It hasn't been easy to find time to read in the past weeks, or months for that matter. I have however been able to make my way through a couple of books.
On the lighter side I've enjoyed too lighter reads by the American author Martin Cruz Smith, Havana Bay and Polar Star, I found both books in a used books store here in Budapest while looking for something that can be read on the bus, streetcar, subway etc. They were quite satisfying reads. For me at least the key to their success was the hero, Arkady Renko, a former Soviet/Russian police investigator and a professional failure, but with a knack at solving crimes. He is far from a romantic figure, he struggles as much with his own demons as with discerning others. The novels do suffer from a reliance on luck and coincidence a bit too much and that did cause me to emit an inaudible sigh a few times. I would and have recommended them as reads, Havana Bay is still on loan to a friend, as they are good crime stories and do provide a pleasant 'escape'.
Desiring a read with greater 'substance' but still 'fun' to read I turned again to one of the great masters, Graham Greene and a read one of his seminal works, one that I surprisingly had not yet read, Brighton Rock. Well, it's brilliant. It does what all his works do, which is to tell a story but also to provoke thought and reflection and to give hints as to an amazing understanding of human nature and the human condition. In Brighton Rock he deals with the metaphysical more 'blatantly' than in other novels and with such simple tools; a set of simple characters, a flat setting, a short time period and relatively few actions. The greatest questions are presented and we are made to feel uncomfortable by them; good and evil, right and wrong, Heaven and Hell, sin and redemption... I put the book down with the feeling that it will be one of those that I return to and reread in the future.