Monday, July 16, 2012

The joy of discovery – new reading

There was a time when almost every book I read came from a library. I didn’t have the kind of income to afford buying every hardback book (or paperback, for that matter) that I wanted to read. The upside to that was the discovery of writers or books, I knew nothing about. My high school literature classes focused on reading the classic novels of western civilization and to a lesser degree some modern fiction. Being exposed to Moby Dick was wonderful, but what else was I missing? I was and am an avid reader, so I was always looking for new material. The Library. Instead of going to search out a specific title or author, I would browse the fiction shelves, looking for something that would grab my attention (I would do this with non-fiction as well). Something about the title or subject matter would attract me. I would check the book out and read it. As my dad used to say, sometimes it was chicken and sometimes it was feathers. Sometimes I was rewarded and sometimes disappointed. More often I was rewarded. But I was never disappointed that I had taken the chance to read a book or author of which I was unfamiliar. I still do that. I still browse library shelves (sometimes that browsing is done online) looking for something new. I have had a number of wonderful finds, recently including a detective series I was unfamiliar with. I am a sucker for detective fiction and I was happy to find this series. The detective is Inspector Ian Rutledge of Scotland Yard. The novels are set in the period just after World War One. Rutledge had served in France during the war, barely survived and returned to England after the war emotionally and mentally scarred. He also returned to his detective role at Scotland Yard with the voice in his head of one of his compatriots – a man named Hamish – who had not survived the war. Hamish’s death is a lot of what haunts Rutledge as he goes about his work. I am fascinated by the period, 1919-1920, the character is interesting and the novels very readable. Also interesting is the author – in reality two authors. It is a mother and son who write under the pen name Charles Todd (though that is also the name of the son, the mother is Caroline). They both live on the east coast but not in the same state, which must make collaboration interesting. This is not Agatha Christie style detective fiction nor is it the hard-boiled fiction of Dashiell Hammett but it is very readable.

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