scarpetta Factor'.

I have been devouring mysteries since the second grade when I read every single Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew novel even though they scared me so much I had to have my mom walk me down the hall to go pee even during the day. I actually don't read much fiction anymore, and I don't even know why I read Patricia Cornwell at all. Her Scarpetta books suck and each one is more outlandish and ridiculous than the last. And yet, I keep picking them up, I guess hoping she'll come up with one that's mediocre like the first couple of ones she did. I find that's true of many of the detective series I've read, and I'm pretty sure I know why. Writing is hard. Even this stupid blog. This post, for instance, I've had in a draft for five days, and I'm going to publish it as soon as I'm done, even though it's not very good. So I can really relate to what those overburdened popular novelists are going through with their big fat advances. I did recently read an exception: 'U is for Undertow' by Sue Grafton. I've read every one of her Kinsey Millhone mysteries since she started with 'A is for Alibi'. The early ones were pretty good, but they started to deteriorate around 'H' and get pretty lame around 'N'. But 'U', the latest one is the best of the bunch, really outstanding. For a mass market mystery series, I mean. Yeah, yeah, yeah, but I'm a lowbrow reader, you should know that by now. Here's a partial list of the detective series I have read, so you can offer me suggestions for new authors, if you're so inclined. I didn't love all of these but I did at least finish most of them:

Sue Grafton (Kinsey Millhone)
Faye Kellerman (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus)
Jonathan Kellerman (Alex Delaware)
J.A. Jance (J.P. Beaumont/Joanna Brady)
Nevada Barr (Anna Pigeon)
Patricia Cornwell (Kay Scarpetta)
Robert Parker
Dick Francis
Michael Connelly
Carol O'Connell (Mallory)
Ruth Rendell (Inspector Wexford)
Elizabeth George (Thomas Lynley)
Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum)
Dennis Lehane
Ridley Pearson
John Grisham
P.J. Parrish
Peri O'Shaugnessy
Kathi Reichs
Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child
Sara Paretsky (V.I. Warshawski)

Right now I am also reading Stephen King's latest giant novel, 'Under the Dome', also snatched from the new book shelf at the library. I passed up the latest Kingsolver for it, that's exactly how lowbrow I am. I would have taken them both; I do like a nice big stack of books but those two piled together are taller than my laundry mountain and that's a bit daunting even for me. Plus I think Kingsolver is overrated, though I did like 'Animal, Vegetable or Mineral'. I have read a lot of Stephen King and I can sort his books roughly into three categories: The Good (The Stand, It, The Talisman, Black House, The Green Mile, Firestarter, The Dead Zone, Bag of Bones, Christine, Duma Key, Misery, Pet Semetary, The Tommyknockers) The Bad (Cujo, Salem's Lot, Carrie, The Shining, From A Buick 8, Lisey's Story) and The Ugly (Needful Things, Insomnia, Gerald's Game, The Darktower/Gunslinger series, Desperation, Dreamcatcher, Rose Madder). For the most part, I think the 'Ugly' ones are the ones he wrote while in his coke phase and they are totally unreadable. The 'Bad' ones I just didn't like, or I thought they were too yucky. 'Under the Dome' is similar to 'The Stand', as they both focus groups of people who have been isolated in one way or another. I do like it, but I'm about a third of the way through it and it's getting pretty creepy in a 'Lord of the Flies' kind of way. Since I think Stephen King has a certain prescience and I live on a teeny tiny military base on a peninsula next to an evil empire, I am finding it increasingly alarming. I'll keep you posted, IF YOU CAN STAND IT.


Wendy said...

The hubby gave me "The Lost Symbol" by Dan Brown. Interested in borrowing it?

Helen said...

Have you tried Steven Saylor? Roman mysteries.