Right after I retired (the end of April 2016), the first thing I wanted to do was to catch up on my reading. For years, I’d been a member of a book club (one where you buy books) and I had accumulated quite a few books to read by my favorite authors. But with my book club reading (A Novel Group), I was struggling to read more than I had to.
I was so excited about the opportunity to read for hours at a time. Over the years, I used to read before bed at night, but that had become a challenge. Those of you in my age group probably know what I mean!! Or, I’d have to find time during the weekends to pick up a book but didn’t have the luxury of time then either.
One of my favorite times of the year for reading is the summer. I used to come home from work, and as soon as I could, I’d be on my patio with a book. I think most people think you can read more in the winter, but not me. Now, I spend as much time on our deck as I can. If the weather’s nice, you can find me there most of the afternoon with my current book.
One thing I have to tell you – I have kept track of every book I’ve read since 1993. That may not surprise some of you!! And of course, I keep track in a spreadsheet. As I was looking on the internet today to determine my keyword for this post, I discovered you can actually buy something called a book journal. It sounds like a great idea.
However, I am also a data freak, so putting my list in Excel allows me to sort it multiple ways, add formulas (that’s how I know how long it’s taken me to read each book), and print it out whenever I need to. I always have a printed copy (sorted by author) that I manually update, and once it starts looking a little ragged (or I’ve run out of room to add more books), I update my spreadsheet and print it again.
I was trying to remember why I started this in 1993 and the only thing I could think was, that’s when I got my first PC. Now it’s hard to imagine not having some type of “computer”, but I remember those days, especially at work. I read many books prior to that, but sadly, have no record of them.
Author #1 – books to read
When deciding which books to read, I determined I needed to catch up with Kay Scarpetta, a forensic medical examiner who gets involved in some pretty unusual cases. These books are written by Patricia Cornwell, who also writes a couple other series, but I only read the Scarpetta novels. You’ll see on Goodreads (which is where the link takes you), that her books get pretty high ratings. I have to admit, I liked her earlier books more.
There are other key characters in these books:
- Kay’s niece, Lucy, used to work for the FBI and is a computer whiz who also flies helicopters and collects guns. She’s also a bit of a rebel and can create trouble at times. Kay practically raised Lucy and while she can be frustrating at times, she always looks out for her.
- A cop named Pete Marino. As Kay moves from job to job, he always seems to follow, but they also have a rocky relationship.
- Benton Wesley, Kay’s eventual husband (sorry if I’ve given anything away), who works for the FBI and always seems to have secrets he can’t share, creating tension between them.
When consulting my book list (which also includes books I have but haven’t read yet), I discovered I hadn’t read any of Cornwell’s books since 2009. That’s terrible!! So, I needed to get started right away.
At that point, she’d written 23 Scarpetta books and I’d read 16 of them since 1994. I also need to mention – I read books in order. I had to figure out which books I needed to read, in which order, and then see what I already had. Once I knew all that, I started reading right away.
Cornwell books read in order
- The Scarpetta Factor – May (in 7 days)
- Port Mortuary – May (in 7 days)
- Red Mist – May (in 4 days)
- The Bone Bed – May (in 6 days)
- Dust – June (in 6 days)
- Flesh and Blood – June (in 7 days)
- Depraved Heart – July (in 5 days)
These books are not short, so you can see that I enjoy them. I wish I could tell you which I liked the best, but I read so much that I have a hard time remembering them all. I’ll do better with that in the future, now that I know I’ll be sharing my list.
By the middle of July, I was all caught up. But I knew another one was scheduled to come out in the fall.
The last Cornwell book I read
Her most recent Scarpetta book – Chaos – came out as scheduled and I read it in December. I do remember thinking this wasn’t as good as the others, but can’t recall why. It’s sure a good thing I’m not a book reviewer, isn’t it????
I recently checked to see if she had anything new coming out and there’s no mention. I did see that Cornwell was doing research for her next book, so we’ll see what comes of that. Stay tuned. I’ll let you know when I find out more!!
Author #2 – books to read
The second author I decided to binge on is Stephen White. He’s also written a series, focused on a psychologist named Alan Gregory. I say written because, after 20 books, there are no more. Sad for me and I think for everyone who is a fan. From a couple of interview articles I read, he said he wanted the series to end on his own terms. He didn’t actually say he would lose that control, but he did allude to changes in the publishing world that were not favorable to him. The last book was written in 2013.
I read his first book in 1996, and again I was way behind, although I’d read my last book in 2012. As I decided which one to read, I discovered I’d read some of them out of order. Oh, my!! I quickly determined the proper order, and while I did read those I had left in order, they were a little mixed in with those I had already read.
Other key characters in these books:
- Sam Purdy – a local (the books take place in the Boulder, CO area) cop who sometimes consults with Dr. Gregory and can also have conflicts with Alan’s wife
- Lauren – Alan’s wife and deputy district attorney – of course, there always have to be situations that naturally create tension between the characters, but that’s obviously what keeps it interesting
White books read in order (kind of)
- Critical Conditions – June (in 11 days)
- Warning Signs – July (in 4 days)
- Blinded – July (in 5 days)
- Missing Persons – August (in 12 days)
- Dry Ice – August (in 3 days)
- The Siege – September (in 11 days)
- The Last Lie – September (in 5 days)
- Line of Fire – September (in 10 days)
- Compound Fractures – October (in 6 days)
The best book in the series
For me, the best book in the entire series is Kill Me, which is #14. I say that because this is the kind of book that stays with you. I read this book in 2007 and I can remember exactly where I was when I was reading this. I was completely mesmerized by it. Ironically, the Alan Gregory character is not the primary one in this book. The primary character is one of his patients. If you only read one Stephen White book in your life, this is the one.
Books to read summary
In 2016, I read 35 books. I think that’s the most I’ve read in any one year. It was great!! In addition to these and the books we read in book club, I read 11 others. Most of those were by another favorite author, but I’ll save that for next time. See why I called this post “Part I”?
Lastly, I highly recommend you read the books by both of these authors in order. They continue to develop their characters in each new book, and it can detract from the story if you know something about what happened in a previous book and then you read that earlier book. If you’d like a list in order for either of these authors, let me know and I’d be happy to send you one.
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