Cats, food and killers: books read

Given the possibility Wisp may eventually move into our house, I thought I should read up ahead of time — CATWISE: America’s Favorite Cat Expert Answers Your Cat Behavior Questions by Pam Johnson-Bennett proved to be a good first book as the Q&A format meant I could pick and choose the key topics: getting along with dogs and catproofing the house are useful, for instance, whereas selecting a kitten is a moot point. Very helpful, though I suspect we’re a long way off from having her take up residence.

I’ve enjoyed several of Amanda Quick’s Regency mysteries, but I was disappointed in her 1930s thriller THE GIRL WHO KNEW TO MUCH. After seeing her employer murdered, the protagonist flees the crime scene with a McGuffin, travels west and reinvents herself as a scandal-sheet reporter in Hollywood. Unfortunately when she ends up embroiled in the murder of an aging actress, the publicity draws the first set of killers to hunt her down and reclaim what she stole. I found this disappointingly bland, partly because it was lighter on historical detail than I wanted (and the mystery wasn’t as interesting as An Act of Villainy).

THE COOKING GENE: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by chef and food blogger Michael W. Twitty was also not what I anticipated: I’d expected a food history, but that part of the book is mixed up with a ramble through the history of slavery and Twitty’s reconstruction of his own ancestry and their travails and his own interest in cooking (while these things obviously overlap, they didn’t tie together well — and I was most interested in the food side). Despite which I found this to be worth reading; while I’ve heard people mention how much Southern cooking is black cooking, Twitty really drives it home by detailing how much of Southern cuisine derives from black recipes, black traditions and African plants, not to mention generations of talented black chefs (wealthy families sometimes trained their slave cooks in French cooking or similar styles).

RAGNAROK: Lord of the Dead by Walt Simonson improves considerably on Last God Standing, as we have the setup out of the way. Thor returns to Asgard with the black elves Regn and Drifa, whom he convinces to join him in attacking Angantyr, lord of the living dead; unfortunately a cursed sword steeped in poison is slowly killing Thor and it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll stay alive long enough. Very grim in the best Norse sense.

NEXUS OMNIBUS Vol. 6 by Mike Baron and multiple artists wraps up the original First Comics series (the remaining two omnibuses reprint the various miniseries that followed). With Horatio renouncing his powers in the previous volume, the Merk picks a brilliant scholar as his new hired gun. Unfortunately Stan turns out to be much keener on the killing than the justice; will Horatio return in time to stop him? Meanwhile the fanatical followers of the prophet Elvon are pushing for a theocratic takeover of Ylum; how does a democracy tolerate people who hate democracy?

This suffers from the lack of Nexus’ co-creator Steve Rude on the art, and the political discussion gets a little tedious at times (but only at times). Overall, though, a success. And it had one of the better backup arcs, involving Nexus merc’ friend Judah the Hammer, trying to stop a crooked treasurer from looting the Mercs’ Guild of its retirement fund and leaving him holding the bag.

#SFWApro. Cover by Les Dorscheid, all rights remain with current holder.

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Filed under Comics, Reading

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