I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and I thought I’d share some of the gems I’ve come across:
Racing the Devil, an Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd
No Shred of Evidence, an Inspector Ian Rutledge Mystery by Charles Todd
An Unmarked Grave, a Bess Crawford Mystery by Charles Todd
Yes, I’m on a Charles Todd kick. Charles Todd is the nom de plume [well, sort of] of an American mother-and-son writing team, Caroline and Charles Todd. The two series are set during and just after World War One.
Bess Crawford is a nurse who works on the front lines in France during the war, and who stumbles across mysteries and murders. I love the layered background of her life, with a childhood in India, a mysterious father and his aide, and her willingness to get grubby to bring justice to bear.
After the war, Inspector Ian Rutledge returned to Scotland Yard a changed man. Suffering from PTSD, he now lives with a voice in his head of a soldier he executed for refusing a direct order. This damaged man clings to his work as his only salvation.
I’ve also been reading some excellent science fiction and fantasy, all with a mystery bent:
Company Town, by Madeline Ashby, was shortlisted for the most recent Canada Reads contest, in which five famous Canadians champion a different Canadian book. This is how the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which organizes the contest every year, describes it:
Canada Reads is a "literary Survivor," with celebrities championing books. Books are voted "off the bookshelf," one each day, until one book is chosen as the title the whole country should read this year.
Set off the Canadian east coast, Company Town tells the story of the fearless Hwa, a young woman who works as a bodyguard on the city-sized oil rig they all call home. There are death threats, alternate timelines and a series of interconnected murders, and Hwa must choose between protecting herself and protecting those in her charge.
Loved, loved, loved the story. I gobbled it up.
I know I could be biased, but I’m not. This is a lovely, lovely story featuring a murder mystery set in exotic 19th century Burma. It features an old singer and a magical Burmese puppet, the impish, ancient Yamin, who so desperately wants to be taken seriously by the humans and the members of his puppet troupe. Fascinating culture and unusual, endearing characters.
The one thing all these books have in common are strong, engaging characters, characters that the reader wants to follow on their adventures. It’s something I strive to achieve in my own writing.
Okay, now it’s your turn. What stories have you read lately that you would recommend? Any non-fiction?