It feels like I have barely read a word during the past two months but my records show I managed to read a total of 15 books over the two months (though I only managed to review 10 of them). A combination of crazy working hours, an inundation of house guests, computer woes and finally a deathly virus (well not actually deathly, obviously, but…quite nasty) joined forces to cause a mini reading and blogging slump.
I did manage to read some excellent books though, my two favourites (and yes one is from each month so it’s not technically cheating) were Liza Marklund’s LIFETIME and Alan Glynn’s BLOODLAND. They couldn’t really be more different
Marklund’s is a fairly traditional ‘journalist investigates crime’ procedural in which a woman is accused (and found guilty long before an official verdict) of killing her high-profile and very popular husband. Seasoned journo Annika Bengtzon is on the trail of justice amidst the chaos that is her personal life once again and the usual quality combination of compelling storyline, rich characters and insight into modern society. I am, as ever, fascinated by Marklund’s observations of the changes in media and journalism.
There’s nothing very traditional about Glynn’s book. It’s the second of a (very) loosely connected trilogy that started with WINTERLAND and it is quite magnificent. At least one level it is the tale of a journalist who is commissioned to write a book about a vapid celebrity…then asked…then bribed not to write it due to the audacious conspiracy her death is hiding. If I’d found the time to review it I’d surely have mentioned the awesomeness of Glynn’s writing (his depiction of a long-sober alcoholic’s fall from the wagon is mesmerising, capturing so much with sentences that often consist of a solitary word). And I would have undoubtedly made a comment about the fact that my love the book shows it IS possible for me to be captivated by books in which I like none of the characters (who range on a morality scale from bankrupt to questionable at best). I’d also have discussed the structure which hides (for a while) a story of such breadth and breath-takingness it’ll probably have to be read twice.
Among the other books I finished (in order) were:
- D.A. Mishani’s THE MISSING FILE (an Israeli crime novel that I liked more than most others who’ve reviewed it)
- Claudia Pinero’s ALL YOURS (an Argentinian book which is billed as a black comedy but which I found unsatisfying)
- Paddy Richardson’s HUNTING BLIND (a terrific New Zealand-set psychological suspense novel about the impact of a young girls disappearance on her surviving sister)
- Carolyn Morwood’s CYANIDE AND POPPIES (a fabulous Australian historical whodunnit set in the early 1920’s)
- Ferdinand von Schirach’s THE COLLINI CASE (a German book which I didn’t review due to plot spoiler potential)
- Peter Cotton’s DEAD CAT BOUNCE (an enjoyable mystery set in the midst of a bitter Australian election campaign, a friend and I did a joint review which was fun for us)
- Hakan Nesser’s THE WEEPING GIRL (a long but quick and compelling read about the far-reaching consequences of a single moment in time)
- Cath Staincliffe’s CRYING OUT LOUD (an odd but strangely interesting tale of a private investigator landed with an unknown baby to look after and a request to find out if the young man who confessed to a murder really did it)
- Nele Neuhaus’ SNOW WHITE MUST DIE (dare I say she didn’t die quickly enough for me – not my cup of tea at all)
- Jenny Spence’s NO SAFE PLACE (an Aussie thriller in which an ordinary suburban mum becomes the subject of a killer’s attention)
- Pierre Lemaitre’s ALEX (which is a hideously, brutally violent tale of French crime that I ultimately found to be quite shallow; as is the way of things it later shared this year’s International Dagger award for translated crime fiction)
- David Mark’s DARK WINTER (a debut procedural about a non-alcoholic Scottish copper called Aector McEvoy – and trust me when I say the audio book is worth listening to if only for its ability to really convey the passages in the book in which the pronounciation of this character’s name is discussed – which has lots of good things to offer)
- Andrea Camilleri’s THE DANCE OF THE SEAGULL (what can I say? It’s Camilleri – more of what his fans love)
I didn’t really review THE COLLINI CASE but I did post some thoughts about a couple of issues it raises, particularly whether or not an ‘OK’ book can be elevated somehow due to a social or political truth it exposes. The discussion my ramblings generated was terrific.
Progress towards my book-ish goals
- I’ve slowed down a bit on my Aussie author reading, only adding another 3 books over the two months, but I have several stacked up on my immediate TBR pile, including my newly purchased copy of Angela Savage’s latest novel THE DYING BEACH (I know I’m sick when I can’t even make it to the book store)
- I did buy one non-audio book from overseas but I couldn’t get hold of THE MISSING FILE any other way and I was keen to read the book before the winner of the International Dagger award (for which it was a contender) was announced. Overall though my book buying is way down on previous year’s extravagances.
So, apologies if you’ve emailed, tweeted or commented in the past couple of months and I have ignored you. It was unintentional (and occasionally unavoidable). I read and appreciate all the correspondence even if I don’t always respond. I hope to be back to normal communications from now onwards.
How has your reading been going over winter (or summer if you live in the other hemisphere)? Have you a favourite book or three? Is there anything you’ve got coming up on your reading pile you’re itching to get to.