The first of these was the least memorable: Nightcrawlers: A Nameless Detective Novel by Bill Pronzini. I could see the shreds of former glory, I suppose, but never having read any of the earlier books (the series began in 1971, and the publicity material boldly proclaims it "the newest chapter in today's longest-running P.I. series") this one seemed pretty thin. I won't avoid the earlier ones, but I don't think I'll seek them out, either. (I know it's sacrilege to say this, but I always had that experience with recent Ed McBain novels too; if you didn't know the early ones, the later ones were much less likely to draw you in.)
To cheer myself up and shake the general November malaise I realized on Friday afternoon that there was only one thing to do, and so I went and did it: bought myself a copy (previously I've only had it from the library) of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I reread it on Friday night and it was absolutely delightful, just as before. Funniest novel I think I've ever read. Also it has a happy ending, which is nice.
I also bought Septimus Heap, Book One: Magyk by Angie Sage, as a present for a twelve-year-old girl I don't know personally but that a family member needed a gift for: I read it myself over the weekend (yes, I know it's bad etiquette to read the present before giving it, but I knew I was going to even as I was buying it, isn't that awful? I was very careful not to bend the pages or mess up the gold sticker on the front), and fear it may be a bit young for her, but it's not bad, I'm a sucker for books like this (Harry Potter rip-off, sort of, but quite charming and likeable in its own right: the second half is better than the first, which is unusual, and I got the feeling that Sage was warming up to do some pretty good stuff in the next installment). What I really wanted to get was Justine's fantastic book Magic or Madness, which would have been perfect, but unfortunately it wasn't in stock in either of the bookstores I tried & I needed to have the present in hand for Thursday. Ah well. There will be a next time, and I will get it for her then.
And now I've just finished a really amazing novel, The Right Madness by James Crumley. Why have I never read Crumley before?!? This must be remedied at once. It's criminal. I will get all his books from the library and read them in a greedy fit. To a much lesser extent this shares the Pronzini effect (it's a late installment in what must surely have been a truly spectacular series, and the plot's pretty all-over-the-place) but it is still fabulously good, I really loved it: some of the darkest noir I've read in a while. Makes me want to go and live in Montana and shoot people with guns. Great stuff, seriously.