TTT: Summer Reading

Since I told you in my last entry that I managed to get sunburnt in Dublin you might have guessed that sun and heat don’t really agree with me. I usually the summer hiding in the cellar and trying to distract me from the heat. So my summer reading list includes books set in icy cold places so that at least my brain can cool down a bit.

Kai Meyer: Frostfeuer1. Kai Meyer – Frostfeuer (Frost Fire)

Unsurprisingly, things get cold in this retelling of The Snow Queen, set in St. Petersburg. Sadly, it hasn’t been translated in English but some of Meyer’s other books have. Including the more sun- and beach appropriate Wave Walkers trilogy which is set in the Carribean.

Ekaterina Sedia - Heart of Iron2. Ekaterina Sedia – Heart of Iron

It’s not always cold in this book but Sasha’s journey on the Trans-Siberian railroad leads her…well…through Siberia. Where it is very cold.

Arnaldur Indriðason: Silence of the grave3. Arnaldur Indriðason – Silence of the grave

While it’s not set in the middle of a deep Icelandic winter, things do get pretty chilly in this crime novel.

Henning Mankell: One Step Behind4. Henning Mankell – One Step Behind

While I could never share the love every crime novel reader seems to have for the whole Wallander series, I think some of the books are great and One Step Behind is brilliant. (And while it’s set in Sweden it takes place over Midsummer so it’s a proper summer-read).

Tommy Krappweis: Das Vorzelt zur Hölle5. Tommy Krappweis – Das Vorzelt zur Hölle

Another book with no English translation but this topic is surprisingly hard. And this one is properly holiday-themed: The author writes about the campaign-holidays of his childhood and how much his parents loved them. He, on the other hand, was less fond of tents and questionable sanitary conditions but had very little input on the choice of holiday destination. That makes it all sound a lot less funny than this book is because I laughed out loud repeatedly while reading this.

Agatha Christie: Death on the Nile6. Agatha Christie – Death on the Nile

And if you are one of those strange people who enjoy hot weather and even want to read about people being in very hot places while you are in a very hot place: here’s a book set in Egypt.

Carola Dunn - To Davy Jones Below7. Carola Dunn – To Davy Jones Below

Just like Poirot, Lady Daisy also can’t go on holidays without falling over a dead body. And that makes for some perfect holiday-reading 😉

Tony Hawks - Round Ireland with a fridge8. Tony Hawks – Round Ireland with a Fridge

In case you’re into unusual holidays, you will enjoy the tale of the man who went round Ireland with a fridge. It’s hilarious.

Foreign Bodies9. Foreign Bodies

Perhaps you want to match your holiday-reading with your destination. In that case, one of the stories in Foreign Bodies might meet your requirements, as it brings you crime-stories from places like Russia, Japan, France, the Netherlands, and Mexico.

K. M. McKinley - The City of Ice10. K. M. McKinley – The City of Ice

And to close things of another icy read. Though only one of the plotlines takes place in the eponymous city (and the characters need quite a while till they get there). Another is about worker’s rights in a place with very average temperatures. (And yet another is about…a BDSM loving god. It’s an odd book but very good).

Dublin

I was in Dublin (and came already back two weeks ago but…well I was busy …or possibly  lazy. Who knows?)

So how was it? Great! I got a sunburn. In Ireland. (Not that it was my first Irish sunburn…and I also managed to get one in Wales and in autumnal Prague so really, my skin isn’t made for sun). Fortunately, Dublin has some great museums in which you can hide from the sun 😉

Well, and bookstores:

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From left to right/top to bottom

  • Poldark novels 2-6
  • British Crime Library Classics: Impossible Crimes
  • Celtic Design patterns for cross stitch/embroidery etc.
  • Lindsy Van Gelder & Pamela Robin Brandt: Are You Two…Together?: Gay and Lesbian Travel Guide to Europe (less actual travel guide and more ‘amusing stories that happened while traveling lesbian’)
  • Robert Thorogood: A Meditation on Murder (it’s either a Death in Paradise tie-in or part of the series the show is based on. The blurb doesn’t make it clear…and I also watched like three DiP episodes so far but it sounded fun)
  • Morses Greatest Mysteries
  • Ursula K. LeGuin: Left Hand of Darkness (I am a fantasy-lover who still hasn’t read LeGuin and really I should change that)
  • Murder at Shandy Hall, a true crime book about Dr. Phillip Cross
  • Robert Webb: How Not to be a boy
  • A Dr. McCoy magnetic bookmark
  • Motherfoclóir: Dispatches from a Not So Dead Language

So, how does the project Conquer the tbr-pile go?

Badly. Very badly. But it had already gone badly before the holidays because I couldn’t resist the ‘SFF from around the world’ collection from Storybundle. I knew I had lost back then, but couldn’t quite bring myself to admit it.

However, when I came home I had a long, hard look at my pile and threw quite a few books from it in the ‘donate to next church sale’-box. I have a tendency to pick up books I feel I should read because they are Important(TM) or Famous(TM) book that Clever People(TM) read. These books then lie on my tbr-pile and stare at me judgingly because I really should read them. I also have a tendency to stick with series/authors far beyond the point I enjoy them. These books then also lie on my tbr-pile and stare at me judgingly because ‘hey, you liked this once!’. I also have great friends who know how much I love to read and give me books. Sometimes they are really on point, sometimes…not so much. These books then also lie on my tbr-pile and stare at me judgingly because ‘think of how disappointed [friend] would be if they knew you still haven’t read it!’.

Well, most of those judgemental stares are now in the donation box. I even managed to throw out more than I got in Dublin, so that is definitely a plus.

But I still decided to officially abandon my ‘For every five books read I get to buy a new one’-project. That is far too much hassle, especially the way I ‘played’. (Wait…was this an audiobook which doesn’t count? When exactly did I buy this aka is it part of my tbr pile or the pile of shame I acquired later?) It wasn’t fun anymore and reading should always be fun.

I still plan to do something about my tbr pile but that way clearly didn’t work.

 

Blood on the tracks

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“Never had I been given a tougher problem to solve, and never had I been so utterly at my wits’ end for a solution.”

A signalman is found dead by a railway tunnel. A man identifies his wife as a victim of murder on the underground. Two passengers mysteriously disappear between stations, leaving behind a dead body.

Trains have been a favourite setting of many crime writers, providing the mobile equivalent of the “locked-room” scenario. Their enclosed carriages with a limited number of suspects lend themselves to seemingly impossible crimes. In an era of cancellations and delays, alibis reliant upon a timely train service no longer ring true, yet the railway detective has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the twenty-first century.

Both train buffs and crime fans will delight in this selection of fifteen railway-themed mysteries, featuring some of the most popular authors of their day alongside less familiar names. This is a collection to beguile even the most wearisome commuter.

Rating: C+

I have to say I love the sentence “In an era of cancellations and delays, alibis reliant upon a timely train service no longer ring true”. Clearly, nobody has been hit harder by the decline of the railways than poor mystery writers who have lost such a great plot-device…

While one might think that ‘railway related mysteries’ limits the type of stories one can include in this book there is some variety. In many cases, they are simply a sub-set of locked-room mysteries: somebody (or something) disappeared from a moving train (but the how is different every time). Sometimes the train provides the murder-method (or the means of masking the murder) and sometimes the train is mere coincidence (The Unsolved Puzzle of the Man with No Face opens in a train but the actual crime had been committed somewhere else and was in no way connected to a train or the railway).

Of course, the stories also vary in quality. No matter how popular railway mysteries were, not every writer did his best work in (short) railway fiction. (Sayer’s story is nowhere near as brilliant as her long fiction). My personal preferences also play a role (I’m not a big fan of mysteries told from the POV of the killer. Or of occult detectives).

Continue reading “Blood on the tracks”