Thursday, May 2, 2024

Two Good Books

David Allen Sibley's bird book is still out for browsing, but I had another successful visit to the library and have two treasures to share.
I'm embarrassed to say that I've never read anything by Jane Smiley before.  I have seen her books on the Get Lucky shelf over the decades, but I've never been tempted.  But my last visit presented me with her latest oeuvre, a mystery, and I decided to take a chance on A Dangerous Business..

I'm really glad I did.

Set firmly in Monterey just before Fort Sumter, the place is as much of a character as the two prostitutes who decide to investigate a homicide or two.  The picture she paints of that lawless, muddy, male dominated town left me wandering those streets long after I closed the book for the night.  There's cross-dressing and fine dining written on a canvas of abolitionists and women's rights and international relations.  

It's not a difficult read at all, which is what I feared.  The day to day minutiae assume increasing importance as the story rolls along.  The writing is crisp and the plot is slightly surprising.  What's marvelous is watching it all unfold through the eyes of a very resilient young woman.
Phyrne Fisher is one of my favorite characters in literature.  Kerry Greenwood has written twenty-something novels with her at the center, and I've relished each and every one of them.

Murder in Williamstown follows the sexy, rich, smart, pistol-packing, fabulously dressed, lady detective through dalliances with fascinating men while solving a few crimes along the way.  As with Jane Smiley's depiction of coastal California, Greenwood's Australian landscape is part of the story's allure.  

You could start with this one, but the characters build upon one another from Book 1, which would be a much better place to start.  


  1. A long time ago I ready Smiley's "A thousand Acres". I know it was good but I don't remember much about it. This one. "A Dangerous business" sounds interesting. Thanks for the tip.

    1. I think I may have tried that one too... many years ago. This is a lighthearted mystery written by a brilliant author.

  2. I keep meaning to read the Miss Fisher books; we loved (most of) the TV series. Thanks for the reminder!


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