What I'm Reading Now: 17 March 10 Edition


I was sick for a couple of days this week, which you would think would be a perfect opportunity to read, right? Not really-- I was too uncomfortable to really concentrate on anything. I did pick up and read bits of Off with his head by Ngaio Marsh, a recent purchase by a favorite author, and In the stacks: short stories about libraries and librarians, edited by Michael Cart, which was a gift from a sister who has a gift for shopping library sales. Neither one of them really grabbed me, though, so I watched TV instead. Oh, yes, and I read more true crime. I’m a little embarrassed by that, as it seems somewhat lowbrow of me, but there are some good writers in that genre.
John Glatt is one of them. I read Lost and found, about the abduction and imprisonment of Jaycee Lee Duggard, last week, and I was impressed enough to order another John Glatt title from the library. I read that this week. It was Secrets in the cellar, about a similar abduction-and-imprisonment of a girl, but this was the case of Austrian Josef Fritzl, who imprisoned his own daughter and kept her, and the children he subsequently fathered on her, there for twenty-four years. It’s a horrible story, and John Glatt conveys that beautifully, giving enough details to give the picture while still allowing the victims some dignity. His writing is clear and gripping, and his sympathy for the victims of the crime is palpable.
Another find this week was Practical Jean, by Trevor Cole. It was the cover that caught me-- a picture of a girl in fifties sweater and hairdo (and smile) in front of a collection of knives. (I showed it around work and asked “Can you resist a cover like this?” Apparently, everyone but me could. Maybe this is my week for black humor.)  Jean Horemarsh, ceramic artist, dutiful daughter, loving wife, devoted friend, has just spent three months caring for her terminally-ill mother. Those three months have impressed on her the horror of growing old, and the doom that awaits every one of us who reaches that point. After that, life can’t get back to normal for her, and she begins to wonder if there isn’t something she could do to keep her friends from the torment of aging...
I don’t usually like black comedy, but this was well-executed (pun intended), with a light touch. Jean’s motivation is believable, even as events spiral out of control, and Cole’s portraits of middle-aged women are carefully observed and beautifully constructed. If you’re looking for something quirky that will make you think while you chuckle, this might just be the book for you.
Oh, almost forgot this week’s booklist:
Twisted triangle--Caitlyn Rother (True Crime)
Secrets in the cellar --John Glatt (True Crime)
The calling --Inger Ash Wolfe
Meltdown (SEVENS: week 4) Scott Wallens (YA)
Torn (SEVENS: week 5) Scott Wallens (YA)
Agent X-- Noah Boyd
Envy-- Sandra Brown
Practical Jean-- Trevor Cole
Written in blood--Dianne Fanning (True Crime)
Exit Music--Ian Rankin
PS: Agent X is even better than The bricklayer.