New To Me Books

This post is about the books I’ve recently added to my TBRs and about the library books I’ve recently borrowed.

Paperbacks from Barter Books in Alnwick:

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Earth and Heaven by Sue Gee.  I’ve only read one of her books, The Hours of the Night, and that was years ago, and pre-blog, when I just noted that it was ‘good overall’ and ‘could be shorter’. But the blurb interested me – set in the aftermath of the First World War it’s ‘about life’s fragility, and the power of love and painting to disturb, renew and reveal us to ourselves.

Broadchurch by Erin Kelly, based on the story by series creator Chris Chibnall. i loved the TV series, so I’m hoping I’ll love this too. I’ve only read one other book based on a TV series and that was Tenko broadcast in the 1980s (about women in a Japanese prisoner of war camp). The book was terrible, such a let down as I had loved the TV series.

Die Trying by Lee Child, the second Jack Reacher thriller. I haven’t read the first one yet, but I’ve found it’s best to get the books from Barter Books when I see them – they might not be there next time I go. I enjoyed the only Jack Reacher book I’ve read, The Midnight Line and have decided to read the earlier books.

Library books:

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Goodbye Piccadilly: War at Home 1914 by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. I’ve been seeing her books in libraries and bookshops for years, but have never read any. This is the first in a series about the First World War – I decided to start with this rather than her Morland Dynasty series (now 34 books).

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I loved A Thousand Splendid Suns and I’m expecting this to be just as good! It’s described on the back cover as ‘a deeply moving epic of heartache, hope and, above all, the unbreakable bonds of love.

Dandy Gilver and the Reek of Red Herrings by Catriona McPherson – historical crime fiction. I’ve read a few of the Dandy Gilver books and enjoyed them. This one is set in 1930s Scotland – in a fishing village on the Banffshire coast where unusual items are turning up in the herring barrels.

I’m looking forward to reading these books in the coming months!

New-to-Me Books from Barter Books

On Tuesday it was time for another visit to my favourite bookshop Barter Books, one of the largest secondhand bookshops in Britain. We were early getting there just after it had opened for the day, so there was space to park right outside the entrance.

I was quite restrained and only brought three books home, with me. But at least I’ve made some room on my bookshelves as I’d brought in six books. These are the books I brought home:

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Killing Floor by Lee Child,the first in his Jack Reacher series. I’m keen to read this because I’ve recently read the 22nd book in the series and want to know more about Reacher, an ex-military cop of no fixed abode.

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin. I’ve read some of Valerie Martin’s books before and enjoyed them. This one weaves fact and fiction concerning the mystery surrounding the Mary Celeste, looking at it from different viewpoints including those of a psychic and Arthur Conan Doyle, who was inspired by it to write a short story, J. Habakuk Jephson’s Statement

Defying Hitler: a Memoir by Sebastian Haffner, a memoir of life in Germany during the Nazi rise to power. It was written in 1939 during Haffner’s exile in England. I’ve been reading novels about the Second World War period, so I think it would be good to know more about  the Wiemar Republic, particularly from a German who lived through those times.

What do you think? Have you read any of these? Do they tempt you too?

The Midnight Line by Lee Child

A quest for justice

The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher, #22)

Bantam Press| 7 Nov 2017|391 p|Hardcover|4*

I wasn’t sure when I began reading The Midnight Line that it was my sort of book. It’s the 22nd book in Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series and I haven’t read any of the earlier books. See this post for the first paragraph – what struck me was Lee Child’s straight forward style of writing and the short, staccato sentences.

Jack Reacher, a former military policeman, is looking for the owner of a West Point class ring from 2005. It’s a small ring, a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself, engraved with the initials S.R.S and Reacher wonders what she went through to get it and why it ended up in a pawn shop. He tracks the ring back to its owner in a search that takes him to the deserted wilds of Wyoming.

After a slow start containing too much description of fighting for my liking and too many short sentences I began to find that Child’s writing grew on me. It’s not all short sentences, and I liked the way that every now and then Reacher recaps where the search is taking him. I began to feel it was a book about a quest – reminiscent of tales of heroes or knights of old on a mission to rescue a damsel in distress, or of a ring-bearer returning the ring to its rightful owner – in a very modern setting.

I like the characters, particularly Reacher, a huge guy variously described as Bigfoot or the Incredible Hulk and I like the description of the landscape of the West with its vast open spaces – at least 20 miles between neighbours – long straight and dusty roads, rocky tracks and unmarked trails. Reacher doesn’t drive, but hitch hikes, or takes a bus, walking when he has to. He’s a loner, with no home, no belongings, just buying new clothes as he needs them, always on the move, a tough guy who uses a whole bar of soap when he showers.

The hunt first takes Reacher to Rapid City, South Dakota to find Arthur Scorpio, a laundromat owner, who tells him the ring came in from a guy in Wyoming in a place called Mule Crossing, a ‘wide spot’ on the road to Laramie. Whilst in Rapid City he meets Detective Gloria Nakamura, keeping Scorpio under surveillance and Terry Bramhall, a private detective, also watching Scorpio and looking for the same woman as Reacher. Reacher and Bramhall meet again at Mule Crossing and join forces.

It turns out that this is more than a search for the owner of the ring. As Reacher gets nearer to finding her he comes across the trail of a drug smuggling circle and I learned a lot about the history of heroin and pain relief and the terrible issues facing US veterans. Reacher finds out exactly what did happen to S.R.S., the owner of the ring, and it’s not pretty! This book is dedicated to the nearly two million recipients of the Purple Hearts awards.

I finished the book delighted that it was so much better than I thought it would be and was just as pleased when I went to Barter Books yesterday (more about that visit soon) and found the first book introducing Jack Reacher – Killing Floor – so that after reading the 22nd book I can start at the beginning.

About Lee Child

Lee Child (James ‘Jim’ Grant, known by his pen name Lee Child) is not American (as I thought) but British, born in Coventry.   He went to law school in Sheffield, England, and after part-time work in the theatre he joined Granada Television in Manchester for what turned out to be an eighteen-year career as a presentation director during British TV’s “golden age.” During his tenure his company made Brideshead RevisitedThe Jewel in the CrownPrime Suspect, and Cracker. He now lives in New York.

He has received many awards. The most recent is the CWA’s Diamond Dagger for a writer of an outstanding body of crime fiction, the International Thriller Writers’ ThrillerMaster, and the Theakston Old Peculiar Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.

Many thanks to my husband for buying me this book as a surprise Christmas present.

I’m choosing this book in this year’s What’s In A Name Challenge in the category of a book with a shape in the title.

Amazon UK link
Amazon US link

First Chapter First Paragraph: The Midnight Line by Lee Child

eca8f-fistchapEvery Tuesday Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros to share the first paragraph sometimes two, of a book that she’s reading or is planning to read soon.

Last week I featured one of my Christmas presents, so I thought I’d follow that with another one of my Christmas presents, The Midnight Line by Lee Child.

The Midnight Line (Jack Reacher, #22)

 

It begins:

Jack Reacher and Michelle Chang spent three days in Milwaukee. On the fourth morning she was gone. Reacher came back to the room with coffee and found a note on his pillow. He had seen such notes before. They all said the same thing. Either directly or indirectly. Chang’s note was indirect. And more elegant than most. Not in terms of presentation. It was a  ballpoint scrawl on motel notepaper gone wavy with damp. But elegant in terms of expression. She had used a simile, to explain and flatter and apologize all at once. She had written, You’re like New York City. I love to visit, but I could never live there.

Blurb:

Jack Reacher takes an aimless stroll past a pawn shop in a small Midwestern town. In the window he sees a West Point class ring from 2005. It’s tiny. It’s a woman cadet’s graduation present to herself. Why would she give it up? Reacher’s a West Pointer too, and he knows what she went through to get it.

Reacher tracks the ring back to its owner, step by step, down a criminal trail leading west. Like Big Foot come out of the forest, he arrives in the deserted wilds of Wyoming. All he wants is to find the woman. If she’s OK, he’ll walk away. If she’s not … he’ll stop at nothing.

He’s still shaken by the recent horrors of Make Me, and now The Midnight Line sees him set on a raw and elemental quest for simple justice. Best advice: don’t get in his way.

∼ ∼ 

Lee Child is a new-to-me author, but by no means a new author and this is the 22nd Jack Reacher thriller. The thing that strikes me about this opening paragraph is the straight forward style of writing and the short sentences, almost staccato, which makes me think this will be a fast-paced book. When I wrote about it in my Christmas Books post I was encouraged by some of the comments about his books, so I’m looking forward to reading it very soon.

What do you think – would you read on?