Reading in 2012

Well, despite what might be implied by my complete failure to post any reviews during 2012, I was still reading. Good news was that I retrieved most of my books from storage at the end of 2012 (after almost six years!) and indulged in an orgy of re-reading – Ross Macdonald, Tamora Pierce, Elizabeth Peters, Robin McKinley, and Barbara Cleverly, amongst others. Books read for the first time this year, which I particularly liked, were:

Ross Thomas: Briarpatch

Dill, a congressional investigator, goes back to his hometown after his sister’s death in a car bomb, and investigates her murder. Twisty, with plenty of corruption and politics. It made me want to find more of Thomas’s novels, but unfortunately they’re all out of print in the UK.

Ross Macdonald: The Galton Case

A recent reprinting by Penguin, where Lew Archer investigates the disappearance of a rich woman’s son twenty years before, and the sudden reappearance of a young man who might be her grandson. Now one of my favourite Archer books.

Jasper Fforde – The Last Dragonslayer / The Song of the Quarkbeast

Inventive children’s fantasy in a sort of alternative reality Britain which is full of magic and delight in creativity. Jennifer is an engaging protagonist, and the books are as funny as Fforde’s books for adults.

Nicholas Blake – the Nigel Strangeways novels

These suffered a bit from being read in a massive lump, one after the other, so I now cannot remember which title refers to which plot. These are excellent novels, beautifully written, with the psychological aspects of murder particularly important. The sympathetic portraits of children in The Whisper in the Gloom reminds me of Blake’s novel for children, The Otterbury Incident, but it’s very adult in tone, as are the rest of the books, The Worm of Death being particularly bleak, influenced by its setting close to the River Thames. The last, The Morning After Death, is a bit weak, but taking Nigel out of England doesn’t really work, in my opinion.

Nick Cohen – You Can’t Read This Book

Angry and polemical, all about censorship, how it’s done and why, and how we can fight back. Particularly good on libel law, particularly as it is practised in the UK.

Jessica Mitford: The American Way of Death Revisited

Yikes. Who knew that funerals were so important or that paying for one was so costly? Lessons to learn from this – don’t get embalmed: you’ll just go mouldy…

Terry Pratchett – Snuff

Another Discworld novel featuring Sam Vimes, but taken out of Ankh-Morpock and transplanted to the country, where he finds crime and corruption as ever. There are some great characters, and Vimes is his usual crusading self on behalf of the downtrodden.

Lindsay Buroker – Deadly Games / Conspiracy / Blood and Betrayal / Encrypted

The Emperor’s Edge series started with The Emperor’s Edge and Dark Currents continued, with the gang trying to help out the young emperor, even to the extent of kidnapping him (at his own request), and foiling plots by various ne’er-do-wells. Encrypted is set in the same universe but twenty years earlier, and involves discovery of possible alien technology and an appearance from the young Sicarius. Not the best written books in the world, but exciting, inventive, and with endearing characters.

There, that’s enough for now. Hopefully I’ll get back on the blogging wagon, and post some more reviews more regularly.

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