The bones of this book suggest a pretty straight-forward thriller set largely in a night market in Taipei. The suspense works, and the characters mostly have a couple of individual elements layered on their trope-y roles. The thing that sets it apart is greater-than-usual attention to detail in setting the scene around plot. I found the detail about the Taiwanese setting interesting, and it was informative for me as someone who knows little about the place. I sometimes found myself wishing that the novel’s ambitions were set a bit higher to make more use of the texture available to it from this scene-setting work, but this was nonetheless an enjoyable and worthwhile leisure read.
I’ve meant to read Isaac’s Storm forever. Galveston is one of my favorite places, and it had become a source of at least a little embarrassment that there existed this incredibly widely-read book by an incredibly successful non-fiction author that I had not read. When my friend recently recommended it again, I decided to read it. Since the book was first published, some of the meteorological history and climatology has become of more ‘professional’ interest to me as my dissertation wandered adjacent to climate science history. There is a strong sense of place evoked; the Galveston presented here is familiar. I am an atypical reader in having strong personal interests in both the Galveston history and the meteorological history, but in that context, the litany of anecdotes of individual tragedies during the storm wore on my patience more than anything else. I understand that others would not be likely to have the same reaction.
I have started to practice my Dutch by checking strips out from the library in Gent. This is the first I’ve had a chance to finish. This volume is the fourth in the series, so it took me a while to get my bearings. I would like to return to the beginning if I can find the first volume. Isaac “the pirate” is a French painter who falls in with a group of pirates on his travels to the New World. This installment covers his return to Paris to find the world of artists he left dissolved and his father ill. One of his pirate friends has accompanied them, and they get caught up in the Parisian underworld. It is not the adventure story that the setting and synopsis might suggest; it is more of a character study. I’m curious to see if this represents an evolution of the series as it returns to France or if this was the dynamic from the beginning.