For something just a little different on the blog today, I thought I’d share a bit about books that I recently read, or listened to. Between the news and the negative political ads that are cropping up, I want to disconnect from part of the real world, and for me, disconnecting has always meant getting lost in a good book.
BOOK BLURB: Northern Ireland, spring 1981. Hunger strikes, riots, power cuts, a homophobic serial killer with a penchant for opera, and a young woman’s suicide that may yet turn out to be murder: on the surface, the events are unconnected, but then things—and people—aren’t always what they seem. Detective Sergeant Duffy is the man tasked with trying to get to the bottom of it all. It’s no easy job—especially when it turns out that one of the victims was involved in the IRA but was last seen discussing business with someone from the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force. Add to this the fact that, as a Catholic policeman, it doesn’t matter which side he’s on because nobody trusts him, and Sergeant Duffy really is in a no-win situation. Fast-paced, evocative, and brutal, The Cold Cold Ground is a brilliant depiction of Belfast at the height of the Troubles—and of a cop treading a thin, thin line.
REVIEW : My first introduction to Sean Duffy was the 6th book in this series, Police at the Station And They Don’t Look Friendly. It was a selection by an online book club to which I belong, Mystery Addicts, and the title intrigued me. I found the book on audio, and enjoyed the story, and the central character, very much. The Troubles, as the Northern Ireland Conflict of 1968-1998 was called, plays an important part in all the books, and I liked getting to know more about the conflict and how it affected daily life for the people.
It was also interesting to see how Duffy evolved as a character from this first book, The Cold Cold Ground, to the sixth title, and while it is not necessary to read the series in order, it may be a good decision. It is the best way to see how the Troubles, as well as the demands of police work, create a cynicism in Duffy that is totally understandable and believable. Still, he maintains a self-deprecating humor that makes a reader smile. He’s a good guy.
Just before starting the Sean Duffy story, I listened to Open Season by Archer Mayer. It was one of the books suggested to me because of my interest in mysteries, and of course I had to check out a book that has the same title as one of mine. This is the first book in a series set in Vermont.
BOOK BLURB: Lt. Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro, Vermont, police force has a serious problem: in a community where a decade could pass without a single murder, the body count is suddenly mounting. Innocent citizens are being killed – and others set up – seemingly orchestrated by a mysterious ski-masked man. Signs suggest that a three-year-old murder trial might lie at the heart of things, but it’s a case that many in the department would prefer remained closed. A man of quiet integrity, Lt. Gunther knows that he must pursue the case to its conclusion, wherever it leads.
REVIEW: While Joe Gunther is an interesting character and not plagued by too much drinking as so many detectives are, I’m not sure I will follow this series. There are 28 book in the series that started with Open Season, so for me to commit to reading so many books the writing and the characters has to be compelling. That didn’t happen for me in this book. It started off as a good thriller when the first murder is introduced, along with the mysterious man in the ski-mask, but too soon after that the momentum of the story slowed as background information about the main character’s personal life, or that of other officers in the department, was introduced. That, and some thin plotting toward the end, pulled me out of the story, and I started losing interest.
JUST FOR FUN: It wouldn’t be Friday without a joke or two to start the weekend off with a chuckle, or a groan. These are from LaughFactory.com
Q. How much room is needed for fungi to grow?
A. As mushroom as possible
A lot of people cry when they cut an onion. The trick is not to form an emotional bond.
Every ten years, the monks in the monastery are allowed to break their vow of silence to speak two words. Ten years go by and it’s one monk’s first chance. He thinks for a second before saying, “Food bad.”
Ten years later, he says, “Bed hard.”
It’s the big day, a decade later. He gives the head monk a long stare and says, “I quit.”
“I’m not surprised,” the head monk says. “You’ve been complaining ever since you got here.”
That’s all for me folks. Have a terrific weekend. Be safe. Be happy.