The plan *was* to have a few posts today titled “book review”, but apparently the last week has taken it out of me somewhat, as I seem to have done very little today but read blogs and then read a book. So instead there is a list of what I’ve been reading over the last week in spite of my body reminding me in sundry ways that I am middle-aged.
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.
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.
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.)
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.