Pick of the month
It is truly difficult to pick my favourite read for October as I felt blessed with so many wonderful books but I’m going to highlight Melina Marchetta’s TELL THE TRUTH, SHAME THE DEVIL which is this popular local author’s first novel written for adults (she is a multi-award winning YA author). Depicting a possible terrorist incident and the fallout from it, the book is fabulous – topical, intelligent, filled with interesting characters and telling a ripper of a yarn. More please.
The rest, in reading order
The two I’ve marked with ** were in the running for my pick of the month, the rest are all worth reading
- ** Jane Jago THE WRONG HAND (a fictional novel that takes a horrendous real-life crime committed by children as its inspiration; it is confronting but sensitive and I am still pondering the issues it raises)
- Ellery Adams LETHAL LETTERS (the 6th book in the Books by the Bay series is another intelligent cosy about the strength of friendship and the secrets that families keep)
- Michael Wood FOR REASONS UNKNOWN (this debut novel featuring a DCI returning to work after compassionate leave and asked to work on a troubling cold case is a true page turner)
- Karin Fossum HELL FIRE (the 12th Inspector Sejer novel continues Fossum’s quest to explore why crimes are committed and offers a heart-breaking picture of how a seemingly small decision can have lasting consequences)
- ** Larry D. Sweazy SEE ALSO MURDER (set in 1960’s North Dakota this is a melancholic tale of a remarkable woman who becomes reluctantly involved in investigating a horrendous series of murders)
- R. Austin Freeman THE RED THUMB MARK (the nicest thing I can say about my Crimes of the Century contribution for 1907 is that it was short, its absurdly brilliant and handsome and impressive hero was unbelievable and the detail-laden plot repetitive and dull)
- Denise Mina SANCTUM (an early standalone novel in which Mina tries something new in writing the book as the diary of a man learning whether or not his wife has been unfaithful and/or is guilty of murdering a serial killer)
- Anna Snoekstra ONLY DAUGHTER (this month’s choice for my F2F book club had a good premise that I didn’t feel was delivered on)
- Hans Olav Lahlum THE CATALYST KILLING (the 3rd book in a wonderful Norwegian series involves an investigation into the 1970 murder of a young communist activist and the ripple effect her murder has on those around her)
- Emily Arsenault WHAT STRANGE CREATURES (my virtual tour of the USA via its crime novels took me to Massachusetts and this deliciously funny story about a young woman’s fight to clear her brother’s name when he is arrested for murder)
- Mark Douglas-Home THE MALICE OF WAVES (I enjoyed this atmospheric tale about the death of a young boy on a remote Scottish island and the inestigation involving expert study of the sea and its behaviour)
- Anya Lipska WHERE THE DEVIL CAN’T GO (I’ve owned this book for years and am now annoyed with myself for taking so long to get to this tale of the ex-pat Polish community in England and how they – and police – investigate a series of deaths)
I also reviewed Tania Chandler’s DEAD IN THE WATER this month though I read it last month.
After some sluggish reading months it feels good to be back on form though I dropped the ball with my reviewing towards the end of the month. Blame the day job for that not the books as both were very good.
Progress Towards 2016’s Bookish Goals
|Australian Women Writers Challenge||Read 25 eligible books, review at least 20 of them||Read 5.5 and reviewed 15.5 books (the 0.5 is due to a male/female writing team)|
|Reading US Fiction Challenge||Read 6 books by new to me authors set in different states of the US||7/6 [Successfully Completed]|
|Reduce TBR||Have a TBR of 100 or less by the end of 2016 (starting point 145)||TBR = 130 at end of month|
|Buy Australian||Buy no physical or eBooks from non-Australian stores||1 this month, 4 in total this year [Failed]|
|Read older books too||Participate in at least 6 of the monthly Crimes of the Century challenges hosted at Past Offences||10/6 [Successfully Completed]|
|No Girl books||Read no books with the word Girl in the title. Because meh.||0/0 achieved|
I have officially completed two of my six goals now. This month I read two more books to contribute to my virtual journey around the US via new-to-me crime fiction writers. My ‘visit’ to North Dakota via SEE ALSO MURDER was an absolute treat, one of favourite books of the challenge so far and definitely an author I’m adding to my ‘must read’ list. I really enjoyed WHAT STRANGE CREATURES too though it did not give as strong a sense of its place, to the point I struggled to confirm action was taking place in Massachusetts.
Although I made some progress on reducing my old stock of TBR books (read some, DNF’d a couple, ditched some) a recent buying spree added more unread titles to the corner of the house where my TBR resides. So unless I throw away a bunch of books for no good reason I’m not going to meet my goal to reduce my TBR pile to below 100. I blame all you authors. Just look at my new Aussie author novels acquired during October!
And that’s only some of my haul <insert embarrassed emoticon here>
I even conducted a poll this month to get your help in selecting which title my book club should read next. You nominated one of those Aussie books – THE RULES OF BACKYARD CRICKET by Jock Serong so I’ll be reading that one shortly.
Not always reading
I’ve been listening to less audio books lately due to my new obsession with true crime podcasts. I avoid true crime books like the plague but, like every other podcast junkie last year, I did enjoy Serial (for those who missed the phenomenon it was series of shows that looked in detail at a 1990’s murder for which a man has been convicted but there is a lot of doubt in some circles about his guilt, or at least about whether or not he got a fair trial). Lately there have been a plethora of copycat podcasts all looking at some crime or other. They’re not all as good as Serial (even Serial’s season 2 wasn’t as good though I enjoyed it more than many) but most are compelling in their way. There seems to be something about the medium that really suits this kind of storytelling. My favourites so far are
In the Dark which is about a 27 year old kidnapping case in Minnesota that was only solved this year. What I liked about this one is that it really tackled all aspects of the investigation into the crime and took a serious look at what went wrong in this case and some of the issues facing law enforcement generally. It’s really thought provoking too. If the episode in which the kidnapped boy’s mother who went on to become a campaigner for the creation of sex offender registries discussed why she now thinks such registries are a bad idea doesn’t make you stop and ponder then you’re missing the point. This whole series is really terrific journalism.
Breakdown (Season 2) is about the case of Justin Ross Harris who left his toddler son in a hot car all day, causing the boy’s death. There’s no question of Harris’ responsibility but he is currently on trial for malice murder, which means the authorities think he meant to kill his son in this way. Part of the reason Harris is being so harshly viewed is due to his personal behaviour which is morally questionable at best (lots of sexting and other nonsense that makes you wonder how the man ever got any work done). But is being a pig good enough reason to accuse a man of murder? The podcast is reported by a veteran Atlanta journalist who has clearly spent a lot of time covering the law and he is really providing an in-depth look at how the legal system works. I’m hooked.
Accused looks at an unsolved case, the 1978 murder of a young woman. Her boyfriend was accused and went on trial for the crime but was found not guilty. Even the woman’s family’s civil suit failed to place blame on the man. The podcast looks at whether the boyfriend is the luckiest guy alive or the blinkered approach by police hounded an innocent man while the guilty party got away with it.
What about you? Did you have a great read during October? Anything good coming up for November? Dare I ask if you have any recommendations for true crime podcasts I should check out?