o/t: leisure reading during June

Some fun stuff this month, including the two nonfictions and several of the lighter reads. I’m running out of Jean-Patrick Manchette novels to read, which is a bit of a b . . . er, a bit of a bind.

As usual, the links are to my often hasty Goodreads notes.

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18 thoughts on “o/t: leisure reading during June

  1. I’m running out of Jean-Patrick Manchette novels to read

    John, this may be the time to commence on a full investigation of Agatha Christie's novels!…….Just kidding of course – there isn't another person I know you absorbs as much as you on a weekly basis and this latest list of literary miracles again confirms it! Incredible.

    • Ha! I’ve read quite a few of Christie’s novels, but am not a major fan: a pleasant enough way to pass the time, but there are many writers whose work I enjoy more.

      Manchette’s quite a lot different from Christie . . .

      • John, there are seriously times I wonder if my boast that I’ve read every last one of Christie’s novels (which I will employ as a lead-in for my upcoming piece on the Poirot series for the TV countdown) is one to flaunt, as it was at the time at the expense of many other authors I did hope to explore. I became a passionate fan of her brilliantly intricate story construction and descriptive delineation of setting, and both the ‘little grey celled’ mustached Belgian and the quaint Miss Marple caught my fancy. Yet I know a good number of people who would rather do anything than to read her books. Oh, my all-time #1 favorite is her sixth novel, “The Murder of Roger Akroyd,” a book critics called foul over, when it was revealed at the end that the book’s narrator, the good doctor was the murderer. 🙂

  2. I know what you mean about the paucity of Manchette novels. I have a French edition of his collected noir novels (I think all of his novels, the other volumes were his journalism and then letters/diaries) and there are only 12 of them, of which 2 were collaborative efforts.

    • I know. Even the French — and French readers like yourself — can easily devour his entire oeuvre in a matter of days. For us sorry English-only monoglots, there are just four that have been translated , of which I’ve now — weep, wail, gnash, gnash — read three: just Fatale to go.

      Why couldn’t he have been like Simenon?

  3. Hi John — What great suggestions for summertime reading. I consistently find myself wishing (with two jobs and a writing project to attend to) for more time to make more discoveries. On your expert suggestion, I shall happily check out Jean-Patrick Manchette’s books, and will also take note of the women crime novelists on your list. (Right now I’m finishing up a reread of one of Gladys Mitchell’s Stephen Hockaby adventure books and then have Zola’s Pot-Bouille waiting patiently for a turn.) Thanks so much for sharing your reads! Hope you’re well — Jason

    P.S. Have you ever read any of Nicolas Freeling’s stories, such as his Inspector Van der Valk or Henri Castang series, and if so, what did you think of them?

    • I hope you have fun with Manchette!

      The couple of times I’ve tried Mitchell I haven’t got along with her all that well. I really ought to give her stuff another go.

      I read Freeling’s Gun Before Butter and Because of the Cats — the obvious two! — many years ago, and enjoyed them well enough without becoming a major fan. I read The Widow more recently and didn’t enjoy it at all. I haven’t read any of the Castang series, and probably should.

  4. Congrats on your short story publication! I look forward to reading it. And thanks for your responses to Freeling and Mitchell. The Great Gladys (to use Philip Larkin’s moniker for her) is not for all tastes, and maybe not even for most tastes, but when she’s good — most reliably in her output from the 1930s and ’40s — I adore her writing. I started the gladysmitchell.com site more than 15 years ago to provide summaries and reviews of her 80+ books, and I have nearly all of them represented. But I never judge when people say that her writing doesn’t click with them. I don’t know if another try would win you over or not. I wouldn’t be surprised whatever the verdict.

    As for Freeling, I understand. I like the Castang series less than the Van der Valk books, and for me, the two you mention are good, but the titles after that are the ones that I remember with the most fondness and admiration. (Granted, that was also 15+ years ago.) Double Barrel, Criminal Conversation, Strike Out Where Not Applicable, Tsing-Boum: I really enjoyed them and have always meant to revisit to see if they hold up, or if it’s just nostalgia clouding my memories. The Lovely Ladies was notable for a puzzle resolved only in theory; the three enigmatic women at the center of the mystery refuse to confirm Van der Valk’s ideas, and I thought that was a very intriguing (and somehow satisfying) spin on the whodunit solution template. I guess I like Freeling because he continues the procedural/character psychology story that Simenon shaped.

    Happy Fourth! — J.

    • What a great website at gladysmitchell.com, Jason! Is there any way I can get e-updates on both it and your own blog? I looked around and all I could find was RSS . . . which is all very well except I never remember to check my RSS feed!

      Many thanks indeed for the tips as to which Freelings to lok out for. I’ve made a note for when I decide to revisit his work. It’s particularly useful that you’re giving personal recommendations rather than what the publishers’ PR companies would like to push — one of the reasons I was so pissed off by The Widow, which the hype had told me would be a real goody.

      • Hello John — Thanks for the kind comments on the GM site. I’m going to look into setting up content updates; thanks for the suggestion.

        I would like to keep the conversation going — and add a couple other topics, if you are open to that — so have sent you an email. If you’re busy, by all means respond at your convenience… or ignore it altogether. 😉 Congrats again on maintaining this excellent website. You provide a great service for crime and noir fans of text and cinema!

        • Many thanks for the kind words here and in your long email, which I read with much interest. It may be a little while before I can reply to it in any detail, because I’m pretty up against it on the deadline for the current book. (You may have noticed that I’ve recently had to decrease the frequency of posting movie accounts here from twice-weekly to weekly, and I may soon have to have a hiatus.)

          • No problem! Please don’t feel obligated to respond; I just wanted to share some thoughts on authors and writing and had a few extra minutes today (a rarity). Best wishes with your book and deadline — Jason

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