Pick of the month
Authors who choose to subvert the tropes of much loved genres always take a big risk but in the case of AN ISOLATED INCIDENT Australian author Emily Maguire has been successful. Although it opens with the murder of a beautiful young woman this book does not focus on the elements you might expect based on that. There’s no italicised grabs of the killer’s thoughts or even much of a police perspective. It’s a book about the impact of violent death on loved ones and the impact of the violent death of pretty young girls on the wider community. It’s my favourite book of the year so far.
The rest, in reading order
A bit of a light month both in terms of quantity and quality
- Lynda La Plante – PRIME SUSPECT (a reverse adaptation in which the book was based on the television screenplay, and not a patch on the excellent original)
- *Margaret Millar – AN AIR THAT KILLS (my Crimes of the Century book for this month was a 1957 tale of domestic suspense before that became ‘a thing’)
- Fiona Barton – THE WIDOW (the latest hyped up novel to feature an unreliable female narrator; I didn’t like it as much as most people but found the journalist who shares the stage with the eponymous character a compelling voice)
- Lindsay Tanner – COMFORT ZONE (a crime caper written by a former federal government minister this one missed the mark for me, it’s cute but too obvious to be really enjoyable)
- *Jørn Lier Horst – THE CAVEMAN (the ultimate winner of this year’s Petrona Award, offers an interesting comparison between police and journalistic investigations)
- *Agatha Christie – AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (evidence, if you need it, that Dame Christie wasn’t all about cosy drawing rooms and bloodless stories; this is a dark and brutal tale which has now been the subject of an excellent adaptation)
- *C.J. Sansom – DARK FIRE (the second Matthew Shardlake novel which I didn’t get around to reviewing but did enjoy as much as the first, covering the period when Thomas Cromwell is losing his influence – and ultimately his head – the book pits Matthew and an unlikely accomplice against the powers of alchemy).
anything with an asterisk is worth a read
Progress Towards 2016’s Bookish Goals
|Australian Women Writers Challenge||Read 25 eligible books, review at least 20 of them||Read and reviewed 8 books|
|Reading US Fiction Challenge||Read 6 books by new to me authors set in different states of the US||2/6 achieved|
|Personal – Reduce TBR||Have a TBR of 100 or less by the end of 2016 (starting point 145)||TBR = 143 at end of month|
|Personal – Buy Australian||Buy no physical or eBooks from non-Australian stores||FAIL. Bought 2.|
|Personal – Read older books too||Participate in at least 6 of the monthly Crimes of the Century challenges hosted at Past Offences||5/6 achieved|
|Personal – No Girl books||Read no books with the word Girl in the title. Because meh.||0/0 achieved|
As mentioned last month I broke my self imposed rule and ordered 2 physical books from overseas. I console myself that they’re from the publisher directly – and a small one at that – rather than one of the big box stores I’m trying to avoid but still… Moira from Clothes in Books alerted me to the existence of Greyladies Press which publishes Well-Mannered Books by Ladies Long Gone and I ordered two titles (in my defence I could easily have ordered more but tried to show a level of restraint). I’ll be reading one of them, Ethel Mary Channon’s THE CHIMNEY MURDER, for June’s Crimes of the Century contribution as it was originally published in 1929.
Other than ‘Read Older Books Too‘ it’s looking increasingly shaky that I will be successful with my challenges this year but overall I am enjoying my reading and that is far more important. Right? Though winter is upon us here in the southern hemisphere and that is traditionally when my reading does pick up a bit, especially as I will start June with a week off work as I entertain overseas visitors, who will hopefully be at least a little jet-lagged and require much snoozing time 🙂
If you happen to be a fan of podcasts and/or true crime you might want to check out the Bowraville series of podcasts from The Australian newspaper. If you listened to season one of Serial last year you’ll know that there has been an explosion in true crime podcasts since then but for my money this series of five podcasts is one of the few that matches Serial for journalism and dramatic narrative. Journalist Dan Box has investigated the still unsolved murders of three Aboriginal children from the same street in Bowraville over 25 years ago. It’s compelling stuff for all sorts of reasons, not least of which what it says about race relations in Australia.
Looking ahead…and a plea
If anyone has recommendations for American crime novels set in states I have not yet visited virtually feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line via the sidebar. My personal twist on the Reading USA Fiction challenge is the books all have to be by new-to-me authors and you won’t know if your recommendation is that or not but I might give it a try anyway if your recommendation grabs me 🙂
To start June I am going to read Peter Hannington’s A DYING BREED thanks to a recommendation from Sarah at Crimepieces (and a personal love for books about journalism) and try to make inroads on the Australian Women Writers Challenge from my TBR mountain. I have another conundrum too as I was sent Derek B Miller’s latest novel for review. I would normally be eager to read the follow up to a book I loved but it is called THE GIRL IN GREEN and reading it would mean I fail at my ‘No Girl Books‘ challenge. Sigh.
What about you? Did you have a great read during May? Anything good coming up for June? Do the seasons affect your reading? Are you looking forward to some summer beach reads or some winter warmers?