Monthly Archives: February 2010

Thomas Perry, “Vanishing Act”

I’m pretty sure this is the first of Perry’s Jane Whitefield series. The concept is brilliant: Jane is a Seneca, from upstate New York, who helps people disappear. The later books are somewhat more functional, more pure thriller, and there’s … Continue reading

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Nick Hornby, “How to Be Good”

This was supposed to be airplane reading, bought before a trip to California. That’s how much I trust Nick Hornby: I figured that any novel  of his would be sufficiently entertaining to distract me on a cross-country haul. Oh, well. … Continue reading

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Robert Louis Stevenson, “Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes”

Stevenson is a writer I’ve always found personally appealing but very difficult to read. Despite the splendid plots of his famous books, his formal diction slowed things down for me and, in the end, pirates and kidnappees don’t interest me … Continue reading

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P.G. Wodehouse, “Right Ho, Jeeves”

Eureka! I finally liked Wodehouse! I’ve been trying to achieve this feat for years. Many people think it isn’t a feat at all. They find it completely normal to enjoy the antics of Bertie Wooster, as recounted by his affectionate … Continue reading

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Thomas Perry, “Sleeping Dogs”

Sleeping Dogs is the sequel to Thomas Perry’s The Butcher’s Boy, and unlike many sequels, it is just as strong as the original story. The Butcher’s Boy, the nameless professional assassin, has spent ten years lying low in England with … Continue reading

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Jeannette Walls, “Half Broke Horses”

I did not read Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle, but I think I know the basics about it — that it was a memoir of her relationship with her crazy parents. Memory (so unreliable) tells me there’s an anecdote about Walls, … Continue reading

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Thomas Perry, “The Butcher’s Boy”

Here’s a question: if I can’t follow the plot of a novel, why do I still enjoy reading it? Legions of readers of Dashiell Hammett and John LeCarré have wondered the same thing. I’ve been working recently on the theory … Continue reading

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Dick Francis, “Odds Against”

Three cheers for “category fiction,” is what I say. Sometimes people in the book business look down on novels that fall into the categories of romance, mystery, thriller — I guess “chick-lit” may be one of the categories now. But … Continue reading

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Annabel Goldsmith, “No Invitation Required”

Annabel Goldsmith’s No Invitation Required: The Pelham Cottage Years is the perfect corrective to Julian Fellowes’ Past Imperfect. Annabel — Lady Annabel to you and to me — is one of the truly grand and fascinating figures in English society. … Continue reading

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Guy de Maupassant, “Strong as Death”

Keen as I am on electronic reading, I do have faint reservations about this latest iteration. I downloaded the Eucalyptus app to my iPhone, then downloaded a couple of short Conrad novels that a friend had recommended. From there I … Continue reading

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