BILL’S MOST INTERESTING
Most Interesting is my personal category for books I enjoyed and had something unusual about them but were not the best in fiction or non-fiction:
1.) The Ingenious Mr. Pyke by Henry Hemming – The easy winner is this work of non-fiction that I ruefully admit I thought was a work of fiction for over 100 pages. I could not believe all the twists and turns Geoffrey Pyke took in his life were not fictional.
He infiltrated Germany at the start of WW I as a journalist and made a dramatic escape from an internment camp. He made and lost a fortune as a commodities trader in copper. He established an elementary school that actually studied the students.
Yet what was most amazing was his WW II concept of a giant aircraft carrier made of frozen wood pulp and water – a substance called pykrete. The wildly imaginative concept was actually possible.
2.) The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley – Flavia de Luce is my favourite new character. The precocious 11 year old scientist and sleuth is both her age and well beyond her age.
While many 11 year olds think about poisons few have made a study of them and actually concocted them in a personal family lab.
When a stranger expires before Flavia in the family garden she is not satisfied to just have the police investigate the murder. She applies her scientific curiosity to the problem.
3.) Last of the Independents by Sam Wiebe – It has been awhile since I found a new hardboiled detective, Michael Drayton, I have enjoyed. At the same time how many private investigators live with their grandmother.
I found it a nice touch that he is aided by the Hastings Street Irregulars. (His office is on Hastings Street in Vancouver.)
His main investigation in the book is with regard to the sexual violation of corpses at a funeral home. I confidently state I have not read of another such investigation. It is reflection of Wiebe’s talent that he makes the investigation interesting but does not sensationalize the topic.
My choices are:
1.) Tough Crimes edited by C.D. Evans and Lorene Shyba – This book was irresistible to me as it featured stories from well-known Canadian criminal lawyers, prosecutors and defence counsel, about a memorable trial in which they appeared as counsel. Each lawyer was asked to pick a trial that was “perplexing or disquieting, had weird or surprising turns, or presented personal and ethical issues”.
What is special is that the lawyers set out how they felt and reacted during these trials. Readers gain understanding of what is like as a lawyer to go through the stresses of a major trial.
The lawyers in this book are my contemporaries at the bar in Canada and I know two of the contributors.
Beyond reading the book because of the excellent stories I recommend the book to all crime fiction writers who will include a lawyer in their work because they can learn how real life lawyers do their work.
2.) 41 by George W. Bush – The 43rd President of the U.S. writes an affectionate, not fawning, biography of his father, the 41st President of America.
George Bush is an unusual combination of Northeastern patrician and Texan oil man. His family was distinguished, members of American aristocracy, and George had an easy future on Wall Street. Instead, he became successful in the oil business and then turned to politics becoming president in 1988.
He is a good man who has great integrity. He has been married to Barbara for over 70 years which I also believes reflects his character.
It is a good biography.