The Bad Beginning

This is the start of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and I get why the series has become so popular.  This light hearted romp through some of life’s thornier problems has well-drawn characters; fast-moving and believable (if not quite realistic) adventure; and a personable (if patronizing) narrator of the first waters.  Mr. Snicket, clearly a character himself, might not be the kind of person I’d want to live with, but he’s exactly the kind of person I want telling me stories.

Which is what he’s done in this delightful little book.  I’ll have to see if K likes it.  It may not be deep, but it’s a step up from Glitter Beach.

Flask of the Drunken Master

Susan Spann’s Shinobi Mystery series is great fun.  I love that it locates me firmly in a place and time in history that I know little about.  What’s even better is that it does this in a way that keeps a pretty puzzle and interesting people at the heart of the story.

In this particular book, Hiro and Father Mateo must prove the innocence of a brewer they know (Hiro owes him a favor) before the man is punished for murdering a competitor.  It’s a complicated little problem, set in a destabilized Kyoto (a situation which brings its own complexities), and the strain of navigating these troubling waters reveals some fault lines–or at least pressure points–in Hiro and Father Mateo’s relationship.  The descriptions are rich, the writing well-done.  It was a great pleasure to read, and I’ll be picking up Susan Spann’s next book when I can.


Why Shoot a Butler?

I read Why Shoot a Butler? while the kids were off at school today. I’m more familiar with Georgette Heyer’s romances, but I like her enough that I was willing to try this (besides, my sister gave it to me with a glowing recommendation.)

It turned out to be a light, fun read. Frank Amberley’s obnoxious brilliance is entertaining, so much so that I was only slightly annoyed at all the places where he investigated this or that–and then didn’t tell what he discovered. Probably best that way, because it kept me from guessing everything on the second page. As it was, even my somewhat sluggish mind had unraveled about two-thirds of the puzzle by book’s end, so if I’d known more, I probably would have guessed the whole, which tends to make a mystery less interesting.

Still, the dialogue is witty, the characters crisp, and the setting the type of idyllic British countryside town I love to visit in books. (I’ve never had the opportunity to visit one in person. Who knows if they even exist, and if so, whether they’d be any fun?)

Definitely worth curling up with for a couple of entertaining hours.