It seems I got serious about my reading in April, completing 17 books which is the same total I read for the previous two months combined. Most of what I read was really good which is particularly pleasing as I tried a swag of new authors (12) during the month and two of these have tied for my pick of the month. Paradoxically the month also contained the worst book I can remember finishing (ever) but such, as the say, is life.
THE EARTH HUMS IN F FLAT by Mari Strachan was the first reader-submitted book featured on Petrona Remembered, the website a group of us have established in memory of Maxine Clarke which aims to tell the world about great crime fiction. Laura Root’s passionate review of a book I’d never heard of was exactly the kind of thing I hoped the site would attract and so I hunted down a copy of the book in my local library. It is everything Laura promised and then some, an absolute treat of a story about a 12 year old girl in 1950’s Wales whose simplistic take on the disappearance of a local man is compelling.
Antti Tuomainen’s THE HEALER could not, in some ways be more different. It’s set in the near future in Finland and the ravages of climate change have altered the environment and the people. Johanna Lehtinen is a journalist on the trail of the person responsible for a number of brutal killings when she disappears. Her husband Tapani, unable to get the resource-strapped authorities interested in investigating Johanna’s disappearance, takes on the job of finding her. In signs I may be getting soft in my old age I liked this book so very much because, to me anyway, it’s not really a crime story but rather one about a man who loves his wife and isn’t prepared to give up on her. Even though the environment is a grim one THE HEALER is definitely not the kind of dark and depressing novel people think of when they think Scandinavian crime.
Happily most of the rest of my reading for the month was almost as good as this and included (in reading order, with Aussie authors in green)
- John M Green‘s THE TRUSTED – an audacious, fast-paced environmental thriller
- Sean Doolittle’s LAKE COUNTRY – blackly comic noir fiction with a genuine sensitivity for life’s outsiders
- Sue Williams‘ MURDER WITH THE LOT – a zany, cosy kind of mystery set in small-town Australia
- Paul Dorion’s THE POACHER’S SON – exploring a difficult father/son relationship in the woods of Maine – very atmospheric
- Felicity Young‘s ANTIDOTE TO MURDER – a female doctor must clear her name when she is accused of performing an illegal abortion leading to a woman’s death in Edwardian England
- Parker Bilal’s DOGSTAR RISING – a Sudanese refugee works as a PI in Cairo during a time of religious tension and social unrest
- Bateman’s THE DAY OF THE JACK RUSSElL – crime satire bordering on the absurd but hugely funny if you like that kind of thing
- Leif G.W. Persson’s ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER LIFE – a perfectly named and surprisingly compelling tale about a crime with origins and a resolution 25 years apart
- Maggie Groff’s GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS – an investigative journalist looks into the case of a man who was reported dead 25 years ago but has been seen recently
- Lyndsay Faye’s THE GODS OF GOTHAM – a highly atmospheric, if somewhat confronting tale that starts with a child’s death in New York in 1845
- Gianrico Carofiglio’s TEMPORARY PERFECTIONS – an Italian lawyer turns PI in an uneven but sometimes insightful novel (review to come).
Because life doesn’t (and shouldn’t) consist of only good things I read another three forgettable books on top of the worst book ever. But let’s say no more about them eh?
Progress towards my book-ish goals
- I’m pleased that 6 of the books I read for the month were by Australian authors (including the worst book ever) but only 2 of them were by women. I’m relying more on the library this year and books don’t always arrive in a statistically neat order but I’m sure things will round themselves out on this front by the end of the year.
- My goal regarding book acquisition is to buy less but buy local (audio books excluded) and is going quite well. Audiobooks aside I have only bought 1 book in April this year (though I did receive a few freebies in the form of books for the judging panel I am on).
I posted another roundup of the crime category for the Australian Women Writers Challenge, where a début novel called FRACTURED by Dawn Barker received two positive reviews..
I had a grizzle about not being able to find a good replacement for Google Reader and other first world problems.
Was April a good reading month for you? Do you sometimes feel like you’re on a ‘reading roll’ like I did during April? Did you have a favourite book or three for the month?