It would have been impossible to keep up the pace of April’s reading for too long but I am happy to have finished 14 books in May, especially as I also threw two books against a wall unfinished as well (one of which I’d ploughed a good way through before admitting defeat). What did suffer in May though was my reviewing as several completed books have already faded too much from my memory for me to review even semi-intelligently.
My book of the month has to be Robert Gott’s THE HOLIDAY MURDERS which is an Australian historical mystery set towards the end of World War Two. The police are represented three very different characters all helping to form the fledgling Homicide squad in Victoria and they investigate a series of brutal murders that seem to involve fascists operating in Australia. For me this one had it all – authentic historical feel, interesting characters and a ripper yarn.
Among the other books I finished (in order) were:
- Stuart Littlemore’s HARRY CURRY: THE MURDER BOOK: a series of cases overseen by a Sydney lawyer which I thought offered some interesting insights into Australia’s legal system
- Romy Ash’s FLOUNDERING had a great sense of place and an authentic narrative voice but in the end it’s point of view didn’t do enough for me
- Patrick Holland’s THE DARKEST LITTLE ROOM had a great sense of place but its complete objectification of women and meandering plot ultimately left me cold
- Bronwyn Parry’s DEAD HEAT offered a great depiction of life as an Australian national parks ranger and had a solid mystery
- Malla Nunn’s SILENT VALLEY is one of the ones I wish I’d reviewed when I read it – another great instalment of her 1950’s South African series
- Ross Collier’s TUG OF WAR is a romp of a tale of spying set in Australia the middle of World War 2 and shows the American and Australian intelligence sections jarring with each other a little
- Stav Sherez’ ELEVEN DAYS is another atmospheric tale showing an underbelly of modern London as this time Jack Carrigan and Geneva Miller investigate a fire at a convent which killed 10 nuns and an eleventh unidentified person.
- B Michael Radburn’s BLACKWATER MOON was more coming of age yarn than crime fiction but had a compelling central character and some genuine surprises. A great book to suggest to guys who don’t read much or don’t read much fiction as it’s very accessible but thought provoking too.
- Jarad Henry’s PINK TIDE is another solid offering from this author though I do think he’s given his central character, Ruebens McCauley, one too many of life’s troubles to overcome
- Wiley CASH’s A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME is a terrific audio book – seems almost to have been written for that particular medium to the point that I’m not quite sure I’d feel the same about reading a print version.
- Chris Grabenstein’s FREE FALL was another delightful offering featuring Jersey Shore good guys John Ceepak and Danny Boyle solving the murder of an elderly man and fending off threats from Ceepak’s degenerate father. So many times in fiction people who’ve had abusive childhoods – like John Ceepak – end up doing terrible things as adults so it’s somehow comforting to see a character who can overcome a rotten start in life to be a genuine hero.
The book which shall not be named
As part of the judging panel I’m on I also had to read a self-published novel that I won’t name (though I am sorely tempted, I actually plotted my own murder as I read this awful tosh) which the author should be ashamed to have submitted. It was literally full to the brim of basic proofreading and editing errors (a cat’s name changes from one chapter to the next, one person’s name changes within the space of a few lines, multiple lines are repeated several times over – as if the author had copied and pasted them from one spot to another rather than cut and pasted – and so on). I could have excused the lightweight story but to submit something it was clear even the close family mentioned in the acknowledgements hadn’t bothered to look at thoroughly made a mockery of the process and has done this author’s fellow self-published authors no good in their collective fight to be treated equally. At least by me.
Progress towards my book-ish goals
- Eleven of the 14 books I finished in May were by Australian authors bringing my total for the year to 27 (nearly half of all the books I’ve read). I’ve got to be happy with this total as it’s the number I read for the whole of 2012 so it shouldn’t be too hard for me to do better this year 🙂 I am however jonesing for some translated fiction so have stocked up thanks to my local library
- Only 4 of May’s Aussie author books were by women though, bringing my total for the year to 10. I intend to remedy that in the coming months.
- My book acquisition goal went well again in May with the only books bought from overseas being my drug of choice (audio books which are not available locally). I did buy two physical books (bringing my total for the year to 3!) but I bought them at my local indie store.
I really didn’t do much of anything else blog-wise, except ponder who would win the inaugural Petrona Award for Scandi crime. I’d have been happy with any of the four contenders taking out the prize but it is particularly fitting that the first award given in Maxine Clarke’s honour went to Liza Marklund.
Was May a good reading month for you? Did you have a favourite book or three for the month? If you are a blogger (or keeper of good records) how to you balance reading time with reviewing time? Does one sometimes win out over the other as it did for me in May?