Death and Taxes

Death and taxes: the only things certain in this world, and they’ve taken a toll on us over the last few weeks. Between a funeral (of a friend and former neighbour, not a family member) and some complications in our taxes, I’ve had no time or energy to deal with much else. (Being subject to two tax regimes—US and NZ—stinks, let me tell ya.)

A month ago I was gung-ho about finishing the first draft of my new novel, and then I got side-tracked. I’m three chapters from the end, and I’ve gotten zilch done on it this week. Grrrr.

With no emotional energy to spare, I’m reading for pure relaxation and escapism. As much as I like SF&F, right now I’m more interested in detective novels: stories with intelligent, fundamentally decent and humane protagonists who unravel a complex problem and give us, the readers, the reassurance that justice of some sort is achievable.

I have a stack of books on my desk, waiting for me. They are all by writers I’m already familiar with, so I can reach in and pluck one out at random, and be reasonably sure it will be something I enjoy. The authors and series currently represented include:

  • Faye Kellerman: Detective Peter Decker & Rina Lazarus in contemporary Los Angeles.
  • Bruce Alexander: Blind magistrate Sir John Fielding in 18th-century London.
  • C J Sansom: Lawyer Matthew Shardlake in 16th-century London.
  • Ellis Peters: Detective Inspector Geoge Felse in post WWII Shropshire. (Not quite as good as the Brother Cadfael novels, but I’ve read all of those.)
  • Susanna Gregory: Doctor Matthew Bartholomew in 14th-century Cambridge.
  • Elizabeth George: Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers at the contemporary Scotland Yard.
  • Margaret Frazer: Dame Frevisse, a 15th-century English nun.
  • Ben Aaronovitch: Police Constable Peter Grant in contemporary London. (This one is also fantasy. The overlap between police procedural and the supernatural is terrific.)
  • Reginald Hill: Detectives Andrew Dalziel and Peter Pascoe in late 20th-century Yorkshire.
  • Anne Perry: Thomas and Charlotte Pitt in 19th-century London.
  • Nevada Barr: National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon in the contemporary US.
  • Louise Penny: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in contemporary Canada.

Hmm… Until I made this list, I hadn’t realised how heavily slanted my reading material was towards English detectives. Maybe I should branch out a bit… After tax season is over…

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