Friday, November 22, 2019

Reading Report: The Body in the Wake

The Body in the Wake (A Faith Fairchild Mystery)
Written by Katherine Hall Page
HarperCollins Publishers
May 2019; 240 pages

Publisher's Description:
For the first time in years, Faith Fairchild has time for herself. Her husband Tom is spending days on the other side of the island using a friend's enhanced WiFi for a project; their son, Ben, after his first year in college, is studying abroad for the summer; and their daughter Amy is working at the old Laughing Gulls Lodge, now a revamped conference center. Faith is looking forward to some projects of her own. Her friend Sophie Maxwell is also spending the summer on Sanpere Island, hoping for distractions from her worries that she isn't yet pregnant. And the daughter of Faith's good friend Pix Miller is getting married to a wonderful guy . . . with a less-than-wonderful mother. Between keeping Sophie's spirits up and Pix's blood pressure down, Faith has her hands full. And that's before a body with a mysterious tattoo and connections far away from small Sanpere Island appears in the Lily Pond.
[Note: I received my copy of this book free of charge from the publisher, through Library Thing's Early Reviewer program, in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was received.]

The Faith Fairchild mystery series is one of the longest-running series around (this book is number 25!), and (obviously) one of the most popular. I haven't read any of the earlier books in the series, so I knew I was taking quite a chance when I requested this from Library Thing's Early Reviewer line-up. And it really wasn't surprising that I felt a bit lost right from the start. So many characters and relationships and past histories to figure out and catch up with — it left me feeling like an unwelcome guest at the party.

The book was a quick and easy read, but confusing. There were several subplots going on and quite a few references to happenings in other books in the series. Or at least, I'm assuming that's what they were referring to. After a while, I found myself skipping around in large parts of the narrative, looking for the "main" sections dealing with the actual crime that had been committed. They were not easy to find — really, there wasn't much of a mystery at all. Well, not one that seemed to matter much to anyone. And even if I were more familiar with this series, I think I'd still find that a little disappointing. Not sure if I could recommend this one, but for anyone tempted to try it, I'd definitely recommend reading some of the earlier books first.

Rating: ★★½

Qualifies for the following reading challenges:

2019 GoodReads Challenge.
2019 Print Only Challenge.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

So, another Monday. And another reading update. I've been in a bit of a reading slump for the last couple of weeks — hoping that changes soon. But I did pretty well last month. In October, I finished three recent books:

And one not-so-recent one:

My favorite of all those was Becky Masterman's We Were Killers Once, the 4th book in her Brigid Quinn series, and definitely worth the read. I thought both The Body in the Wake and The Shape of Night were disappointing, or at least not as entertaining as I expected. Hoping to post reviews of all them, sometime this week. Hmmm. Yes. We'll see how that goes.

And here's what I've got on my list for this month, if all goes well:

Sorry for the Dead, latest entry in the series of Josephine Tey Mysteries by Nicola Upson. I'm about midway through this one now, and liking it pretty well. I have a few complaints, but I'll save those for my review (if I ever manage to finish it).

The Long Call, by Ann Cleeves. This is the first book in Cleeves's new Two River series of mysteries. I know her Shetland series is very popular, but this will be the first time I've read anything by her. This one has gotten some glowing early reviews, so I have high hopes for it.

Olive, Again, by Elizabeth Strout — a follow-up to Strout's hugely successful Olive Kitteridge. That earlier novel won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and is well on its way to becoming a modern classic. And it's another book I've never read, I'm afraid; but I probably should read it before I launch into the sequel. So, that's something to think about.

Year of the Monkey, by Patti Smith. I really loved Smith's earlier memoir, Just Kids. And this new book comes highly recommended by several readers I trust, so I've put it on my TBR list and hope to get to it before the end of the year. (Which is coming up really fast, ya'll.)

Well, that's definitely enough to keep me busy. Now all I need to do is go curl up with some good books. Nice assignment, right?

Happy reading this week, everyone!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. If you want to let the world know what you're going to be reading this week, head on over to her blog and leave your link. It's also a great way to discover new books and new blogs.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Book Beginnings: Sorry for the Dead

Sorry for the Dead, by Nicola Upson (Faber & Faber, November 2019). These are the book's first sentences:
She waited on the step until Josephine was out of sight, then closed the front door behind her. The house seemed unnaturally quiet, and it took her a few moments to accept that she was finally alone.

About the Book:
In the summer of 1915, the sudden death of a young girl brings grief and notoriety to Charleston Farmhouse on the Sussex Downs. 
Years later, Josephine Tey returns to the same house—now much changed—and remembers the two women with whom she once lodged as a young teacher during the Great War. As past and present collide, with murders decades apart, Josephine is forced to face the possibility that the scandal which threatened to destroy those women's lives hid a much darker secret.

Initial Thoughts:

There's a sense of foreboding about that beginning, isn't there? And I'm wondering who "she" is and what she has to do with Josephine. I like it. I also like that the book is set (at least partially) during that between-the-World-Wars period I find so fascinating.

This is the latest entry in Nicola Upson's series of mysteries featuring a fictionalized version of another famous mystery writer, Josephine Tey (a pseudonym of Elizabeth Mackintosh). It's the 8th book in the series, and I was a little afraid the fact that I haven't read any of the earlier books might be a problem. But, happily, that hasn't been the case — I haven't really had any trouble getting into the story, although it's turning out to be not exactly what I was expecting. Don't want to say too much more, in case I might give away a little too much about the plot. I'll just say I'm enjoying it quite a lot — enough so that I'm thinking I might want to read some of the earlier books. All good, so far.

Happy Friday, everyone! And happy reading! And have a lovely weekend.

Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Friday.  As she says, the idea is to post the first sentence (or so) of the book you're currently reading, along with any first impressions or thoughts you have about the book, the author, etc.  It's a wonderful way of adding new books to your must-read list, and a chance to connect with other readers and bloggers.