“Two nights ago, a young woman brought her husband into the emergency room of the Sriphat Hospital in Thailand, where he passed away. A guard thinks she remembers her coming in before, but with a different husband – one who also died. Ladarat Patalung, for one, would have been happier without a serial murderer-if there is one — loose in her hospital. Then again, she never expected to be a detective in the first place. And now, Ladarat has no choice but to investigate…”
Ladarat Patalung is a nurse ethicist at a hospital in Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand. When a police detective asks for her help in searching records to see if this woman has brought other men to the hospital, she finds herself falling in love with the idea of being a detective.
Her life has been stagnant. She was widowed twelve years ago after just a few years of marriage. Her life revolves around her job and her cat. Now she is being proactive and getting involved in the lives of people around her.
It becomes obvious very quickly that this book is written by a Western man for an intended audience who is not familiar with Thai culture. Terms that would be easily recognized by a Thai audience are painstakingly defined. The author has spent a lot of time in Thailand and has done a lot of research but it does distance the reader from the story. He works all this detail in by having Ladarat contemplate everything around her very deeply. It makes her come off as a very cerebral and unemotional character who is always partially removed from the people and circumstances around her.
I love the premise of the main mystery. Why does a woman bring in a second dead husband a few months after her last one died? That’s what made me interested in the book. I also haven’t read many books set in Thailand. However, there are several other plots in this book and sometimes that mystery gets forgotten for a while. There is the story of an American man who is injured while on his honeymoon. This serves to set up discussions on American versus Thai responses to health care and crises. There is also a mystery man hanging out in the waiting room who never speaks to anyone. Ladarat is charged with getting rid of him because there is an inspection of her hospital in a few days and the administration doesn’t want homeless people hanging around.
I did learn about Thai culture and attitudes while reading this book. I’d recommend this for people who like deliberately paced stories with plenty of slice of life details about places that they aren’t familiar with. Another book that does this well is The Marriage Bureau for Rich People.
Only nine people have ever been chosen by renowned children’s author Laura White to join the Rabbit Back Literature Society, an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: a young literature teacher named Ella.
Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse.
Master novelist Daniel Silva has thrilled readers with seventeen thoughtful and gripping spy novels featuring a diverse cast of compelling characters and ingenious plots that have taken them around the globe and back—from the United States to Europe, Russia to the Middle East. His brilliant hero, Gabriel Allon—art restorer, assassin, spy—has joined the pantheon of great fictional secret agents, including George Smiley, Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne, and Simon Templar.
Deadly Election by Lindsey Davis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is part of Lindsey Davis’ series about a female private investigator in ancient Rome. I love her books. In this one Flavia is helping her friend and potential love interest dig up dirt on political candidates. At the same time she is dealing with a problem at her family’s auction business. A large chest that was consigned turned out to contain a body.
Set during one of the 20th century’s most tumultuous decades, it tells the story of Anna, a lecturer in English from the University of Wroclaw, who arrives in Montreal in the fall of 1981. When martial law is declared in Poland, she chooses to remain in Canada, although emigration means abandoning her husband, an activist in the political opposition, and deserting her homeland as it reels from the shock of being betrayed by its own people.
Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written.
79-year-old Martha Anderson dreams of escaping her care home and robbing a bank. She has no intention of spending the rest of her days in an armchair and is determined to fund her way to a much more exciting life-style. Along with her four oldest friends – otherwise known as the League of Pensioners – Martha decides to rebel against all of the rules imposed upon them.
At a remote military base in the Indian Ocean, the CIA is trying to get a prisoner to confess. But the detainee, a suspect in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in the United States, refuses to talk.
Ernst Grip, a Swedish security officer, gets dispatched to New York, without knowing why. FBI agent Shauna Friedman, who meets him there, seems to know a little too much about him. Though when he arrives at his real destination, the American authorities have just one question for him: Is their terror suspect a Swedish citizen?
Millie Bird is a seven-year-old girl who always wears red wellington boots to match her red, curly hair. But one day, Millie’s mum leaves her alone beneath the Ginormous Women’s underwear rack in a department store, and doesn’t come back.
Where to Start
Like magical realism or want to try some translated literature? Try The Rabbit Back Literature Society
Like thrillers? Definitely read The Swede. This is also translated. The English Spy is great but you need to read the rest of the series.
Set against the backdrop of China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military project sends signals into space to establish contact with aliens. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth.
Enter the world of Kagaya-hime, a sometime woman warrior, occasional philosopher, and reluctant confidante to noblemen–who may or may not be a figment of the imagination of an aging empress who is embarking on the last journey of her life, setting aside the trappings of court life and reminiscing on the paths that lead her to death.
In a blazing hot desert in Saudi Arabia, a search party is dispatched to find a missing young woman. Thus begins a novel that offers rare insight into the inner workings of a country in which women must wear the abaya in public or risk denunciation by the religious police; where ancient beliefs, taboos, and customs frequently clash with a fast-moving, technology-driven modern world.
When New Yorker Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and quality time with the man she hopes to marry. But Nick has failed to give his girlfriend a few key details. One, that his childhood home looks like a palace; two, that he grew up riding in more private planes than cars; and three, that he just happens to be the country’s most eligible bachelor.
Noah’s wife is Na’amah, a brilliant young girl with a form of autism (now known as Aspergers). Na’amah wishes only to be a shepherdess on her beloved hills in ancient Turkey–a desire shattered by the hatred of her powerful brother, the love of two men, and a disaster that threatens her world.
Jessica Jacobs-Wolde worked hard to rebuild her life in Miami after the disappearance of her husband, David, and the death of her daughter Kira at his hand. Four years later, she is still coming to terms with a shocking truth: David, who is part of an ancient group of immortals — a hidden African clan that has survived for more than a thousand years — gave Jessica and their second daughter, Fana, the gift of his healing blood. – Book 2 in a series
Nefertiti and her younger sister, Mutnodjmet, have been raised in a powerful family that has provided wives to the rulers of Egypt for centuries. Ambitious, charismatic, and beautiful, Nefertiti is destined to marry Amunhotep, an unstable young pharaoh. It is hoped by all that her strong personality will temper the young Amunhotep’s heretical desire to forsake Egypt’s ancient gods, overthrow the priests of Amun, and introduce a new sun god for all to worship.
Phoenix was grown and raised among other genetic experiments in New York’s Tower 7. She is an “accelerated woman”—only two years old but with the body and mind of an adult, Phoenix’s abilities far exceed those of a normal human. Still innocent and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is content living in her room speed reading e-books, running on her treadmill, and basking in the love of Saeed, another biologically altered human of Tower 7.
Then one evening, Saeed witnesses something so terrible that he takes his own life. Devastated by his death and Tower 7’s refusal to answer her questions, Phoenix finally begins to realize that her home is really her prison, and she becomes desperate to escape.
But Phoenix’s escape, and her destruction of Tower 7, is just the beginning of her story. Before her story ends, Phoenix will travel from the United States to Africa and back, changing the entire course of humanity’s future.
In The God Who Begat a Jackal, the 17th-century feudal system, vassal uprisings, religious mythology, and the Crusades are intertwined with the love between Aster, the daughter of a feudal lord, and Gudu, the court jester and family slave. Aster and Gudu’s relationship is the ultimate taboo, but supernatural elements presage a destiny more powerful than the rule of man.
When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself.
This gloriously written tale—set in modern-day Rwanda—introduces one of the most singular and engaging characters in recent fiction: Angel Tungaraza—mother, cake baker, keeper of secrets—a woman living on the edge of chaos, finding ways to transform lives, weave magic, and create hope amid the madness swirling all around her.
It is Book Map Day! I love book maps. I start a new one every year to see where in the world I’ve been reading each year. This year I got fancier with it.
The purple teardrop shapes are fiction.
The purple circles are fiction that was originally published in a language other than English.
Green stars are nonfiction.
The green circle is translated nonfiction.
Daily Discussion – World literature I want to read
This is a huge topic. I have a Goodreads TBR list called International To Read to keep track of this for me. I’ve worked through this list pretty well this year but I’m sure I’ll be loading it up again during this readathon with new books I hear about.
I had two reading goals this year. I wanted to read more books set in South America and to read more translated books. I’m doing good with translation but not so good with South America.
If I had to pick just a few from my list that I really want to get to soon I’d choose:
Denmark is officially the happiest nation on Earth. When Helen Russell is forced to move to rural Jutland, can she discover the secrets of their happiness? Or will the long, dark winters and pickled herring take their toll?
The year is 1883. The stark Icelandic winter landscape is the backdrop. We follow the priest, Skugga-Baldur, on his hunt for the enigmatic blue fox. From there we’re then transported to the world of the naturalist Friðrik B. Friðriksson and his charge, Abba, who suffers from Down’s syndrome, and who came to his rescue when he was on the verge of disaster. Then to a shipwreck off the Icelandic coast in the spring of 1868.
The fates of Friðrik, Abba and Baldur are intrinsically bound and unravelled in this spellbinding book that is part thriller, part fairy tale.
It is time for the Travel the World in Books Readathon again! This is two weeks dedicated to reading books set in countries other than where you live.
1. Tell us your name and what state and country you are from.
I’m Heather and I live in Ohio in the United States if you are new here. I started tracking the settings of the books I read in 2010 for a 50 States challenge. I got all the states that year and then moved on to tracking countries the next year.
2. What do you hope to accomplish during the Readathon?
I have a few books that I hope to either finish or get a good start on.
I also will be posting some reviews of books that I’ve already read that are set around the world.
I’m also going to be hosting a photography mini challenge later in the readathon. Start thinking about photos with books that represent the country they are set in. Do you have a mini Eiffel Tower to photograph with French books? What about sun and sand for a book set in the Caribbean? I’m having fun playing around this in preparation.