Sunday, February 17, 2019

A fast-paced P.I. yarn, and classic of fantastic literature

A quick summary of two recent reads.

School Days is the third book my Robert B. Parker on the 2019 reading list. I enjoy Parker’s work. He likes dogs, smart ass PIs and snappy dialogue.

This was my introduction to Spencer. Does the man have a surname? Or is Spencer his surname? 

School Days takes a nice twist on the standard mystery.  Two kids shoot up their high school. We know who did the shooting; one kid surrendered at the scene and the second later confessed. The mystery here isn’t who committed murder, but why.

Spencer isn’t stopping until he answers that question, despite the fact that no one else — not the local cops or the parents of the shooters — seem to care.  Attentive readers won’t have any trouble uncovering the motive.

As with the two Sunny Randall books I reader earlier this year, School Days is a fun, fast-paced read.

The Boats of the Glen Carrig by William Hope Hodgson was issued as part of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series in February, 1971. I have a first printing of the paperback that I purchased and read in the spring of 1971, during my senior year of high school. I can pinpoint the time because I wrote my name on an inside page, along with my home address, which tells me that I was — for a few months more — living with my parents.

The Boats of the Glen Carrig delves more into horror, than fantasy. A group of castaways find themselves on a mysterious island with monstrous trees. They flee that horror only to stumble onto another island in a Sargasso Sea-like setting. The island is surrendered by enormous crabs and slug-like “weed men.”

The book is a splendid example of the fantasy-horror fiction of its time. The modern reader, with a taste for Stephen King, for example, might finding it slow-going, especially some of the more detailed passages concerning the castaways making a boat ship-shape before fleeing the second island.

If you are an aficionado of the genre, The Boats of the Glen Carrig, along with other novels by Hodgson, should find their way onto your reading pile.  

BTW, I’ve included a link to a recent New York Times obituary for Betty Ballantine. Betty and her husband were instrumental in shaping an audience for paperback books and were the drivers behind the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series.

Books read -- January
1.   Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens
2.   Voodoo River, Robert Crais
3.   Yossel, April 19, 1943, Joe Kubert
4.   Lie In The Dark, Dan Fesperman
5.   A Canticle For Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
6.   Flash, The Making of Weegee The Famous by Christopher Bonanos
7.   Neptune's Brood, Charles Stross
8.   Perish Twice, Robert B. Parker
9.   The League of Regrettable Sidekicks, Jon Morris
10. Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
11. Mrs. Palfrey At The Claremont, Elizabeth Taylor

Books read -- February
12. The Golden Tresses of the Dead, Alan Bradley
13. The Problem of Susan and Other Stories, Neil Gaiman & P. Craig Russell
14. The Rhesus Chart, Charles Stross
15. Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
16. Shrink Rap, Robert B. Parker
17. Wish You Were Here, Graham Swift
18. The Big Fella, Babe Ruth and the World He Created, Jane Leavy
19. School Days, Robert B. Parker
20. The Boats of the Glen Carrig, William Hope Hodgson

Currently  Reading --
Distrust That Particular Flavor, William Gibson
Comics & Sequential Art, Will Eisner
The Professional, Robert B. Parker

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