Sep. 29th, 2008

bunrab: (alien reading)
Kitty and the Silver Bullet - Carrie Vaughn - latest in her werewolf series, includes vampires and a vampire war over the next king of the city.

The Circular Staircase - Mary Roberts Rinehart. This murder mystery was written a century ago, 1908, and what's surprising is how modern it is. I think that Agatha Christie probably couldn't have written her stuff had there not been Rinehart's stuff to ease us out of the all-male Victorian stuff. In Conan Doyle and other mystery writers of the turn of the 20th century, mostly women are just objects that things happen to. Rinehart, however, made her protagonist a grumpy old maiden aunt, and both the mystery and the characters seem far more modern than I expected. For example, the aunt inherits guardianship of her niece and nephew. When the nephew graduates college, the first thing he does is go out and buy a car. In 1908! And a period touch: "... and I learned how to tie over my bonnet a gray baize veil, and, after a time, never to stop to look at the dogs one has run down. People are apt to be so unpleasant about their dogs." The copy I read, incidentally, was the original 1908 edition, with its carefully inset illustrations. The crime is certainly modern enough - it involves a bank officer faking his own death to avoid being punished for his embezzlement, when his bank fails. (Ken Lay, anyone? Many people suspect that his death was all too convenient...) Anyway, I liked this, found it easier to read than much turn-o-century stuff, and certainly more modern characters and plot than some of the other stuff I've read from that era. For example, in the back of the book are pages advertising other recent releases from the publisher; I've read a couple of Grace Livingston Hill's books, and they were so awful I never read more, and I've read every word Kathleen Norris ever wrote - I went through a phase - and while those were more readable, they still have a certain saccharine quality to them, and a certain dependence on unrealistic coincidences and people walking into other people's houses uninvited and then eavesdropping to their detriment; Rinehart has much better characters than that!

I noticed that I've already blogged about more than 100 books this year, so for the rest of the year I'm probably going to only mention books where I really have something to say about the book; not gonna blog about any more routine murder mysteries or routine vampire stories. I may change my mind about that, but right now, I figure I've already done my share for promoting literacy. And only a quarter of the ones I've mentioned are murder mysteries, and nearly half of them were nonfiction! So I've met at least one New Year's Goal.


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