Thursday, June 23, 2011


Lazy, Hazy Days…

Summer has arived! A time for relaxing outside in the most comfortable chair you own, with a glass of something chilled at your elbow and a good book in your hand. You may or may not be asleep.

My most cherished reading place is a Muskoka chair on the dock at my cottage. I listen to the lapping of the water against the shore and the call of the loons out on the bay. Besides a nice cold drink, I usually have my binoculars at my side so that I can check out that bird or that odd shape in the water. Sometimes it’s a beaver, sometimes a turtle wondering if it’s warm enough to sun. Hours go by when I don’t get a whole lot of reading done, or writing for that matter. But isn’t that the best kind of reading in the summertime? Languid, lazy, reveling in the words and the scenes?

There are drawbacks. This weekend I set down Vicki Delany’s Among the Departed on my chair and went up in search of lunch. As usual, a few things distracted me and when I went back to the dock, there was no sign of the book. I decided I must have brought it up with me, so spent some fruitless moments looking around the cottage before returning to the shore. I remembered quite a wind had come up at noon. Here my trusty binoculars came in handy. I searched the shoreline until I spotted something white floating just below the surface of my neighbour’s dock. Sure enough. I fished it out, stepped on it to squeeze as much water out of it as possible, and laid it out to dry. By then it resembled an Elizabeth George tome. I have managed to finish it, but it was a wet experience. Luckily, well worth it! I couldn’t turn the soggy pages fast enough.

I don’t get nearly enough time to read, and with three books currently on the go, two of which have deadlines, I can see my summer flying by without much chance to read all the books I want to. But I thought I’d share the list, in no particular order…

A Busy Woman’s Guide to Murder
, by Mary Jane Maffini. I am actually half way through this lively book, having brought it to Bloody Words in Victoria, but it accidentally found its way into Vicki Delany’s car for the return trip home, so I will have to wait until Vicki and I connect. Busy Woman is the quintessential summer read. Light and fast-paced, full of wit and zany characters.

Death of a Lesser Man
by Thomas Rendell Curran. A historical police procedural set in 1947 Newfoundland, with a strong sense of the people, place and times. This is Tom’s long-awaited third book in a great series.

The Witch of Babylon by Dorothy McIntosh. I'm very excited to read this debut novel which combines history, an exotic setting and a touch of witchcraft. Perfect for a hot summer night.

Crime Machine by Giles Blunt. Another wonderfully atmospheric police procedural in Giles’ John Cardinal series, set in fictionalized North Bay. It too has also been a long time coming..

Some Welcome Home by Sharon Wildwind. I’m really looking forward to this first in Sharon’s series about a Vietnam War nurse veteran. I met Sharon finally in person at Bloody Words, and immediately bought the first in the series.

Illegally Dead by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey. I picked this book from a selection of Alberta books offered by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts at Bloody Words. I am looking forward to learning about a brand new (to me) author; reading about the gorgeous scenery of the Crow’s Nest Pass is a bonus!

The Sentamentalist by Johanna Skibsrud. Okay, I had to have at least one book on my list that was not a Canadian mystery. I bought this one earlier in the spring when it won the Giller Prize, and since there have been differing reactions to it, I’m eager to read it for myself.

This is my short list. I also have a long list, which I may not get to at all this summer. It includes the latest from Peter Robinson (Bad Boy), Louise Penny (Bury Your Dead), Maureen Jennings (Season of Darkness, due out in August) and Kate Atkinson (Started Early; Took my Dog).

What is your favourite summer reading place, and what’s on your short list?

Barbara Fradkin is a child psychologist with a fascination for how we turn bad. In addition to her darkly haunting short stories in the Ladies Killing Circle anthologies, she writes the gritty, Ottawa-based Inspector Green novels which have
won back to back Arthur Ellis Awards for Best Novel from Crime Writers of Canada. The eighth in the series, Beautiful Lie the Dead, explores love in all its complications. And, her new Rapid Read from Orca, The Fall Guy, was launched in May.

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