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The Ink Penn

Opinion: Are you ready to relax with a good book?

I may write every day, but I read every night. Check out my recent reads. If you want intriguing and comfortable, go for the books that are parts of the series I return to over and over. If you want disturbing and unsettling, then pick up the standalone novel. To each his own.

“The Dinner” by Herman Koch

This is not a book for the faint of heart. It's about families, relationships and bad decisions. I was riveted as those decisions and their consequences unfolded and shocked at the ending. It is a disturbing tale. Two brothers and their spouses meet for dinner, and what led to the dinner is revealed through flashbacks. The brothers’ relationship is fraught with jealousy that has intensified through the years, but that is merely an underlying theme in a plot that focuses on recent happenings. I was engrossed in the tale, but this is not a book I want to revisit. The mark of a good book can be that its story stays with you, that it is haunting. In that regard, this was an excellent book. I'll say no more, lest I spoil it for you. Just know that I had to read several lighthearted mysteries to get this saga out of my mind – to cleanse my palate, so to speak.

“Just One Damned Thing After Another” by Jodi Taylor

One of my newsletter subscribers recommended The Chronicles of St. Mary's to me last year, and this is the first in the series. I am now officially addicted and have read the first five books. I am trying to pace myself and read other books in between! What does that tell you?

St. Mary's is an organization loosely connected to a university in England – think something like Oxford. Their mission is to travel in time to document historical events, sometimes to check for accuracy in the historical record and sometimes to set the record straight. Max and Leon are the characters I root for, though I find myself completely engaged in the friendships, the professional competition, and yes, the nefarious deeds of villains.

I haven't been this hooked on a series since Harry Potter, but this is so much more than a fantasy world, with its depiction of historical events and people. It is set sometime in the ’70s, maybe ’80s, which I figured out only from musical references like “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” The dialogue is exceptionally witty. I sometimes find myself reading a sentence and not laughing until a sentence or two later, as the underlying wit creeps up on me! I strongly recommend you give it a try!!

“Luck and Judgment” by Peter Grainger

This is the third book in the DC Smith series. That I keep returning to this series set in the UK when I have way too many books on my TBR list should tell you how much I enjoy it. I find it comfortable, like sitting down with an old friend.

Smith is a widowed detective inspector. The letters DC are his initials, not his rank. He is a natural leader and coach, beloved by his team – a character I enjoy getting to know. The author does an excellent job of revealing additional bits about him as the series progresses. Smith is also a smart and dogged investigator. Does he always get his man or woman? No, and he's haunted by those that got away, though he's more often successful than not.

The blurb says, "Perfect for fans of Colin Dexter, Ruth Rendell, P D James, R D Wingfield, or even John le Carré." I'm not sure I'd go as far as le Carré, but I agree with the comparison to the other authors. If you like mysteries set in the UK, mysteries populated with characters you'd like to know better, then this is a series to pick up. Start with Book I, "An Accidental Death."

There you go, three choices for the dog days of summer. Enjoy!

Award-winning author Kathy Manos Penn is a Sandy Springs resident. Find her Dickens & Christie cozy mysteries locally at The Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Contact her at, and follow her on Facebook,

Find Kathy's cozy mysteries locally at The Enchanted Forest and on Amazon. Follow her on Facebook @KathyManosPennAuthor.

The Ink Penn

Award-winning author Kathy Manos Penn is a longtime columnist for Appen Media and the Dunwoody Crier. She lives in Sandy Springs.