Saturday 30 May 2015

Two crime titles

My reading continues to be slow this month... various reasons such as the garden and this week, family stuff with the halfterm holidays. I have managed to read a bit though and this post is all about getting myself up to date with a couple of crime book reviews.

First up, The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson.

Wade Barsad, a rancher with a criminal past, has been shot dead by his wife, Mary. He burned down the barn, killing her beloved horses, so she shot him six times in the head. Has confessed in fact. But something about the case is making Sheriff Walt Longmire uneasy. Quite a few people had reason to want Barsad dead and despite her confession Mary seems vague and confused. Longmire goes undercover to another county, where he doesn't have juristicion, to investigate.

For some reason I didn't love this the way I've loved previous books in the Walt Longmire series. It was ok, not terrible, but I found the manner in which the timeline shifts back and forth distracting. The book starts with him arriving in the town where he's going undercover but then proceeds to go back a week or so and then forward again... all through the book. Not keen on this way of presenting a story to be honest. I also missed the cast of characters that usually inhabit these books, Henry Standing Bear, Vic, Ruby and so on. They made brief appearances but not really enough for me. What I did enjoy, as always, was the Wyoming setting. It's a huge canvas and the author always tranports me right there. One section where Walt and two other characters set off to camp on a mesa was beautifully described and funnily enough that was actually when the plot took off for me. The Dark Horse is book 5 in the Longmire series and the last of the books that I own. I now have to decide whether to buy any more. It's also my book 13 for Bev's Mount TBR 2015 challenge.

Next, Roman Blood by Steven Saylor.

Gordianus the Finder is an investigator of crimes in Rome in 80BC. A slave known as Tiro arrives one morning asking him to accompany him to his master, Cicero, an advocate, who has work for him. An elderly man, Sextus Roscius, has been murdered in the street in the middle of the night. The man's son has been arrested for the murder. Even though he was out of the city at the time it's thought he arranged for three men to kill his father. But some greedy relations stood to gain from the old man's death and have now taken over the family farm. Cicero, wants Gordianus to help him prove the son's innocence... but it's not as straightforward as it sounds. Rome is nothing if not corrupt and that corruption goes all the way to the top, to the current dictator, Sulla. This case could be extremely dangerous to Gordianus's health and to those who associate with him.

I really liked this! A friend suggested the series and lent me the first four books so I'm very pleased to be able to read more as and when I like. What I liked most was the historical detail. I've read a few books about Rome and of course seen I, Claudius on the TV. But books like this that are well researched can teach you lot. I knew there were slaves in ancient Rome for instance, but not to what extent they propped up society or minute details of their way of life and treatment. I found it fascinating. The crime element was also very good, lots of twists and turns and much intrigue surrounding the political situation. Not normally my sort of thing but it was well done here. All in all, a great start to a 'new to me' series and I look forward to reading more.

And to finish the post, a photo I took when we had lunch at a pub overlooking the coast on Tuesday. I liked it so much it's now on my main Facebook page.



DesLily said...

I like what you said about the historical fiction always being so well researched.. those are the ones I like best also. Even in bio's like Stan and Ollie, I learned so much about that period of time and how things were and could imagine what things looked I really love when a book is well researched. Glad you enjoyed that one! I think I've given myself a few days off from reading.. I've picked up 3 books so far and non grabbed me (I am sure them will at another time)..Also think I am hitting bottom from my way too fast trip. ah well.. i will get back on the ball soon enough I imagine. lol

Kay said...

I am very behind on the Longmire series. So far behind that I'm thinking of going back and rereading the ones I've already experienced or at least listening to them on audio. My husband is not behind on them and is excited about the new one that has just been published. I'm thinking that this book is the ones where I left off and maybe I started it and was not enthused. It sounds familiar.

BooksPlease said...

I'm not familiar with the Longmire series - probably won't read them, too many other books around me right now.

But I'm glad you liked Roman Blood. I've read quite a lot about Ancient Rome - I took an OU course which I thoroughly enjoyed and have been to Rome a few times. I read 'I, Claudius' after watching the TV series years ago and loved it, also Colleen McCullough's 'Masters of Rome' series of books - all absolutely fascinating! So I can see I really must read Saylor's books!

The garden is taking a lot of my time too - got to finish the strimming now ...

Val said...

Very interesting reviews ...Thank you!
I must look out the Roman book it sounds most promising. I really enjoyed the "Falco" series of adaptions of Linsey Davis's books that were on the radio. So if you don't know them you may enjoy them in the future?
really good review of "The Silver Pigs" here

Debi said...

I completely understand why you used that photo for your facebook page--it's lovely!!! Looks so utterly peaceful!

TracyK said...

I haven't gotten that far in the Walt Longmire series, I think I finished book 3. I enjoyed all I have read so far. I have not tried that series set in Rome. I have this bias about going that far back in the past for mysteries, but maybe someday.

Cath said...

Pat: You're right, well researched fiction can be a joy to read and I think it can teach you every bit as much as non-fiction as you're learning without even realising it.

I hate it when you keep trying books and they end up not suiting your mood.

Kay: That's interesting that this might be the book where you stopped reading. I almost thought it was too clever for its own good.

Margaret: Oh yes... *so* many good series around. It's quite difficult to decide whether you should start a new one when most of us already have dozens on the go.

I have an odd feeling that ancient Rome could be yet another new reading interest. (Like I need another one...) I found the historical background in this absolutely fascinating. I'll look up The Masters of Rome series.I've also had the Medicus series by Ruth Downie recommended. Have you tried those?

Val: Nope, not read the Linsey Davis books though I have actually heard of those which is something. I think I'm going to have to make a list as people are reccing ancient Rome books left, right and centre. LOL!

Debi: Thank you! My first thought when I saw how it had come out was that it reminded me of paintings by Claude Monet. LOL!

Tracy: Yes, the first Walt Longmire books are excellent. I've liked all of them up to this one and even this was not a bad book by any means. Just 'OK'.

BooksPlease said...

Cath, I haven't read the Medicus series! but I'll certainly look them up. I think ancient Rome is a fascinating period and once I started reading the Masters of Rome series I was hooked!

Penny O'Neill said...

Oooo, that Steven Saylor book has me curious, Cath - and love your view from the pub.

Cath said...

Margaret: I've started a Good Reads shelf for Ancient Rome which will help me to remember which series have been recommended to me. The Masters of Rome is certainly on the list.

Penny: The view from that particular pub (with that view aptly named The Smuggler's Inn) is stunning. And the food is pretty good too.