Thursday, November 3, 2016

What We're Reading

LUCY BURDETTE: For some reason (and happily so), I’ve been reading more than usual lately. along with an old friend, I’ve gotten on a binge of Indian-themed books. (The country, not the native Americans.) The latest was an incredible memoir of growing up in Bombay by Thrity Umrigar. She shows no mercy in exposing both her own flaws and those of her complicated family—and oh the fascinating foreignness of Bombay. Luckily for me, she’s also written a  handful of novels that are now on my Christmas list. I’ve also read the first novel by an Icelandic author, Ragnar Jonasson, called SNOW BLIND. Although there were some point of view shifts that drove me a little nuts, they were overshadowed by a fascinating young policeman character and the sheer frigidness of the setting in northern Iceland. Now I’m dying to visit—but not in winter.

And at this moment, we are traveling south and so listened to Paula Hawkins' GIRL ON A TRAIN. I'm not sure I would have made it through this book reading, but it was a compelling story to listen to. I wasn't crazy about the characters, but the author gave a master class on sustaining suspense.

Reds, what are you reading?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN I am hiding my secret smile to tell you I have an ARC of the new Charles Todd, a Rutledge! Which is called RACING THE DEVIL and it is terrific. I don't  know how they keep doing it!.  I am reading THE LAST DAYS OF NIGHT about the battle between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse--it's a thriller, and it's terrific.   And Susan Wolfe's hilarious and biting and sly ESCAPE VELOCITY where the main character is a female con artist who infiltrates the boardrooms of Silicon Valley. It is absolutely great. In fact, I'm going to ask her to do a guest blog.  And Chris Holm's amazing RED RIGHT HAND, the second in his award winning Hendricks thrillers--about an assassin who only kills  assassins. Brilliant. Plus he is a very cool guy, Oh, and AVID READER, thte memoir of editor Robert Gottleib.
And! after meeting and chatting with Colson Whitehead (he was wearing red leather pants, just saying) I am of course reading UNDERGROUND RAILROAD.  Which I would have read anyway.

And hey, you all, you're reading SAY NO MORE, right? As we speak, I am on the plane to Delray Beach to appear at Murder on the Beach! So come see me!

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Do political blogs count? Because it seems like I'm spending most of my time with the Washington Post, The New York Times, 538, Real Clear Politics, The Atlantic, TPM, The Slot, Concourse... obviously, I need to start relaxing with some soothing reads about WWII.

The audio book in my car is The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain: The Surprising Talents of the Middle-Aged Mind by Barbara Strauch. It's engaging and well-written and is making me feel a lot better about forgetting words in the middle of a sentence! I'm also narrating a book: Youngest was assigned HEART OF DARKNESS in her AP Comp and Lit class and she was finding it hard going (it does have a very hallucinogenic, head-switching point of view.) So I've been reading it aloud to her and am enjoying it much more than she is.

My latest fiction is J Courtney Sullivan's MAINE. I like her writing very much - I've already enjoyed THE ENGAGEMENTS and, of course, COMMENCEMENT, which is practically required reading for parents of Smithies. Sullivan's books are steeped in the kind of modern New England sensibility that only comes from being born and bred in the area.

Now I'm off to send an email to Chris Holm to ask him where MY copy of RED RIGHT HAND is!

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm starting to write a new novel about a woman who tries to declutter her life, so I'm reading Marie Kondo's THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP. It's short. And I confess it hasn't inspired me to straighten my sock basket.

When I was in British Columbia for the Surrey International Writers Conference last week I came home with books that I'm enjoying. Loving Eileen Cook's WTH MALICE, about a teenager who wakes up in the hospital to find she's lost weeks of her life. Next I'm reading K C Dyer's FINDING FRASER - a girl falls in love with a hero ripped from the pages of her favorite novel, the Scottish fictional star of romantic fantasies the world over—James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser. Then I'll get back to finishing reading THE GOLDFINCH.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I just finished a book my daughter highly recommended, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, a stunningly good first novel by Denver writer Barbara Nickless. The protagonist, Sydney Rose Parnell, is an Iraq vet now working for the railroad police. It's gritty and gripping and will make you feel bone-numbingly cold! Oh, and Sydney Rose has a K-9 partner, Clyde, who is also a veteran.

When I'm in London I always hit the Buy 1, Get 50% Off a Second Book at the book chains. I'm reading the first of the two I bought, another police thriller but this time British, MISSING, PRESUMED, by Susie Steiner. So far it's really good, with very richly drawn detail and very human characters.  The other book I bought is called THE FORGETTING TIME by Sharon Guskin and it has great reviews. My audio book in progress is I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET, the second book in Adrian McKinty's Detective Sean Duffy novels, set in Ireland during the Troubles. I think McKinty's books are some of the best being written in crime fiction. Great voice, great atmosphere, and a fascinating look at life in Belfast in the early 80s.

Now, if I could just wean myself off the political news, I'd have so much more time to read...

Dear Reds, what are you reading?


  1. Books I’ve read recently: John Grisham’s “The Whistler;” James Patterson’s “Woman of God;” Harlan Coben’s “Home;” Reed Farrell’s Coleman’s “Debt to Pay;” Alan Hruska’s “Pardon the Ravens;” Jonathan Cahn’s “Book of Mysteries” . . . right now I’m finishing Michael Connolly’s “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.”

  2. I'm nearly through KILLING THYME, Leslie Budewitz's latest Seattle Spice Shop series. A great read. Next up is Judy Penz Sheluk's SKELETONS IN THE ATTIC. Then Crime Bake hits and I can pick up signed copies of Hank's and Michele Dorsey's and Kate Flora's new books, not to mention this year's Level Best Books anthology WINDWARD, and dive into them!

  3. I'm reading BLOOD MOON by Alexandra Sokoloff. I'm going to read her series straight to book #4 which came out on Tuesday.

    BTW, I read SAY NO MORE and it's the best book in Hank's series.

    Edith, I read Judy's and Michele's book..both were great reads.


  4. Thank you so much, Dru! Your incredibly kind review of SAY NO MORE is thrilling! I admit I havehave read it many many many times! It is so wonderful. Thank you!
    I'm also reading Peter Swanson's A Kind kworth killing, since I am appearing with him at the Concord Book festival Friday. It's great,-- very twisty strangers on a train.
    And Debs, so pleased you are reading Barbara's book! I loved it, I think it is astonishing… And I actually, had a role in its publication! Maybe that's a blog for another day…

  5. And now after a wonderful signing at murder on the beach, I am off to Vero Beach. to the wonderful bookstore there! See you when I get there…

  6. Joan, I'm so envious of how much you're reading! And really glad Hank's new book has the Dru Ann seal of approval...

    Edith, I'm so looking forward to Crimebake, but not planning to buy a ton of books there because I'm flying with a carry-on. But I will buy, including GOH Kent Krueger's latest. Love his books!

  7. You all probably know what I've been reading, if you stop by BOLO Books on occasion. But there are a few things that haven't been on that list (ie. not necessary crime fiction).

    Before I get to those, I agree with Dru that SAY NO MORE is the best in Hank's series - though every one of those books is a winner. So glad you enjoyed SNOWBLIND, Lucy. I'm annoyed that the series is not coming out in correct order here in the States, but I've still enjoyed every one of them. RED RIGHT HAND is every bit as compelling as Mr. Holm's series debut (and couldn't agree more about him being a cool dude).

    Now my other choices. THE SECRET HISTORY OF TWIN PEAKS is an amazing companion book to the tv series. The production design on that one is amazing. And a YA novel by Tahereh Mafi called Furthermore - every bit as delightful in wordplay as the Harry Potter series (and much more diverse).

  8. I'm saving Kent Krueger's new MANITOU CANYON for next week, to read on the way to Crime Bake. Han, Roberta, and I will be there.

  9. I'm visiting WWII London at the moment, with the newly reissued edition of Frances Faviell's wartime memoirs, A Chelsea Concerto (from Furrowed Middlebrow Books via Dean Street Press).

    How people stood up to daily life during the war still amazes me, and reminds me that every day, in terrible ways, people all over the world are having their lives destroyed by forces beyond comprehension.

  10. I'm right along with Julia these days, obsessed with the NYT, the Washington Post, and Five Thirty Eight. Who knew reading could be so stressful?

    Looking so forward to Wednesday, when I'm going to abandon reality for SAY NO MORE, which is waiting on my night table for when I'm less distracted. And I really must grab RED RIGHT HAND—I enjoyed Chris' last book so much.

    Great list here, y'all!

  11. Just started Queens Accomplice. This is a wonderful addition to SEMcN series.Reordering for @canddmystery bookshop Fan fav all around

  12. I'm reading only two books right now, odd for me as I usually have 3-4 going at one time. I discovered J. Lincoln Fenn lst night while looking for something light. His DEAD SOULS got a good review in the NYT last week, but I am starting with POE. Those of you who don't mind a little paranormal activities might enjoy these books.

    My "big" read currently is THE NIX by Nathan Hill. What a book. I looked at this when it first came out, wasn't quite in the mood for this roman a clef. If that's what it is, bits and parts anyway. It's long, 600+ pages, and just right for these rainy days up here on the tundra. Think THE GOLDFINCH.

    Books I've finished in the past couple of weeks include:
    The four Callie Anson books by Deb's friend Kate Charles, delightful.
    EILEEN by Ottessa Moshfegh, another incredible mystery that had me sayng Oh My God! twoard the end.
    THE GRAVEYARD APARTMENT by Japanese author Mariko Koike, another paranormal/ horror. Can you see a Halloween trend here?
    TO DWELL IN DARKNESS by I can't remember who but she seems to have promise.
    Hank, SAY NO MORE is in the TBR pile.

    Life is books for me. Gone are the days when I thought cleaning house, washing and ironing were good for the soul. I haven't been to a mall since the last time I bought bras, and if I can't do it at home, chances are I don't do it at all. I also have a new blackout in place although I did peek at the baseball scores last night. So it's off to my big chair with the good light today. Keep writing Reds. Thanks in advance.

  13. I've been reading a lot - but you'd have to check my blog or Goodreads feed for a complete list (because I've forgotten it).

    I've got two in progress. ART IN THE BLOOD, by Bonnie MacBird is in my car. THE KENNEDY CONNECTION, the first Gil Malloy novel from R.G. Belsky is in my car for when I am, oh, waiting for the kids at school pickup and what not. I got an ARC of his latest, BLONDE ICE at Bouchercon and it was fantastic.

    And I'll get my signed copy of SAY NO MORE next week. You can be sure I'll be diving right into it!

    I'm avoiding political news. I'm depressed enough.

  14. Just finished and ARC of Behind Closed Doors. Next up is SAY NO MORE and The Twenty-Three.

  15. Ann, Nathan Hill is coming to Key West later this month and I was thinking of buying THE NIX for my son-in-law. I heard Hill interviewed on NPR a while back and he sounded so interesting! Would this be appealing to a young man?

    and ps, embarrassed to say I'm still carting THE GOLDFINCH around but have yet to read it.

  16. I just finished the wonderful novel Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, then read Alison Gaylin's excellent What Remains of Me and am halfway through Megan Abbott's You Will Know Me.

  17. Lucy/Roberta, the narrator of THE NIX is a young man, so I think your son-in-law would like the book. I do, and I'm neither young nor male!

  18. I'm also a fan of J Courtney Sullivan and have enjoyed her books. Right now I just got The Assistants from the library--I'd heard it was good. I'm not quite into it yet so I can't say. Also just finished The Longest Night which I enjoyed. And I got the e-book of The No More Excuses Diet from the library but so far I have found plenty of excuses!

  19. Kind of in preparation for my upcoming vacation in San Francisco, I finished reading the already mentioned excellent Chris Holm book, RED RIGHT HAND, and am currently enjoying Victoria Abbott's THE HAMMETT HEX. Next on the TBR pile is P.J. Tracy's THE SIXTH IDEA, Donna Andrews' DIE LIKE AN EAGLE and Naomi Hirahara's THE SAYONARA SLAM.

  20. I'm half way through RED RIGHT HAND and agree, Chris Holm is a wonderful writer and an even more terrific person.

    Next on my list is the new release from Tana French, THE TRESPASSER.

    I also plead guilty to blog/news site obsession in the run up to the election. I cannot wait until the 9th (I think).

  21. The best thing I've read recently is actually a play, DISGRACED, by Ayad Akhtar (sp?). It will make you think about where your biases and preconceptions come from, among other things. Powerful.

  22. I'm with Julia too--obsessing about politics. Can't wait for next week to come and go. I feel like this political cycle (travesty?) has hijacked most of my brain!

    Thanks goodness for fiction--saving me. I've been reading through my pile from Bouchercon -- Lori Rader-Day, Ben McPherson, Deanna Raybourn, Mary Kubica, and a bunch of others who are new to me.

  23. The only book I currently have in progress is Alexander McCall Smith's NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY. I had somehow missed that series when it started and didn't want to dive into the middle, so am finally reading the first.

    Grace, I predict you will absolutely love P.J. Tracy's THE SIXTH IDEA -- I know I did!

    I also recently r-read Deb's TO DWELL IN DARKNESS and I'm so glad I did, because I had forgotten much of the detail that I suspect will help me understand the upcoming one.

    I also recently discovered a charming little cozy series by Juliette Blackwell. Collectively they go by the Witchcraft Mystery series -- the first one was SECONDHAND SPIRITS and three books in, I'm still really enjoying them. She is a real world witch living in San Francisco, reluctantly helping the SFPD with murders that seem to have paranormal aspects.

  24. We could build our TBR lists to the ceiling with all these great recommendations! Peg LOL on The No More Excuses Diet--it's hard to diet when writing about food is your--errr, bread and butter!

  25. Laura, what's DISGRACED? (And whoo hoo, Reds, Laura and I will be signing together at The Tattered Cover in Denver on this coming Monday! We'd love to see you there!)

    And did you like THE NIX?

    1. I'm loving it. One of those books I keep putting down because I don't want it to end.

  26. Lots of wonderful books to add to my TBR list.

    What am I reading? Just finished three books : The Queen's Accomplice by Susan Elia MacNeal, Crowned And Dangerous by Rhys Bowen, and Body on the Bayou by Ellen Byron.

    Looking forward to reading The Inheritance by Charles Finch.

    And reading your JRW blog.


  27. Taking notes! When I am anxious, as I am lately, I'm not able to concentrate on reading. I do enjoy my audio books -- right now near the end of Harlan Coben's "Home." I am reading the latest Flavia de Luce ("Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd" by Alan Bradley).

    A couple of weeks ago one of my daughters invited me to a secret Facebook page called National Pantsuit Day -- November 8. It is my salvation. When I joined there were 6,00 members. Now there are nearly 500,000. It is carefully monitored to keep out negativity. If anyone is interested, email me at terry.df at

  28. I've had a great run of reading lately, with my past two books being the standouts Say No More by Hank and Murder in Containment by Anne Cleeland. Hank, Say No More brings to mind the phrase Mel B. uses on America's Got Talent when an act is exceptional, "off the chain." It could well be the best in the series, but every time I start to say that, I think of how great all the Jane Ryland books have been, and it's hard to say one is better than another.

    I have started trying to utilize the time traveling to my daughter's listening to audio books, and I just finished Sophie Hannah's Closed Casket, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I need to go back and listen to the first in her Hercule Poirot pastiches. I am now reading Louise Penny's A Great Reckoning. I know. I have always rushed to read Louise's right away, but there were Bouchercon books I needed to read this year and then four books I needed to read for review when I got back from Bouchercon. But, I am now reading it and hanging on its every word. My audio book right now is The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson.

    Coming up next are Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton, Darktown by Thomas Mullen, and The One Man by Andrew Gross. Or at least these three are on my rest of 2016 reading list. Debs, Blood on the Tracks was my Amazon First Reads pick for this month, so I hope to get to it soon, too, as well as Missing, Presumed. Hank, The Last Days of Night is on my rest of the year list, too. Edith, I'm trying to get to Skeletons in the Attic, and Denise, I enjoyed Thrice The Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd.