Kissing The Gunner’s Daughter (Inspector Wexford #15) by Ruth Rendell: Ah, there’s nothing like visiting an old friend, and after having read 14 previous Wexford mysteries, I consider the erudite Reg Wexford an old friend indeed. It’s odd to say that murder mysteries are my comfort reading, but it’s true all the same. This one starts out with a grisly (for Rendell) crime scene: three murder victims, including famed author Davina Flory, shot in the middle of dinner, with her teenage granddaughter, Daisy, the only survivor. Robbery gone wrong, or something more sinister? Meanwhile, Wexford’s favorite daughter, Sheila, is seriously dating a self-important ass, and Wexford is trying navigate this tricky terrain, desperate to hold onto his good relationship with her while wanting her not to settle. I liked this mystery, but at 378 pages it felt a bit too long for me. And for the first time I started to figure out who was behind the murders before the Inspector did. I could have used more Mike Burden, Wexford’s no-nonsense sidekick, but all in all this was an entertaining mystery. I’ve got nine more of these books, according to Goodreads. I don’t read series in quick succession like some people do, so I imagine that it will take me 2 or 3 more years to complete the series.
Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls And Everything In Between by Lauren Graham: I listened to the audio book version, read by Lauren Graham herself, and it was delightful. (It was also my first downloadable audio book checkout from my library system’s Overdrive catalog – go me! Embracing “new” technology!) If you’re not a fan of “Gilmore Girls,” you can skip this one. But if you are, you MUST read or listen to it. Ms. Graham writes about her unconventional childhood, her days in acting school programs, auditioning and trying to make it, and most pleasingly to this fan, goes into great detail about both of her times playing Lorelai Gilmore. Just a charming, self-deprecating woman letting us fans in on what it was like to be a part of such a magical show. I especially liked her smartly done skewering of ridiculous Hollywood body standards for actresses. Ms. Graham seems genuine and humble, and this was a fun, breezy, entertaining celebrity memoir.
John Crow’s Devil by Marlon James: So, how much do we owe our favorite authors? If you’ve followed me for a while you know that I ADORED both of Marlon James’s other novels, A Brief History of Seven Killings and The Book of Night Women. Hopes for this one, his debut novel, were high, I admit. At just over 200 pages, it was a total slog for me, I’m sorry to say. It’s a story about two warring priests in 1950’s Jamaica, wrestling for control of the souls in a small village called Gibbeah. Filled with biblical imagery and passages, it is also one of the most brutal, relentlessly violent books I’ve ever read. However, there were some beautifully written passages, hinting at the mastery of his later works.
People had a way of carrying afflictions like possessions, thinking suffering was the evidence of life.
She hated him. Her spirit rose and fell with his and she hated him. Because of Bligh, the Widow’s heart was undoing her. They had struck a deal, heart and mind, and now heart was cheating out. It had begun by tricking her into doing things like adding more sugar to the limeade and looking at old dresses in red, yellow, blue. She wished she could punch a hole in her chest and yank the frigging thing out. The Widow has grown accustomed to death; the mossy, mothy grayness of it. God had taken away every man who had unfroze her heart.
I made myself finish this because I loved James’s other novels so much. If it hadn’t been him, or if this had been the first novel of his I’d read, it would probably have been a DNF. It was leaden, joyless, and his characterization was lacking. I still don’t know what the point of the damn thing is, quite frankly. Still, I gave it three stars on Goodreads, because I just can’t give him less. So I’m wondering, do we treat lesser books by our favorite authors differently? Do we grade them on a curve? Or am I just a big softie?
How about you? Do you tend to devour series quickly, or do you parse them out sparingly? What’s the last good audio book you listened to? Have you ever made yourself finish a book out of loyalty to the author’s previous work? I’d love to read your thoughts.