I’m pleased to note that these two books, one a mid-20th-century musing on life, sanity and family, the other a 21st century crime thriller, DO have a link, in that they’re both part of a series … in fact both part of a series of nine books. Hooray! They’re also both NOT in the main sequence of the TBR, thus don’t reduce the shelf-space used, but we can’t have everything …
John Galsworthy – “Maid in Waiting”
Here we have the first of the “End of the Chapter” trilogy, the final trilogy in the Forsyte Saga. Got that? Good. We jump forward in time and also away from the Forsyte family themselves as the central characters, as this one is built around the Mont family – Michael (husband of good old Naughty Fleur) and his father Lawrence, Lawrence’s siblings and their various children. Oh, for a family tree – but Galsworthy does do his usual good job of keeping everyone sorted out for us. In fact, it feels a bit like a return to the first books in the series, as they were also set around a set of siblings and their offspring, although the emphasis and action lie firmly with the younger generation, and they have noticeably more freedom, with the charming Dinny flitting all over the place, avoiding eligible suitors and getting along chummily with the uncles – some of whom, notably the vicar and paleontologist, we have come across before.
A lively plot to do with reputations, the difficulty of dealing with unsuitable husbands (including some quite frightening ones) and sanity or the lack of is done nicely, although there are some slightly dodgy views on South Americans and it does seem to spin out for a while quite slowly then resolve all of a sudden. But a good read and I look forward to the next one.
Arnaldur Idriðason – “Jar City”
I couldn’t resist picking up another from the Reykjavik Murder series after enjoying “Silence of the Grave” so much, and although it was a bit frustrating when I discovered (before I started it) that this is in fact the first in the series, and certain plot points in the on-going family life of the police protagonists do need to be read in order, so I knew what happened next on a few points, it was pretty unputdownable still. In fact, I sat up really late reading it one night last week when I really should have been in bed asleep, then had to start the next book in case I scared myself in my sleep; I do usually manage to put my book down in good time but this is, I think, the mark of a good crime novel.
Anyway, it introduces the main characters who will run through the series: shambolic Erlendur with his family problems and hinted-at old struggles with the police force to let him plough his own furrow, Sigurdur Oli, newer-style with sharper suits and not so great with the human interaction side, and Elinborg, their resourceful female colleague (I’m aware that these might be standard crime characters but they do seem fresh and real and human to me).
The plot is complex, resting on matters that go back 40 years or so (I’m wondering if this will be a theme in the series as a whole, as “Silence of the Grave” had a historical plot), so there’s enough to get your teeth into and some points you guess where others stay obscure. The setting in Reykjavik, Keflavik, etc., is again very attractive to me, and recognisable, and again we have the laconic typically Icelandic style of writing with its dry humour and setting. So it’s a winner for me and I look forward to the next one – I can tell it won’t be long!
I’m currently reading the two books pictured in my TBR post, have finished Bill Bryson’s “Shakespeare” (v.g.) and am wondering how to review a book I had from NetGalley which was, erm, rather ruder than I would expect from something labelled a Debbie Macomber-style romance. Hm).
What are you reading as the nights draw in? What are your favourite series, or don’t you like books in series? Have you read either of these?