Saturday, August 11, 2007

August 2007

Death in the Truffle Wood by Pierre Magnan
Protagonist: Commissaire Laviolette
Setting: The village of Banon, Provence, France
Rating: 4.5
I might have read this book for the quirkly title alone, but I also received a few recommendations. Written in 1978, it was finally translated into English in 2005, and is a quick, fun read. In Banon, passing hippies start to disappear -- and then show up dead. It's a real whodunnit, and the characters are as quirky as the title -- after all, a truffle-sniffing pig has a major plot role!

S is for Silence by Sue Grafton
Protagonist: Kinsey Millhone
Setting: Santa Maria, Calif.
Rating: 4.7
Grafton's best, the story bounces back and forth between Kinsey's investigation and the actual events surrounding a disappearance, possible murder. Kinsey is asked to solve a woman's sudden disappearance, 34 years later. What she finds is a string of heartbreaking secrets.

The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid
Protagonist: Jane Gresham
Setting: Lake District, England
Rating: 4.0
Jane Gresham, a Wordsworth scholar, is on a hunt for a missing poem and the answer to a long-ago mystery involving an HMS Bounty mutineer. Those who might know the whereabouts of the poem suddenly start dying before Gresham can get answers. I like McDermid's writing and the plot sounded promising, but I was disappointed -- too many characters, a bit choppy and way too melodramatic. And the worse, a predictable ending.

In the Woods by Tana French
Protagonist: Adam Robert Ryan
Setting: Knocknaree, Ireland
Rating: 4.3
Three children go into the woods to play, but only one returns. The other two have gone missing and the surviving child has no memory of what's happened to them. This child grows up to become detective. One day, a young girl is slain in the same woods. With his partner Cassie, Ryan, now a murder squad detective, tries to unravel the strange case. This has a very bleak ending, and one that was ultimately unsatisfying. Until then, I was hooked -- great characters, very well-written. But the ending spoiled what had been a great read.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (audio).
Progatonist: Harry Potter
Setting: Hogswart
Rating: 4.5
As usual, Rowling doesn't disappoint. Harry, growing up, has his first kiss, but also has the bitter experience of seeing a loved one die. The book, much darker than previous ones, is obviously setting up the final two books.

In preparation for trip to northern England and Scotland, some classic gothic literature: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.