First off, Happy New Year!
I know there have been a couple of posts in the past few days, but I am sure most of us would agree that today really feels like the 1st day of 2009... in that most of us are probably back to our "normal" lives. I thought about bitchin' about that today and/or thinking how nice the last couple of weeks were -- kinda of living under the delusion of what life would be like if we were independently wealthy -- days filled with reading, watching TV, and going out to the movies and dining out. But alas we're back to work (well kinda) and it's probably not good to star off the year with a whine!
So, in order to avoid that, I figured maybe it would just be best to close the book on last year... literally and literary-ily (ha!) with my last book post that counted towards 2008.
... and, if you are a regular reader of my book posts, this particular book - Past Caring by Robert Goddard - comes from a very unusual source for me... Stephen King! I have bemoaned the best selling fright master for leading me astray with a couple of books, big time raves that even landed on his own year-end "best of" have been two of my biggest disappointments. In 2007, it was his top book of the year (I believe) The Ruins... and this year his #2 book was The Garden of Last Days, which I read at a very good clip, but was just left very empty over and much having preferred Dubus' House of Sand and Fog (though I recently saw another part-time book blog where Garden near the top of their list and the blogger hated Sand And Fog, so different strokes folks!).
With Garden at #2, Stephen King (via Entertainment Weekly) named the novels of Robert Goddard as his top "book" of the year - which I think was a bit of a cop-out. As King suggested, I had never heard of this British mystery/suspense writer... so while I was both wary of venturing into a King rave once again, I was a bit curious and intrigued... and okay, stubborn. While I am not a huge fan/reader of Mr. King, I was befuddled that we seemed to so violently disagree on books. Ultimately, it was consistent 4 to 5 star reviews on Amazon that convinced me to give Goddard a try.
And folks, we finally have a winner! Though I will warn you, good luck finding it. While the books are available from Amazon (no surprise, I read the Kindle version) I had no luck finding any Goddard novel in our local bookstore! And likewise, I have no idea how to explain this novel particularly given that it is a mystery... and an extraordinarily complex one (meant as a compliment)! For starters, I will say it is the story of an ex-teacher/historian who is asked to research why a pre-WWII member of British Parliament (Winston Churchill is even a supporting character!) dropped out of sight becoming an ambassador of sorts to the island of Madeira and then dying under mysterious circumstances. This is a mystery within a mystery (and I probably another mystery!) and you find yourself constantly questioning the motives of each and every character and as Stephen King says of Goddard's works there are "more twists than a box of macaroni."
While I was really looking for a light-ish read to end the year, I still got pretty caught up in what is really a thick mystery. Sure if you think about it the book turns on so many coincidences and chance events that it is not terribly realistic, but I still have to give Goddard tremendous credit for so carefully crafting and constructing this book... and it seems as if this is his "trademark."
Apparently Goddard has published about 10 books to date, so if this book is any indication I will likely be picking up another of his books in the future... and just what I needed another new author to keep up with!
Alas, this was the last book with about 90% of the pages counting towards my 2008 reading challenge. As mentioned, I came up a tad short on reaching my goal... but was still pretty impressed I got as close as I did to the 12,345 pages... and while I don't like to track "number of books," I am still pretty happy with 32 books for the year.
2008 1-2-3-4-5 Reading Challenge: + 462 Pages (Total: 12,083 pages or -262 pages for this year's goal)