Category: Book Stuff

Top Ten Tuesday: Really Long Titles

It’s been a long while since I did one of these, but I thought to get back into the habit of doing a few, and thought to start with Top Ten Tuesday—Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018.

Today’s challenge is, Long Titles.

Now, this is great if you are reading a lot of self published fantasy as, at the moment, there are a few books doing the rounds, online, that have really great titles. But crime fiction, or a thriller? Not so much. Most authors and, I think, publishers too, prefer something short and snappy or, at most, 3-4 words in length.

They go for strong, in-your-face The Whisperer, The Liar, The Silenced. Titles that leave no doubt to the fact we’re in crime fiction territory. But all that aside, here we go, I’m digging deep to try find some really lengthy titles to fulfil this one.

  • THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE by Alan Bradley
  • THE WEED THAT STRINGS THE HANGMAN’S BAG by Alan Bradley
  • THE GRAVE’S A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE by Alan Bradley
  • THE GOLDEN TRESSES OF THE DEAD by Alan Bradley
  • THE WOMAN WHO MARRIED A BEAR by John Straley
  • THE SPY WHO CAME OUT OF THE COLD by John Le Carre
  • THE PERPLEXING THEFT OF THE JEWEL IN THE CROWN by Vaseem Khan
  • A DARKNESS MORE THAN LIGHT by Michael Connelly
  • CAPTAIN MOXLEY AND THE EMBERS OF THE EMPIRE by Dan Hanks
  • THE LAST SMILE IN SUNDER CITY by Luke Arnold

Okay, so I had to cheat. Cheat BIG time to find ten titles, by including the four books I’ve read by Alan Bradley who, as you can see, loves his long titles. With the last two being both fantasy books I read recently.

Fantasy being more inclined to go for long descriptive titles. Some of them incredibly funny too if you look at: The Thief Who Pulled On Trouble’s Braids or The Thief Who Spat In Luck’s Good Eye, both by Michael McClung. I mean, come on, even if you don’t normally read fantasy, wouldn’t you want to read both of these just to find out more about those great titles?

And you, what really long titled books have you read recently, if any?

Looking for a Criminally Good Read

I’ve read 3 books since the start of October, one was a short novella that was supposed to be a taut futuristic thriller—Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds—and let me tell you, it was anything but. I followed this up with two crime fiction novels. Of the two novels one was exemplary while the other, well, wasn’t.

Let’s start with Overkill (2019) a debut novel by NZ author, Vanda Symon, which was less than stellar, to say the least. The story features Sam Shepherd, a feisty young rookie cop, or so we’re told. However, the more I read about her the less I liked her. For me at least, she came across as whiney, petulant, and prone to fits of temper—she threw her phone … a lot!

After a while, this kind of behaviour becomes tiresome. Add in a cast of secondary characters that had about as much depth as the paper they were printed on, and a story full of plot holes, and it became dull very quickly. Worse, the author was want to lead the reader to conclusions, rather than let the reader come across them organically. And let me tell you, there is nothing more frustrating than being spoon-fed a narrative.

The other thing I found unnecessary was the need for a prologue centred around a nasty murder, which seem to be all about the shock value. It just read like hollow violence given how staid and boring the rest of the book was.

All-in-all, this was a plodding police procedural, with little or no depth of story or characters.

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In stark contrast, the second crime novel I read, and one that was almost a palate cleanser, was Bitter Medicine (1987) by one of my go-to authors, Sara Paretsky. Her V. I. Warshawski detective series just goes from strength to strength. Each story is always so well-plotted and peopled with characters that really come across as fleshed out and always, all too human.

In Bitter Medicine, V. I. or, Vic to her friends, is wading her way—as usually—through a mess of leads over a fatal death of a pregnant young woman in hospital and the subsequent death of one of the doctors who treated her. I love how Paretsky takes the reader up and down the emotional highway, as Vic checks out one lead after another, piecing together how it was that Consuelo Alvarez, and her new born baby died. And how the brutal murder of Dr. Malcolm Tregiere ties in, if at all.

Of course, V. I. never solves the puzzle alone. She always relies on some great secondary characters to help her out along the way in the guise of her mentor, Dr. Lotty Herschel—who runs a women’s clinic in one of the poor areas of Chicago—and her reporter friend Murray Ryerson. Both are wonderfully written.

If you like your detectives smart-talking, hard-boiled, and female, then you can’t go wrong with a V. I. Warshawski novel.