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Friday, August 4, 2000

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Reading and laughing

I read several books this week, four mysteries and a Bill Bryson book. The first mystery was "Evanly Choirs" by Rhys Bowen. This is a Constable Evans mystery and is set in a small town in Wales. It involves singing and bards. A former resident, who is now a famous opera star, comes back to Llanfair to rest and brings feuds and fights with him. Evans is a likable protagonist and the Welsh setting is nicely done.

The next book was "All Roads to Sospel" by George Bellairs. English Superintendent Littlejohn is visiting his friend Commissaire Dorange of the Surete and gets involved with a British tour group when their guide disappears. The threads lead to smuggling and murder as the two policemen follow the clues. This is a quick read and quite enjoyable though the characters are single dimensional.

"The Corpse at the Haworth Tandoori" by Robert Barnard is very good with the usual plot twists that Barnard is good at. It centers on an artist in failing health who is surrounded by family and fans who all depend on him for their reason for being. A drifter enters the group and then appears to be found murdered in a nearby town. Detective Constable Charlie Peace and his superior Detective Superintendent Mike Oddie try to find out what happened while listening to lies and dreams of the strange group surrounding the artist.

Margaret Maron once again has a great mystery in "Storm Track". Set in a small town in North Caroline, the protagonist is Deborah Knott, a judge, whose family seems involved in everything from bootlegging to law. The murder, in scandalous circumstances, of the wife of an upcoming citizen affects several layers of society and involves the family of a Black preacher as well as a prominent lawyer, a cousin of Knott. The events are set against a hurricane that is moving tward them and affects the outcome of the events.

Bill Bryson has again reduced me to hysterical laughter with his book "In a Sunburned Country" which is about Australia. I'm interested in Australia as my mother was born there and Australians have always seemed like such a contradictory people. Bryson takes us on a tour around the edges of Australia with a stream of fascinating people and places and a quick trip to the interior at Alice Springs. He discusses his reaction to and delight or not with the various venomous inhabitants, amazing landscapes, interesting people and practically invisible aborigines. Well worth reading.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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