Well it's now Monday and I only have two days left of my vacation. I'm sure, knowing myself as well as I do, I may end up doing some housework today. I will probably be cleaning the kitchen and maybe even my bedroom. Hopefully I will have bought the 4th bookcase I need to get and I'll be rearranging my books. It's amazing how quickly books end up taking up so much room. Luckily for me, one thing I won't be doing is posting a blog post. Today, I'm pleased to say that the lovely Tasha at Truth, Beauty, Freedom, and Books has agreed to do that for me. If ever I want to read a review on a book that isn't something everybody else is reading, Tasha is one of the bloggers I look towards. I can't even tell you how many books she has added to my TBR pile. Today she did it again. She will be discussing a book by an author I've read, but never this one. I hope after reading this post, you will be adding it as well.
For me, there's something about summer that makes me want to read mysteries. I wouldn't call myself a mystery fan, but when I was younger (i.e., elementary and middle school) that was all I read. I even wrote and illustrated my own mysteries, like "The Body Buried on Boot Hill."
The summer between fifth and sixth grad was big for me. I'd always spent summers reading, but that was the summer where I was like, "OMG, books are my LIFE." Except I didn't use OMG because that totally wasn't in the vernacular back then. Anyway, I read two books that became my straight-up favorite books ever: The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith and Night Train to Memphis by Barbara Michaels (a.k.a. as Elizabeth Peters.)
Night Train to Memphis is about an art historian (hmmmm...) named Vicky Bliss. It's actually the fifth in a series of mysteries about Vicky, but it's the one I read first. Vicky is asked by the German police and Interpol to go on a luxury archaeology cruise up the Nile as a lecturer--despite the fact that she's a medieval art historian and doesn't know anything about Egyptian art. Vicky knows there can be only on explanation for this: her sometimes-boyfriend and professional are thief, Sir John Smythe, is going to be on that cruise, and they want her to identify him before he steals something. Vicky hasn't heard form John in a while and is worried about his, so she agrees--though with no intention of cooperating with authorities until she figures out what John is up to.
Vicky sees John on the cruise, just as she expects to; but what she doesn't expect is to be introduced to his mother... and his wife.
Michaels had me from that point on. Even today, reading the book, I'm all like, "Whaaaaaat? He's married??" What's John up to? What is hi in Egypt to steal? And did he ever really love Vicky?
During the year after I first read Night Train to Memphis, I reread it at least 4 times. It might have been as many as eleven. I began rereading it as soon as I finished it. I LOVE it--I love how it transports you to Egypt and how nothing as as it seems. I also love the Agatha Christie-ish feel of solving a mystery on a luxury cruise. It's by far my favorite book in the Vicky Bliss series.
Here's the thing about the book though: It doesn't work if you've already read the series. If you have read the other books, then John's actions and motivations don't seem so mysterious, and it's easy to be impatient with Vicky, who thinks she's pretty smart but who can't figure out what's so obvious to the reader. It took me about five rereads before I was like, "Hey! This book isn't the greatest."
But it sill kinda is. It's the only book in the series that I've reread, and I still reread it. Not every summer of course, but I do think about it. It's a book that defines what I want in my summer reading.
What books did you read during the summer as a kid?
Have you ever read a book in the middle or at the end of a series that was better because you didn't know what was going on?