Book bag – Philip Kerr and his Bernie Gunther series, tip of the hat to Craig Johnson

If you are an addicted reader, then you have experienced the let down of finishing the final book by an author of a series of books you really love. If the author is still alive, you can hope that more books are coming. If they have passed to the office of the big edior in the sky, then no more are coming.  There are series that I keep on my shelf and reread several ltimes. Rex Stout wrote a long series of detective stories featuring Nero Wolfe and his sidekick, Archie Goodwin.  W.E.B. Griffin wrote his US Army series stretching from 1945 to past the end of the Viet Nam War with stops in occupied Germany, Greece (1948), Algeria, Korea, Congo, and revealed the struggles between the corporate bureacritized Army and the US Air Force in the development of armed helicopters. He also wrote an excellent series about the US marine Corps that started in China just before World War II.  I can’t say I like anywhere near as well his detective series and his contemporary intelligence covert op novels.  I have reread his Army series, the first four novels at least 8 times.

Rereading a favourite book is like sitting down for a long conversation with an old friend you haven’t seen for awhile.

Other series, Patrick O’Brien’s Napoleonic War naval books.

Adam Hall and his series about his spy Quiller.

The Quiller novels as by Adam Hall (AH is the pen name used by Elleston Trevor, you may know him for The Flight of the Phoenix)

There is a narrative trick that Trevor (Hall) uses in the Quiller stories which I have rarely seen used, but he uses it brilliantly.  He puts Quiller in a situation where he is facing death and there is seemingly no way out.  The chapter ends.  You turn the page and begin the next chapter and find Quiller alive and running and the timeline of the novel has jumped ahead thirty minutes or an hour.  And then after a few pages, Trevor brings us back to explain how the heck the spy got out of the kill zone.  A fresh way of using plot tension and release.  Very clever technique.

Not a series but mostly set in and around World War II, novels by Alan Furst. recommended to me the author Philip Kerr who specializes in thrillers set before during and after World War II.  To make it work you need to let goodreads know some books you have read and liked.  From that data and from other reader’s likes, it suggest authors you might like. no cost to use

Today began reading further in the second Philip Kerr novel from the library, Hitler’s Peace.  Not the same snappy narration as from Bernie Gunther. Of the Gunther series I have read just one, The Quiet Flame.  It runs in two time tracks: Berlin 1932 as Berlin Homicide Detective Bernie Gunther does is best to do his work as the Nazis struggle to win control of the government, and 1950 as Bernie Gunther who is trying to survive in the political/police power plays in Argentina. Sorry to have repeated my oft committed error of starting a thriller series with a continuing main character in mid stream rather than with the first book and following through.  Kerr, went to law school.  Got a masters degree.  Worked as a copywriter for Saatchi and Saatchi.  Started writing full time in 1989.  He was born in 1959. He has written a popular series of children’s books as well.

I am not sure I would want to immerse myself in the horrific details of the Third Reich to write these novels.  But Kerr’s Gunther series is one of two thriller character series that I have been blessed to find this past year. The other is the Walt Longmire books by Craig Johnson.  The draw for me in these books is their settings, the plot and characters, and the protagonist narrator.  Sometimes when I read thrillers I find the protagonist narrator is unsympathetic, uninteresting, or too thinly drawn.  That is absolutely not true about these two.

So go get some of these books, and put your summer feet up and read.

Mary Magdalene – reading

In my recent reading, I have encountered plots that involve directly or indirectly Mary Magdelene. When I was a kid and paying some attention to the question should women be ordained, I always thought the answer should be yes. What came to mind was the simple fact that there were two people standing at the foot of the cross, Mary, the mother of Christ, and Mary Magdalene. All those brave apostles were hiding. Peter denied Christ three times. Quite a rock.

the most recent book to have MM in it, The Secret Supper by Javier Sierra translated by Alberto Manguel…..I have been working my way through Manguel’s work this winter.

A recent item I found about him, referred to his personal library, a collection of 30,000 books. I don’t have his problems, since I read only English. Although I am tempted to consider seriously the study of Spanish to read in the original the wonderful literature in that language

Alberto Manguel – two books you would enjoy

Alberto Manguel was born in Buenos Aires in 1948, was educated there, and was a friend of Jorge Luis Borges late in Borges’s life. He was raised in Israel where his father was the Argentine ambassador. In 1984 he became a Canadian citizen. Manguel is a gifted anthologist, translator, editor, and occasional novelist. He now lives in France

I just finished reading The Library at Night and felt compelled to see if my local small town library had any other books by him. Found A History of Reading on a bottom shelf, unfortunately covered in dust. I am part way through it and plan to keep searching out his books.

I have been remembering my early history of reading and sat down and made a list of libraries I have studied in or at least visited. My current library is about 3000 books. It includes some old leather bound volumes that belonged to my grandfather, Dr. William Gibson, of Kingston. These include poetry by Coleridge, novels by Stevenson. Books that I inherited from my parents include many of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin mysteries. I still have a book I requested as the only gift I wanted for a birthday when I was about 12, A History of Warfare by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. I still have it. One book I still value very much although it is in tatters and is marked up in several colours of ink, is a paperback edition from Faber and Faber of T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.

If you have an interest in reading, in collecting books, in libraries, in the magic of words then by all means available, go find these two titles and enjoy them.