Monday, July 14, 2008

Breezy summer reading

Cockatiels at Seven is the latest Donna Andrews Meg Langslow mystery, and a lot of fun. This is one of my favorite series. The mysteries are enjoyable, the supporting cast entertaining, and Meg is constantly growing as a character. In this entry, a friend of Meg's drops off her two-year-old boy for "a little while," and when she fails to return by the next morning, Meg feels compelled to investigate her disappearance, which may be connected to her ex-husband's embezzlement from the college. Meg and Michael (and the extended family, of course) watching after the little tyke while Meg tries to get in mystery-solving time and Michael is burdened with faculty responsibilities--it's very well done, not overblown in a Three Men and a Baby way. The unplanned babysitting coincides nicely with the beginnings of discussion on starting their own family, and there is a bird farm, furtive behavior by several Langslow family members, and campus politics to round out the book. A very nice entry in a delightful series (which begins with Murder With Peacocks).

Andrews has another series that I haven't yet read, the Turing Hopper series that begins with You've Got Murder. I love the Meg series, so I'm not sure why I hesitate. Probably because it's a very different premise--Hopper is an AI personality who investigates the murder of her programmer.

My review of The Penguin Who Knew Too Much

Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz happened to be 60% off at Barnes and Noble, making it cheaper than the paperback (which I planned to pick up once it was out anyway). I'm glad that it was, because it was a fun read. The structure here is much more cohesive than in the first novel, but I thought the laughs were as easy to come by. It also had some surprisingly touching moments at the end. The chapters are short (many 1-2 pages), making it disjointed and jumpy, but it somehow works just fine. Two years have passed since the first book (annoyingly referred to as the "previous document" "now available in paperback" in footnotes), in which the Spellman clan, a certifiably crazy family of PIs, is introduced. Izzy is explaining to her lawyer why 2 of her 4 recent arrests "don't count." She recounts the recent events that led to the arrests; then we move to the present to find out how it all shakes out. Rae, now almost sixteen, is even funnier, having attached herself to unwilling role model Inspector Henry Stone. David has become a slob and his wife, Izzy's best friend Petra, is missing in action. Someone is recreating acts of vandalism from Izzy's misspent youth. Izzy's bartender is behaving oddly. And Izzy herself is a mess--she's obsessed with the man next door, who has a locked room in his house. This is a funny, funny book, and getting to the end is both satisfying and a bit of a bummer since there's no more to read about the Spellmans...yet. Even better than the first, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a rollicking summer read.

My review of The Spellman Files


carolz said...

I just picked up the two Spellman books at the library last Saturday along with Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich. I'm reading Fearless Fourteen first since I won't be able to renew it. Your reviews on the Spellman books make me want to switch right away to them, but patience is a virtue. I also love the Meg Langslow books - her family and friends are a hoot! I can't remember the last time I picked up a book that wasn't recommended by either you or Holly in this blog. Keep up the great work of reviewing - I know the reading is a joy, not work!

allisonmariecat said...

Carol, I'm so glad you picked up the Spellman books! I hope you enjoy them.

I'm glad our reviews are helpful. I love reading, but I also enjoy talking about books with others, so I've really enjoyed posting reviews here.