Yes, another summer has passed and I read quite a few books. Challenged by the BookJam’s other Lisa to reflect upon my summer reading (would you guess she is married to a teacher?), I realized that I spent the summer with my sons, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and random Super Heroes.
I’d love to be able to impress and report that with my non-kid reading time I dedicated my energies to the classics or to edgy modern literature, but alas I did not. Instead, I kept picking up mysteries. I blame this on the fact that I found two series that once started, I was driven to finish in one fell swoop. And well, that basically filled the summer. But boy did that entail a lot of armchair travel! These two series took me to the ever entertaining French countryside and San Francisco.
The first of these series belongs to the author Martin Walker. I read the initial book in this set - Bruno, Chief of Police: a novel of the French countryside - years ago and enjoyed it, but I can’t say I loved it.
That opinion changed when someone put his second novel, The Dark Vineyard: a novel of the French Countryside, in my hands. In this book, Mr. Walker hits his stride both with both his story telling capabilities and in developing the character of Bruno. I devoured it and then plunged right into reading his third and latest installment – Black Diamond: a mystery of the French Countryside. In addition to spending part of his year in the south of France, Mr. Walker is the Senior Director of the Global Business Policy Council and as such appears both knowledgeable about the region and well, literate.
The second series of mysteries that kept me occupied – and traveling – was the “Dismas Hardy series” by John Lescroart. As someone who was lucky enough to live in San Francisco in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I’ll try just about any book that takes place in that city by the bay.
I found this series because my husband reads thrillers. He gave me one in an airport years ago; I read it and promptly forgot about it. This summer, though, he loaded a few onto my iPad and I was hooked. As with Mr. Walker’s series, I read the first, then another and a third and kept plowing right on through the entire set.
And, while I often turn my nose down at the thought of a thriller, these thrillers are my new mind candy. Why? They allow me to live again in my old hometown, if only for the duration of the novel. They have two interesting main characters – Dismas Hardy and his best friend, homicide detective Abe Glinsky, each supported by intelligent families. And as a bonus, and possibly most importantly to me, each plot places you firmly in San Francisco and provides an enjoyable page turner.
My summary – Mr. Lescroart’s novels are great books for anyone missing San Francisco and/or wanting some escapist reading. Nothing But the Truth begins the series, but you can start just about anywhere.
For additional mysteries that transport you to interesting places, I recommend Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache novels set in the modern-day Quebec countryside, Jacqueline Winspear‘s Maisie Dobb’s series set in Post WWI London, Sarah Stewart Taylor’s Sweeney St. George series set in Boston/New England, and Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther series set in our home state of Vermont. Luckily, three of the four series have a 2011 installment for you to enjoy.
Happy reading and happy traveling! Lisa Christie