In case you missed it and are curious, the details of this year’s reading challenge can be found here. As in past years, each category calls for a separate book, so you cant’s use the same book to fulfill two or more categories. So saying, here is my first update on the books I’ve read so far.
Forests of the Night by David Stuart Davies is the mystery I chose to start the year. It is set in London during World War II. Due to an accident during the protagonist’s military training, he never saw action, and was unable to return to his previous employment. He has set himself up as a private detective. He is hired by a couple to find their daughter. His case soon turns into a murder investigation. As in most mysteries, his personal and professional life merge. I enjoyed this book, which was the first in a series of books. There is a lot of detail about the hardships of living in London during the war. I would recommend this book.
Profiles In Courage by John F. Kennedy was my second book of the year, and was first published in the 1950’s. I first read this book in 1965. It was required reading for all incoming freshmen at Indiana University that year, as I recall. The then Senator Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize for this book in 1957. President Kennedy’s assassination was still fresh in our memories, so I doubt if many students shirked that requirement. It was only years later that I heard that most of the writing was done by Theodore Sorensen. The book is about the courage shown by seven different Senators who voted contrary to the opinion of their party and constituents, for what the Senator believed was in the best interests of the country. Their actions often caused them to lose subsequent elections. It isn’t something you see in these days. I wish more politicians today were as courageous.
The Girl In The Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz is an authorized continuation of the Millennium series conceived and started by Stieg Larsson. I chose it as my Part of a Series choice. Larsson died after finishing the third book in the series. There are many people who believe that nobody else could or should write about Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomqvist, but the publishers obviously disagree. I have to admit that most attempts to carry on a series after the death of the original author seem to lack something for me. The most obvious examples for me are the James Bond and Sherlock Holmes stories. Nobody who followed Ian Fleming and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle caught the heroes as well as far as I’m concerned. Saying that, I enjoyed this book. Some of the character reactions seemed off, but for the most part I have no trouble accepting this book into the Millennium series.
Swords and Scoundrels by Julia Knight was the book I read as my Science Fiction or Fantasy selection. The book falls into genre of Sword & Sorcery; and it has plenty of both. The two main protagonists, Vocho and Kacha, are former members of the Duelist Guild. Both are excellent swordsmen; each looks out for the other; each has secrets; and each has weaknesses. I enjoyed reading this book. Since it is the first volume in a trilogy, I will be reading the other two books as time provides. It is difficult to read everything that I want to read because I try to read a variety of types of books for the challenge. I’ve done this to myself.
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco is my choice for a book written in the 2010’s. It was Eco;’s last published novel before his death in 2016. He revisited a familiar topic, conspiracy theories. As is often the case, I find myself wondering how much of the theory is right and how much is wrong…or is there coincidence involved. This novel is shorter than any other book I’ve read by Eco, but it still full of densely written lists and transitions from one event to the next. I’ll admit that I occasionally scanned or even skipped over entire paragraphs. But in spite of that quibble, I found the book quite enjoyable. Reading Umberto Eco is well worth your time.