JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: It's been a busy couple of weeks for us here at Jungle Red: Deb has been doing appearances for SOUND OF BROKEN GLASS, I've hopped from Maine to New York to California and back, Rhys is in England, Hallie's been off giving keynote speeches, Hank's THE OTHER WOMAN won the Mary Higgins Clark award and was short-listed at Malice Domestic, Jan is face-down in her research, Rosemary's in Florence and Lucy, of course, has launched TOPPED CHEF!
The great thing about travel for me - and I'm going to assume for many of you as well - is that I get some quality reading time. Trains, planes, nights in hotel rooms - ideal for guilt-free, uninterrupted reading. So let's do a Jungle Reds book club today: what have you read lately? What would you like to recommend to the rest of us?
HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: (still floating from the MHC...) Yes, that "white space" in travel is so nice for reading..even when you should be writing. I also had the joy of moderating the "best first" panel at the Edgar Symposium, so I read all of the nominees. And wow, they were terrific! So I will highly highly highly recommend DON'T EVER GET OLD by Dan Friedman (a mystery in which the main character is 87--I literally had to stop myself from crying at the end) , Chris Pavone's chic and sophisticated THE EXPATS, Matthew Quirk's page-turner of a DC thriller THE 500, Kim Fay's sultry and almost-mystical THE MAP OF LOST MEMORIES, Susan Elia MacNeal's clever and evocative MR. CHURCHILL'S SECRETARY, and Michael Sears totally new take on financial crime, BLACK FRIDAYS. Pick your genre, take your pick. ALL fabulous. Like, intimidatingly fabulous. Oh, and Sara J Henry's A COLD AND LONELY PLACE. Wonderful!
I will not tell you what I read on the plane home from Pittsburgh because it's embarrassing. (NOT 50 Shades, geez.) But I am waiting waiting waiting for Julia's book!!
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Oh, let's see, in the last couple of weeks--Erin Hart's THE BOOK OF KILLOWEN, which was wonderful. Some of THE MURDER ROOM by Michael Capuzzo, who was one of my fellow keynote speakers at the DFW Writer's Conference. Fascinating non-fiction. Am hoping to have Michael on Jungle Red soon to tell you about it. Linda Greenlaw's NOTES FROM AN ACCIDENTAL MOTHER, again non-fiction. Our Lucy Burdette's TOPPED CHEF! Fabulous! And now Catriona McPherson's first Dandy Gilver book, AFTER THE ARMISTICE BALL, which I am loving. The state of my TBR pile is either horrifying or wonderful, depending on your point of view!
HALLIE EPHRON: I'm in North Carolina with Lucy, being squired around by Molly Weston to libraries and bookstores. I'm carrying books with me but mostly, I'm happy to say, my main reading matter has been menus! Barbecue (Bar-B-Q here), of course... ribs cooked until they fall off the bone or chopped pork with cider vinegar. Yummy fried chicken. Biscuits (I like the small ones) and cornbread and black-eyed peas and greens. Trying every version of banana pudding and coconut custard pie I can find. Washed down with "half and half" - sweet mixed with unsweetened tea. And learning to talk slow and southern. I guess I should be rereading Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe.
JULIA: My stomach is literally growling.
LUCY BURDETTE: Ditto to what Hallie said about reading menus! But we are also traveling with Jennifer McMahon so I read her latest on the way down to NC, called THE ONE I LEFT BEHIND. It's creepy, and twisty, and wonderfully well written. I love hearing about all the little details that feed into an author's book.
As we approached McIntyre's Bookstore in Fearrington Village yesterday, I told myself "no more books." I have a teetering TBR pile at home and my suitcase is already too heavy. But then we heard the very funny and charming Tim Hallinan speak so now I am looking forward to his LITTLE ELVISES. And I also came away with yet one more cookbook, this one called SOUTHERN CAKES. Honest to god, the caramel cake recipe sealed the deal. Not exactly book club reading, but I'm sure Hayley Snow will make good use of it--maybe in MURDER WITH GANACHE.
JULIA: In preparation for the 3rd annual Noel King Memorial Lecture in Santa Cruz, I read (or re-read) several works by my co-panelists. Two of Sharan Newman's Catherine Levendeur mysteries, DEATH COMES AS EPIPHANY and THE OUTCAST DOVE let me immerse myself in 12th century France. I had the pleasure of renewing my acquaintance with Mary Russell in Laurie R. King's A LETTER OF MARY and also reading for the first time one of her stand-alones, A DARKER PLACE, which I can only describe as a religious thriller.
I had previously read Zoe Ferraris' third book, KINGDOM OF STRANGERS, in pursuit of my duties as an Edgars judge, although since it reached me early in the year (ie, I read 194 other books after it) I couldn't recall much except the dynamite opening. I was thrilled to have an excuse to start at the beginning her series, centering around a desert guide/sometime investigator and a female forensic technician in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah. The first two novels, FINDING NOUF and CITY OF VEILS, reveal the almost unimaginable lives of men and women in the Kingdom, caught between twenty-first century technology and the strict fundamentalism of Wahabism. Highly recommended.
How about you, dear readers? Read any good books lately?