Reading: Many mysteries and more

Photo taken 5/20/2009.

Dead of Night, Immortal in Death, and Promises in Death by J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts – I think this might be the last of my “in Death” reading binge, as I’ve checked out everything available in our library system. (“Dead of Night” was a collection of four short stories by various authors, one of which was an “in Death” story by J.D. Robb.)

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray – I liked the cover and thought the title had potential but was disappointed by this young adult book, with protagonist Gemma, sent to a London boarding school after her mother commits suicide in strange circumstances. A mix of boarding school drama, magical realms, evil people and creatures, and the mystery of how her mother was involved all of this plays out in the rest of the book. I thought the characters were shallow and not very compelling — or likable — and while I finished the book, overall found it a bit boring.

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear – Another “Maisie Dobbs” mystery novel; this time, Maisie is hired by Scotland Yard to investigate some serious terrorist-type threats. Her investigations will bring her to the plight of the ignored remnant of soldiers suffering from post-war mental trauma; meanwhile, she tries to figure out how to help her assistant’s wife who has been slipping deeper into depression after the death of one of her children. This book continues the series with grace and sensitivity.

Predator, Postmortem, and All That Remains by Patricia Cornwell – Postmortem and All That Remains are the first two books in the Kay Scarpetta series, but I had picked up Predator first and found it much harder to jump into than the “In Death” books, so checked out the earlier books to get some background. Oddly to me, the earlier books were written in first-person from the viewpoint of Kay Scarpetta, the Chief Medical Examiner in Virginia, but the much later book was written in third-person. As an avid watcher of CSI, I liked reading these novels for the heavy involvement of forensics in the plots.

The Fortune Cookie Chronicles by Jennifer 8 Lee – That’s not a typo; the author’s middle name really is the number “8,” a lucky number for Chinese. A journalist for the N.Y. Times, her “adventures in Chinese food” started when she was intrigued by the multiple lottery winners who used fortune cookie numbers to win the jackpot. Jennifer uses her journalistic acumen to find out things like how authentic General Tso’s chicken really is (it’s not), who first came up with fortune cookies (the Japanese), and other things that I didn’t even know I wanted to know but felt hungrier after knowing them. Must read this book with plenty of Chinese take-out on hand.

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