Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | March 20, 2012

Books Feb March 2012

More books to give my mini reports on!

When I was in Dallas a friend gave me a book by Lawrence Sanders called Three Complete Novels. These all starred Archy McNally, who was the son of a lawyer and was his sort of detective. He looked into sensitive cases in which his father’s clients wanted discreet inquiries. Each novel had a different case. Archy is an unlikely hero, as he went into detail about the wonderful food he ate, had a ‘colourful’ taste in clothes bordering on the gay, but at the same time entertained the reader with his conquests of women although he had a steady girlfriend. The stories took place in southern Florida. He often referred directly to the reader, including her in his thoughts and frustrations about his collection of seemingly random details. These three stories are quite readable and the endings are usually a surprise.


I started Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger before I went to Dallas and finished it after I finished the book above. It is not a great work of art, but it had an interesting premise. A woman saves a toddler from an oncoming car and as a result her photo is in the paper, with mysterious results. She discovers she is not who she thought she was and along with her new attractive neighbour, she gets into puzzling and dangerous situations in which she had to make decisions that affect her family and other people. It is a good story with a fairly satisfying end.  As i looked for a photo of the book I discovered that it had been made into a movie–  if it was faithful to the book it was probably a good one.


A very interesting little book has been on my table for a while and I finally got around to reading it. This is Sealskin Trousers by Eric Linklater. This book of short stories was published in 1947. the first story deals with a soldier’s return and his marriage to a goose-girl. The eponymous last story deals with a seal man who convinces a young student to go with him into the sea. All the stories are well written and have a sort of twist to them. Reading them so many years later also gives a perspective into the writing of the time. Linklater was actually a very prolific writer, though I had not heard of him before. The book is on the shelves now.


I was in the need for something that was not too intellectual, so I picked up Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress. It was a good read, of course, though the short chapters made me feel that it was more of a screenplay. At any rate, it was about the NSA and its huge TRANLATR computer that was trying to solve a program called Digital Fortress. The hotshot woman cryptographer was part of the story, as was her unsuspecting lover David, who was sent to Spain to get a ring that probably had the passkey for the program. There were lots of ins and outs and a surprise ending. On the shelf now.


I also read a Maeve Binchey feel-good novel, but I can’t remember the name of it and can’t find it on the shelves. There was a photo of her on the cover and I was disappointed to see what she really looks like. Of course it had a happy ending. Easy reading.




I had heard of Brendan Shanahan’s In Turkey I am Beautiful but hadn’t read it until recently. It was rather flippant for the most part, but he did try to fit in facts about the places he visited. He used the expressions ‘In Turkey I am beautiful’ a few times, and I think that sort of hints at what attracts people to stay here. The carpet shop that figures in it is in Sultanahmet and now has a big poster of the cover of the book in the window. I enjoyed the book and recommend it as an easy read about Turkey.




A more thoughtful book about Turkey is Crescent and Star by Stephen Kinzer. Kinzer writes for the New York Times. His chapters alternate between more personal writing, in italics, and more factual and opinionated writing. He wrote it before the AKP came in, so I am curious to know what he thinks of Turkey’s direction now. He had a lot of suggestions, saying that the government often was good at missing chances and that the elite tended to dismiss the general population and the government treated the citizens like they were idiots. He warned that the young people were not going to continue to accept that. The book was easy to read and at times I found myself nodding in agreement, as I remember the pre AKP years.


A totally silly book I read was Hotel Babylon by Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous. It was a cobbled together version of hotel gossip about both the workers and the guests. It wasn’t particularly shocking but in spots it was funny. An absolutely brainless read. And once again when i went to find a photo of it, I discovered that it had been made into a tv series.  Go figure.




A mystery I enjoyed was Walk a Crooked Mile by Catherine Dain. A private investigator is hired by her mother to find her long gone father so he will sign the divorce papers that her mother had sort of lied about when she married her current husband. Of course that got the PI into various kinds of trouble and it certainly got her thinking about her relationship with her absent father. I like books that look at relationships, as those are always a mystery!  I noticed that it had been made into a movie in 1948.  Time for a remake!


A very thoughtful and thought provoking book was Home by Marilynne Robinson. A sister, Glory, returns to the home of her ageing father after a failed relationship and then the prodigal son, Jack, appears after 20 years away. Their father had been a Presbyterian minister and so the family had grown up steeped in Christianity. The story involves the relationship between the two siblings and with their father, among others. For me it was interesting because Jack had been gone so long and slowly we piece together some of what he had been doing and why. It was also interesting because there was so many references to Christianity, something that I am not used to. This was a very well written book. I highly recommend it.

Stay tuned for more!


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