Thursday, September 1, 2011

Summer Reading

by Sandra Parshall

Sometimes I look at my list of recently read books and realize many of them made little impression on me, but this summer’s list is filled with memorable novels.

Karin Slaughter’s new book is always a highlight of summer, and I think this year’s Fallen is the best novel she’s ever written. I’ve been a happy reader since Karin brought Sara Linton and Will Trent together, and their relationship advances in Fallen, but the focus is on Faith Mitchell, Will’s partner in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and her mother, a retired cop who has been kidnapped. Old secrets surface in the course of a riveting crime story.

For something completely different, I turned to Julia Spencer-Fleming’s long-awaited new mystery, One Was a Soldier. Claire Ferguson’s return from active duty in the Middle East lands her and Police Chief Russ Van Alstine in the middle of a murder investigation and gives Julia the opportunity to explore the aftermath of war duty in the lives of veterans.

I read Chevy Stevens' first and second novels, Still Missing and Never Knowing, close together and found both absorbing in different ways. The author uses the same device to tell each story, a first person protagonist talking to her therapist, but there’s nothing similar in the plots. Still Missing is about a woman who is kidnapped and held prisoner for a year (giving birth to the kidnapper’s baby during that time) and suffers another life-altering jolt when she learns the truth behind what happened to her. Never Knowing is about a woman who was adopted as a baby and searches for her real parents as an adult, with disastrous consequences.

I “discovered” Michael Koryta with So Cold the River, and although I’m not usually a fan of supernatural elements in mysteries, I’m now hopelessly hooked on his writing. I read The Cypress House and The Ridge this summer, enjoying his larger-than-life characters and his fearless storytelling.

Again, for something totally different, I finally got around to Leonie Swann’s Three Bags Full, a marvelously droll tale of a flock of sheep solving the murder of their shepherd. The sheep were as real to me as any human characters I’ve met in novels.

These are just a few of the entertaining books on my summer list, which also includes Iron House by John Hart, Fatal Error by J.A. Jance, Misery Bay by Steve Hamilton, The Ice Princess and The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg, and the astonishing Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. Next up, another new book by a favorite writer: Laura Lippman’s The Most Dangerous Thing.

What have you been reading this summer?

Sandra Parshall is the author of the award-winning Rachel Goddard mysteries. The fourth book in the series, Under the Dog Star, has just been published.


Msmstry said...

It's always amazing to me that, with the number of mysteries I read, someone else always comes up with a list I haven't read! Still, it's great that we have such an outstanding variety from which to choose. Thanks, Sandy, for giving me more!

Polly said...

Love, love, love Will Trent. He's one of the most unique characters in crime fiction, and even though I think Slaughter writes one character in the series unrealistically, I wouldn't miss a Will Trent book. I'll definitely check out some of the others you mentioned, though I try not to miss Laura Lippman.

Ann Holt said...

Next up for me too is Laura Lippman's "The Most Dangerous Thing". My other pleasure is Canadian mystery writer Louise Penny. Her new book "A Trick of the Light" launched yesterday.

Sandra Parshall said...

Polly! Another Will Trent fan! Isn't he marvelous? I know some readers were upset with Karin for killing off Sara's husband, Jeffrey, but her relationship with Will is so much more interesting to me.

Wendy said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I too never have enough mysteries and mystery authors to read. This summer I read Maggie Bishop's latest Appalachian Mystery, "One Shot Too Many" and thought it was the best of her Jemma Chase series. I discovered a new author Tana French who writes dark mysteries set in Ireland and really enjoyed her first two. I also have heard about Canadian author Louise Penny recently and look forward to reading her novels as I hear they are compared to my favorite British authors like PD James and Minette Walters.

Terry Shames said...

I was blown away by Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. A debut novel set in Houston in the early 1980's. I expect a lot more from this author.

Sandra Parshall said...

Wendy, I think Tana French's third novel, Faithful House, is her best yet. A powerful book, beautifully written.

Anne said...

While many have already found her, I have been reading the amazing Louise Penny this summer. Her stories and characters have drawn me in and kept me reading. I'm really looking forward to reading her newest. While I wasn't able to attend, I was pleased to see that she debuted latest novel at Gibson's Book Store in Concord, NH. It's the town where I grew up and Gibson's is a great independent book store.

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