Goodness, I appear to have turned into a reading machine over the last few weeks! Could this be an unexpected side-effect of the vaccine? If so, much more useful than becoming magnetic, for sure! (I imagine magnetic humans would be very bad for Kindles…) Maybe Bill Gates really has microchipped my brain – thanks, Bill! Anyway, the result of all this reading means that the TBR has dropped by… wait for it… wait for it… SIX to 194! And that despite NetGalley approving me for a couple! Of course, this means I have a million reviews to write – every silver lining has a cloud…
The other result is that I can’t say my usual “Here are some I should get to soon” since I’ve already read one of these and started two of the others. I either need to do more TBR posts or read less! The two middle ones are from my fast and furious 20 Books of Summer…
My Ántonia by Willa Cather
One from my Classics Club list, this was originally recommended to me as a possible Great American Novel contender (sorry, can’t remember who recommended it). So my expectations are high…
The Blurb says: My Ántonia (1918) depicts the pioneering period of European settlement on the tall-grass prairie of the American midwest, with its beautiful yet terrifying landscape, rich ethnic mix of immigrants and native-born Americans, and communities who share life’s joys and sorrows. Jim Burden recounts his memories of Ántonia Shimerda, whose family settle in Nebraska from Bohemia. Together they share childhoods spent in a new world. Jim leaves the prairie for college and a career in the east, while Ántonia devotes herself to her large family and productive farm. Her story is that of the land itself, a moving portrait of endurance and strength.
Described on publication as ‘one of the best [novels] that any American has ever done’, My Ántonia paradoxically took Cather out of the rank of provincial novelists as the same time that it celebrated the provinces, and mythologized a period of American history that had to be lost before its value could be understood.
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Due to a Death by Mary Kelly
The Blurb says: A car speeds down a road between miles of marshes and estuary flats, its passenger a young woman named Agnes – hands bloodied, numbed with fear, her world turned upside down. Meanwhile, the news of a girl found dead on the marsh is spreading round the local area. A masterpiece of suspense, Mary Kellys 1964 novel follows Agnes as she casts her mind back through the past few days to find the links between her husband, his friends, a mysterious stranger new to the village and a case of bloody murder.
Complex and thoroughly affecting, Due to a Death was nominated for the Gold Dagger Award and showcases the author’s versatility and remarkable skill for characterization and dialogue.
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The Goodbye Man by Jeffery Deaver
Courtesy of HarperCollins via NetGalley. This is the middle book in Deaver’s new trilogy about modern-day bounty hunter Colter Shaw, and both this and the third book are on my 20 Books of Summer list. I enjoyed the first one, The Never Game, which had a standalone story as well as the running story in the background, so I’m hoping the other two will be just as good…
The Blurb says: In pursuit of two young men accused of terrible hate crimes, Colter Shaw stumbles upon a clue to another mystery. In an effort to save the life of a young woman–and possibly others–he travels to the wilderness of Washington State to investigate a mysterious organization. Is it a community that consoles the bereaved? Or a dangerous cult under the sway of a captivating leader? As he peels back the layers of truth, Shaw finds that some people will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden.
All the while, Shaw must unravel an equally deadly enigma: locating and deciphering a message hidden by his father years ago, just before his death–a message that will have life-and-death consequences.
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Vintage Crime on Audio
A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes read by Samuel L Jackson
When I read the first mystery novel written by a Black American recently, The Conjure-Man Dies, the intro informed me that there were no others for over two decades, until Chester Himes came along. So I looked him up and discovered that Penguin Audio have just released the first one in his Harlem series, read by Samuel L Jackson – doesn’t that sound utterly irresistible? So obviously, I failed to resist…
The Blurb says: A dark and witty work of hardboiled detective fiction set in the mean streets of New York, Chester Himes’s A Rage in Harlem includes an introduction by Luc Sante in Penguin Modern Classics.
Jackson’s woman has found him a foolproof way to make money – a technique for turning 10 dollar bills into hundreds. But when the scheme somehow fails, Jackson is left broke, wanted by the police and desperately racing to get back both his money and his loving Imabelle. The first of Chester Himes’s novels to feature the hardboiled Harlem detectives ‘Coffin’ Ed Johnson and ‘Grave Digger’ Jones, A Rage in Harlem has swagger, brutal humour, lurid violence, a hearse loaded with gold and a conman dressed as a Sister of Mercy.
Chester Himes (1909-1984) was born in Jefferson City, Missouri and grew up in Cleveland. Aged 19, he was arrested for armed robbery and sentenced to 20 to 25 years in jail. In jail he began to write short stories, some of which were published in Esquire. Upon release he took a variety of jobs from working in a California shipyard to journalism to script-writing while continuing to write fiction. He later moved to Paris where he was commissioned by La Série Noire to write the first of his Harlem detective novels, A Rage in Harlem, which won the 1957 Grand Prix du Roman Policier, and was adapted into a 1991 film starring Forest Whitaker and Danny Glover.
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NB All blurbs and covers taken from Goodreads, Amazon UK or Audible UK.
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