The Case of the Famished Parson

George Bellairs: a bank manager, a talented crime author, part time journalist and Francophile. His detective stories, written in the 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s, combine wicked crimes and classic police procedurals, set in small British communities.  Best known for his Detective Littlejohn stories, he is celebrated as one of Britain’s crime classic greats.

I always like to start a new mystery series at the beginning and read the books in order, but this time I decided to start with the book George Bellairs published in my birth year, 1949. The Case of the Famished Parson is somewhere in the middle of the Inspector Littlejohn series. I immediately liked this detective — Inspector Littlejohn is an older but very talented detective. His methods are more traditional than his newer counterparts, but he is very dedicated to his work, even when he is on bedrest recuperating from a gunshot would to the leg!

…from the publisher:

Dr. James Macintosh, the Bishop of Greyle, is a mysterious man; for a long time, nobody even seems to know his last name. But things suddenly take a turn for the worse when his body is found completely emaciated and battered having being pushed face-first off the edge of a cliff…

Inspector Littlejohn faces an incredibly peculiar case and must figure out how to explain the savage murder of a gentle Bishop? Perhaps he know too much about the secretive citizens of Cape Marvin, the seaside resort and the place of his murder.  Or did it have something to do with the strange family he had left behind in Medhope?

Above all, why was the Bishop’s body so undernourished that death by violence won out by only a few days over death by starvation?

I liked George Bellairs’ writing style and can easily see why he is considered “as one of Britain’s crime classic greats.”  I enjoyed meeting this new-to-me detective and was involved with the search for answers all the way through the book. It’s a series I would like to continue, but will go back and start with the first book.

I read this book for both my R.I.P-XIV challenge and my year long celebration of turning Seventy!

 

Autumn arrives

It’s a couple of days early to announce the arrival of Autumn, but I have photos that prove it is definitely here. For the last few days, it has been raining (really more like hailing) acorns! We live with 4 giant Oak trees on our east property line. They’re over 100 years old, and very tall. Each year, the acorns fall, but this year is the first we’ve experienced such a massive amount falling! I don’t know what it means, or if it’s just normal to have a year with a million acorns falling almost all at once, but it’s interesting! We hear one hit the roof, or the patio. They bounce and hit again. And then we hear another, and another. I refuse to go into the east side of our yard because one year I was hit by one of those falling acorns, right on the muscle between shoulder and neck, and it hurt like crazy and left a deep bruise that took a long time to heal. Hailing acorns…Autumn has most definitely arrived.

 

The Librarian of Basra

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq, by Jeanette Winter, is a picture book for children that is equally interesting to adults.

…from the Publisher:

“In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.'”*
~ Alia Muhammad Baker

Alia Muhammad Baker is the librarian of Basra. For fourteen years, her office has been a meeting place for those who love books–until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears the library will be destroyed. She asks government officials for help, but they refuse. So Alia takes matters into her own hands, working secretly with friends to move the thirty-thousand new and ancient books from the library and hide them in their homes. There, the books are stacked in windows and cupboards and even in an old refrigerator. But they are safe until the war moves on–safe with the librarian of Basra.

This moving true story about a real librarian’s brave struggle to save her war-stricken community’s priceless collection of books is a powerful reminder that the love of literature and the passion for knowledge know no boundaries.

 Jeanette Winter, brings us many of these inspirational stories from around the world in picturebook format. I love the idea of introducing children, through these books, to these everyday yet truly inspiring heroes. For me, they pique my curiosity about people I’d never heard of and I find myself pursuing more information and searching for more books about them!

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book that takes place in Iraq.

 

Classics Club Spin #21

Hooray!  It’s time for another Classics Club Spin!

How it works:

  • Before next Monday 23rd September 2019, create a post that lists twenty books of your choice that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.  This is your “Spin List.”
  • You have to read one of these twenty books by the end of the spin period.
  • On Monday 23 September, we’ll post a number from 1 through 20. The challenge is to read whatever book falls under that number on your Spin List, by 31st October 2019.

My Spin #21 List:
(stop back here after September 23rd to see which book I will be reading for this CC Spin!  I’ll highlight it in red.)

  1. Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther
  2. Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke
  3. The Gaucho Martin Fierro, by Jose Fernandez
  4. The Sussex Downs Murder, by John Bude
  5. The Secret Agent, by Joseph Conrad
  6. Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki
  7. Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym
  8. The Story of an African Farm, by Olive Schreiner
  9. The Sea Runners, by Ivan Doig
  10. Rose in Bloom, by Louisa May Alcott
  11. Sons, by Pearl S. Buck
  12. A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf
  13. Night, by Elie Wiesel
  14. The Solitary Summer, by Elizabeth von Arnim
  15. Marcovaldo, or The Seasons of the City, by Italo Calvino
  16. A Room With a View, by E.M. Forster
  17. The Ramayana, by Bulbul Sharma
  18. The Lost Prince, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  19. The Measure of My Days, by Florida Scott-Maxwell
  20. Green Thoughts: A Writer in the Garden, by Eleanor Perenyi

This challenge is a fun recurring event of The Classics Club. Click here to see my list of 50 books to read in 5 years.

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good is a series of five stories by the Swedish crime writer, Helene Tursten.

…from the Publisher

Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and… no qualms about a little murder. This funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten, author of the Irene Huss investigations, features two-never-before translated stories that will keep you laughing all the way to the retirement home.

Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, but she likes it that way.

Over the course of her adventures–or misadventures–this little bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a murder in her apartment complex, will Maud be able to avoid suspicion, or will Detective Inspector Irene Huss see through her charade?

I laughed all the way through this fun little book. Maud is amazingly fit and mentally acute at age 88, and she has no problem taking care of Problems in a unique and lethal way!

 

This was a fun read for my PERIL the FIRST for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge. Highly recommend it!

 

This book also qualifies for my personal challenge:  “Wanderlust” — an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book from Sweden.

Water Buffalo Days

Water Buffalo Days: Growing Up in Vietnam, by Huynh Quang Nhuong,  is a book of memories of a young boy growing up in Vietnam before the war. The memoir was written for children in the middle grades, but tells such poignant stories that there is definitely no age limit on it. I was quite fascinated with learning about the culture this little boy grew up in, and also learning so much about water buffaloes.

…from the Introduction to the book:

I was born in the central highlands of Vietnam in a small hamlet on a riverbank that had a deep jungle on one side and a chain of high mountains on the other. Across the river, rice fields stretched to the slopes of another chain of mountains…

…Like all farmers’ children in the hamlet, I started working at the age of six. I helped look after the family herd of water buffaloes.

…Animals played a very large part in our lives. Many wild animals were to be feared. Tigers and panthers were dangerous and always trying to steal cattle. But a lone wild hog was even more dangerous than a tiger. The hog attacked every creature in sight, even when he had no need for food. The river held a different danger: crocodiles. Other animals provided food, labor, and often friendship. Watchdogs and water buffaloes were like members of our family.

…I always planned to return to my hamlet to live the rest of my life there. But war disrupted my dreams. The land I love was lost to me forever. These are my memories…

Those memories are told beautifully and are quite remarkable. Although this young boy started working with the family’s water buffalo at age six, it was his ten-year-old brother who trained the animal. The training was fascinating, and I had no idea that water buffalo could be so intelligent, patient, and gentle. This water buffalo also became the main bull in the village and was a fierce protector of the people and the village animals.

It was so interesting to see how the villagers worked together and interacted. And I loved the stories of this boy’s daily life, hopes and dreams, and his deep friendship with the family’s water buffalo.

Although, this is not included in this book, the background on Huynh Quang Nhuong is very interesting but sad. The Vietnam War interrupted all his hopes and dreams. During the war, he was shot and permanently paralyzed. He was sent to the U.S. for treatment and never returned to his home village. The war changed all of that for him.

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a memoir of a boy growing up in Vietnam.

 

The Religious Body

 

The mystery author, Catherine Aird, first came to my attention when I worked at The King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City in the early 1980s. TKE is known for its wonderful mystery section, and I loved becoming familiar with the stock and reading as many of those books as time and money allowed me. I don’t know why, but I did not read any Catherine Aird at that time, although I sold many of her books. So when I was planning my reading for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge I decided to read the first book in her series and see how I liked it.

Her first book, The Religious Body, was about the murder of a nun inside the convent. Was the murderer one of the other nuns or had someone gained access to this highly secluded and protected place? Detective Inspector C. D. Sloan and Detective Constable Crosby were called in to investigate this mysterious death.

I liked the detectives and enjoyed this mystery and Catherine Aird’s writing, so I definitely will be continuing on with this series.

 

 

 

I read this book for the R.I.P.-XIV reading challenge.