----

----
Buster Keaton in Sherlock Jr., 1924

February 10, 2013

BOOK BUYS

The Speaker of Mandarin by Ruth Rendell


Last week, I bought nearly two dozen paperbacks from the secondhand bookstore I frequent. The books cost Rs.10 each, less than 25 cents. They were dominated by westerns but also included such books as Transplant by Frank G. Slaughter and The Hessian by Howard Fast, both old favourite writers of mine. I might review The Hessian, a historical fiction, this Friday. 

I also purchased my second book by Ruth Rendell, the famous English crime writer of psychological thrillers and murder mysteries. I have never read anything by Baroness Rendell yet, not even after the purchase of The Copper Peacock and Other Stories last year (I can't say why I haven't read that book yet) or even after reading some fine reviews of her novels on a number of blogs and websites. 

Every author has his or her day, I guess. Ruth Rendell might have hers soon with The Speaker of Mandarin (1983) which I picked up last week. I intend to reverse the singular disservice I have done to her "cleverly plotted" fiction by reading about a murder mystery that takes Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford all the way to China. The last book based in the East that I read was the political thriller The Chinese Assassin by Anthony Grey, the well-known British journalist and author. I recommend all his books, especially the tome Saigon.

The blurb on the back of The Speaker of Mandarin says: "Chief Inspector Wexford always dreamt of visiting China, and was sure he never would. But for once he was wrong..." I think this is a mystery that moves back and forth between England and China. Only way to find out is to read the book.

Now why can't I find the exact covers of books that I buy? Oh, I did! That's the one up there.

12 comments:

  1. How lucky Prashant. Do list all the books that you purchased. it's always fun going thru these lists.

    Is Rendell really the first lady of crime? She is good but isn't this a little OTT. ( I have just read Patrick's diatribe against blurbs) :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Neer, I have bought far too many books to list here but they include paperbacks by Spillane, McBain, Block, Deighton, Pendleton, MacDonald, and a lot of westerns. I think the "First lady of Crime" is the publisher's tagline and there are enough contenders to that title including Ruth Rendell. I'll check out what Patrick has to say about blurbs.

      Delete
  2. I hear a lot about Rendell. She was a big influence on a couple of writing friends of mine who write mysteries. I didn't find any of her books as a kid, though so didn't get caught by her. I should read some now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Charles, I have been promising myself that I would read some of Rendell's books and I definitely intend to read a few this year.

      Delete
  3. Saigon is great. When you mentioned The Chinese Assassin my immediate reaction was to recommend it, until I read a bit further and saw you already had haha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, A! Anthony Grey is a seasoned author with years of solid research and investigation behind his writing. I like the way he mixes fact and fiction so effortlessly and presents you with an entirely believable story. SAIGON is definitely his best.

      Delete
  4. Can't wait to see what you think of the Ruth Rendell book. And I hope you do review The Hessian this week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tracy, THE HESSIAN is an unusual story written in the backdrop of an event I didn't know about. Howard Fast writes very neatly.

      Delete
  5. I think her day is still here. I am reading one of her books under the name of Barbara Vine right now. She is amazingly successful and prolific.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patti, I am ashamed that I haven't read any of her books in spite of her output under the names of Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine. I hope to correct that glaring deficit in my reading of fiction soon.

      Delete
  6. Lucky you Praashant. I love second hand book fairs. I think you'll enjoy 'The Speaker of Mandarin' although some of racial stereotypes might seem a little dated. I'd be interested to hear what you think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, I am looking forward to reading this book. We rarely have book fairs in Mumbai unlike, say, in Delhi in the north and Bangalore in the south. However, we have regular book exhibitions in our city though I have bought most of my books from the hole-in-the-wall secondhand bookstore I mentioned. They are very cheap too.

      Delete