Traveling gives me a chance for some uninterrupted reading. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and managed to finish a few books:
- Alive in Necropolis by Doug Dorst: I’m not sure why they gave this outstanding debut novel such a weird cover (the galley looked completely different). The cartoonish cover belies the fresh, imaginative writing inside. Rookie police officer Michael Mercer tries to navigate adulthood, fitting in with his fellow police officer, working on his relationship with an older nurse, befriending the widow of another policeman, maintaining stagnating relationships with high school friends. It doesn’t help matters when he starts seeing ghosts.
- The Tsar’s Dwarf by Peter Fogtdal: Funny and sad, this book chronicles the life of Sorine, a female Danish dwarf, who is given by the king of Denmark to the Russian Tsar Peter the Great. She’s smart and witty but hardened by such a tough life. Sorine’s life is mesmerizing.
- The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss: I’ve long liked Liss’s historical mysteries–he provides such wonderful details. This book about the Whiskey Rebellion is no different. He’s provided a great cast of characters and an exciting plot about Hamilton’s First Bank of the United States. Lots of forgotten history for me, but it was an exciting time post the Revolutionary War when the foundations of the United States were being set.
- Exit Music by Ian Rankin: The final chapter in the long series follows John Rebus on his last 10 days before retirement. There’s a complicated plot, but Rankin does a good job keeping it clear with his excellent writing.
- A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn: A debut mystery set in 1950s apartheid South Africe, featuring Detective Emmanuel Cooper, a man haunted by his past in World War II. A murder of a police captain in a rural town throws everyone off balance, especially since the new apartheid laws have recently gone into effect. Nunn does a good job portraying how the country functioned on such seemingly bizarre rules.
Very disappointed in Alive in Necropolis (and you’re right, the galley cover was much better) It just felt unfinished – it just seemed to lack any real substance. I was left not really having a true sense of who these people were and what made them tick – not to mention, I was never fully convinced of Mercer’s nighttime doings either. In a book like this, where the author attempts to blur the lines between the natural and the supernatural, I need to be confinced. I was not convinced. You can be “fresh and imaginative”, but sometimes that doesn’t translate into great writing.
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I agree with you. ALIVE IN NECROPOLIS is first rate.