Thursday, October 08, 2009

A couple of Good Books

This blog is essentially about writing and books even though we often get sidetracked on subjects ranging from politics to sports. So today's post is a simple commentary on a couple of the books I read this summer.

I’ll admit I am not above pimping my friend’s books. I will further confess that my personal feelings about author can often I influence my view of his or her book. In this case I’m happy to say that both books are just plain, entertaining reads.

The first of these books is Jonathon King’ The Styx. This is quite a departure for the Edgar Award winning author of the Max Freeman series. Jon is a good friend of mine and I’ve enjoyed all of his books but this one had special meaning to me. It is an historical novel centering around my hometown of West Palm Beach, and because it is set in the late nineteenth century, also what is now the town of Palm Beach. It's a ministry that focuses on the famous fire, which burned down the shantytown that housed the workers for Henry Flagler and other people living on the island.

The Styx also means something special to me because my father, John Born, is also a character in the book. Jon made him a judge in a courtroom scene, reflecting his real-life profession as a circuit court judge who sat in the Palm Beach County Courthouse until 1986.

Jonathon King is appearing this Friday night (tomorrow night) at Murder on the Beach Mystery-Bookstore in Delray Beach, Florida. Stop by, say hello to Jon, and buy a great novel.

The second book I'd like to mention in today's post is Julian Comstock: A Tale of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson. I do not know Mr. Wilson personally, but we do happen to share the same publicist at Tor, the world renowned Justin Golenbock.

Julian Comstock and my own novel, The Human Disguise were reviewed in the same issue of Publisher’s Weekly at the beginning of the summer. They had this to say about Julian Comstock :

Written with the eloquence and elegance of a Victorian novel, this thoughtful tale combines complex characters, rousing military adventure and a beautifully realized, unnerving future.

I appreciated the novel on several levels. It was a simple, first-person adventure story told from the perspective of a young semi-indentured servant named Sam Hazzard. In the future, the United States has turned back the clock (both technologically and culturally) to roughly the late nineteenth century. Horses and steam locomotives are the primary transportation. Sam Hazzard is the friend of the president's nephew, the title character. The story leads through the country’s politics as well as culture with a good dose of war thrown in. The book almost felt like a Civil War adventure both in tone and action. I loved it.

Both books are different from our usual fare of serial killers, burned-out cops, private detectives that actually enforce law and all the other crime novels we see every day.

Drop a quick comment about a book you liked that was a little off the beaten path.


  1. This summer I got drawn into the Septimus Heap books by Angie Sage. They're YA tales of a seventh son of a seventh son, who has exceptional magical powers. I read the first, Magyk, on Kindle and as soon as I finished it was easy (and addictive) to move on to books 2, 3, and 4.

  2. I just finished David Fulmer's Dyin' Crapshooter's Blues.

    This was my first by Mr. Fulmer but it won't be my last. It's very well done.

  3. The Crying Tree by Naseem Rahka was one of the best books I've read this year. It's her debut novel about forgiveness. There's a crime at the center of the book, but it's all about character. Highly recommend it.

  4. Thanks for the tips. I don't know RC Wilson's work. Will give a look. Jon King is excellent.

    Off the beaten track, I've enjoyed Katherine Ramsland's "The Roquelaure Reader: A Companion to Anne Rice's Erotica."

    I'm also enjoying the 1931 cookbook/sociological work, "Cuban Cookery," by Blanche de Baralt. I may have more to say about that, later.

  5. Loved The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Reading Agent Zigzag a non fiction about a Brit double agent in WWII. Just started The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

  6. "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. It charmed the living daylights out of me. I didn't want it to end.

    There are crimes committed certainly, but it's not a mystery. Loved it deeply.

  7. I read the book that the film 'Public Enemy' was based on. The book is about all of the bank robbers and Depression Era criminals (seeing as how the Karpis-Barker Gang did more kidnapping than anything).

    It's a good book, but's it definitely fact heavy. It took me a while to get through, but it was interesting to read-we've definitely seen Hoover and Hollywood's version of what happened all those years ago.

  8. The book that took me by surprise was FINDING NOUF apa THE NIGHT OF THE MI'RAJ by Zoe Ferraris. I found I was far more interested in the culture than the crime.

    Read Jon's book back in June and looking forward to seeing him in Indy.