Book Review, Reading Log

Reading Log: March 2019

March was a particularly busy time for me. As a graduate student, I’ve been scrambling for much of the month to finish revising my thesis draft and to complete my teaching assistantship duties before the end of term.

As a result, I only managed to finish reading two books, although I did start and had to temporarily abandon reading a couple more: Four to Score from Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series; and Murder in Red by Jon Land from the Murder, She Wrote series. I really enjoyed what I did read of them, so I’ll come back to them in April.

Below are my thoughts on the books that I did finish.

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Except the Dying by Maureen Jennings

Except the Dying is the first book in the Detective Murdoch series, a.k.a. the series that inspired the hit Canadian TV show Murdoch Mysteries.

I had seen the TV show before, so I thought I knew what to expect from the books, but as with any adaptation there are some differences between the two that I hadn’t been aware of. For the most part, the novel has a more serious tone, whereas the TV series likes to inject a bit more lightheartedness where it can. The biggest differences involve some of the characters. In the book, Officer Crabtree is married and not as prone to fanciful thinking, there is no female doctor to serve as a love interest for Murdoch, and Murdoch’s landlords play a big part in being his sounding board.

I had picked up the book because it fulfills many of the categories in the Toronto Public Library’s reading challenge, which I’m taking part in this year. The series is set in Victorian-era Toronto, and as such it is infused with a lot of local history and geography. And from that perspective, it was a fascinating read. I highly recommend this book, which specifically deals with the mystery of a young servant girl found frozen to death in an alley.

Who Killed the Fonz? by James Boice

The legendary 1950s-era TV show Happy Days gets reinvented as a gritty 1980s noir.

Who Killed the Fonz? is one of those titles that’s really intriguing for fans of retro TV. Based on that and the book’s tagline, I rushed to get my hands on a copy as soon as it was published in February.

However, I must say I was overall disappointed in the book. First, although the tagline describes it as a “gritty noir”, it really isn’t. Second, there were large portions of the book where I felt the author was doing nothing more than injecting 1980s pop trivia and/or summaries of old Happy Days episodes. This doesn’t bode well for a novel which, at just over 200 pages, is quite short to begin with.

If you want to reminisce about the 1980s or about Happy Days, by all means pick up this book. But if you want to get deeply immersed in a new story, then this is not for you.

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