At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in the Embarrassment of Riches reading challenge hosted by author Patricia Burroughs. The goal of the challenge is to make a dent in that stack of books I have intended to read, but never got around to picking up.
Given the size of the pile I have amassed, I aim to get through 24 of them before the end of the year – a silver level accomplishment.
So what have I read this month?
The Unlikely Spy – Daniel Silva: As I said in last month’s TBR blog entry, this is Silva’s first novel and a bit of a departure from his later work. Set during WWII and based loosely on actual events, Unlikely chronicles a German spy’s mission to obtain intelligence regarding the anticipated Allied invasion of France (D-Day), and British efforts to thwart such an effort by leaking false information through a network of double agents. It’s a complex story with a great many players told from numerous perspectives. So many, in fact, it becomes very difficult to differentiate between the characters and their motivations. The female antagonist – aka the German spy – was the most interesting character in the entire novel. She was strong, resilient, and sympathetic. Her motivations were clear, and even though she did kill a few innocent Brits when her back was to the wall, I found myself rooting for her success. Then Silva killed her. In the most blasé fashion, as if it were an afterthought, he eliminated her and moved on without a backward glance. The story went to shit for me after that, and was topped off by an ending that was a real blow to my intelligence as a reader. I hate that.
Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie: I have read my fair share of Agatha Christie over the years. My favorite, and one of my top five favorite books of all time, is Murder in Mesopotamia. So, it’s a little shocking that Murder on the Orient Express, arguably Christie’s most notable effort, remained steadfast on my TBR list. Until now. As always, the queen of murder weaves a riveting story complete with an impossible crime, an eclectic cast of characters (though they have more in common than one might think), and an improbable conclusion. And she makes it work. Brilliantly.
Inferno – Dan Brown: Inferno is by far the worst book I’ve read since…well…the Lost Symbol. It started out promising. I like a novel that drops the reader right into the action and Brown certainly accomplished that, but once you get past the initial flash and bang, the story becomes heavy on tell and light show. I know what you’re thinking: It’s a Dan Brown novel – telling is part of the equation. I get that, but in this case it’s boring, poorly written, and redundant. How many times does Brown recount – frame by frame, word for word – the contents of the mysterious video sent by the bad guy to the unknowing accomplice? Four. It’s almost as if he has no faith in the reader’s intelligence. That pisses me off. Do you know what else pisses me off? Making the reader (me) believe one thing then revealing it was all an orchestrated illusion thereby voiding the entire beginning of the story – the only interesting part of the entire book.
On a side note: Dan Brown could do with a stint in adverb rehab; and it should be a crime to use the word ubiquitous and the phrase “sea of humanity” more than once per novel.
Just a thought.
Another note: Inferno is a new publication and doesn’t count toward my goal in this challenge. Bummer. Such suckage should count for something.
Progress toward goal: 11 of 24.
A Study in Scarlet – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
What’s on your TBR list?