New Year, New Books
Time once again for a catch-up post on what I’ve been reading over the past few weeks.
First, S.J. Rozan’s Ghost Hero – Chinese-American New York private investigator Lydia Chin and her partner (and boyfriend?) Bill Smith are on the trail of some supposedly newly discovered (or new?) paintings by supposedly dead Chinese dissident artist Ghost Hero Chau. In the process, they enter the world of New York art galleries, modern Chinese history, and Chinese art. We meet some old friends – Lydia’s cousin Linus the computer whiz – and make some new – a Chinese-American art investigator that perhaps Lydia’s mother sees as potential husband material for Lydia. At least he’s better than the all-American Bill Smith in Mom’s eyes! Rozan’s books are always a good read – not too intense, but not quite in the cozy category.
After that, I ventured back to ancient Greece in the years just following the Persian war with The Pericles Commission, by Gary Corby. This book precedes The Ionia Sanction, which I’ve commented on before, and here we meet fledgling investigator Nicolaos and his contemporaries for the first time. Nicolaos doesn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his father the sculptor and would much rather investigate crimes for the movers and shakers of Athenian society. We meet Pericles, later to be one of the chief leaders of Athens, in the early days of his political career as he hires Nicolaos to discover the killer of another politician.
The third book was Trespasser, by Paul Doiron, second in a series set in Maine around the work of game warden Mike Bowditch, who is also the son of a notorious poacher. The first book, The Poacher’s Son, ended with a confrontation between Mike and his father and this book follows on the heels of those events as Bowditch works to establish himself within the warden service and come out from the shadow of his father’s activities. Unlike the similar series set in northern Michigan by Joseph Heywood, Doiron’s books so far have not dealt as much with the game warden side of the story and have really been more pure murder mysteries. This one was at least in part inspired by a real-life murder that took place in Maine and only touches peripherally on Bowditch’s work, though he is deeply involved in solving the murder by the end of the book. I’ve also discovered that there is a third book published this past summer, so that will be on my reading list as well.
Finally, this morning I started Barbara Hambly’s The Magistrates of Hell, fourth in her series of vampire mysteries set in the early part of the 20th century. This book takes sometime Oxford don and sometime secret agent James Asher, his wife Lydia, and ancient vampire Simon Ysidro to China where they search out more evidence of what appears to be a mutant variety of undead – not truly vampire but still susceptible to the dangers of light and silver. These Others are not part of the “normal” vampire society of the day and so do not follow the traditions long established within that culture. Hambly’s descriptions are, as always, detailed and captivating and it’s easy to be swept along in the story and feel Asher’s concerns for his wife, child, and friends, as well as the conflict he feels in maintaining his dealings with Ysidro and the other Undead. I’m hoping that there won’t be a long hiatus between this book and a new one and that the series will continue.