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review 2018-09-11 22:46
Epidemics are horrible. Well, duh ...
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

In substance, I don't really have a whole lot to add to my one ill-humored status update on this book.  This is the book-form equivalent of a cross-breed between tabloid journalism and a series of superficial, but opinionated and self-centered blog posts: short on bonafide science, history, and research generally; long on sweeping, generalizing judgments, inappropriately flippant tone, ill-matched pop culture references, character assassination, vagueness and imprecision, the sensational aspects of the diseases treated, and the personal histories of some of the protagonists of the episodes chosen for presentation (clearly not all of them selected for their "heroic" attributes but for their "human interest" and sensationalist appeal).  Several of the chapters do not deal with genuine epidemics (never mind "plagues") at all: the "dancing plague" was arguably collective hysteria, encephalitis lethargica doesn't qualify on either overall numeric or "sudden mass occurrence" grounds, and if Wright's grounds for including lobotomies seriously were (as she writes) that you can't possibly leave a gruesome procedure such as this out of a book on "medical horrors," then that statement alone shows what she was truly after; never mind her book's extremely misleading subtitle.  Most of all, however, Get Well Soon is extremely long on MeMeMe: the book's true protagonist is not in any way, shape or form any of the brave, poor, heroic, stupid, bright, unfortunate and other souls remembered for their accidental, unwilling or deliberate involvement in one epidemic or another, but the author herself, who clearly considers herself God's gift to popular science writing. 

 

Well, no, Jennifer.  You're not.  And contrary to what you seem to be hoping, history won't remember you, either.  Not even because you've written a book.  Because this just isn't the sort of book that either scientific or general literary history will remember.  Not even because it's taking a scientific position that will be shown off as outrageous in the near or far removed future.  It's just a run-of-the-mill, subpar, badly-researched tract that would be (and, as the books you cite show, has in fact been) in better and more competent hands with just about any writer who, unlike you, actually understands what they're talking about.

 

To the above comments, I will add only one thing that began to bug me (no pun intended) progressively more after I'd posted my only status update:

 

Wright's view is extremely Anglo-centric: in a book that makes so much out of the benefits reaped by humanity at large from the medical and scientific advances of the late 19th and the 20th century, and a book that purports to deal with, inter alia, cholera and tuberculosis, you'd expect scientists such as Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch and their research to be given fairly big play, but Wright has either never heard of them at all or is completely unaware of their immense contributions to the diagnosis and treatment of the very diseases she writes about, including in the areas she trumpets over and over again: disinfection / sterilization, sanitation, and vaccination (which contributions to science and medicine justly earned both of them the scientific community's highest honors -- Pasteur was, inter alia, a member of the Académie Française and the Académie des Sciences, and gave his name to the Institut Pasteur and the procedure known as "pasteurization"; Koch was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine).  Even more than that, however, Wright's world is divided into "core countries" and "periphery countries" -- which seems to translate vaguely into "the North American and Western European parts of the industrialized world" and "all the rest."  If that isn't outright racism -- and not of the casual sort, either -- I don't know what racism is.

 

Wright is adamant enough about the importance of vaccination and disinfection / sterilization / sanitation for me to give her the benefit of the doubt that she really is passionate about these subjects -- and about the importance of science and scientific research generally.  On those grounds, and those alone, and in light of the undeniable importance of these topics (not only in connection with the current anti-vax idiocy), I'm willing to award her books two stars.  But that doesn't stop me from wondering who at Henry Holt (of all places) thought this book would be a good idea in the first place, and where they hid both their science editors and their general editors before they let it go to print.

 

Finally, two fun facts:

 

1)  "Lone genius" or not, I learned more about Edward Jenner and his research from my 5th and 6th grade English language textbook -- i.e., from a book whose primary purpose was not to teach science, but to teach English to nine- and ten-year-olds who were just starting to learn the language from scratch, and who were in the very first stages of building a very basic English vocabulary.

 

2)  I happen to know one of the authors Wright cites.  He is a friend of my mother's and, when in Germany, always makes sure to spend some time with my mom / with us.  On one of those occasions, we took a trip to Speyer, which is some 2 - 2 1/2 hours south of Bonn (near the Luxembourg and French borders), has a certain significance in the history of Germany, and was founded, like many cities in the southwest of Germany, by the Romans.  Not surprisingly, it therefore has a museum dedicated to its Roman history, which the three of us decided to visit.  Having peroused the museum's exhibits, we afterwards proceeded to discuss the decline and fall of the Roman empire and my mom asked her friend what he considered the key causes of Rome's eventual downfall.  Now, that was a very apt question not merely on general grounds in light of our just-concluded museum visit but more specifically because her scientist friend had published, a few years earlier, a book on the collapse of certain civilizations (including some highly advanced ones), and even before that, a book that deals with the way in which [resistance to] epidemics, warfare and technological advances combined have historically favored the descendants of the inhabitants of the Fertile Crescent over the indigenous inhabitants of other parts of the world (say, the Americas) (this, incidentally, is the book that Wright cites in Get Well Soon).  So you could say that he knows his stuff.  And you'd think that if a scientist who had researched, in depth, these specific aspects of scientific, medical, geographical and social history, were to consider the Antonine Plague even remotely among the things that brought to an end a millennium's worth of Roman history, he'd say so, right?  Well, guess what was the one thing he did not consider worth mentioning at all?  (Spoiler alert: yes -- the Antonine Plague.)

 

Nice try, Jennifer.  Better luck next time.  Or on second thought -- maybe better not.

 

 

 

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text 2018-09-08 18:31
Reading progress update: I've listened 120 out of 833 minutes.
Penhallow - Georgette Heyer,Ulli Birvé

 

A very different Heyer -- more a social study than a cozy mystery (and certainly no romance in sight as yet, either).  The victim-to-be is still with us, and going by Golden Age standards, he has to be one of the most loathsome and deserving murder victims yet.  It's a miracle he's managed to survive past middle age, in fact.

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text 2018-09-08 17:12
Reading progress update: I've read 107 out of 336 pages.
Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer Wright

This reads like a series of blog posts by an overconfident twentysomething with an only superficial grasp of both history and medicine / science, who won't, however, let her lack of in-depth knowledge and research keep her from jumping to unsupported conclusions by the dozen. (All of which being said with profound apologies to the twentysomethings on this particular site -- no reflection on present company is intended, of course!)

 

The asides and pop culture references were cute at first, and might perhaps still be, if there weren't such an awful lot of them.   Frankly, though, at this point I wouldn't mind if there were not a single pop culture reference and snide comment anymore, but if instead we'd finally move on to hearing about the scientific aspects of the epidemics under discussion -- but I suppose that's asking a bit too much of an author who seriously has to rely on her family doctor's shorthand illustrations for medical laypeople in order to describe, even on the most basic level, the effects of the smallpox virus on the human immune system.

 

If this doesn't drastically improve, it's headed for a 2 1/2 star rating at most (and it owes even that rating only to the fact that at least Wright makes a serious argument for sanitation, vaccination, and the general availability of at least a basic standard of healthcare).  If I weren't reading this for Halloween Bingo in addition to the Flat Book Society, however, I'd DNF at this point.

 

 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-07 20:20
Summer of Spies - Terminated
The Scarlet Pimpernel - Stephen Crossly,Emmuska Orczy
Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 - Stella Rimington
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold - John le Carré
They Came to Baghdad - Agatha Christie
Berlin Game - Len Deighton,James Lailey
Night Soldiers - Alan Furst
Our Man in Havana - Graham Greene,Jeremy Northam
Above Suspicion - Helen MacInnes
Black Roses - Jane Thynne,Julie Teal
The Moneypenny Diaries: Guardian Angel - Kate Westbrook

Memorial Day Weekend -- Labor Day 2018

 

The Books:

Fiction

Eric Ambler: The Mask of Dimitrios (new / print) ****

Phyllis Bottome: The Lifeline (new / ebook-to-printed-PDF) ***1/2

John le Carré: The Tailor of Panama (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) ****1/2

Agatha Christie: N or M? (revisited on audio, narrated by Samantha Bond) ***

Agatha Christie: They Came to Baghdad (new / audio, narrated by Emilia Fox) ***1/2

Paulo Coelho: The Spy (new / English print version + German audio, narrated by Luise Helm and Sven Görtz) ***1/2

Len Deighton: Berlin Game (new / audio, narrated by James Lailey) ****

David Downing: Zoo Station (new / print) ****

Alan Furst: Night Soldiers (new / audio, narrated by George Guidall) ****1/2

Graham Greene: Our Man in Havana (audio, narrated by Jeremy Northam) ****1/2

Graham Greene: The Captain and the Enemy (audio, narrated by Kenneth Branagh) ***1/2

Rosalie Knecht: Who Is Vera Kelly? (new / audio, narrated by Elisabeth Rodgers) ***1/2

Helen MacInnes: Above Suspicion (new / print) ****1/2

Francine Mathews: The Cutout (new / audio, narrated by Trini Alvarado) **1/2

Valerie Plame Wilson, Sarah Lovett: Blowback (new / audio, narrated by Negin Farsad) ***

Jane Thynne: Black Roses (new / audio, narrated by Julie Teal) ****

Patricia Wentworth: The Traveller Returns (new / print) ****

Kate Westbrook: Guardian Angel (new / audio, narrated by Eleanor Bron) ***1/2

 

 

Emmuska Orczy: Adventures of The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel (revisited on audio, narrated by Stephen Crossly) ****1/2

I Will Repay (new / audio, narrated by Johanna Ward) ****

 

 

John Le Carré: George Smiley Cycle

The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (revisited on audio, narrated by the author) *****

The Looking Glass War (new / audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) ***1/2

Smiley's People (revisited on audio, narrated by Michael Jayston) *****

 

 

Stella Rimington: Liz Carlyle Series

Secret Asset (new / audio, narrated by Rosalyn Landor) ****

Illegal Action (new / audio, narrated by Emma Fielding) ****

 

 

Ian Fleming: James Bond Series

Quantum of Solace (short story only; new / audio, narrated by David Rintoul) *1/2

Dr. No (new / audio, narrated by Rufus Sewell) ***

 

 

Nonfiction

Stella Rimington: Open Secret: The Autobiography of the Former Director-General of MI5 (new / print edition) ****

Peter Finn & Petra Couvée: The Zhivago Affair (new / audio, narrated by Simon Vance) **1/2

Valerie Plame Wilson: Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government  (new / audio, narrated by the author) ****

 

 

 

 

Mission Assessment:

Loads of fun; thanks to Moonlight Reader Madness and Wanda for coming up with the idea!  In addition to advancing my "Women Writers" project because of a certain focus on the Women of Intelligence, I've discovered several new writers and series to take a closer look at, reconnected with some "old familiars", got to take a trip down memory lane to Cold War-era Berlin, got to travel the world and back in history -- from revolutionary France to WWII era (plus pre- and post-WWII) Iraq, Turkey, the Balkans, Russia, Spain, France, Britain, Austria, and Germany, and post-WWII as well as more recent Latin America and the Caribbean -- and I've seen some of my literary prejudices pleasantly upended (looking at you, Dame Agatha and They Came to Baghdad); even if others were, however, unfortunately confirmed (looking at you, Mr. Fleming).

 

Side note: My personal library now needs a new, separate "espionage" shelf: Lumping in spy books with mysteries, thrillers, and other suspense fiction clearly won't do any longer ... they've just grown too numerous for that sort of approach.  Ah, well.  A serious reorganization is overdue anyway -- I've only got to find the time for it ...

 

 

The Hits:

* Emmuska Orczy's Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  The first book was a revisit, but I finally got around to reading book 2, which -- though not chiefly focused on Sir Percy and much more overtly a romance than book 1 -- confirms why this whole series has a loyal following to this day.  And of course, it gets kicked onto yet another level once Sir Percy makes his appearance.  I'm sort of familiar with some of the later entries in the series, but I'm now going to make a concerted effort to read the whole thing in order.

 

* John le Carré's Smiley Cycle and Tailor of Panama.  This was largely a revisit, too, but I just can't help it -- nobody writes spy fiction like Mr. Cornwell.  Even Stella Rimington, the ex-"K" (head of MI5) herself, acknowledges that he gets it right ... and although he does have the odd duds, when he hits the spot, he's second to none.

 

* Stella Rimington's autobiography and Liz Carlyle series.  Speaking of "K" (also likely the inspiration for Judi Dench's "M" in the Bond movies), even though her autobiography is necessarily short on detail as far as actual secret service operations and policy are concerned, it gives great insights not only into her personal history but also into the actual work done by MI5 (and to a lesser extent, MI6, and secret service organizations in general), particularly in the final four decades of the 20th century.  Moreover, like le Carré, she has very successfully capitalized on her experience and translated it to fiction.  Rimington can write -- both fiction and nonfiction -- and her autobiography and fictional series nicely complement each other in providing an even greater understanding of "the business of spying" in days past and present.  (In the first Liz Carlyle book, At Risk, which I read -- and liked -- a few years ago, she was maybe still in the final stage of finding her voice, but both Secret Asset and Illegal Action, Liz Carlyle books 2 and 3, are fine examples of mature writing that clearly draw on Rimington's personal experience.)

 

* Helen MacInnes: Where has this author been in my life until now?  Once more thank you to Moonlight for bringing her to my attention.  I immensely enjoyed the one book by her that I read during the Summer of Spies -- Above Suspicion -- and have already ordered several more (the three Colin Grant books plus Accident in Place).  Great historical and political insight and characters that you can easily (and very much want to) empathize with, all built into a suspenseful narrative arc -- what more can you possibly ask for?

 

* Len Deighton: Between his Berlin Game and le Carré's Smiley books, man, what a trip down memory lane to Cold War Berlin.  And Deighton, like le Carré, gets it exactly right, down to individual Berlin locations and settings (I was tempted to compile a post just on those at one point), life style, attitudes, you name it.  Another author I'm definitely going to follow up on in the future.

 

* The group read of Agatha Christie's They Came to Baghdad. What a fun group read that turned out to be!  I'm not the biggest fan of Christie's spy fiction (most of it -- especially the books where she actually "means it" -- range between somewhat unrealistic and completely over-the-top-and-out-there preposterous), but if, like here and in The Secret Adversary (as well as some of the stories in Partners in Crime), she decides to poke fun at the genre, she can be very entertaining indeed.  At one point I thought the plot of They Came to Baghdad was going to veer off in the same direction as that of Destination Unknown, which has to be one of her worst books ever, albeit not counting those she wrote in the last years of her life, but fortunately my fears were unfounded.  If only she'd written more spy books like this one!

 

* Patricia Wentworth's The Traveller Returns.  Speaking of Golden Age mystery novelists trying their hands at spy fiction, I'm tempted to point to Ms. Wentworth's contribution to the genre and tell the rest of them -- the whole lot, from Christie to Marsh, Allingham and beyond: "See: This is how you do it!"  For the first half or so, the book looks like a simple variation on the Martin Guerre theme, which I confess is not one of my favorites, but just when I thought I was going to be somewhat underwhelmed, the spy element kicked in and we were off to a whole lot of fun.  So, many thanks to Tigus for yet another great "Miss Silver" recommendation!

 

* Jane Thynne's Clara Vine series.  A huge shout-out to Mike Finn for mentioning this -- yet another series I have every intention to follow up on after having read the first book (Black Roses).  Extremely well-researched and well-written; easily on par with David Downing's much more acclaimed Zoo Station (which is likewise chiefly set in Nazi-era Berlin).  Now if only they'd picked an audio narrator who had actually put some effort into finding out how to pronounce the multiple German words and place names figuring in the story ...

 

* The Carribbean and Latin American setting.  I confess I'm not particularly drawn to Greene's African fiction and only a minority of those books of his set in England, but I have a soft spot for his fiction set in the Carribbean and in Latin America.  In part, surely, that's because I have a penchant for that part of the world anyway, but those particular books by Greene also have more of a pull on me topically -- I suppose I'm just more interested in reading about the morality and choices associated with politics and the economy (read: corruption) than with the morality of purely personal choices (read: religion) ... at least where it comes to Greene's writing.  (It certainly also helps that the particular Carribbean branch of this easily lends itself to satire -- it's not a coincidence that le Carré's Tailor of Panama covers large parts of the same ground as Our Man in Havana, and from a very similar writerly perspective, too.) -- Rosalie Knecht's Who Is Vera Kelly? provided for an interesting and well-written additional side light in its focus on Argentina and the Malvinas / Falklands, from the point of view of a heroine who is coming to terms with her personal history at the same time as she is trying to decipher what is happening in the country where she has been sent. (Another shout-out to Mike Finn for finding this one.)

 

* The Bond Connection.  By which I don't mean Fleming's books themselves, but those books (all written by women) unearthed by BrokenTune -- one more shout-out! -- as tangentially related to Ian Fleming and his super-spy, all of which turned out vastly more engaging and entertaining than Fleming's own: Phyllis Bottome's The Lifeline, the book that is said to have inspired the creation of James Bond's character (and which incidentally bears a certain superficial topical likeness to Helen MacInnes's Above Suspicion, in likewise featuring its English protagonist's involvement with an underground resistance network in Nazi-occupied Austria), and Kate Westbrook's Moneypenny Diaries, which intelligently use both Ian Fleming's real biography and the plots of some of his James Bond novels for a series of three spinoffs interweaving a look back from present-day England to what might have happened if Jane Moneypenny had been more than M's faithful secretary ... and eternally, fruitlessly infatuated with Bond.

 

* The "Eastern Theatre".  Since most spy fiction (well, at least most spy fiction published in English or German) focuses on what, post-WWII, would be considered a Western perspective, I made a certain point to also include books -- albeit written by Western writers -- set in pre-WWII Russia, the Balkans, and Turkey (in addition to Christie's They Came to Baghdad, that is).  Although I am familiar with the general interwar history of those countries (and areas), Eric Ambler's Mask of Dimitrios and Alan Furst's Night Soldiers filled a lot of gaps, and I also liked the fact that both of them deliberately chose organizations other than a Western intelligence service as their focal point.  Plus, both of them include extended sections in Paris / France (as well as Civil War Spain, in Night Soldiers) -- the city of cities when it comes to WWII intrigue (with the possible exception of Lisbon).

 

* Valerie Plame Wilson: Fair Game.  The subtitle of Plame Wilson's memoir ("How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government") sounds more than a bit sensationalist, but in fact, in the current crazy political climate her experience seems more on point than ever and serves as a healthy reminder that the power structures currently at play didn't fall from the sky in January 2017: at their core, they were already in place in the early 2000s, and it's certainly not a coincidence that one of the first persons to be pardoned post-2016 was Scooter Libby.

 

The Misses:

* Ian Fleming.  Not that this one was unexpected; the early Bond movies alone (and in particular), for however great liberties they may be taking with the plotlines, make it clear that the books are bound to brim with casual and not-so-casual sexism and racism.  Both of these are innately written into Bond's character.  Fleming was a talented writer; I'd just wish he'd employed his talents somewhat differently.

 

Peter Finn & Petra Couvée: The Zhivago Affair. Oh, I had so much higher hopes for this one.  A look at how the CIA used Pasternak's Dr. Zhivago in their subversive activities in Russia in the 1960s and 1970s and at the American and Russian inforwars of the day -- what's not to like, right?  Except that ... the vast majority of this book actually consists in a biography of Boris Pasternak and an extended work history of Dr. Zhivago, with a detailed analysis how Pasternak drew on his personal life experience (and the real life people in his life) in creating the novel.  Only in the second half of The Zhivago Affair do we even get to the CIA's involvement (the actual story how the manuscript was smuggled into the West occupies a mere few pages of the preface) -- and even there, while the Russian-American infowars are covered in some detail, the better part of the focus still seems to be on Pasternak himself, and on how the Russian government treated him as a result of the publication.  Also, while the authors do seem to have had access to (and cite in the annex) certain previously unpublished sources, the vast majority of the material they're using is not only not new, it's easily accessible in major libraries and online.  All in all NOT, therefore, the new and unprecedented focused analysis of the CIA's activities and the Cold War infowars promised in the book's subtitle ("The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book") and in its advertising. -- As a side note, my enjoyment might at least have been marginally enhanced if the audio narrator had been anyone other than Simon Vance.

 

Francine Matthews's The Cutout.  A fairly ludicrous plot, set in Germany and various Eastern European countries and written by an American author who seems to have spent her entire time in the region concerned among Americans.  The name-dropping of streets, tourist attractions and other random geographical features replaces the genuine building of atmosphere and setting, and "the locals'" actions, reactions and attitudes are built straight from cookie cutter cliché -- if Mattews ever had any in-depth conversations with anybody in the areas where she was posted as an agent, she obivously learned nothing at all from them (or she is completely unable to translate what she learned onto the page).  This is a shame, because her book (published in the early 2000s) actually has an interesting and timely premise: A Germany and Eastern Europe where the neonazis are on the rise.

 

Valerie Plame Wilson & Sarah Lovett: Blowback.  Plame Wilson shows in her autobiography that she clearly can write, but either (unlike Stella Rimington) she had trouble translating that ability into fiction writing or she was talked into some pretty nonsensical plot and character choices by her co-author Sarah Lovett (or by an editor).  I'd almost DNF'd by the time the book finally gained a sense of direction and of "self" -- and I was brought to thinking about quitting not least when I hit a big boo-boo that Plame Wilson, as an ex-CIA agent, really ought to know better. 

(There is a character clearly modelled on Stella Rimington, down to the fact that this character is the [fictional] director of MI5 ... only trouble is, this character gets involved, on the British side, with a CIA operation against a foreign government and on the ground in that foreign [Middle Eastern] country -- i.e., an operation that is neither within the remit of domestic intelligence in Britain nor in America, and which would therefore have to be handled by MI6 in the UK, not by MI5.  Since Rimington's autobiography was one of the books I'd just recently finished by the time I got to Blowback, this authorial snafu was impossible for me to miss, and it instantly made me question what other inaccuracies might be contained in Plame Wilson's & Lovett's book.)

(spoiler show)

  Still, Blowback did find its feet towards the end at least in terms of the thriller element, so I at least won't entirely rule out reading its sequel -- maybe it simply took Plame Wilson a while to translate her nonfiction writing skills to fiction.  I just hope I won't run into any more errors of the kind that she really should know better.

 

All in all, though, the number of my Summer of Spies "misses" is infinitesimally small compared to its many hits.  So I'm going to declare this project a rousing success and right on target!

 

 

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text 2018-09-07 14:00
Women Writers Bingo / Project: Tracking Post

 

Read:

A - Margery Allingham: The Crime at Black Dudley, Mystery Mile, Look to the Lady, Police at the Funeral, Sweet Danger, Death of a Ghost, Flowers for the Judge, The Case of the Late Pig, Dancers in Mourning, The Fashion in Shrouds, Traitor's Purse, and The Tiger in the Smoke (all new); The Man With the Sack (revisited on audio);

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun (new);

Margaret Atwood: The Penelopiad (new) and The Blind Assassin (both audio);

Elizabeth von Arnim: The Solitary Summer

B - Anne Brontë: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (revisited on audio);

Phyllis Bottome: The Lifeline (new)

C - Helen Czerski: Storm in a Teacup (new);

Agatha Christie: The Moving Finger, One, Two, Buckle my Shoe, Murder Is Easy, They Do It With Mirrors, N or M?, and Ordeal by Innocence (all revisited on audio), Crooked House (revisited on audio and DVD), Destination Unknown, and They Came to Baghdad (both new);

Peter Finn & Petra Couvee: The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book (new);

Angela Carter: The Bloody Chamber (new)

D - Margaret Drabble: The Red Queen (new);

Daphne Du Maurier: Frenchman's Creek (new)

E - Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters (new)

F -

G - Elizabeth George: For the Sake of Elena, Playing for the Ashes, and Well-Schooled in Murder (all revisited on audio);

Elizabeth Gaskell: Cranford (revisited on audio) and Cousin Phillis (new)

H - Radclyffe Hall: The Well of Loneliness (new);

Mavis Doriel Hay: Death on the Cherwell (new);

Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley (revisited on audio);

Kathryn Harkup: A Is for Arsenic (new)

I -

J - P.D. James: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories (new), Original Sin, Death of an Expert Witness, Unnatural Causes, and The Skull Beneath the Skin (all revisited on audio)

K - Rosalie Knecht: Who Is Vera Kelly? (new)

L - Valerie Plame Wilson & Sarah Lovett: Blowback (new)

M - Val McDermid: The Distant Echo and Trick of the Dark (both new);

Ngaio Marsh: Death in a White Tie, Off With His Head (aka Death of a Fool), Clutch of Constables, Death at the Dolphin (aka Killer Dolphin), Hand in Glove, and Death in a White Tie (all revisited on audio);

Francine Mathews: The Cutout (new)

Helen MacInnes: Above Suspicion (new)

N -

O - Emmuska Orczy: The Old Man in the Corner (new), The Scarlet Pimpernel (revisited on audio), and I Will Repay (new)

P - Anne Perry: A Dangerous Mourning and The Whitechapel Conspiracy (both new);

Ellis Peters: The Sanctuary Sparrow, Dead Man's Ransom, and The Pilgrim of Hate (all revisited on audio);

Valerie Plame Wilson: Blowback and Fair Game (both new)

Q -

R - J.K. Rowling (writing as Robert Galbraith): The Cuckoo's Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil (all new);

J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (all on audio);

Stella Rimington: Secret Asset, Illegal Action, and Open Secret (all new)

S - Dennis McCarthy & June Schlueter: "A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels" by George North -- A Newly Uncovered Manuscript Source for Shakespeare's Plays (new);

Dorothy L. Sayers: Unnatural Death (revisited on audio)

T - Josephine Tey: Brat Farrar and The Franchise Affair (both new);

Amy Tan: The Chinese Siamese Cat (new);

Jane Thynne: Black Roses (new)

U -

V -

W - Ethel Lina White: The Lady Vanishes (aka The Wheel Spins) and The Spiral Staircase (aka Some Must Watch) (both new);

Patricia Wentworth: Miss Silver Intervenes, Latter End, Poison in the Pen, The Watersplash, and The Traveller Returns (all new);

Kate Westbrook: The Moneypenny Diaries: Guardian Angel (new);

Edith Wharton: Ghosts: Edith Wharton's Gothic Tales (new)

X -

Y -

Z - Juli Zeh: Schilf (English title: Dark Matter) and Unterleuten (both new)

 

Free / center square: [???]

 

On the card, I am only tracking new reads, not rereads.

 

Read, to date in 2018:

Books by female authors: 92

- new: 63

- rereads: 29

 

Books by male authors: 49

- new: 45

- rereads: 4

 

Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 2

- new: 2

- rereads:

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