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Historical detective series

I’m still reading Anita Blake, but since I have nothing more to say about the books at the moment than what I have said already, I thought I’d list the first batch of my favourite historical detective series. They are set in different time periods and all have something that appeals to me one way or the other.

I always link to one or a few books in the series, but I’m not always sure which one is the first one to start with. Though the books are usually self-contained and can be read out of order. I’d recommend to read them in order, though, since you will get a bit of background knowledge about the various characters.

 

1. Aristotle detective by Margaret Doody

Only three books are out I think. This is quite an interesting series, since the detective is Aristotle with a student as his sidekick.

2. SPQR series by John Maddox Roberts

Not much sleuthing is going on in those books, but you just have to love them. Decius Caecilius Metellus is such a likeable character and his constant brushes with Clodius are just wonderful. The first book is "The King’s Gambit". The books are set in the time of Caesar (they start out when he is still a total nobody) and bring the people to life in a great way. The author sometimes takes real events and gives them a good spin, like inside views of the Catiline conspiracy or the incident when Clodius gatecrashed the rites of Bona Dea dressed as a woman.

3. Marcus Corvinus series by David Wishart

By far my favourite series of all. Marcus Corvinus is a great character. I love his whole household, including his nasty cook, and the whole setting. The time is during Tiberius’ reign and it all starts while Livia is still alive. The first few books center around real historical events. The first one is "Ovid", in which M. C. meets his future wife. The next book "Germanicus" tells the well known story of Varus partly from his own point of view.

4. Marcus Didius Falco series by Lindsey Davis

I don’t like all of them, but some are just wonderful. Whereas Decius Caecilius Metellus is a Plebeian politician and Marcus Corvinus is a Patrician bon vivant, Marcus Didius Falco is a private detective who actually has to work for his living. The books are set in the time of Vespasian. My favourite ones are:

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Circus of the Damned by Laurell K. Hamilton

Circus of the Damned is the 3rd book in the series. I have no idea why I’m still reading on, I must be under some sort of spell, I have no other explanation. Anita is starting to seriously get on my nerves. I want to slap her on at least every other page for being the tough girl that she is. What’s wrong with that woman?
Her constant denial of that she feels somewhat attracted to Jean-Claude is extremely annoying once more. She is a professional zombie raiser and necromancer, she continuously stresses her "affinity" towards the dead, yet going out with a "walking corpse" (i.e. vampire) is totally not her cup of tea. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t get that.
In the book two master vampires are fighting for supremacy in the city and she is (once more) getting caught in the middle of it all. The two masters in question are Jean-Claude, whom she knows to be a halfway decent fellow and a certain Mr. Oliver of whom she knows nothing whatsoever. She meets him once and finds he is a nice guy. Based on the one hour meeting – during which he shows remarkable power – she decides that she will betray Jean-Claude and give his identity and location to Mr. Oliver. Bad judgement because Mr. Oliver turns out to be not so nice after all, but then – when the shit hits the fan she does say to Jean-Claude that she is sorry. That must count for something, no? Only through her stout-hearted actions the evil ones are killed and Jean-Claude is rescued, so that makes it all good again. Why Jean-Claude doesn’t give that woman a wide berth after that incident is beyond me.

Apart from all those personality issues I find the idea of having Mr. Oliver dress up like a clown for the final showdown at the circus extremely trite. It just reminds me of Stephen King or maybe Batman. Why do the evil ones always dress up as clowns? Admittedly clowns are pretty frightening, but the idea is so old and hackneyed, it’s time to look for some other fancy dress.

And then Richard….What’s wrong with that guy being attracted to Anita? What on earth are they talking about while they are dating? My reckoning: the conversation centers around whether Anita prefers to carry her gun in a holster under her shoulder or at the small of her back and whether a Browning whatever is preferabe to a Firestar whatever. Then there is the important question to be answered whether to wear a cardigan or a shirt to hide the gun. God, the woman is so boring, it hurts.

BTW, if anybody is wondering about the book titles. They are all various pubs, bars and other locations in the area. Guilty Pleasures is Jean -Claude’s night club, The laughing corpse is a comedy club (owned by Jean-Claude) and the Circus of the Damned is a circus or rather supernatural freak show, managed by – you guessed it – Jean Claude. But hope is near, the Lunatic Café, the next book’s title, is not affiliated with Jean-Claude in any way.

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The laughing corpse by Laurell K. Hamilton

This book started the whole idea of this blog. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a hero/heroine in a book this much. We’ve had  the whole Anita Blake series for a long time at home. John read them  – he’s all into that vampire stuff -, but stopped reading them when they started to turn into some sort of sex novel around volume no. 9 or 10. When I found out there was the Paranormal Romance genre out there I started reading some books and really liked them. Eventually John told me about LKH and I started to read the Anita Blake series.
“The laughing corpse” is the second Anita Blake book that I have read (after “Guilty pleasures”) and I am not impressed with it.
Anita Blake is a self-righteous, supposedly cool, totally unlikeable person. Her attitude is aggravating to say the least. She doesn’t know when to shut her mouth, pisses the wrong people off at the wrong time and still comes out of every confrontation unharmed.

The descriptions of the murder scenes in the book are gross. To describe the scene once is necessary, but to describe the same stuff again and again is redundant. I’m getting the picture after the first time.

The books are called “vampire hunter novels”, yet so far Anita hasn’t hunted any vampires. Not that I think that vampires need to be hunted per se, but a bit of vampire interaction would be nice. In the first book the “vampire hunter” actually worked FOR the vampires and in the second one there were hardly any vampires.
Jean-Claude was only put in as a minor supporting actor. The whole book deals with zombies of all kinds – a topic that doesn’t do it for me at all.

*SPOILERS*
What annoyed me most was:
– that Anita found out that raising a dead animator has very bad consequences and that that zombie can’t be controlled by the one who raised it. Nevertheless she doesn’t hesitate to raise a whole graveyard, meaning loads and loads of zombies she doesn’t know anything about. What if there are former animators among them?
– that at first Anita wants to bring down Dominga Salvador with legal means and only in case those would fail she would let John Burke deal with her. That resolution didn’t last for long, because as soon as she realizes that Dominga got out on bail (something which is pretty much inside the legal system, even though she obviously reached that by bribery) she decided it’s time to have her killed by the numeours zombies she just raised. Nice double standard.

Guess this book wasn’t for me. At. All.

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bookkeeper or book tosser?

I’m a bookkeeper. I never throw away books, even though sometimes I’d like to. Somehow I can never bring myself to toss a book into the trash can, even if I hated the book. Actually I only read a book the other day that annoyed me so much that I was compelled to write a review on amazon about it. I never did that before. And when I read yet another book in the series I got even angrier. That’s when the thought of creating this blog came up. I’m not planning to only complain about books here though, so stay tuned for some positive stuff as well, :-).