Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Books read, week of 11/15

After last week's somewhat gloomy reads, I decided I was due for some lighter fare.

First, I blazed through The Ionia Sanction, Gary Corby's second historical mystery featuring Nicolaos, a fictional older brother to Socrates (who makes occasional appearances as the last 12-year-old brother any 21-year-old man would want around, because he's such a logical little know-it-all). Nico is ambitious and is trying to rise in Athens' new democracy under the reluctant patronage of Pericles, which in this adventure leads to a journey to Persian-controlled Asia Minor in search of traitors and murderers. Corby does a great job balancing history and story, making Nico and his fellow Athenians relatable while still highlighting just how far removed their attitudes and worldview are from our own.

Sheila Simonson's Love and Folly is billed as a traditional Regency romance (one of the many old trads given a fresh lease on life as ebooks), though it's really more a few months in the lives of two families caught up in political tumult in 1820. There is a love story, but it's more a subplot than the focus of the book. In any case, I love both of Simonson's books that I've read so far because they feel so specific and particular. Neither the characters nor the settings are remotely generic, and her world feels three-dimensional.

Finally, I re-read Dorothy Sayers' Clouds of Witness, the second Peter Wimsey novel, now out in a Kindle edition. I'd read it years ago, but unlike Murder Must Advertise or the Harriet Vane sequence, I don't feel driven to revisit it every year or two, so I'd forgotten most of the details of the mystery. I enjoyed it, and it's important to the overall sequence in introducing Lord Peter's family (including his mother the Dowager Duchess, who is made of awesome) but it's just not the same level of masterpiece as, say, Murder Must Advertise or Gaudy Night.

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