Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Review, 7/23/10

I think I've only actually finished two books this week, which is mildly alarming, to say the least.

Laurie King - A Monstrous Regiment of Women

This is the second in a series of books re-imagining Sherlock Holmes as he would be shortly after WWI. The protagonist is a young theological student, a woman named Mary Russell. I enjoyed the book, mostly for the descriptions of post-WWI England in terms of gender mores and social structures. There is a romance between Russell and Holmes - I gather this prompted some criticism of the series as a whole, they end up married - and it might have worked better if I had read the first book. However, in this second book, there seemed to be very little preamble. My wife is currently re-reading the original Holmes stories, and remarked on how interesting it is that a) so few of the stories feature a murder and b) how often the supplicant to Holmes goes away only partially satisfied. This book, by contrast, is a murder mystery (as most mysteries post Holmes have been), and the clients get what they were looking for, more or less. So, an interesting period piece, relatively well researched, and perhaps it would have worked better if it had not included Holmes. I have, however, ordered the first book, to see how it goes.

Thomas Sniegoski - Dancing on the Head of a Pin

This one is also a mystery. The twist here is that the detective is a fallen angel - not fallen unto Hell, but no longer welcome in Heaven either. Sniegoski has done some interesting things with the character - I especially liked the interactions between Remy Chandler and his labrador dog. It is also, interestingly enough, not really a murder mystery. In fact, it fits better as a spy novel, almost - Chandler is a detective, yes, but he is also a critical go-between between Heaven and Earth, and between Earth and Hell - someone who can do things that neither side in the longest cold war can or are willing to do. When you look at it in those terms, it works differently. Anyway, this was an enjoyable and quick read, and I'll certainly pick up a book 3, if there is one.

Both of those books were fairly quick reads. Since then, I've been somewhat bogged down in Red Families, Blue Families, which is somewhat heavy going. I will review it next week, have no fear.