Sunday, July 3, 2016

Spring Adventures....Some Virtual, Some Real

We’ve had a good time this spring, and that includes some time for escape reading and literal escapes.  Ricky went to Guatemala for two weeks with his friend who speaks Spanish fluently and has family and friends there.  Ricky, intrepid explorer, got an insider’s view of the towns they visited. 
Panajachel Lago Atitlan Guatemala
Market Scene
Ricky on swinging bridge
When Ricky returned, we hosted a retirement party at our house for one of his friends and colleagues from the Cardiac Cath Lab at the VA Hospital.  Ricky was happy to welcome her into the ranks of the retired.  That same weekend we were delighted to welcome as houseguests some friends from New Orleans.  No problem, the more, the merrier.   

Then the next weekend we headed to Myrtle Beach, SC to meet up with my two sisters and their husbands for some time at the shore. 
Myrtle Beach, SC
Beach Dining
This weekend we’re celebrating the Fourth of July with another friend’s retirement party and a Fourth of July birthday party for a girlfriend’s eight-year-old. 

No matter what I’m doing, though, a book is close at hand. 

Berkley Prime Crime, 2004
Years ago a friend turned me on to Professor Gideon Oliver, the so-called “Skelton Detective,” so when I saw one of these mysteries by Aaron Elkins in my Little Free Library, I snagged it to read.  It was fun to reacquaint myself with the fictional professor and his Park Ranger wife Julie, especially since this adventure occurred in an Italian villa.  A child is kidnapped, a skeleton is uncovered on the villa grounds, and no one is quite who they seem to be. This wasn’t a great book, but I enjoyed reading about Gideon Oliver and his forensic investigations.  The prolific Elkins, a forensic anthropologist born in 1935, continues to write the Gideon Oliver books and serves on the Olympic Peninsula [Washington] Cold Case Task Force.  He has written another series featuring a museum curator of Renaissance and Baroque art, and writes two series with his wife, Charlotte Elkins. 

Penguin Press, 2001

I’ve tried to read books in this unique series but never got very far before I quit.  Apparently I never started with the first book in the collection, or perhaps I was just in the mood to read an unusual book this spring.  This time, Agent Thursday Next’s world made sense to me within the rules of this version of 1985 Great Britain where characters can pop out of their novels, either voluntarily or taken by force, and people can enter books through a portal invented by Thursday’s eccentric uncle.  Her father can stop time and time travel, so he’s always popping in and out of her life.  Great Britain’s literary resources are taken very seriously.  There are riots over who wrote Shakespeare’s plays.  In this book, Next’s mission as Special Operative in the Literary Detection unit is to find Jane Eyre, who has been kidnapped from the pages of the Bronte novel, before harm comes to her.  For whatever the reason, this time I clicked with the book and thoroughly enjoyed my time in this alternate universe.  Fflorde who lives in Wales gave up a career in the film industry to write books.

Grand Central Publishing, 2011
Harry Bosch is approaching retirement from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Open-Unsolved Homicide Unit, which investigates unsolved murders going back 50 years.  He is also trying to be a good single parent to his teen-age daughter.  Bosch and his partner Daniel Chu are assigned a cold case with a couple of strange details.  DNA evidence has been analyzed from a 1989 murder/rape and is linked to a perpetrator who is in custody, already convicted of a rape.  The only catch is this guy was 8 years old when the first crime was committed.  Bosch and Chu are charged with figuring out what is going on.  At the same time a prominent councilman and vocal LAPD critic’s grown son either jumps or is dropped from a hotel balcony, a real high hotel balcony.  The councilman insists that Bosch be assigned his son’s case.  In the end, Bosch solves both cases, but justice for all the victims is harder to come by.

I recently succumbed to temptation and bought the first two Harry Bosch mysteries, because I was heading to Myrtle Beach for my vacation and needed reading material.  Of course reading time turned out to be rare, but I was prepared to read while catching some rays, either at the beach or at the pool.   

Grand Central Publishing, 1991

I started this novel at the beach and finished it quickly upon my return home.  A body is discovered in a large drainage pipe at Mulholland Dam near the Hollywood sign.  It turns out to be a recently deceased guy who LAPD Detective Harry Bosch knew years ago in Vietnam, a fellow tunnel rat.  The death was set up to look like a drug overdose but Harry is suspicious.  The dead man appears to be connected to a big bank heist.  Harry must discover who else is involved in the daring bank vault theft.  He doggedly pursues the case despite roadblocks put in his path by the FBI and his own LAPD.  The beautiful FBI agent, Eleanor Wise, enters Harry’s life in this book.  Harry finds her irresistible but can he trust her, and how many people are going to die before Harry can expose the truth?  

I'm afraid my distance traveling may be over for awhile as I've scheduled knee replacement surgery for later this month.  In the meantime, we have a couple mini-adventures, or in-state trips coming up. I guess I'll have a chance to tackle my shelf of TBR books now.