Jun. 30th, 2017

Regular readers of my posts will be aware that I read a lot of crime fiction, especially by local authors, and that has continued to be on my reading menu of late - but I do read other things too!

The book I just finished reading is a memoir by Alan Doyle (of Great Big Sea fame) about growing up in Petty Harbour, Newfoundland. It was one of a rack of sale books I perused (and ended up buying) outside of Perfect Books on Elgin Street, either just before or just after a recent dental appointment. A fascinating read by someone who's as entertaining a writer as he is a musician. He vividly captured the culture of the place - the way of life in Petty Harbour, some of its eccentric characters, the sharp Catholic/Protestant divide, the attitude of residents towards "townies" and towards Canada and Confederation. It definitely reinforced my determination to visit Newfoundland at least once before I die!

Another book outside of the crime fiction category that I recently read and greatly enjoyed was Hope Has Two Daughters, by Monia Mazigh. Now, I knew that Monia Mazigh was a Muslim, that she once ran for the NDP in an Ottawa riding and that she is the wife of Maher Arar, but I didn't know much about her background. Apparently she was born and raised in Tunisia and moved to Canada in 1991. Hope Has Two Daughters is a novel set in Tunisia, weaving together the stories of a mother and daughter and centring around two key events: The Bread Riots of 1984 (which the mother, Nadia, lived through) and the Arab Spring in 2010, which Lila, her daughter, becomes involved in when she visits her mother's childhood friends in Tunisia at the age of 18, having grown up in Canada. The story moves back and forth in time, told largely in the form of letters or diary entries - and like in all good stories, everything pulls together nicely at the end. I think I'm going to have to get hold of Monia Mazigh's memoir, Hope and Despair, and perhaps her other works too.

Getting back to crime fiction, I (fairly) recently read The Vinyl Detective: Written in Dead Wax, by Andrew Cartmel. The detective in this book buys up old records, some of which he keeps for himself, some which he re-sells at a profit at all the various flea markets; he also accepts requests from individual clients to track down particular rare recordings on their behalf. it was an interesting and quirky sort of a book, apparently the first in a series. The second one, The Run-Out Groove, was supposed to be coming out in May (though I haven't tried yet to get hold of it, with all the other books awaiting my attention), and the third, Victory Disc, is due out in May 2018.

I also read a book called The Question of the Felonious Friend: An Asperger's Mystery by E.J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen (who rather than being co-authors may be one and the same person). I'm not sure I would have bought this book, but it was one of the freebies in my goody-bag when I attended Left Coast Crime in Hawaii back in March. The sleuth in this book, Samuel Hoenig, owns a business called Questions Answered, and he himself has Asperger's Syndrome (sometimes referred to as high-functioning autism). A client who is
also autistic (but not so high-functioning) comes into Samuel's agency with the question "Is Richard Handy really my friend?" When the evidence he gathers seems to suggest a negative answer to that question, and when Richard Handy is subsequently murdered, suspicion inevitably falls upon the autistic client - but of course, things are rarely that cut and dried in the world of crime fiction! Anyway, this book is also part of a series, and while it was an interesting read, I'm not so sure I would seek out other books in the series.

I've also been reading the most recent output of some of my favourite local authors: the latest Stonechild and Rouleau mystery by Brenda Chapman; the latest Linda Wiken book, Roux the Day; the first instalment of Vicki Delany's new series, Elementary She Wrote; the latest Barbara Fradkin. And I read a book by a local author I hadn't previously heard of, Jeremy Hanson-Finger, entitled Death and the Intern, which takes place at the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Well, how could I resist that one, as a life-long Ottawa resident who was born at the Civic, had my own child there, and was hospitalized there for a couple of weeks at the age of sixteen? And that's before counting the handful of times I've gone there as an outpatient. It's described in the blurb as "set in a vivid and compelling world of anesthesiologists gone bad" - and that's a pretty good description! It's got Hells' Angels, drug traffickers, dog-walkers and more. Hard-boiled but with some dry black humour in there too. The author has a website, hanson-finger.com. Still not sure it was quite my thing, but I'm glad I bought and read it as I like to see what's new out there and think it's important to support these small not-for-profit publishing companies.

Now I'm concurrently reading two books - one a 1999 thriller by Aline Templeton, Night & Silence; and the other by Gwen Cooper, Homer's Odyssey, a nonfiction book about how she adopted a blind kitten. This last one I just picked up second-hand at last weekend's Friends of the Farm annual booksale. I'm enjoying it so far, although I found the sale itself rather disappointing (a less wide-ranging selection compared to previous years). But never mind - it's not as if I'll be running out of reading material any time soon!



October 2017


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