Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Books: Comanche Sundown, The Undertakers Wife & Other Recent Reading

It's been a while since I posted on books. Here's some of the better stuff:

Comanche Sundown by Jan Reid:  Last year when I was reading the non-fiction  Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne, several people suggested that I read this book. In March of this year it was given to me as a birthday present. I was a little pessimistic about the premise of yet another fictional book on the Comanches and Quanah Parker. After all, the Quanah tale has been done to death.  I'm happy to say that this is a great book.

Reid manages to intertwine Quanah Parker, Bose Ikard, Charley Goodnight and all the other improbable characters and suspects of the period into a fabulous tale that leaves you wondering if all this might not have happened after all. Well it didn't. However, I've heard from people that were not very well read on the subject that they just accepted it as the real truth and were surprised to learn it wasn't. When you can put together a story that well, then it's something really worth reading. But keep grounded. Remember, it didn't happen.. 

The Undertaker's Wife by Loren B. Estleman:  This is another birthday book that really hit the mark. I have been reading Estleman since the 1970's and have enjoyed almost everything he does. In spite of being categorized as a writer of crime and western novels, he has a very wide range and has quietly racked up some impressive awards for his writing. Some time ago I posted on The Branch & the Scaffold which was his fictional take on the days of Isaac C. Parker, the "hanging Judge" of Fort Smith, AR. The Undertaker's Wife also has a western theme of sorts but it is more about the struggle of maintaining a marriage under tough conditions. There is also a good back story line with a little mystery to it. I suspect that almost everyone will like this book, as I did..

Fever Dream by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child:  I am a voracious reader and it hurts to wait for books I know will be good to come out in paperback so I can afford them. This is one of the best by Preston & Child in a long series that goes back years. It's kind of a prequel and yet stands all on its own.  Preston & Child separately write fine books, but I believe they do even better when they write together. A very good thriller with a touch of Cajun Gothic.   If you haven't gotten into their books, give them a try..

Dead Watch by John Sandford:  Another one of my favorite thriller writers introducing a new character in his cast.  One that specializes in forensic bureaucracy, if you will. Sandford writes in a relaxed, intelligent way with some real humor, developing good characters with stories that hang together. Always a good read and when you're done, you will probably want to pick up another of Sandford's books. 

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