Shroud for a Nightingale by P.D. James

 This morning I stayed in bed to finish this, book 4, in the Adam Dagliesh series.  The initial murder is horrible, particular for anyone with any kind of medical phobia.  The book opens with a visit to a nursing school attached to a hospital. Several students are demonstrating their learning using a fellow student as a model when things go horribly wrong.  As always seems the case, one murder leads to another and Dagliesh finds himself looking to link the murders and examing the stories and alibis of multiple suspects from a large pool.

The students and some of the staff have their own secrets and concerns which lead to many red herrings and some actual clues.  Well plotted mystery and great character definition, even though there is a large cast of characters they are distinct enough to keep straight.  I really enjoyed this book and plan on finishing this series eventually.

#ReadersWorkouts

I haven’t particpated for a long while because I’ve had some health issues, some stress issues and some work issues…real life does intrude at times :).  Anyway, as of Friday I am off for summer vacation and plan to focus on fitness again.  So far, I have been going to the gym daily to lift weights, doing yoga a few times a week, walking daily and now I am starting to fit in some swimming as well.  Hoping to be in a better place physically when school starts in the fall.

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James

I have been starting to work my way through the Adam Dagliesh series by P.D. James and decided to start this one as well.  I really enjoyed this book.  The main character Cordelia Gray is intelligent, brave, and resourceful without seeming over the top superpowerish.  The mystery was well plotted and the clues were very subtlely placed.  I am sad to discover that there are only two of these Cordelia Gray books but I will definitely read the second one as I liked this one so much.  The scene in which Corelia meets Dagliesh is superb, it highlights the difference in their character and yet the mutual respect for their skills.  It also highlights P.D. James ability with character crafting two such different characters within the same genre.

Readathon This Weekend…

Participating in Hooked On Books readathon today but with the grey rainy weather I’ll admit that I’ve slept and snacked more than read this time.

So far I finished PD James Unnatural Causes, Colonel Wyvern’s Notes from Madras, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  

Edited to add further reading:

 And final book of the Readathon 

Total read= 901 pages in 5 books

My favorite read was Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  Stunning dialog and I can so picture in my head Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton from the movie, absolutely perfect casting.  The tragedy and ugliness of the characters lives and the foreshadowing for the younger couple was absorbing, in a “can’t look away from a train wreck” kind of way.  Highly recommend this quick read.

I also really enjoyed PD James’ Unnatural Causes, an intriguing mystery, not quite an isolated country manor but rather an isolated community murder mystery.  Dagliesh finds himself drawn into a local murder (or was it) mystery while taking  a break and visiting his aunt.  Interesting location and lots of twists, I suspected the culprit from the out set but not for any reason other than a “gut feeling”.  Another good read inthe Adam Dagliesh mystery series.

My only non-fiction book of the readathon was Colonel Wyvern’s Notes from Madras.  This book is part of the Penguin Great Food series, a set my daughter bought me for Christmas.  I love British style Indian food and that is what this is all about, the development of this style of Indian cooking from the British Colonial Days.  Many recipes interspersed with anecdotes and discussion about foods.  Colonel Wyvern seemed to be ahead of his time with his advocacy for “shopping local”, he urges readers to forsake tinned foods for the local produce and ingredients.  I have so far enjoyed this entire series and Colonel Wyvern’s selection was no exception, an intriguing glimpse into the history of British colonialism inspired cooking that continues to today with books like  which is an excellent resource for this style of cooking.

The final two books were both spiritual or religious novels, of which I am neither really, The Alchemist and Siddhartha.  It was interesting reading these two books so close together because the similarities stood out quite clearly even though they were seperated in space (India for Siddhartha and Spain and Africa for The Alchemist) and time (Siddhartha published  in 1951 and The Alchemist in 1993)  Both are about young men on a quest, following a dream or desire.  Both reflect on the nature of time as a human construct.  Both have a circular effect in the storyline.  Both feature the redeeming power of love.  Naturally there are dissimilar features as well, but I found it interesting to read them and them reflect on them together.  The Alchemist does seem to me to be more fatalistic in world view, whilst Siddhartha is more religious in nature.  People interested in spirituality would enjoy either or both of these books.

Fables Vol. 7 & The Song Remains the Same

These are my last two reads before this weekend’s readathon at Hooked on Books.  Fables Vol. 7 is a continuation in the series I have been reading, based on classic tales.  This volume focuses on the Arabian Nights tales and features an evil Genie and a nefarious counselor to the Prince. It  includes a tale based on the tin soldier featuring Geppetto. There is also a visit to the Farm to see what happens to Boy Blue and glimpse at how the other characters are getting on, including Snow and her “pups”.  I like that even though there are many different characters introduced, the older characters are still important and you have the sense that the stories will intertwine at some point.  I  would  definitely recommend this series.

The Song Remains The Same by Allison Winn Scotch is a women’s fiction novel.  The premise is that a woman survives a plane crash with only one other passenger, however she wakes up in the hospital with no memory.  The story unfolds as she tries to remember her life and reinvent herself at the same time.  She encounters obstacles and blockades in the form of half truths and deliberate deceptions from the people she is supposed to be able to trust and rely on.  She has to learn to trust her instincts to discover the truth.

This was a well written and engaging story.  I felt Nell’s frustration and impotent anger at her situation. I couldn’t stand her mother’s half truths and evasiveness.  I found her husband’s character just a stereotypical figure, he was probably the shallowest drawn of  all the main charcters, but that was okay because quite frankly he just wasn’t that important.  I would recommend this to reader’s of women’s fiction.

Out & One Plus One

I read One Plus One last night in one sitting because it was so good.  The characters were interesting and well drawn.  The hopelessness of Jess and her little family’s situation was well balanced out by the good so it was not overwhelmingly depressing.  The situation with the bullying family on the her block was unfortunately very realistic and well done.

Jess has two children, a daughter who is a math genius and has a chance for a place at an exclusive school, and a stepson who is having issues with fitting in with people in his school and community, making him a target for increasingly violent attacks.  On the other side of the tracks is Ed, a computer geek who hit it big and then made some stupid mistakes.  Almost without a conscious decision Ed becomes the family’s only hope of getting to the Math Olympiad and they all learn things about each other and themselves along the way.  Very engaging and emotional , I would recommend to any readers of women’s fiction.

Out is set in Japan and is an interesting read, if for no other reason than to get a glimpse into the treatment of working women in Japan. Of course, there is much more to the story than the social issues, gangsters, criminals, prostitution, gambling, family loyalty, poverty, violence, psychology, and murder all intertwine with an engaging cast of characters.  The story begins with an introduction to the group of women who work nights packing lunchboxes in a factory and in another storyline, a gangster/pimp as he plays chauffer to his top girl.  A husband dies, friends band together and a new business is born all with a sheen of black humor over it.  Raises questions about a flexible morality and how significant events in your past shape you or take over your life if you let them.  Excellent read.

 

Trent’s Last Case by E.C. Bentley

This mystery appears on many lists as one of the “must read” books for mystery fans.  This is considered the first of the Golden age of Detective fiction books.  Despite the title this is actually the first in the Trent books.  Trent is an artist, who upon request does some investigating and solves mysteries.  He is asked by a newspaper man to investigate the death of a wealthy financier.  Philip Trent accepts and the fun begins … for the reader.

As a reader you need to keep in mind that this was the first of its kind of fiction, so when you are reading it today and think “I’ve seen this before” remember it is not a tired derivative but instead the original.  There are many twists and turns commonly used in mysteries today, red herrings, innocents being set up to take a fall, infidelity, jealousy and revenge. Well written and fast paced, a great read for lovers of classic detective fiction.