Monday July 14, 2003

Recommended Reading

We've read some good books lately; I thought I'd share. Instead of an entry for each, I'll just put them together.

We recommend:

  • Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels (The Eyre Affair...)

  • Lee Harris's Murder in Hell's Kitchen

  • Kathy Reich's Forensic Procedurals (Deja Dead...)

Thursday Next

Thursday's books combine Literature, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, and a lot of humor into one tidy package. Thursday Next, a special operator in Literary Detection (SpecOps LiteraTech) lives in a somewhat surreal alternate universe where computers still run on steam but cloning dodos is considered commonplace. They're weird; they're fun, and we can hardly wait for the third book.

Titles, in order:

  • The Eyre Affair (trade paper)
  • Lost in a Good Book (hard cover)
  • The Well of Lost Plots (upcoming, 2004)
Visit Thursday on the web at

Murder in Hell's Kitchen

Lee Harris is the author of over a dozen mysteries featuring former nun, Christine Bennett. Her latest work, Murder in Hell's Kitchen, is different. The book introduces a new character, NYPD Detective Jane Bauer, in an intriguing puzzle of a murder mystery. A few months from her 20th anniversary with the NYPD, Det. Bauer is re-assigned to a special squad investigating "cold cases" (unsolved murders from several years ago). Her team's 4-year-old case turns hot however, as the investigation turns up new clues and begins to point in new (and dangerous) directions. An intricate mystery with good characterization and a surprise ending.

Lee Harris shares a website with three other mystery authors.

Forensic Procedurals

If you don't enjoy the technical aspects of a forensic investigation, you probably won't like Kathy Reichs' books. However, if you're interested in the science of forensic work, from facial reconstruction, to age & sex determination, to blood-spatter analysis, you should find this series fascinating. Reichs' main character Temperance (Tempe) Brennan is a forensic anthropologist, splitting her time (and her work) between North Carolina and Quebec. The realism of the series is not unexpected; author Kathy Reichs shares a very similar background with her character.

Reichs' writing style is excellent and a delight to read, combining short clean sentences intermixed with expertly crafted imagery. For example,

Everything about his face was vertical, the lines and folds moving from high to low, paralleling the long, straight nose and ears. The plan was pure basset hound. It was a face that had probably looked old in youth, its arrangement only deepening with time. I couldn't have guessed his age.
The Hydro workers watched in silence as I approached. Both wore aviator shades, and the late afternoon sun shot orange beams off alternating lenses as one or the other moved his head. Their mustaches looped in identical upside-down U's around their mouths.

The one on the left was the older of the two, a thin, dark man with the look of a rat terrier. He was glancing around nervously, his gaze bouncing from object to object, person to person, like a bee making sorties in and out of a peony blossom. His eyes kept darting to me, then quickly away, as if he feared contact with other eyes would commit him to something he'd later come to regret. He shifted his weight from foot to foot and hunched and unhunched his shoulders.

[quotes above from Deja Dead, chapter 1.]

Titles, in order:

  • Deja Dead
  • Death Du Jour
  • Deadly Decisions
  • Fatal Voyage
  • Grave Secrets
  • Bare Bones (hardcover)

Ms. Reichs has web pages at as well as her personal web site. The latter contains information about Forensic Science as well as her books.

Recommended Reading ( in category Books, Movies, Music ) - posted at Mon, 14 Jul, 13:26 Pacific | «e»