Remembering February

So, February was a weird month. Being sick and injured didn’t help except that both ailments gave me more time to read. Turning 47 turned out to be not a big deal. Just another number in the grand scheme of things. The groundhog didn’t see his shadow either so there are less numbers in winter… And speaking of numbers – here are the books:

  1. A.D.: After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld
  2. Beautiful Place to Die by Philip Craig
  3. If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now by Sandra Loh
  4. Rocksburg Railroad Murders by K.C. Constantine
  5. As She Crawled Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem (AB)
  6. Thirty Nine Steps by John Buchan
  7. Her First American by Lore Segal
  8. Down Where the Moon was Small or And I Shall Sleep…Down Where the Moon was Small by Richard Llewellyn
  9. Path to Power by Robert Caro – finishing TODAY!
  10. Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder (AB)
  11. Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hughes (DNF)
  12. Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieĀ  (AB) – will finish in March
  13. The Art of Dying by Patricia Weenolsen

For Fun:

  1. Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
  2. Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
  3. The Ultimate Treadmill Workout by David Siik

For LibraryThing’s Early Review program:

  1. Liar by Rob Roberge

I also spent some time revisiting the Challenge list. Because of all the missed individual titles I wanted to redo the schedule. That took up a great deal of my time!

Rocksburg Railroad Murders

Constantine, K.C. The Rocksburg Railroad Murders. Boston: David R. Godine, Publisher, 1982.

Reason read: to “finish” the series started in December with Always a Body to Trade in honor of January being Mystery Month. Yes, I read them out of order.

Written in a much different time. When else can you have a Meet Me At the Bar kind of cop who has a priest for a drinking and gambling buddy (on the clock, no less)? Here are some other facts about Chief of Police Mario Balzic: he’s married and a father of two teenage daughters. His mother lives with him and he’s a wicked gin player. A senior in 1942 he joined the Marines fresh out of high school. As a tough but sensitive Chief of Police in Rocksburg, Pennsylvania it’s up to him to figure out who bashed in John Andrasko’s face with a soda bottle at the railway station. For Mario, this murder is personal for he’s known John since they were kids.

Quote I liked, “A man went goofy with grief, he saw to it that the victims were covered, and everybody went home to a hot shower and a cold glass of wine. What else did you do when somebody you loved got killed?” (p 181).

Author fact: Mario is a lot like K.C. in that both are military men.

Book trivia: The Rocksburg Railroad Murders is Constantine’s first book.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Big Ten Country: The Literary Midwest (Pennsylvania)” (p 31).

December Missed

Woops! December left us without me writing about the reading. Not sure how that happened (other than to say “life”), but anyway – here’s what was accomplished for December:

  • Beth Shaw’s Yoga Fit by Beth Shaw (an Early Review book for LibraryThing)
  • Cod by Mark Kurlansky
  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord by George MacDonald Fraser
  • How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  • The Man Who Was Taller Than God by Harold Adams
  • Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett

Here’s a belated look at January 2016 (already started, as you will see):

  1. Flashman and the Tiger by George MacDonald Fraser (the LAST book in the series on my list)
  2. Always a Body to Trade by K.C. Constantine (already read in honor of January being National Mystery month. Read this in a day)
  3. Blue Light by Walter Mosley (already read in honor of Mosley’s birth month. Another quick read)
  4. Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett (the LAST book in the Lymond Series). It bears noting I am also consulting The Prophecies by Nostradamus (translated by Richard Sieburth) while reading Checkmate.
  5. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (an audio book in honor of New Mexico becoming a state in January)
  6. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (in honor of Nabokov’s wife, Vera. Pale Fire is dedicated to her and her birthday is in January)
  7. Up, into the Singing Mountain by Richard Llewellyn (to continue the series started last month).

I have been chosen to review a book about the photography of Dickey Chapelle but since it hasn’t arrived yet I can’t put it on the list. I was also chosen to review Liar by Rob Roberge, but I don’t expect that one until February.

On a personal note: December ended with writing to 12 complete strangers. I am really hoping one or two of them become pen pals.

Always a Body to Trade

Constantine, K.C. Always a Body to Trade. Boston: David R. Godine Publisher, 1983.

Reason read: January is national mystery month.

Someone has killed a nameless woman. Brutally shot her right in the face. It’s up to Chief of Police Mario Balzic to solve her murder only he has two problems: not much to go on in the way of clues, witnesses or suspects and a new mayor who is a little too eager, a little too young and more than a little too green to understand how crimes are solved. He wants this case put to bed yesterday.
The title of the book comes from the idea that in the ways of crime there is one rule: always have a body to trade; meaning there is an accomplice on who to rat if you get caught.

My only “issue” with Always a Body… was that I found it hard to believe the some of the things Balzic would say and do as being professional. I can’t see the chief of police readily admitting to a deputy warden that he had been drinking the night before and probably too much so. Another huge red flag was the fact that Balzic never followed up on leads. He always took them at face value…which made the ending completely predictable.

Like most mysteries, Always a Body… was laden with characters. I tracked 31 people before I gave up.

Author fact: According the back flap of Always a Body To Trade Constantine “belongs to the world Mario Balzic works in.”

Book trivia: Here is another irksome thing: Always a Body to Trade is part of a series. It’s actually the 6th book and the very first book, The Rocksburg Railroad Murders, is on my list. I’ve read them out of order…again.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “I Love A Mystery” (p 121)