One of my goals when starting this blog was to prompt me to write something about every book I read in the hope that I would remember them more clearly (I choose to believe my failing memory is due to the number of books I read rather than my advancing years). For the most part I’m pretty good about reviewing what I’ve read but this month I have well and truly dropped the ball. Partly this is due too real life getting in the way and partly due to the books not demanding me to write about them. I have hit a period of books that are neither very good nor very bad and am feeling a bit hard done by as a result (I know, I know it’s a first world problem).
Charles Todd’s THE CONFESSION is the 14th book in the Ian Rutledge historical series and has a strong opening in which a man walks into Rutledge’s Scotland Yard office and confesses to murdering his cousin several years earlier. When the confessor himself is killed a couple of weeks later Rutledge starts an investigation which takes him to a horrid little town (the name of which I have forgotten) where a swag of horrid people try to hide things from Rutledge the outsider. There follows a somewhat confusing story involving assumed identities and wartime criminal activity and if you paid me money I couldn’t tell you the outcome of the story and it’s only 3 weeks since I finished the book. I’ve really enjoyed the other books in this series but this one felt a little flat to me. Even that cover looks dull right?
I had high hopes for M.J. McGrath’s WHITE HEAT, a debut novel set in the Canadian Arctic written by an English woman who has spent a lot of time in the region. She has published a non-fiction book about Inuit families who were ‘incentivised’ to move to the barely habitable High Arctic by the government which wanted people living in the far northern territories during the Cold War years and who have been ignored and abandoned since the threat from the evil Russians has disappeared. McGrath uses her obviously extensive knowledge of the people and the area as a backdrop to a thriller in which part time teacher and part time hunting guide Edie Kiglatuk takes some tourists on a hunt where one of them is shot and dies. The local elders arrange for the incident to be dismissed as an accident but Edie is perturbed by some anomalies in the evidence she found at the scene. When a relative of hers dies in questionable circumstances she is spurred to investigate properly. This book didn’t engage me as much as it has other readers. I did enjoy the character of Edie but found the mystery element of the book somewhat rambling and for large chunks of the novel I felt a little too much like I was being lectured at.
Helene Tursten’s NIGHT ROUNDS centres on the investigation into the murder of a nurse in a small private hospital in Sweden. I was happy enough to listen to the audio book while it was meandering along but almost as soon as I had finished it the details started to seep from my brain. It is a perfectly serviceable police procedural, with a modicum of social commentary thrown in for good measure, but it didn’t fully engage me and in another few weeks I doubt I’ll be able to tell you a single thing about it.
My comfort reading for the month was another Dick Francis audio book narrated by Tony Britton who I adore as a reader (if I win the lottery I’m going to hire him to read all my books to me). The book, WILD HORSES, did exactly what you’d expect from a Dick Francis book so I can’t say this one disappointed me. The protagonist is a young-ish film director who is making a film based on a death that occurred in the racing fraternity some years earlier and someone will go to great lengths for the film not to be made. I did enjoy the depiction of the process of making a movie even (Francis has a knack for making things I have no interest in seem engaging) but I found the mystery a bit easy to solve (or perhaps I remember it from years ago when I must have read the book in print form).
To top it off there are some other half-finished books we will speak of no more and I am still plodding through the Sara Paretsky book I wrote about last week (good lord it gets more patronising by the paragraph).
So I am looking around for something to jolt my reading back into high gear. To that end I am re-reading Christos Tsiolkas’ THE SLAP at the moment because I heard an interview with the author which made me wonder if I’d been unfair to the book the first time I read it (when I hated it). And tomorrow I’m picking up Gail Jones’ FIVE BELLS from the library (astute observers will notice that neither of these is crime fiction).
What do you do when you hit a reading slump? What’s your ONE recommendation that will make me love reading again?