Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What We're Reading - Fiction book blitz!

I told you I had been bad at posting reviews lately. Now it is time to catch up on some fiction books that I've recently read.
Blood Safari by Deon Meyer: If you enjoy fast-paced, intriguing contemporary crime fiction, Deon Meyer is a must read. All of his books are set in his native South Africa, and the peoples, culture and landscape of a country in transition are a huge element in his storytelling. This time around we meet Martin Lemmer, a bodyguard hired to protect Emma le Roux, who believes that her long-dead brother, a game ranger, may not be dead. Lemmer also has a number of rules that guide his behavior that may or may not survive his association with Emma. The animal protection aspect adds to the local South African flavor. It hit me while reading this one why I so enjoy Meyer's books: That element and the conflicts they create and behaviors that they influence [oh and the crime they generate!] are reminiscent of Tony Hillerman's work. The portrayal of violence and language are different by 180 degrees from Hillerman's but I think the similarities bear consideration. But above all read him.

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steig Larrson: Larrson burst onto the international bestseller lists last year with his debut, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which was about as good a book as I read during all of last year. Fans of that one will not be disappointed, for once the violence at the heart of this story occurs, Larrson is in great form. Lizabeth Salander remains one of the most original characters that I've come across--tough, fragile, troubled, brilliant and hard to fathom, but absolutely riveting to read about.

The Magicians, by Lev Grossman, presents an intriguing variant on how magicians become magicians, sort of Harry Potter goes to College, but definitely more adult in content. The schooling of the group of characters is just flat-out fascinating as we learn about the mental and physical challenges faced and overcome through their studies. The last portion of the book, when the characters have graduated and are out in the real world, didn't work as well for me, but I'd recommend the book highly for the strong and detailed realization of a magician's college education.

Even Money, by Dick Francis and Felix Francis, returns with another joint father/son effort focusing on Ned Talbot, a bookmaker working at the Royal Ascot, who first finds that his presumed Dad is alive long enough for them to meet; soon after, Ned finds himself in a race to solve his father's stabbing--a race where coming in second could cost him more than even money--it could cost him his life. Perhaps not his best, but I'll take an 89-year-old Dick Francis over most any other mystery writer, and odds are good that you will too.

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