Choosing the right book is galleons. This has never been truer than in my latest catalogue. Since my last list, I have summited a further three reads. However, there is more to the tally than what meets the eye. In between those three texts, I’ve tried my hand at other material. There was this thick Chernobyl book that looked like the real deal. I had to quit forty pages into it since it was just too…factual. This time, I took up two novels and one non-fiction book. Since I had one novel last time, I am now a balanced three and two between fiction and non-fiction for the year. At this point last year, I believe that I only had one non-fiction title. In chronological order, here are my late-summer picks:
- Broken (Slaughter). Another winner in the Will Trent series, this book forms the fourth instalment in the series. As I read more and more Slaughter, I’ve come to register her writing trademarks. Her novels often begin with a murder, in this case a coed drowning in the lake. At first, it appears to be an open-and shut case, as the Grant County police chief thinks so. However, Lena, one of his officers, sticks out her nose and finds out that the victim has been renting with the local dill. When confronted, the muppet acts really guilty, and ends up being booked. This is classic Slaughter, with a first salvo that outs the ‘bad guy’ until the rest of the novel proves otherwise.
Dr Sarah Linton is in town to escape the bustle of Atlanta’s emergency ward. She stays with family and envisions a pleasant holiday. However, her vacay is cut short as she goes all in trying to solve this unspeakable transgression. Therefore, she calls in the biggies, specifically Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) agent, Will Trent. She will come to know of Trent’s dyslexia, surprised that he could hide it so well. Together they make a formidable duo: Sarah’s brains and Will’s detective skills. They follow leads, overcome red tape, and encounter a cover-up. Faith Mitchell, Will’s partner, is a notable absence here. This being the fourth book in the popular series, is hard to believe. Slaughter remains on fire, her writing crisp and bitey: Broken is a worthy addition.
- Permanent Record (Snowden). My only non-fiction foray sees the world’s most famous whistle-blower and a worthy account. Critics lauded both this and Chernobyl. There are some overlaps between the two. However, I found the latter rather hard to read. Meanwhile, PR, while technical, was not unreadable. PR captures the post-9/11 aftermath as governments went about their business. The book deals with loss, with gain, with the past, the cruel present, and an uncompromising tomorrow. Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow (my last non-fiction read) would be in a similar vein. PR is a work that both the familiar and uninitiated would appreciate.
- Blood Work (Connelly). This is my latest read and my first Connelly of the year so far. BW is another gripping read, and the pages turn fast. This time it’s ex-FBI agent Terry McCaleb as he tries to piece together the murderer of the woman who gave him his heart. The murder of Gloria (his donor) is connected to two similar killings. However, with no new leads or angles, the case has stalled. Enter Terry. He spends most of his days tending his boat in the marina. Yet when the victim’s sister, Graciela, shows up one day, he cannot take this sitting down.
He begins his own investigation, getting support from Jaye Winston, the sheriff’s detective. Not only does he get a copy of the murder book, but he makes his own timeline and cartography of the persons of interest. Tied down by other cases, the officers assigned were unable to do either. This is a 90s book, complete with VHS, answering machines, faxes, and desktops. What was cutting-edge back then may well be extinct or, at best, modified, these days. However, we could learn a thing or two from the past. This is also the first McCaleb book I’ve read, and perusing it makes me feel like navigating a time capsule.
As Terry reviews the tapes, he is convinced that this is not some random take-down. The matador makes it a point to say something to the camera. Attention turns to James Noone, the only witness. McCaleb conducts a hypnosis session to get more out of him. However, this turns into a mess as they get nothing of consequence. Who is this mysterious witness? Why is he named Noone? Soon, Terry infers that this is a blood thing, hence the title. He thinks that the valuable organs of the donors (who fits the same profile) is the reason the killer has ran amuck. The murderer’s trail leads far from Cali to the shores of Mexico. Even as the Feds are hot on his trail, no one knows him better than Terry himself. As with other Connelly’s, the protagonist takes the cause into his own hands. The enemy likes to think that Terry owes him his life. However, in the end, McCaleb might save more than just his life. The book’s reaches has made it to Hollywood, where Clint Eastwood directed and starred in an underwhelming adaptation.
We must take something from books that we read. If the characters grow, then so should we. Reading for fun is not the same as reading to better ourselves. To improve or not, that is the question.
Book for now: