The Black Tower

November 17, 2008

Author: Louis Bayard
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Twelve

Started: 11/17/08
Completed: 11/23/08

This is a literary, historical, mystery novel set in Paris of the early 1800’s. Bayard wrote Mr. Timothy, another historical mystery and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. So this seemed worth a try.

It centers on Eugène François Vidocq, a figure from French history who had served time in prison but later become the first modern detective. According to Wikipedia, he inspired both Jean Valjean and Javert, the police inspector who pursued Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.

The Whiskey Rebels

November 3, 2008

Author: David Liss
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Random House

Started: 11/3/08
Completed: 11/12/08

This is a historical novel set in the early United State; immediately post-Revolution. It has two main story lines that intersect and connect. It is told in two first person voices, and telescopes through time in places.

The plot, involving financial plots, is complex and can be confusing, but there is action and good descriptive writing. This is an enjoyable book about a period of US history that we don’t read about as often.

Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: Pantheon Books

Started: 9/13/08
Completed: 9/18/08

This is another in the venerable “No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series of gentle mystery novels. these are set in Botswana and feature the clever and philosophical detective Mma Ramotswe who solves mysteries with a combination of determination, observation and homespun wisdom. always a pleasure.

Terra Incognita

June 11, 2008

Author: Ruth Downie
Copyright: 2008
Publisher: Bloomsbury

Started: 6/11/08
Completed: 6/16/08

This is a follow-up to a neat little historical novel/mystery that I read last year (maybe earlier?). That one, Medicus, featured a Roman doctor, stationed in Britain who reluctantly solves a murder. It featured great descriptions of life in Roman Britain, strong characters, and a decent mystery.

This book is a worthy successor. It finds the good Doctor headed off to the borderlands and getting more deeply involved with the locals. Good read. Ms. Downie? Write more, please.

The Somnambulist

May 26, 2008

Author: Jonathan Barnes
Copyright: 2007
Publisher: William Morrow

Started: 5/26/08
Completed: 6/2/08

A mystery, set in Victorian England, and featuring a magician. An interesting novel with some elements of magic and fantasy. Not a bad little book. Odd, but fun.