Wednesday, July 2, 2014


The shelves in my Paris apartment are home to what any objective observer would, I believe, judge to be a rather odd collection of books:  A forty-three volume set of the complete works of Marx and Engels in German, one copy each of every edition and translation of every book I have ever published [some seventy or so volumes in all], a nine-volume paperback set of the works of Kant in German together with twenty or thirty secondary works on the philosophy of Kant, thirty old somewhat tattered and much underlined works of medieval and French history in French, a vast collection of Paris maps and guide books, and perhaps seventy schlock spy, action, and detective novels which latter, taken together, have little or no redeeming social value.  I can say with confidence that I have read every one of the schlock novels and all of the original English language versions of the books by me, and I have actually, over a lifetime, read all of the French language history.  Beyond that, things are a bit spotty.

In the airport while waiting for the flight to London on June 16th, I bought a Frederick Forsyth page turner, which I started on the plane and finished here in Paris.  That was followed by several more schlock novels picked up at Abbey books, a little second-hand English language bookshop behind Eglise St Severin.  After that I read the good book [as I think of it] recommended by my sister, and commented on a few days ago on this blog. 

Somewhat at loose ends for diversionary reading, I shelled out twenty dollars at Shakespeare and Co. for the second J. K. Rowling detective novel published under her momentary pseudonym Robert Galbraith.  The Rowling book was marvelous.  Everyone knows the story of the trouble she had finding a publisher for the first Harry Potter book -- eight houses turned it down before Rowling's second agent sent it to Bloomsbury.  In The Silkworm, the novel I read last week, Rowling settles accounts in spectacular and gory fashion with the world of authors, agents, and publishers.  Rowling is a wonderfully accomplished writer, and I recommend the book to you whole-heartedly.

But that was then.  What now?  Well, a former renter left a copy of the first of the Jack Reacher series by Lee Childs, Killing Floor.  Inasmuch as I had already read three or four Jack Reacher pot boilers, I grabbed it and am now about halfway through its 524 pages.  Reacher, for those of you who have not yet sunk this low, is described as a 6'5" former military policeman.  In the recent film version, he is played by Scientology cultist Tom Cruise, who tops out at 5'6".  I think the Head of Casting may have been dyslexic.


  1. or dyspeptic.
    So, if we're talking schlock (but good schlock) then I commend the rather old fashioned series by Rex Stout, with the main characters of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin.
    More lately, there's a nice series set in Istanbul, whose lead character is a eunuch. Jason Goodwin is the author and the books are quite marvelous; the scene setting and implicit comments on Empire are great.

  2. Nero Wolfe and the Wolfe series are phenomenal. I've read all of them, and I also loved the A&E television version; perhaps the only show to do justice to the books.

    If you haven't read these Wolff, I highly recommend them.

  3. Sigh. I am afraid I had read all the Nero Wolfe books before Chris was born, and probably before David was out of college. Also all the Agatha Christie mysteries, all the Josephine Tey mysteries, all the John Dickson Carr [and Carter Dickson] mysteries. And many more besides. Alas. The punishment for a wasted youth.

  4. It is funny which of those wear well and which don't. Quiz: My wife, because of her book on scent dogs (particularly cadaver dogs) is invited to Bouchercon. Bob and I know where the name comes from (I'll bet). Who else?