It’s time for another edition of Mad’s Book Club. Do you know how I know? Because I’ve (momentarily) run out of stuff to read. The only thing on my “currently reading” shelf on Goodreads is Middlemarch, which Kindle tells me I’m 13% through and…waiting…to get…to…14…per…cent…….gah! It’s just not coming. Not that I mind Middlemarch. It is just very…very long, you see. So very long. Even though the Kindle version is totally intangible, it still seems a heavy burden to pick up. I do occasionally pick it up, and I read it and it’s fine, I like it, I’m just not that into it yet. Because 13% is hardly anything in the grand scheme of things. And Middlemarch, apparently, is a very grand scheme indeed. To read and read and read and just not get very far (in the grand-scheme sense)–well, it can be demoralizing. It can make a person less motivated to continue.

I actually like really long books. They’re like Dagwood sandwiches for the soul. But first you have to get your mouth around them. Or something. I’m not sure I care to stick with that metaphor. It’s probably best to leave it at the 13% mark. I will get back to Middlemarch, though. It’s not like when I tried to read Wuthering Heights a few weeks ago. That was painful. I got 26% through Wuthering Heights before I decided that life was just too short. And Wuthering Heights is not very long. It’s just extraordinarily annoying. For one thing, half of the characters have names that begin with H. Heathcliff, Hareton, Hindley, Hogwarts, Harelip–I forget who else. It was worse than Lord of the Rings with its Theauiasdgj son of Threuiwljd son of Thwerjdksfl–because unlike the Satanic genealogical passages in LOTR, these H characters kept showing up again and I could never remember who was who or why. More to the point, any character I managed to differentiate from another I just wanted to punch in the face. Catherine–POW! Heathcliff–POW! Narrator whose name I can’t remember if I ever knew–POW! Actually, the narrator didn’t bug me that much, except he seemed to be the one responsible for the story, so never mind–POW! We will not be discussing Wuthering Heights in this edition of Mad’s Book Club–or any edition of Mad’s Book Club, unless I decide to form a book club in hell.

It’s possible I could run a book club in hell. A book club where the only book we discuss is Wuthering Heights. POW!

But that’s later. Another life, in point of fact. Right now is only this life, and these books, which I have managed to read.

Let’s see, where did we leave off last time…oh, yes. Wow. That was a long time ago. So much catching up to do!

One More River by Mary Glickman

This is a multi-generational-type of novel about some Jewish people in the south. I read it in July, so bear with me while I rack my brain. Oh, yes. Mickey Moe was just a little boy when his dad died, and his dad was kind of a mysterious cat, so when Mickey Moe wants to marry a nice Jewish girl from a nice family, he needs to prove that his dad was a stand-up guy from a respectable Jewish family, so he goes in search of his dad’s roots to find out what his story was. The book goes back and forth between Mickey Moe’s time and his dad’s time, but it’s a very engaging story with interesting characters. I remember enjoying it. I gave it four stars, so it was certainly enjoyable, but I seem to recall being somewhat underwhelmed at the end of it. If only I could recall why, exactly. Hm. I dunno.

Criminal by Karin Slaughter

Oh man oh man oh man, I had been waiting for this book ever since I finished Karin Slaughter’s Fallen, which was back…whenever. All I know is I kept seeing CRIMINAL BY KARIN SLAUGHTER COMING JULY 2012 in my Facebook sidebar and I was like, dude, get here already, July 2012. Then it got here! My sister got me an autographed copy of this book when Karin Slaughter made a personal appearance in her neck of the woods. (At a local bookstore. Not like Karin Slaughter just showed up in the woods by my sister’s house like some creepy killer she might write about. But that would be an interesting situation in which to ask for an autograph.) Does Karin Slaughter ever show up in my neck of the woods? Nooooo. Chelsea Cain does, but that’s another story. We’ll talk about Chelsea Cain later. Anyway, was this book awesome? YES. Was it as good as Fallen? YES. POSSIBLY BETTER, BUT AT LEAST JUST AS GOOD. Would you like to know what’s about? I WILL TELL YOU.

So this is another installment in the Will Trent series, in which Karin Slaughter redeems herself of all the sins she committed against me in book 6 of the Grant County series. I forgive you, Karin Slaughter. But back to my synopsis. Will Trent is a special agent in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. He is severely dyslexic, which makes him pretty much functionally illiterate, which might make you think it’s highly unlikely he would have a successful career in the GBI–it actually is highly unlikely, but it’s fiction so suspend your disbelief. Will manages to hide his disability from everyone but a very small number of important people in his life, including his superbitch of a boss, Amanda, who has definitely helped Will get where he is in the GBI but also torments him on a regular basis, so what is up with that? YOU FIND OUT IN THIS BOOK. Will is an orphan who was abused while growing up in state care and is as about as emotionally crippled as a highly-functional-in-spite-of-being-functionally-illiterate person can be, but he is slowly learning to trust others while solving crimes. In Criminal we learn the real story of Will’s past, including the truth about his biological parents and also the truth about his relationship with Amanda. DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNN! Will investigates a series of murders that is like unto a series of murders that Amanda investigated back in the day before Will was born. CRIMES ARE SOLVED, SECRETS ARE REVEALED. Can you appreciate this book without reading all the ones that come prior to it? PROBABLY NOT. But it was still awesome.

Everywhere That Mary Went
Final Appeal
Rough Justice
by Lisa Scottoline

I have probably read enough Lisa Scottoline for one lifetime. Will I read any more? I might. I don’t know. I haven’t decided. She writes legal thrillers. Or thrillers involving lawyers. Sometimes there is a difference, sometimes not. The quality varies. In Everywhere That Mary Went, Mary DiNunzio is a young widow on the verge of becoming a partner at a prestigious law firm. Then someone starts stalking her. Isn’t that always the way? Mary’s in a lot of danger, and she doesn’t know who to trust. How many times have I written this sentence, only with different names? Also, her sister has joined a convent, and Mary doesn’t approve. I believe this was Scottoline’s first novel. It seems very much like a first novel–not because it’s inferior in any way, but because it has this religious-angst subplot that is atypical for the genre, i.e. the Lisa Scottoline legal thriller genre. I enjoyed the stalking-danger-not-trusting plot and also the more personal religious angst stuff–not that being stalked isn’t personal, but, you know, never mind.

In Final Appeal Grace Rossi is clerking in a federal appeals court and having an affair with the chief judge, who promptly gets murdered. Hijinks ensue. “Hijinks” meaning Grace has to figure out who really killed the judge and also avoid getting killed herself and also try to hold on to her job, which is kind of political. SPOILER ALERT: Guns don’t kill people, Republicans kill people. Eh, it was a pretty good story, but Grace’s character didn’t particularly do it for me. When a book is about a character trying not to get killed, it is very important for me to care whether or not the character gets killed. Just saying.

I confess that I didn’t actually finish reading Rough Justice. That was a first for me, in the Lisa Scottoline legal thriller genre. I had high hopes because Mary DiNunzio and another recurring character from the Rosato & Associates series were in the book, but they weren’t in the book enough, and when they were, they were not doing anything interesting. Except for when someone tried to kill them. That actually should have been more interesting than it was. Scottoline usually tells a story from one point of view, and with a lot of humor to go with your someone’s-trying-to-kill-me shtick. Rough Justice is told from multiple points of view, including the killer’s. Even the killer’s henchman gets in on the point-of-view action. It doesn’t work well. Mary DiNunzio and her lawyer friend are the only likeable characters and it seems like they’re in a bad crossover episode of a legal drama that is making a Hail Mary play during sweeps month. Does that make sense? Here’s another thing: When a book is about people trying to bring a villain to justice, it is very important for me to care whether or not the villain is brought to justice.

That’s all I have time for in this edition. Tune in next time when I will cover high-minded literary fiction, classic fiction, chick lit and probably Chelsea Cain. And that’s still only the middle of the beginning. (Or the beginning of the middle.)