Friday, October 05, 2012

Three books in four days...

I haven't done that in awhile. Finish reading three books in four days, that is. You know, ignoring things that need to get done and staying up much later than I should considering the time in the morning the alarm is set to go off, all because the book I'm reading is just too good - or at least too involving - to put down.

Well, that was the case for two out of the three books I finished reading between Saturday and Tuesday just past. The other one got read just because it wasn't that long, was pretty easy reading, and I wanted to get through it to know if I could use some of the information from it to help construct next Sunday's Music Sunday post.

The first book I finished, on Saturday, was Summer of the Dragon (1979, Tor Books; 277 pages), by Elizabeth Peters. It's a romantic mystery from the same writer who has given us the Amelia Peabody mysteries, and while it is slight in many ways, it was a fun read. The story concerns D. J. Abbot, an anthropology student who secures a summer job working for eccentric billionaire Hank Hunnicutt. The main attraction of the job is the fact that Hunnicutt lives in northern Arizona, 600 miles away from her family. It isn't that D. J. doesn't love her family; she does. But they are, well, a bit eccentric themselves, and she would rather not spend the entire summer with them.

Hunnicutt is looking for a summer intern because he has found something in the desert. Although D. J. and her advisor at school suspect that this something probably isn't really anything, since Hunnicutt has a reputation for interests that are not entirely scientific and is known to surround himself with mediums, UFO enthusiasts, treasure hunters, and other fringe types. However, the pay is good and the scenery will be different, so D. J. takes the job. But, when she arrives in Arizona, D. J. finds more than she bargained for. Hunnicutt is being very mysterious about what he has found, most of the hangers-on at Hunnicutt's ranch are positively hostile toward D. J., and mysterious things are happening. But D. J. likes Hunnicutt from the beginning, and finds his right-hand man quite attractive despite his abrasive personality.

Developments move quickly, and soon D. J. is in over her head. It's a fun story. I won't claim that some of the characters are not rather flat and stereotypical, but that didn't hurt my enjoyment of the story overall. As a bonusm the archaeology is accurate; after all the author is an Egyptologist with a doctorate from the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. Summer of the Dragon, in short, isn't great literature, but it's a quick, fun read. Maybe it's just me, but sometimes a good story trumps great literature.

I'll only mention the book I finished - in fact, read in it's entirety - on Sunday briefly, because it is going to be part of Sunday's music blog post. I'll just say here that it was LZ-75: The Lost Chronicles of Led Zeppelin's 1975 American Tour (2010, Gotham Books; 217 pages), by Stephen Davis. It was another quick read, but not my favorite book about the music industry, a genre that I enjoy a lot. It isn't a bad book, but it seemed to me it was more about the author's experience on tour with Zeppelin rather than really being about the band or the tour itself. But...more about that in a couple of days.

The third book, which I finished reading on Tuesday, was Bones Are Forever (2012, Scribner; 288 pages), by Kathy Reichs. This book tells another story in the further adventures of Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist, upon which the television series Bones is based. There are no similarities between the character in the books and on the TV series other than her name and her occupation, but that's okay. The books are very good, and I enjoy the TV series immensely. I just accept that they are two very different things.

In this, the fifteenth book in the series, Temperance finds herself investigating the deaths of four newborn infants over several years, all apparently born of the same woman. The mother has disappeared, and Brennan and detective Andrew Ryan, with whom Brennan has a past, find themselves searching all over Canada to find her. Starting in Montreal, they follow her trail to Edmonton and then to the far north, to Yellowknife, where, they find, things are not entirely what they seemed when their investigation began.

I hesitate to say any more about the story, for fear of giving away too many spoilers. I will say that Bones are Forever is a good book, well worth the time spent in the reading. Reichs has once again constructed an exciting, engrossing mystery, something she is very good at. The characters are well-drawn. The plot is just convoluted enough to hold the reader's interest without going overboard with twists. For someone like me who has read most if not all of the books in the series, the main characters continue to grow and remain interesting, an unusual and not inconsiderable attraction in series mysteries.

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