Hammock-worthy Reading

Author:  Mary Hotvedt

I’ve rediscovered our hammock. Well, it’s been there every summer, a big beautiful gondola-thing given as a going-away present when we left Tucson, supposedly for our retirement. But most summers the hammock just sits there, collecting live oak leaves and twigs, while we rush around to part-time jobs and multiple volunteer commitments-or, what passes for retirement here.

This June, however, after an especially hectic time, I’ve taken to climbing into the hammock somewhere around mid-afternoon and indulging in reading a novel during daylight hours. The sunlight filters through the tree along with a breeze, just enough to keep me comfortable, and birds watch me from the lower branches. Pure luxury, my friends.

Maybe you don’t have a hammock. My friend has a covered swing in her garden. Same idea: A private nook to do some summer reading. When you find your spot, I have a couple very different novels to recommend for whiling away a June afternoon.

Summertime, the Cats are Bored is a very promising first police procedural by Phillipe Georget (World Noir 2013). Georget’s detective, Gilles Sebag, is a transplant from northern Frances to the Catalan region in the south, near Perpignan and the Pyrenees’ border with Spain. This sun-baked ancient land on the Mediterranean is as much a character in the book as is Gilles, whose languid summer—the kids are at camp–is broken by the kidnapping of a young Dutch tourist and also the sneaking suspicion that his wife may be having an affair.

Gilles is refreshingly different from the lonely, hard-bitten cop hero. He’s a family man trying to figure out how to preserve his marriage as the kids grow up. I read mysteries for character and setting more than for the crime or resolution. This one has a great plot as well as a sympathetic detective I want to meet again and a perfect location to go with a hot dry Grant County day.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s new book, I Remember You ( New York: Thomas Dunne 2012) won’t let you fall asleep in that hammock. It’s a ghost story as much as it’s a mystery. Set in the West Fjords of Iceland, Yrsa lays out two parallel stories which slowly begin to intertwine. Freyr is a psychiatrist in the main town who is trying to get his life on track after the disappearance of his little son three years earlier. Katrin, her husband Garthir, and their widowed friend Lif are thirty-somethings on a mid-winter trip to a small summer-rental village where they plan to renovate an old house as a financial venture.

The author has a series of mysteries featuring a lawyer who is raising her grandson as well as her own brood after her divorce. Each book in that series has been stronger. This ghost story, not part of that series, shows her growth as a writer. Her eye and ear for human behavior makes the plot believable even as very inexplicable and horrid things start to happen.

There are thousands of wonderful reads out there to help us while away the month before the monsoons. These are just two of my recent favorites. Now, if I can just figure out how to keep my iced coffee handy while I climb back in my hammock…

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