Reading: 2019

Titles Read = 78

Killing the Blues — Michael Brandman
Jesse Stone. Could this be a novelization of the television show with Tom Selleck? Tom gets an acknowledgement.

Last Stop Tokyo — James Buckler
Fast paced. Not bad.

New York Dead — Stuart Woods
The first Stone Barrington.

The Star of India — Carole Bugge
Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty at it again. Interesting note: Dr. Watson’s second wife has now died … coincidence?

The Transmigration of Bodies — Yuri Herrera (+)
Violence in Mexico. Raw.

Dutch Uncle — Peter Pavia
Hard-boiled Miami.

The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster — Bobby Henderson (+)
Is this a humorous play on the foibles of organized religion or is it a deadly serious treatse that shreds every religion, historically, spiritually, and gastronomically? Is it satire or exposé, fluff or truth?

God In Pink — Hasan Namir
Getting to be a common theme: outcast (gay) in a rigid religion and oppressive society.

Between the World and Me — Ta-Nehisi Coates (+)
A personalized essay on the black experience in America. Powerful.

The Corpse Came Calling — Brett Halliday
Married? A thug?

House of Fallen Trees — Gina Ranali
Was it the house or the trees? Fairly traditional spooky (not Bizarro).

A Japanese Schoolgirl — Yoko Kajihara
A Japanese boy is cut in half by an oncoming train. Was he pushed or was it suicide?

Tinkers — Paul Harding
You can fix a clock but you can’t tinker a tinker.

Flood — Andrew Vachss
Hard ass.

Nemesis — Joe Yogerst
Not that great but a lot of fun, especially for an old San Diego boy. So if you are interested in San Diego history and geography, Wyatt Earp, quaint sexual depictions, and a bit of gruesomeness,, this one’s a good choice for entertainment. Note: the first “murder” took place only a few blocks from my home, when I was a wee bairn.

Robert B. Parker’s Wonderland — Ace Atkins
An improvement. Still with that Spenser vibe but not as forced as in the earlier novel

The Bishop Murder Case — S. S. Van Dine
I didn’t realize how early in the history of detective fiction Philo Vance slotted.

Stick Out Your Tongue — Ma Jian
Short stories centered around Tibet by a Chinese author.

When Red Is Black — Qiu Xiaolong
A good mystery and plenty of insight into life and politics in China.

The Famished Road — Ben Okri (+)
Definitely worth rereading for all the phantasmagorical symbolism. This is not a straight narrative.

The Woman In White — Wilkie Collins
It’s curiously refreshing to read a narrative that projects a life long gone and a prose style long forgotten.

Honeymoon To Nowhere — Akimitsu Takagi
This type of Japanese murder mystery is all talk and no action. The details of logic and the thoroughness of analysis are impressive but somewhat tedious.

Bend Sinister — Vladimir Nabokov

The Black Ice — Michael Connelly
I grew up visiting Tecate and Calexico/Mexicali so there was some personal pleasure in this story about drugs coming in from Mexico. Not sure if the treatment of Mexican officials and citizens is a tad suspect or if it is simply the exposition of facts. Recommendation: Watch Orson Wells’ film Touch of Evil.

Throwaway Daughter — Ting-xing Ye
The Chinese orphan grows up in Canada and returns to China to find her birth-mother. Heard it before? This one has a few complexities that make it slightly more interesting.

I Think I Am in Friend-Love With You — Yumi Sakugawa
Delightful little graphic story. Not to be missed.

Alan Quatermain — H. Rider Haggard
The old hidden civilization at the end of an underground river story capped by brutal mayhem.

Bodies are Where You Find Them — Brett Halliday
Cute twist but too obvious.

Monsieur Pamplemousse Stands Firm — Michael Bond
Some of these stories are a little thin.

Murder and the Married Virgin — Brett Halliday
Mike Shayne. Beaucoup de decent detective fiction in this series.

The Calcutta Chromosome — Amitav Ghosh
A lively, intertwining narrative with an admirable blend of historical events and modern sensibilities .. all in India. Reads like a good mystery. Nicely done.

The Brief History of the Dead — Kevin Brockmeier
Fictional representations of a world after death seems to be a thing nowadays.

The Black Echo — Michael Connelly
Enjoyed the Amazon series Bosch immensely so this is a natural. Very good with several understandable variations between the teleplay and the books.

Newcomer — Keigo Higashino
Good detective story with a few twists.

Maestra — L. S. Hilton
Hype suggested a heart-stopping thriller. Reality was lots of decent porn passages and a goodly number of gory bodies. Otherwise the same old story.

Monsieur Pamplemousse On Location — Michael Bond
Will Pommes-Frites have his paw prints enshrined outside the Chinese Theater?

 Zero Cool — Michael Crichton
Crichton wrote several detective/caper novels under a pseudonym. Forgettable.

Charlotte Temple — Susanna Rowson
Clarissa Harlowe light.

Infinite Jest — David Foster Wallace (+)
Excellent for sheer volume, complexity, and endnotes. It’s the story of a tennis academy on the hill and an AA facility at the bottom of the hill. Obviously loaded with symbolism.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair — Nina Sankovitch
Carefully manipulated memoir using the common “book-a-week” crutch to provide structure. Read this one to understand that “It’s All Fiction.”

Zero History — William Gibson
Good, if you like this sort of thing. This was the last book of a trilogy … thank goodness.

Wolf Hall — Hilary Mantel
If you have studied the history of Great Britain, this novel will add little other than tedium.

Strangers On a Train — Patricia Hightsmith

Will Warburton — George Gissing
The author’s usual observations on the vicissitudes and pain of life. Nice story. Good author.

Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff — Sean Penn
I wanted to hate this one but it actually has an interesting and fun approach to the narrative. Was Candy any less scattershot?

The Years — Annie Ernaux (+)
Memoir, history book, insight to the human condition, excellent!

Crossing — Andrew Xia Fukuda
I confused this book with another of a similar title. Although well done for a juvenile, this was therefore disappointing.

I’ll Sell You a Dog — Juan Pablo Villalobos

The Decagon House Murders — Yukito Ayatsuji & Soji Shimada
Ten little Indians and Halloween meet and form a literate mystery .. maybe.

The Rain Ascends — Joy Kogawa
What if your Dad was a pedophile?

Diary of a Fat Girl — Moira Mugwani (-)
Basically a decent young adult. Shallow and not very insightful. Low rating was not because it was so bad but rather because I had wasted my time reading it.

The Frolic of the Beasts — Yukio Mishima

The Big Blowdown — George Pelecanos

Taduno’s Song: A Novel — Odafe Atogun

The Incendiaries — R. O. Kwan

A Man’s Head — Georges Simenon

Death of a Red Heroine – Qiu Xiaolong
Three books in one: Social history of modern China, a touch of Chinese (and International) literature, and a good old mystery.

Houses — Borislav Pekic

The Locusts Have No King — Dawn Powell

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World — Steve Brusatta

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free — Charles P. Pierce

Slow Boat — Hideo Furukawa
Short, fast moving, a little meta.

The Aeneid — Virgil (Fagles)
A Classic for sure. The basic story is this guy escapes the destruction of Troy and at the bidding of a goddess sails to Italy where he slaughters the people there and founds what will become Rome. Fagles is a prose translation, albeit somewhat poetic; I probably would prefer Lattimore.

Love Is a Dog From Hell — Charles Bukowski
Poems. Some even good. Bukowski is an interesting fellow and not a bad writer.

The Atheist’s Bible — Joan Konner
A wonderful collection of quotations ready made for the literate atheist.

The Girl’s Guide to the Apocalypse — Daphne Lamb

A Dissertation Upon Roast Pig — Charles Lamb
Some so-so essays but a couple of really good ones.I love this genre.

Masks — Fumiko Enchi

Maigret In Antwerp — Joe Richards

Loups-Garous — Naatsuhiko Kyogoku

No God But God — Resa Aslan
Good overview and history of Islam.

Maigret At Fouquet’s — Robert J. Courtine

A Visit From the Goon Squad — Jennifer Egan

Streetwise — Mohamed Chaukri
Autobiographical novel following up For Bread Alone.

Empire V — Victor Pelevin

The Ghost In the Shell — Tow Ubukata
Four short novels concerning future enhancements to humans, both physical and mental.

The Virgin of Flames — Chris Abani
An engaging story of a near future in East LA. Better than most.

Maigret and the Murder in a Minor Key — Murielle Wenger (-)
Unfortunately, most derivative (copycat) novels tend to emphasize the identifiable themes and motifs of the original. Half the work is done without requiring an ounce of imagination from the new author. However, this can be allowed if iit frees up the new author for an explosion of intricate narrative and intriguing discourse; unfortunately that was not the case in this friendly but flawed copy of a Maigret novel.