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Five Books - Qualified Perceptions
Five Books
Maisie Dobbs (by Jacqueline Winspear)
Technically in the mystery genre, it is not really much of a mystery. ("Hmm, is there something nefarious going on in this rest home? Why, yes, there is!") But it's still a thoughtful, contemplative story, more than half flashback to before and during the Great War (from ~ten years later). I seem to think that audiobook detracts more often than it adds, but for this one, it adds; the narrator has charm, and it enforces a quiet pacing. Three and a half stars.

Territory (by Emma Bull)
I'm not quite sure what to make of this one. I love all the character interactions, which are interesting and unforced and have sympathy and humor. But the plot seems to start after the beginning of the story, and finishes up before the end (it's a fantasy retelling of events leading up to the shootout at the O.K. Corral, but doesn't actually get to the shootout)... so it feels like an odd slice of life out of this semi-fantasy Western, almost unfinished. Also three and a half stars.

Pandemonium (by Daryl Gregory)
I could see setting a huge epic in the setting (real world plus possession by "demons" - classic archetypes of one sort or another), but this was actually a fairly concise story. It reminded me a lot of some of my non-canon Call of Cthulhu runs, and had that same sense of digging up information to solve a mystery from a combination of research and investigation. I'm not sure about the ending, but the main body of the story, plus the twist, were quite nice. Four stars.

Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand (by Fred Vargas)
Partly a psychological mystery, partly a procedural mystery, partly a contemplative thriller, and overall quite elegant. It had an interesting combination of being able to see what was coming more clearly than the characters did, and being fooled by the misdirections. Strong and unusual women as side characters, and (somewhat remarkable, in my experience), when all signs point to the main detective having committed a crime, his underlings / co-workers mostly refuse to believe it. (That drove me crazy about some of the Harry Dresden books, if I remember correctly.) For some reason, I thought it was the first in the series, but it's not; it just seems to be the one sold in bookstores. Oops. Four stars.

Child of Fire (by Harry Connolly)
I am not sure that this was a great book, but I enjoyed it a lot. An action/investigation urban-fantasy/horror, involving the main character and his hard-ass boss hunting people messing with Magic That Should Not Be Known. The main character has one fairly versatile tool (a "knife" that cuts inanimate stuff perfectly, and has useful non-fatal effects on living things) and uses it quite a lot in competent clever varied ways; the hard-ass boss never proves to be a softie at heart, which was novel. There's a lot of backstory which is not well spelled out but hopefully will be in future books; there's a lot of action. And the horror-bits involve whole towns forgetting about their children, one child at a time - I like world-rewriting as a bad guy thing, and it was definitely creepy. Four stars.

Current Mood: coughing

5 comments or Leave a comment
From: tirinian Date: September 21st, 2010 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
To be fair to the Dresden books, as the series goes on Harry's underlings and co-workers get *better* about not believing it when the evidence points to him being the bad guy, until they mostly all refuse to believe it in the last few. :-)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: September 21st, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
I may need to go through and read the whole series since you have it. :) I think I read the first several in quick succession, and it was exasperating due to the whole "C'mon, didn't you just apologize for having ever doubted him not TEN MINUTES AGO at the end of the last book?" aspect.
hr_macgirl From: hr_macgirl Date: September 21st, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a fan of Maisie Dobbs. You're right in that they are "light" mysteries, and are as much about the setting (post WW1 London) than the crime. I've read them all (paper) and will look out for the next one, albeit from the library.
lillibet From: lillibet Date: September 22nd, 2010 12:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Are you on Goodreads? I try to keep most of my reviews there, except when I just can't help myself, but I'd love to share recommendations with you.

Reading your review of Pandemonium I felt like I was disappointed in the book, but looking back at my review I realized that's not the fault of the story, exactly, but just that I thought it was going to be a different one and I still want to read that one. Maybe someday I'll get around to writing it :)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: September 24th, 2010 01:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
At the moment, I don't put the reviews anywhere else - I keep thinking about it, but a lot of the time, I feel like I'm writing for an audience of people I know (i.e. side comments about role-playing runs I'm in that the book reminded me of, characters that remind me of friends, 'here's a plot summary because Andrea thinks I don't explain what the book is about often enough'), and I'd either need to rewrite or be publishing oddly inappropriate reviews...
5 comments or Leave a comment