Thursday, September 1, 2011

Take a Peek Under Sister Mary Murderous's Habit

I have two reading fixations: mysteries and World War II fiction and history. Actually, make that three fixations. I'll read just about anything by or about the Mitford sisters (Nancy, Diana, Jessica, Unity, Pam and Deborah).

When I was a teenager, I couldn't understand why anybody would want to read books about killing people. But when I was in college in Chicago, I started buying Penguin paperback British mysteries at the used bookstores near my apartment. I was attracted by the covers at first (I've always liked orange), but then I was hooked by Margery Allingham, Nicholas Blake, Edmund Crispin and the big kahuna, Dorothy L. Sayers. British mysteries have been my favorite ever since, but I do go further afield these days. Sometimes all the way across the pond.

My husband (ha! and you thought I really was a nun!) will read any mystery I bring home, and lots of times before I do, since he's a night owl. But he draws the line at WWII books, which he calls my Nnnnnnnazis.

I'm a semi-retired lawyer and my husband and I have moved back to my home state of Maine, where we are engaged in protracted warfare against Asian bittersweet, racoons, skunks, squirrels, woodchucks, Japanese beetles, tomato hornworms (have you seen those things?), water in the cellar and the creeping decrepitude of a house built in the 18th and 19th centuries. We have a two-year-old tricolor rescue dog named Penny, who is just itching to help us get rid of all critters in the vicinity including, unfortunately, the skunks.

Recent reading: Louise Penny's A Trick of the Light (seventh and latest in the Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series), Ruth Rendell's The Vault (newest in the Inspector Wexford series, which we had thought ended with last year's The Monster in the Box), Laurie R. King's The Pirate King, Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts (fantastic nonfiction about the American ambassador and his adult daughter in Berlin in 1933-1937), Fred Vargas's An Uncertain Place (part of the Commissionaire Adamsberg series set in France), Harry Dolan's Very Bad Men (second in the David Loogan series set in Michigan) and Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (12 books in four fat volumes and my latest obsession).

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