February was another good reading month, with non-fiction still taking up the best spent of my time.
How We Got to Now, Steven Johnson. The companion to PBS’s excellent mini-series, with a few things PBS didn’t have time to include. I’m glad I read Where Do Good Ideas Come From? first, as some of the terminology used here was introduced there, but readers should have no trouble jumping right into this one. Fascinating, page after page.
The World of Raymond Chandler, Barry Day. Chandler never wrote a memoir, so Day has culled what he could about Chandler’s life and thoughts from Chandler’s own writing, including fiction, non-fiction, and letters. In doing so, he opens the door to much I didn’t know, and addresses some criticisms that have crept up as modern day sensitivities look back on Chandler’s work. Having read this, I don’t think I would have liked Chandler much as a person, but I have even more respect for his writing, as Day’s compilation of the best bits heightens the impact.
Courier, Terry Irving. Courier hung around near the top of my To Be Read list for four months; something urgent kept knocking it down a notch. I’m glad I got around to it. I’m not a thriller guy, but, having met Irving at a reading, his historical cred was impressive. The book reflects that, weaving its story into Watergate-era events in a way that put me in mind of James Ellroy’s use of historical events. The motorcycle scenes are particularly effective. Irving knows what he’s talking about, and does a nice job of avoiding the conventions send too many modern thrillers over the shark.
400 Things Cops Know, Adam Plantinga. I’ll have more about this one on Thursday. Suffice to say, every crime writer needs a copy of this book.
The Maltese Falcon, Dashiell Hammett. Holy shit. It had been at least ten years since I last read this. (My records only go back to 2006.) The seminal crime fiction/PI story. I finished it and didn’t want to write that evening. Comparing what I do to what he did is like putting a Little Leaguer up against Ted Williams.