Towards the end of the month, I had the beginning of this post planned. I figured I’d write something along the lines of, “Some months, you might read a bunch of books, enjoy them all, but none of them blow you away. Such is October 2014.” But then I experienced the most pleasant surprise. A book I couldn’t put down. I read the last 150 pages in one sitting.
Book of the Month: Malice by Keigo Higashino. At first, this Japanese mystery appeared to be another locked room mystery. A person has been killed, yet the the house is locked. The persons with a key to the house have an alibi. Who killed the deceased and how did they do it? Malice is not your typical locked room mystery. The answer to the who and the how question is answered in the first third of the book, which left me wondering what the rest of the book would be about it. Malice is not a who done it, but a why done it. Malice grabs your attention and has you questioning and rethinking what you’ve read in the other parts of the book. Superb. I also read his previous book to be published in English, Salvation of a Saint.
As soon as I heard about The Big Ugly by Jake Hinkson I wanted to read it, and I bought it on the first day it became available. That’s a testament to how much I enjoyed his previous three books, which I consider classic southern noir. With The Big Ugly, perhaps my expectations were too high, but I didn’t love it like I thought I might. I think I might have been expecting something along the lines of his previous books, and this one, albeit set in the south and a noir book, is a slight departure. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I’m going to read this one again. Hinkson remains one of my favorites and I’m anticipating his short story collection due to be released next year.
Other works of fiction I read this month:
The Ploughman by Kim Zupan, Winter Sleep by Kenzo Kitakata, The Good Life by Frank Wheeler Jr, The Tower by Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman, and Dove Season by Johnny Shaw.
As I’ve mentioned before, I listen to quite a few podcasts, and this month I heard an interview with Lawrence Block by Brian Koppelman on his podcast. Block is famous mystery writer, but not one I’ve read a great deal of. He mentioned a memoir of sorts he’d written, which had to do with race walking. Maybe it was something he said about the book, or the fact that the topic seemed rather odd. I never thought I’d read a book on race walking, but Step by Step is more than a book on race walking. It’s about writing, life, wanting to give up, and forging one’s own path through life. Excellent book. I also read Afterthoughts, a collection of introductions he recently wrote to most of his books.
I also read The Getaway Car by Donald Westlake (a collection of essays on writing and such), and Scribe: My Life in Sports by Bob Ryan.
TV, Movies, Documentaries, Podcasts:
You must listen to Serial: This American Life a weekly podcast, and you must start at episode 1. It’s the story of a murder of a high school girl in 1999 and her ex-boyfriend who was convicted of the crime. The reporter interviews the convicted, family members, friends, and conflicting accounts of the relationship and the events of that day become quickly apparent. I was hooked after one episode.
I finished season two of Rectify. I liked it, but not as much as season one.
They Took Me For Granted is coming along. I’ve got 30-40 pages left to edit in this draft, and I’m at the point in the process where the story has come together. I’m not sure how I’m going to proceed once I finish. I may inquire with some agents to see if they’ll represent me with this book. We’ll see.