I’ve been writing a lot of book reviews lately, and although I don’t intend to make the FaceBook-type mistake of inflicting my entire reading-list on you, I thought I would share here those books that I most especially enjoy. When I rate my reads, a book that I’ve pretty thoroughly enjoyed will usually garner a four-star rating–because I’m saving the five-star designation for the reads I really love. So here’s my thought: if a book rates a five-star ranking, it also rates a spot here. (Of course, my readers here may not share my tastes–but this is where I get to invoke the “it’s-my-blog” standard, right?) To kick off the Five-Star Series, here’s a winner from Echelon Press…
Assignment: Nepal, an Irene Adler Mystery by J.A. Squires
It didn’t take me even twenty pages to fall for Irene Adler. By page twenty I told myself I wouldn’t even care if this book didn’t develop a plot—I’d keep reading it just for the enjoyment of Irene’s self-deprecating humor and her acute and amusing commentary on the people (and the macaw) in her life. Happily, “Assignment: Nepal” isn’t short on plot either—all in all, a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Adler, named for “the only woman to outsmart Sherlock Holmes,” is an anthropologist with a taste for adventure who hoped her doctorate would open doors. (“It had opened doors, all right. Classroom doors.”) Her former academic advisor Dr. Herbert–who reminds her of Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit, but who may not be as scattered as he seems—convinces her to visit a fellow anthropologist and former classmate in Nepal.
Something fishy is going on in Nepal, although Dr. Herbert is less than forthcoming about exactly what he wants her to investigate. Irene is bored enough with academic life–and flush enough from her poker-playing–to take the bait anyway. What follows is an enjoyable travelogue-cum-mystery, involving Nepalese politics and culture, Hindu religious practices, and most of all, people.
The book itself is the collaborative effort of two authors writing under the assumed single name of J.A. Squires, and I hope someday to read an interview about their writing process. To create such a strong narrative voice with two people at the helm is a noteworthy accomplishment indeed. Wherever the lines may have been between the two author’s separate contributions, the result is a seamless product—and (tantalized by the implied promise of the word “series” in reference to this stand-alone book) I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment.