July 2010 book log

For completeness, the July book log in one post, although it’s only the two interim posts put together. At the moment I’m not planning on reviewing any more of these in detail, because I still have two books where I asked for review copies where the reviews are well overdue. However, I expect to re-read most of them at some time or another, so reviews probably will appear eventually. 7 books this month, although one is a cheat because I’ve been reading it for a while.

38) Edward Marston — The Iron Horse
Fourth book in the Railway Detective series. Victorian era police procedural, this volume being about a very nasty attempt to interfere with the favourites in the Derby. The case starts with the discovery of a severed head in a hatbox… As with the others in the series, I enjoyed this competently written pulp, but not a keeper for me.
LibraryThing entry

39) Georgette Heyer — Death in the Stocks
Another of Heyer’s mysteries, this one being the first of four about Superintendent Hannasyde, or so LibraryThing tells me. Lots of fun, although the characters were occasionally annoyingly rather than entertainingly eccentric. I liked it enough to stay up late finishing it.
LibraryThing entry

40) Jennifer Ashley — The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Bought this one on the strength of the review at Dear Author. Historical romance with a hero who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Very, very well done, and the person who was going to get my copy if I didn’t want to keep it is going to have to buy her own. :-)
LibraryThing entry

41) Val McDermid — Blue Genes
First one from this author that I’ve read, and I liked it a lot. Fifth in the series about Manchester-based Private investigator Kate Mulligan. I will note that part of what I enjoyed about it was the immersion in the city I currently live in. I’ll probably go and get more of these once I’ve reduced the tbr mountain a bit.
LibraryThing entry

42) Isaac Asimov — A Whiff of Death
A university chemistry lecturer finds one of his PhD students dead in the lab. At first glance it looks like an unfortunate accident with a bottle of cyanide, but it’s clear to Lou Brade that his student was murdered — and that he’s the one who had the best opportunity to do it. Lou has a strong motive to find the killer before the police fix on *him* as the prime suspect, but to do so he has to navigate the office politics that could be just as deadly to his career as an outright accusation of murder.

Published in 1958, this is now a period piece and very much of its time in its social attitudes. But it’s still a good read, both in spite and because of that, nicely dissecting the ruthlessness of the academic life. Asimov constructed his story well, and while the habits of chemists and their materials are an essential part of the plot and the story is permeated with chemistry, you don’t need to know any chemistry yourself to follow the story or to work out whodunnit.
LibraryThing entry

43) John Barrowman — Anything Goes
The first volume of Barrowman’s autobiography, which I bought not so much for fangirl reasons but because I learnt from David Niven’s work that well-written actor’s memoirs can be entertaining even if you know nothing about the actor at the time. I’ve been reading this on and off over the last few months, and while it’s not to the same level as some memoirs, it’s an entertaining read. Barrowman comes over as being possessed of both an enormous ego and great generosity of spirit — and as being much more solidly grounded in reality than many celebrities.
LibraryThing entry

44) Alexi Panshin — Star Well
This is one of my comfort reads, and I started it on Thursday night when I was getting over the migraine enough to want to read, but not to feel up to tackling something new. I also didn’t feel like pulling out my current bus book and reading that, so Star Well got pulled off the shelf. I bought it some thirty years ago, and have read it often enough that it’s probably a good thing that I committed the unspeakable crime against its paperback person of sticky-backed plastic. For those of you who’ve never heard of it, it’s an sf comedy of manners that has by now delighted several generations of sf fans, even though it’s been out of print in treeware for years. (Fortunately it is readily available as part of a legal ebook omnibus of the 3 published books in the series, either direct from the publisher or through Fictionwise.)
LibraryThing entry

Started but not yet finished:
The bus book started on Thursday was Ashes to Ashes by Lillian Stewart Carl, a book I bought several years ago because of a Blake’s 7 connection (one of the main characters is an avatar). And I’m still on actor memoirs for my bedtime reading, having now started “My word is my Bond” by Roger Moore.

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