I am surprised I got as much read in August as I did. I read 2,987 pages. The list looks like this:
- Mexican Hat by Michael McGarrity
- The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind
- The Murder Room by PD James
- Shadow Man by James D. Doss
- Grandmother Spider by James D. Doss
- In Plain Sight by C.J. Box
- One Day, All Children by Wendy Kopp
- Open Season by C. J. Box
- Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriquez
I seem to be into reading Southwestern mysteries. Mexican Hat by Michael McGarrity was a good story, set in New Mexico. I enjoyed it and will undoubtedly read more by him in the future. (We have a couple more on the shelf right now, waiting to be read!) I think part of the appeal of the books is their New Mexico location, but I think McGarrity is a good writer, too.
Following in that vein are the James D. Doss books: Shadow Man and Grandmother Spider. The main character, Charlie Moon, is a Ute policeman/investigator (depending on which book you read). He is a very likable guy and, of course, a great detective. I have no real knowledge of Ute culture, so I cannot attest to the accuracy, but Doss includes a lot of cultural information in the books. For that reason, the books seem like more than just murder mysteries — although the mysteries would be enough to keep my interest. The book covers make the claim that Doss is doing for the Utes what Hillerman did for the Navajo. If you like Tony Hillerman’s Jim Chee, you would like Charlie Moon.
Although not exactly Southwest, C.J. Box’s books have a similar feel. I guess maybe the appeal of all of these is Western. Box’s Joe Pickett is a Fish and Game Warden in Wyoming. In Plain Sight and Open Season all predate Free Fire, which I read in July. Both books explained some of the situations that were referred to in Free Fire. Pickett is a likable character filled with flaws. He, like all good detectives/cops has a big, burly, always-in-trouble sidekick. But the books bring in enough of the ranching culture of that area to make them interesting, to make them different from all the rest of the books that follow this pattern.
I also read The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind. It is supposed to be a thriller, but to me it was a Sword of Truth story set in our world today. The characters are Rahls and Amnels. But it was a good story, and I enjoyed it. I think the connection to the Sword of Truth books made me enjoy it more than I would have otherwise, though.
I read another PD James novel this time, too. The Murder Room was pretty convoluted, but it was a good story. I like Adam Dangliesh, her detective, a lot. As usual, I am reading the books out of order, so I wasn’t worried when he and his lady love seemed to constantly miss each other; I know what happens next. I like her writing, especially her attention to detail.
I also read two non-fiction books. One Day, All Children tells the story of the founding and first ten years of Teach for America. I didn’t know a lot about the organization before this, and I had some mixed feelings about putting untrained college grads in the most needy classrooms in our nation. I think the book helped me to be more appreciative of the good Teach for America has done. I am still not totally a fan, but I think that they do a great service to our schools. A better solution, I think, would be to put real master teachers with commitment to less advantaged students in these schools, but I am realistic enough to know that probably isn’t going to happen. At least with Teach for America, the teachers are enthusiastic. That, in itself, will help.
Kabul Beauty School was an extremely interesting book. It reminded me a lot of Reading Lolita in Tehran. Debbie Rodriguez presents herself as a real-life Bubbles Yablonsky-style hairdresser who is drawn to helping others and ends up opening a beauty school in Kabul in 2003/2004. It is fascinating. I recommend this book to anyone with interest in what that part of the world is like.
I am already started on my September reading, but I think this will be a slower month. Lots of other things to do. We’ll see, though. That’s what I thought about August when it started!