I’m finding it difficult to believe that 2012 is more than half over, not least because I’m reading less than I have in some years. However, July proved to be a terrific month in terms of quality, with three books achieving 4.5 out of 5 stars on my personal scale. They are all so different and so good that I have decided not to choose between them for my pick of the month. In reading order they are
Liza Marklund’s LAST WILL sees journalist Annika Bengtzon act as an eye witness to the assassination of a Nobel Prize winner. When she is banned from disclosing or publishing anything she saw her boss forces her to take leave and she continues to investigate the case unofficially. It is an above average combination of criminal investigation, exploration of intriguing political themes (including the cut-throat world of medical research and the unintended consequences resulting from the increases in security measures worldwide that followed the September 11 2001 attacks in the US) and salient observation on modern domestic life.
Geoffrey McGeachin’s BLACKWATTLE CREEK is the second historical crime novel to feature Charlie Berlin, a policeman in post WWII Australia who is still recovering from his experiences as a pilot and POW during the war. The book starts innocently enough with Charlie being asked by his wife Rebecca to look into something odd that happened to a friend of hers. The can of worms that Berlin subsequently opens when he starts looking into practices at a local funeral home turns out to be dangerous and quite horrifying. This book has great historical detail, absorbing characters and is an absolute ripper of a yarn. I think it’s better than the excellent first book in the series (which won last year’s Ned Kelly Award for best fiction).
Sulari Gentill’s PAVING THE NEW ROAD takes series characters Rowly Sinclair and his friends from the relative safety of 1930’s Australia to a much less secure Germany. Rowly has been tasked with preventing an Australian politician from becoming too en-meshed with European fascists and bringing their beliefs and practices back to Australia. Rowly and the gang investigate the death of the spy who preceded them to Germany in addition to becoming embroiled in several incidents indicative of the changes taking place in the country as the Nazi party increases its power. It is a superb example of the historical crime genre with wonderful characters, a truly suspenseful story and an enveloping sense of time and place.
Other books I read during the month that I would recommend are
- Jussi Adler-Olsen’s DISGRAGE
- Michael Connelly’s THE BLACK ECHO
- Maurizio DeGiovanni’s I WILL HAVE VENGEANCE
- P.L. Gaus’ BLOOD OF THE PRODIGAL
- Adrian McKinty’s FALLING GLASS (in audio format, this edition won Audible’s best thriller title for last year so if you like audio books you really should give Gerard Doyle’s narration a try as it adds an extra dimension to a great story)
- Karin Wahlberg’s DEATH OF A CARPET DEALER
My non review posts for July included
- finalising my thoughts on the 2012 International Dagger award for crime fiction translated into English my first report on reading titles eligible for the 2013 version of that award
- some thoughts on being a fickle reader, or someone whose tastes in authors has changed and matured over the years
- A list of the best new (to me) authors I discovered during the second quarter of this year
If you want to see other people’s crime fiction picks of the month head over to Mysteries in Paradise for the Pick of the Month meme