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review 2017-10-17 04:28
Born a Crime
Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

I was not really familiar with Trevor Noah when this book became available on NetGalley, but the title stood out. Later, when it was still on my to-read pile, I got a "you should read this" note from my sister-in-law through Goodreads. Since this was unusual, I moved it to the top of my list.


I was at the University of Maryland during the height of the Anti-Apartheid protests, and I was a (very small!) part of the protests outside the South African embassy in DC. Nevertheless, my concept of life in South Africa was very limited. Noah's essays provide a unique perspective of a life on the fringes of so many different cultures. They are at turns heartbreaking and hilarious, for every outrageous thing Noah does there is an equally outlandish story about his mother. Mother and son are almost, as they say, two sides of the same coin. I agree with Noah when he describes the book as a love letter to his mother, it is all that and so much more. A must read, sure to move and inspire.

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text 2017-10-17 02:03
The Flat Book Society - 15 days until Forensics by Val McDermid read!
Forensics: An Anatomy of Crime - Val McDermid

Bestselling crime author Val McDermid will draw on interviews with top-level professionals to delve, in her own inimitable style, into the questions and mysteries that surround this fascinating science. How is evidence collected from a brutal crime scene? What happens at an autopsy? What techniques, from blood spatter and DNA analysis to entomology, do such experts use? How far can we trust forensic evidence?


Any and all are invited to participate; group discussions will be in The Flat Book Society group, but there are always spontaneous discussions on the status updates too.  


More info on the group can be found by clicking on Huggins, our mascot:


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text 2017-10-16 23:20
Reading progress update: I've read 206 out of 278 pages.
Resorting to Murder: Holiday Mysteries: A British Library Crime Classic (British Library Crime Classics) - Martin Edwards

so I met Reggie Fortune--H. C. Bailey's crime-solving creation--and it was grand. well, close to grand. any time I work my way through a short story collection, I yet again learn how much I prefer novels. but nothing specifically against 'The Hazel Ice' by Bailey which was quite clever, and ever since I Martin Edwards alerted me to the fact that there are a fair amount of old stories and novels in the Crime & Mystery genre that exploit a mountain-climbing motif--and with Sinister Crag needing a reprint cuz I don't wanna spend that kind of crazy cash until we get that new edition--I've been hoping for Crime at high altitude, and the Bailey yarn was a welcome bit of mayhem in the Swiss and Austrian Alps. hit the spot. sorry for the guy who hit near the bottom of a mountain, but, for me, hit the spot. one of the longer stories in this collection, too; I think many of my very favorite short stories come in around 40 pages ('The Autopsy', by Michael Shea, anyone?--sorry, just stopping to peddle my favorite Horror story of the short variety, before Halloween...).


of course, now I see that there are six out of fourteen tales left in this book for me to read...with not many pages left to get them done. well, I guess I'll have to hope for some dynamite 10-pagers. but I am hard to please, when it's that quick. the next one, by Anthony Berkeley, has apparently been very hard to find, as--I think--are several of the ones left for the back pages. that's cool! I like that.

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review 2017-10-16 18:35
Pietr the Latvian - Georges Simenon,David Bellos

I don't really know what to rate this--all I know is that I read it in a rush, all in one morning (felt like one breath!)--and suddenly I was done...and I knew that I had enjoyed it. It rockets. It's sleek. it's not very long, perhaps to the detriment of what could be more emotional impact. 


But it looks like all the Maigret books are rather short; you could, for instance, place one on the fur of a cat in repose, and not even disturb the dreaming feline. If this were a particularly furry cat, you may not even displace or compress the bushiness of the beautiful, sleek coat--sleek, like the book.


A lot happened in the 162 pages I experienced with coffee this morning. From one point of view, this is a very exciting and surprisingly suspenseful debut for a future "Great Detective". Maigret in danger, clearly, as he pokes at a dead body in the cramped toilet of a train that has come to Paris; well, if not then, certainly not long after. The fact that someone is soon gunning for Maigret once it's clear his case may connect to international, organized crime, suggest that the solution may be a cold one: "business is business; no one talks; we settle things amongst ourselves; even that cop has to go.". That's not actual dialogue from the book, but it does come to feel like someone is plugging holes, by plugging people and making holes...


So, is there a "human factor"? Or is just business? Some sort of business gone wrong? Seem to be a lot of players, tied to the life, and seeming death, of a tough-to-catch criminal schemer named Pietr the Latvian, who has operated in several European arenas. Is that actually him, lying in the toilet? Is there more than one Pietr? And who are all these women who keep cropping up, once the fellow last seen near the dead possible-Pietr the Latvian is followed by Maigret, who notices that that fellow looks very much like a live-Pietr the Latvian. It becomes a web, and Maigret, with some helpers, runs the web, runs all the strands.


This is not really a "the clues make the Mystery" approach; Maigret surveils, he follows, he digests any info he can get from police and intelligence agencies, on Pietr, and anyone the faux Pietr--unless it is Pietr--comes into contact with, including respectable-looking millionaires and their wives. Fairly late along, a tragedy occurs that fills Maigret with guilt and anger, and at least by this time, it's what they call personal. Plus, when the truth is run to ground, and a man cornered out on the treacherous rocks under the stilts of a jetty extending out to rough waters, it's personal again. Not just "rub-outs" and "taking care of business". I re-read a few key scenes from earlier, just to clarify some of the complexities, regretted that my opinion of the book was slightly sullied by the fact that puzzle relies a bit on what has become an oft-used trope of Mystery and Thriller fiction that could use a rest, and talked myself out of a 4 star rating.


Maybe it is a 4 star book. I mean, it's a very vibrant debut for a detective who grows on a reader (okay--this reader) by the end of this first outing. He must have made a strong first impression when he originally burst on the scene; he has, again, all these years later with me. But I'm going to leave Room for Improvement. I've had My Friend Maigret thrust at me as one of the truly great novels in this long-lasting series. I almost wish the books were longer, because if anything I feel short-changed on, it's not getting a powerful look at the mindset of the person or persons doing the killing; passion and jealousy and desire gone wrong are dealt with in 162 pages of complex Murder Mystery--they can be spotted--and I did feel pangs for certain characters by the finale. But it's all so quick.


I may change my rating...and not just if all the Buddy Readers weigh in with 4 or 5 stars. It certainly made me want to read it all in one go. A lively, intricate story, always on the move.

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text 2017-10-16 18:05
Reading progress update: I've read 4 out of 224 pages.
A Watery Grave - Jean Chapman

one more Crime & Mystery novel--and it absolutely has to be by a woman--and then a Nonfiction book about Houdini's feud with a "witch", and then there are likely to be at least a few Horror or Horrorish picks in my scary reading future.

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