For a change of pace in your home for Center-Right Conversation, here are some mystery books I’ve gone through at bedtime of late which I can recommend to those so inclined.
I must first mention A Falling Knife by our own “Judith Deborah” Levy. It’s an exceptionally well-written tale rooted in buried human tragedy but expressed in a double-helix of biotechnology and high finance. I admit to picking this up out of Ricochetian loyalty, but I recommend it entirely on its own merits. The sole bone I had to pick had to do with a minor plot point based on a Catholic practice that is no longer operative. It’s a tough book, saturated with sadness and loss, but rewards on a lot of levels—not least learning some very interesting things from the cutting edges of biotech and money. I hope I can urge her to write more. (Judith, write more!)
Second, I enthusiastically recommend my friends Aaron & Charlotte Elkins’ new book, A Dangerous Talent, which seems to betoken a new series from Aaron, a recognized master of the genre, and Charlotte, a frequent co-author. The protagonist is Alix London, an aspiring art expert saddled with the fact that her father, a great conservator, ended up in prison as a forger. A high-tech millionaire friend nevertheless hires her to authenticate a Georgia O’Keeffe she’s been offered by a Santa Fe dealer. Complications ensue. I find the Elkins’ books utterly enjoyable to read. They’re immaculately constructed, wittily written, and play fair. The titles Charlotte has written with Aaron contain some of the best, most appealing young-women protagonists I’ve com across. Alix London is no exception, and I loved this book start to finish.
I’m late to the party, but wandering into Chris Ewan’s “Good Thief” series with the latest, The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice, was a pleasant surprise. I saw “Venice” and “first-edition Maltese Falcon” on the jacket and figured it was for me. It’s a picaresque jaunt about an author who’s a tenuously reformed burglar who gets blackmailed back into the game. It’s basically a heist movie, if you will, and provides swift, entertaining action sequences, along with well-written (well-established) characters, a light, deft style, and a good sense of humor.
Nothing But the Truth is the latest in Jarkko Sipilä’s “Helsinki Homicide” series (which is at least what the small press that issues the English versions calls them). Like a lot of Scandinavian mysteries, it attempts to address a larger issue in the context of the mystery (here the protection of witnesses by the justice system), but unlike many of them, it doesn’t belabor it to the point of pedantry (unlike, say, some of Sjöwall & Wählöö lesser works which used to bemoan the insufficient socialization of, wait for it, 1970s Sweden). Sipilä’s series is good, European-style police-procedural writing with interesting, if not very deeply drawn, characters. If you like this kind of stuff, you’ll like these. The previous books in the series are also good.
Well, that’ll do for now. So, what are you reading? What should I be reading?