Review: I’M TRAVELLING ALONE by Samuel Bjork

One of the things I generally like about European crime fiction is that it isn’t as full of psychopaths and violence as mainstream American and English novels can be but this one seems squarely aimed at that market. It’s undoubtedly a smart move economically, those books sell like the proverbial hot cakes, but it doesn’t fully engage me. Dead children in odd costumes. A religious cult. Several characters fueled by madness including a serial killer with a convoluted motive. A police squad full of eccentric geniuses, including one with a death wish. The loved ones of our heroes in danger. To me I’M TRAVELLING ALONE seemed as if it had been penned by someone more familiar with a “10 tips for great thriller writing” checklist than actual crime fiction of the kind I like.

The forces of good are represented by an ageing, overweight chap called Holger Munch.He’s divorced with an adult daughter and a 6 year old granddaughter he adores. His closest colleague is Mia Kruger. A thirty-something loner, bordering on alcoholic, who is planning her own suicide when the book opens. For reasons that become clear as the story progresses. For me the most compelling police character is young Gabriel, a hacker who has taken a ‘real’ job now that his girlfriend is pregnant. The way he approaches the transition from one sphere to the other (teenager to adult, potential criminal to police worker) seems most real to me and I’d have liked to see more of him.

Evil is represented by a somewhat confusing cacophony of characters and story threads, at least one of which is almost entirely pointless. Perhaps this wouldn’t have bugged me as much if the book hadn’t been so long. There is a lot of exposition here and countless 2-page spreads without a paragraph break or dialogue…just endless words. The story was just engaging enough to keep me reading (with only a moderate amount of eye-rolling) but I will admit to skimming some of the exposition.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Translator Charlotte Barslund
Publisher This translation Corgi, 2015 (original edition 2013)
ISBN 9780552170901
Length 524 pages
Format paperback
Book Series #1 in the Munch & Kruger series
Source of review copy I bought it

Posted in book review, Norway, Samuel Bjork | 4 Comments

Books of the month: March 2017

Pick of the month

The good news is my reading picked up in both quantity and quality during March but the downside of that is it takes more effort to choose a favourite read of the month. After see-sawing between two I’m going with Sarah Ward’s A DEADLY THAW which I thought excellent.  It has a mixture of contemporary and cold case elements, addresses a confronting theme in a realistic way and is not predictable. I don’t get surprised all that often by procedurals anymore and am always pleased when it happens.

The rest, in reading order 

  •  Jørn Lier Horst, ORDEAL (a solid series back on top form)
  • Elizabeth Edmondson, A MAN OF SOME REPUTE (a historical mystery set in post war Britain that I enjoyed as I listened but a day later couldn’t remember enough about it to string together a proper review)
  • Laura Lippman, WILDE LAKE (a thought-provoking look at the way time can make our actions and behaviour look very different but an unlikeable central character kept this from being a great read for me)
  • Candice Fox, CRIMSON LAKE (first book in a new series featuring two fractured characters seeking justice in different ways)
  • Margery Allingham, THE CASE OF THE LATE PIG (my Crimes of the Century read for the month was another irksome tale of the English upper class)
  • Meg & Tom Keneally, THE UNMOURNED (second in a series set in colonial Australia from the father/daughter duo was a terrific romp and very atmospheric)
  • J.M. Peace, THE TWISTED KNOT (second book from a serving police officer that really makes you question what constitutes justice)
  • Sally Andrew, RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER (a South African cosy with dark overtones that is only enhanced by the audio format)
  • Ellery Adams, MURDER IN THE PAPERBACK PARLOR (my next read in the series that takes place in a retreat for book lovers, I can’t help but wish myself there)
  • Agatha Christie, SPARKLING CYANIDE (I listened to a narration by Hugh Fraser and was thoroughly captivated, even if I didn’t quite believe all the suspects would have love as a motive for murder)
  • Adrian McKinty, GUN STREET GIRL (the 4th book in the Sean Duffy trilogy is another cracker of a read – or listen – and was vying for favourite of the month but wasn’t as surprising as the one I selected)

Progress on bookish goals

aww2017-badgeAustralian Women Writers Challenge: Read & Review 25 books 

5 down, 20 to go. Heading in the right direction at least.

image borrowed and edited from http://theviewfromthebluehouse.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/classic-crime-curriculum.htmlParticipate 8 times in Crimes of the Century

3 down, 5 to go. Looking good for this one.

mount-tbr-2017Read 36 books owned prior to the start of the year and/or reduce the TBR to less than 100 (from 131)

Better progress this month with 7 of my books read belonging to my pre-2017 collection, bringing my total of pre-owned books read for the year to 14. But with acquisitions taken into account my TBR now stands at 128 which is a paltry a reduction on the year’s starting total. At least it’s downward movement this month.

Image sourced from http://mumsgrapevine.com.au/2014/01/7-ways-to-buy-australian-made/

Buy no physical or eBooks from stores outside Australia (Audio books are my exception)

So far so good.

USAFictionChallengeButtonRead at least 10 books eligible for my virtual tour of the US via its fiction (each one set in a different state and by a new-to-me author).

Did not add to my tally this month, my yearly total read is a paltry 2.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

What about you? How did your reading go in March? Any books you need to recommend? 

Posted in Adrian McKinty, Agatha Christie, books of the month, Candice Fox (Aus), Elizabeth Edmondson, Ellery Adams, J.M. Peace (Aus), Jorn Lier Horst, Laura Lippman, Margery Allingham, Meg Keneally (Aus), Sally Andrew, Sarah Ward, Tom Keneally (Aus) | 7 Comments

2017 Mt TBR Challenge – Mountaineering Checkpoint #1

In an effort to get my unread book count under control I joined the My Reader’s Block Mount TBR Challenge this year. I didn’t want to be unrealistic so aimed to read at least 36 books that I owned prior to the start of this year. With a quarter of the year over I have read 14 eligible books which qualifies as a modest success (if I keep up this pace I will meet my goal, but of course the more time passes the more I am tempted by new titles).

  1. Tom Keneally – Crimes Of The Father
  2. Cath Staincliffe  – The Silence Between Breaths
  3. Sheila Connolly- Red Delicious Death (no review)
  4. Josephine Pullein-Thompson – Gin And Murder
  5. Kate Dyer-Seeley  – Scene Of The Climb
  6. Ariana Franklin & Samantha Norman – Winter Siege (no review)
  7. Rebecca Bradley – Shallow Waters (no review)
  8. Elizabeth Edmondson – A Man Of Some Repute 
  9. Margery Allingham – The Case Of The Late Pig
  10. J.M. Peace – The Twisted Knot
  11. Ellery Adams – Murder In The Paperback Parlor
  12. Agatha Christie – Sparkling Cyanide
  13. Sarah Ward – A Deadly Thaw
  14. Adrian McKinty – Gun Street Girl

According to the challenge progress chart I have reached Pike’s Peak and am a few steps up Mount Blanc.

I’m keeping track of books read over here, if there are any unread books on the list you think I need to read now let me know

Posted in memes and challenges, progress report | 6 Comments

Review: A DEADLY THAW by Sarah Ward

Sarah Ward’s second police procedural to link a present-day crime with Derbyshire’s recent past is a knockout. Certainly the best example of the genre I’ve read so far this year. The most difficult thing about reviewing it is explaining why I think that without giving too much away. But I’ll have a go.

Firstly there’s the story. It opens with a body being discovered in an abandoned building. Nothing very original there you might be thinking. But the dead man is quickly identified as Andrew Fisher; a man who was supposedly killed a decade ago. The husband who Lena Fisher has served an entire prison sentence for murdering. I’m not going to give you any more plot details but will say the twists kept coming and kept surprising me. Lots of novels have a good premise. The elevator pitch if you will. But A DEADLY THAW is one of the much rarer offerings that has an intriguing premise and manages to deliver ever more intrigue until the very end.

As with Ward’s first novel, 2015’s IN BITTER CHILL, I think the main character is DC Connie Childs but she is not such a lone wolf that she is able to investigate crime without assistance. Her boss, the enigmatic DI Francis Sadler, and fellow DC Damian Palmer are both very involved in the investigation. We are exposed to a little of their personal lives (but not too much) and we see how difficult and frustrating their professional lives can be. People lie and obfuscate and forget. And for every tip that leads somewhere useful there are a dozen or more that go nowhere but, of course, you don’t know which is which until the time is wasted. Who’d be a cop eh?

We also see a lot of the civilians who are involved in or impacted by the case in some way. I like that the book lets us see things from different perspectives, not just that of the police. Among the people we meet here are Lena Fisher and her sister Kat who has never known why her sister murdered her husband (or whoever he was) and is now caught up in more inexplicable mess brought into her life by her secretive sister. Their relationship is complex but believable.

It must be near-impossible for a genre author to come up with something even vaguely original these days but Sarah Ward’s mix of contemporary procedural and cold case storyline does so. I really liked the way A DEADLY THAW unfolded, showing how events of the past can have a long-lasting effect and also offering a sobering reminder that one person’s perspective on events is rarely the whole story. I think what I liked most about the book was its deliciously unsettling resolution. Sometimes doing the right thing is downright dangerous.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Publisher Faber & Faber, 2016
ISBN 9780571321032
Length pages
Format paperback
Book Series #2 in the Connie Childs series
Source of review copy I bought it

Posted in book review, England, Sarah Ward | 6 Comments

A.C.E. Mini Reviews

The title of this most means nothing. Or almost nothing. Other than that I have finished books by authors whose surnames begin with A, C and E in the past few weeks and I’m never going to get around to writing full reviews of any of them.

Ellery Adams’ MURDER IN THE PAPERBACK PARLOR is the second in this prolific, cosy author’s series set in a fictional place called Storyton Hall (located in Virginia if I recall correctly). It is a luxury hotel which caters to book lovers. In this outing there is a romance readers convention being held at the Hall and one of the authors is murdered. I love the setting (why doesn’t this exist in the real world?) and the characters are a fun mix. Several of the key players have an important, secret job guarding one of the world’s most amazing libraries which adds a nice element to the books (though I’m not convinced they’re on the right track with their keeping certain publications locked away for being too dangerous, sounds awfully like book banning to me). Adams writes well and doesn’t talk down to her readers. I reviewed the first in this series more thoroughly.

Agatha Christie’s SPARKLING CYANIDE in audio format, narrated by Hugh Fraser was most enjoyable. I imagine I’ve read the print version at some stage though as it doesn’t feature one of her better known protagonists so perhaps not. I didn’t remember the story anyway. It concerns the apparent suicide of the young wife of a somewhat stodgy businessman. Some time after her death he becomes convinced that her death, which occurred while the couple were dining and dancing with friends, was not as self-inflicted as it appeared. The characters are well drawn and they are all given believable motives for wanting the woman dead, though it would have been nice if at least one of them wasn’t to do with being madly in love. Hugh Fraser is a top notch narrator.

Elizabeth Edmondson’s A MAN OF SOME REPUTE in audio format as narrated by Michael Page was enjoyable to listen to but even a day after finishing I could barely recall its most salient details. It’s a historical mystery set in post-war Britain. The hero is Hugo Hawksworth, an intelligence officer who is wounded enough that he has to take a desk job. He’s also got a young sister (or niece?) to look after as her (his too?) parents are dead. He’s staying at a Castle from which the Earl who should be in charge of the place disappeared without trace some years earlier. Early on a skeleton is discovered and, assuming it is the Earl, Hugo and a couple of other trustworthy chums try to unravel matters. I finished this over a week ago now and couldn’t tell you the resolution if you tortured me for it (not that I anticipate you doing that) so I’m afraid I must assign this to the perfectly readable but largely forgettable class of book.

 

Posted in Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Edmondson, Ellery Adams, mini review | 2 Comments

Review: RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER by Sally Andrew

RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER introduces the world to Tannie Maria, a fifty-something, Afrikaans, widow living in the town of Ladysmith in the Klein Karoo region of South Africa. She writes a cooking column for the local paper but the publication’s sponsors want an ‘agony aunt’ style advice column instead so Tannie Maria, ever the pragmatist, combines the two concepts. She’ll solve people’s problems with her common sense advice and offer the perfect recipe for every situation. One of the first letters she receives is very troubling as it is from a woman who is being abused by her husband. This situation brings back painful memories of Tannie Maria’s own marriage. When the letter-writer is murdered Tannie Maria, worrying that her advice to leave the marriage might have led to the woman’s death, feels obligated to become involved in the investigation.

I suspect the labelling of this book as a ‘cosy’ mystery will be an automatic turnoff for some people but I would urge them to ignore the term and give the book a go anyway. Sure it has some very light-hearted moments that you wouldn’t find in a noir novel and there’s not a lot of on-page sex or violence but that doesn’t prevent the book from tackling some important subjects in a substantial and intelligent way. Issues such as domestic violence and the hypocrisy that can be inherent in some religious practice are threaded throughout the story in such a way that they cut through what might otherwise be too ‘cute’ or ‘sweet’ while still leaving the book with its overall positive and sunny sensibility.

Tannie Maria is a terrific character. She is smart, funny and down-to-earth. She has gotten on with her life, soldiering through the difficult times in a very practical way and not let her bad experiences completely bring her undone. Though she is not ridiculously upbeat or unrealistic as some cosy heroines can be. She is lonely and has insecurities too. It’s a complex and quite nuanced depiction and I suspect there is a lot more to learn about this character so I’ll be looking for the already published second book in the series very soon. There are some wonderful minor characters too including Tannie Maria’s colleagues Hattie, the newspaper’s editor, and Jessie, an eager young reporter. The official investigators include a sombre but thorough policeman who acts as a love interest for Tannie Maria. Even some of the letter writers, several of whom write more than once, add a nice layer of characterisation.

And of course there’s the food. There are more recipes than murder here as Tannie Maria’s go to response for any situation or problem is food. She brings food to her colleagues, cooks meals for the policeman, tracks down vegan cake recipes for the Seventh Day Adventist kids who play a role in the story and, of course, provides recipes to all the people who write in to the paper seeking her help. This is not a book to read when you’re hungry.

The story itself here is probably the most ‘standard’ thing about the book in that it is a fairly traditional whodunit with lots of red herrings and a large pool of suspects which have to be investigated and discarded one by one. Although the ultimate resolution is satisfying this element of the book is probably the only one I could quibble with as there are some parts of the story that are a bit too far-fetched. But it only happens a couple of times and I was having so much fun that I easily forgave Andrew this indulgence.

I opted for the audiobook version of RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER which is narrated by South African actor Sandra Prinsloo and feel that this format really added to my enjoyment of the book. There’s lots of Afrikaans language scattered throughout the story and I always enjoy hearing foreign language words pronounced properly and Prinsloo’s accent, tempo and voice work fitted the story to perfection. In combination with Andrew’s evocatively drawn setting I really did feel like I was being transported to the other side of the world as I became absorbed by this story.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Narrator Sandra Prinsloo
Publisher Lamplight Audio 2015
ASIN B016QU67JK
Length 11 hours 27 minutes
Format audio (mp3)
Book Series #1 in the Tannie Maria series
Source of review copy I bought it

Posted in book review, Sally Andrew, South Africa | 4 Comments

Review: THE CASE OF THE LATE PIG by Margery Allingham

I think I always knew that golden age detective fiction wasn’t really my bag (the inimitable Dame Christie aside) but participating in Crimes of the Century has confirmed it. This month’s foray into 1937 introduced me to Margery Allingham’s most famous creation: Albert Campion. I now know that this story is something of an aberration in that it is told in the first-person point of view by Campion but I’m not sure a more straight-forward narrative would endear the character to me more strongly.  He is, to me, (yet another) upper crust Englishman surrounded by a phalanx of servants, private school chums and cap-doffing sycophants and the whole set up makes me squirm.

In his favour Albert Campion did not irk me quite as much as Ms Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey (who I met last year) but that’s not actually saying a lot. I suppose I was predisposed to irritation given the first lines of the story

“The main thing to remember in autobiography, I have always thought, is not to let any damned modesty creep in to spoil the story. This adventure is mine, Albert Campion’s, and I am fairly certain that I was pretty near brilliant in it in spite of the fact that I so nearly got myself and old Lugg killed that I hear a harp quintet whenever I consider it.”

I’m not much of a one for an unfettered ego. The rest of the characters meld into a couple of stereotypes in my memory; insipid for the women, in-bred old school chum for the chaps. Not counting Lugg of course who is Campion’s … manservant I suppose…and an ex (?) criminal whose purpose was lost on me.

The story was a complicated thing to do with disguised bodies, dodgy doctors and some fairly obvious wordplay. When reading the print version I had no clue what was going on by the end because I just wasn’t interested enough to pay attention. So I had another go at it by downloading the audio book and listened while stuck in traffic. That format was more agreeable (or there was less for me to be distracted by) and at least I cottoned on to the salient points of the plot but it still seemed to be one of those golden age novels that was telling a story that no one could ever mistake for reality, not even for a moment. Or maybe there was a world in which people acted and spoke like utter gits but if so it’s not a world I’m particularly engaged by.

Over at Tipping My Fedora Sergio talks much more positively and eloquently about this book and Ms Allingham in general but one point on which we agree is that there is more than a hint of P.G. Wodehouse about this tale which might be all you need to know. I have never gotten on with Wodehouse but if you do then I suspect you’ll like Albert Campion. But then you probably already know that.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Narrator David Thorpe
Publisher Audio edition Audible Studios 2013, Paperback edition Penguin 2009, original edition 1937
ASBN B00BQG9AF8
Length 4 hours 14 minutes / 138 pages
Format audio (mp3) / paperback
Book Series #8 (or #9) in the Albert Campion series
Source of review copy I bought both editions

Posted in book review, England, Margery Allingham | Tagged | 26 Comments

Review: WILDE LAKE by Laura Lippman

I now know I have at least one thing in common with Laura Lippman: we both love TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. She reveals her reverence in every nuance of WILDE LAKE which in so many ways acts as a modern re-telling of the classic.  There’s little things like the name of her patriarch (both have bird species as surnames) and the fact he is a single father with two children. Then there’s bigger things like a central story thread in which a black man is accused of raping a white woman. And much more besides. I’ve found the kinds of books that pay such close homage to a revered classic more miss than hit over the years but WILDE LAKE falls on the successful side of that divide. One of the key reasons this is true is that the novel is equally readable for those who’ve never cracked the spine on a copy of Mockingbird (a fact relayed in the many glowing reviews from people who fall into that category).

In its own right WILDE LAKE explores some weighty social and moral issues against the backdrop of a crime story. Though even Lippman herself, in several interviews including this one on last year’s live episode of one of my favourite true crime podcasts Crime Writers On…would agree that it’s not a rollicking, action-packed kind of tale. You do have to be patient and prepared to wander down some byways that have nothing whatsoever to do with whodunit or even why certain things were done. I rather like this kind of story but I know people who would tear their hair out at its apparent lack of focus.

The story – or stories – are complicated. Too much to even summarise here. But there is purpose to it all as Lippman explores the differences in culture and social attitudes between the two time periods. Which of the late 1970’s acceptable behaviours are still acceptable three decades later? Can hero status be retroactively stripped when seen through the lens of a different time? And when, pray tell, will believing a woman’s claims of rape be the default position for all who hear her cries? There are also, as those familiar with Lippman’s writing might expect, some very pointed digs at issues facing modern-day Baltimore.

The book is narrated in two distinct threads though each one by the same person. Or, I suppose, a version of the same person. Luisa (Lu) Brant is a precocious but friendless pre-teen when discussing growing up in the liberal, newly developed community of Columbia, Maryland during the 1970’s. Her father is well-respected if not deeply liked and the state’s attorney. He raises Lu and her older brother AJ with help from housekeeper-come-field-marshall Teensy in a manner that can only be described as distant. Though loving in its way and for its time. In the book’s other thread it is the present-day. Lu is 45, mother to twins and recently widowed. She has just become the first woman to win the job her father held with such distinction. Regardless of the book’s narrative structure Lu’s life is a continuous event so the two stories have many natural crossovers and while I wasn’t always sure the dual thread structure was the best choice for this story I had no trouble following them and did enjoy the juxtaposition of child and adult versions of the same person. I will admit to preferring juvenile Luisa by a country mile – she’s far less cocky and sure of herself – but both characterisations are deft.

We non-Americans are somewhat conditioned by our diet of American television, movies and all the rest to think we know the place but WILDE LAKE reminds us that what we see in pop culture isn’t nearly all there is. Some of the history and references here were completely alien to me and after my initial shock I was happily ‘researching’ (i.e. googling) whether Columbia’s origins were as depicted and several other plot elements. I liked that this book gave me a sense of a different America than the one I feel I know.

Though I liked a lot about this book I’d have to say I admire WILDE LAKE more than love it. Mostly this is, I think, due to my distaste for adult Lu. She is ambitious and competitive and if not mean then cold at times. I know it is these people who probably get things done in the world but I’m never going to be one of them or terribly comfortable in their presence and it’s hard for me to truly love a book in which there is a character I inherently dislike. But there’s also the fact that the book’s ending fell flat for me with it’s late coming to the fore of previously minor characters and revelations of things that had no business being kept secret – sometimes from the book’s characters and sometimes from readers – for so long. I still enjoyed much of the journey but for a book to be truly lovable – the kind I want to read again and insist that everyone I know read immediately – I need a satisfying conclusion. But admiration is still a darned good recommendation in my world and WILDE LAKE will definitely make you think.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Publisher William Morrow [2016]
ISBN 9780571321759
Length 352 pages
Format paperback
Book Series standalone
Source of review copy Borrowed from the library

Posted in book review, Laura Lippman, USA | 9 Comments

Review: ORDEAL by Jørn Lier Horst

ordealhorstaudioTaking place a few months after THE CAVEMAN Jørn Lier Horst’s fifth William Wisting novel available in English was, for me at least, a return to the series’ top form. ORDEAL is a complicated but ultimately satisfying tale that juxtaposes a police investigation seeking nothing but the facts with one that is less concerned with truthfulness than closure at any price.

The police procedural is a crowded space in crime fiction these days but Horst is a real master of the art. He doesn’t simply jam his books full of the latest “in” thing but really shows how the disparate elements of an investigation – forensic evidence, witness statements, data analysis and all the rest – need to be brought together coherently in order for the truth to be revealed.  When this book opens series hero, William Wisting, is being criticised because of his failure to solve the case of the disappearance of taxi driver Jens Hummel some six months earlier. But when new evidence appears that links Hummel’s disappearance with the high-profile murder of a young girl in a nearby jurisdiction it is Wisting who becomes a critic. The girl’s murderer was, supposedly, captured a mere 14 minutes after the crime was committed and the case is being used as an example of top policing. Accordingly, Wisting’s growing doubts cause him real professional trouble with his colleagues and superiors. I liked the way this novel explored the difficulties inherent in questioning or being critical of colleagues; a reality that is not unique to the profession of law enforcement.

As always with this series Wisting’s personal life, in particular his adult daughter Line, plays a significant part in the story. Here Line has moved back to Larvik because she is pregnant and the baby’s father, an American who has returned to the US, won’t be a strong presence in the baby’s life. She’s bought a house in the same street where her father lives (the house at the centre of THE CAVEMAN in fact) and at the start of the novel reconnects with an old school friend, Sophie. Although she’s on leave from her job as a journalist Line can’t give up her innate inquisitiveness and somewhat inadvertently brings Sophie’s family connection to local crime into play in the investigation her father is heading up.

Whereas I found THE CAVEMAN a bit didactic in its exploration of social themes I thought ORDEAL got the balance of storytelling against a backdrop of social change just right. Both books look at broadly the same issues – moral decay and relatively modern problems such as violent crime and drugs spreading their tentacles ever wider – but here there is more subtlety which I prefer.

If you are a fan of audio books I can thoroughly recommend Saul Reichlin’s narration of this series. Although he is South African not Norwegian the fact that he speaks English with a slight accent helps to remind the reader this is a story taking place somewhere more exotic than ’round the corner. And he is a terrific teller of stories, using only minor differences in tone, speed and pitch to differentiate between characters yet still making each ‘voice’ very distinct.

ORDEAL is a great read, or listen, for fans of top notch police procedurals with lots of twists, a thoughtful social backdrop and some heart-stopping moments of real suspense. Although I lament the fact that however Nordic it might be most Scandinavian crime fiction is a far cry from the noir that usually follows that particular N word, this novel’s ending does at least provide the bittersweet sensibility of a more traditional noir tale.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Translator Anne Bruce
Narrator Saul Reichlin
Publisher This edition Jammer Audio, 2016
ASIN B01G7R2P7K
Length 10 hours 46 minutes
Format audio book
Book Series #10 in the William Wisting series (it’s the 5th available in English)

Posted in book review, Jorn Lier Horst, Norway | 3 Comments

Books of the month: February 2017

Pick of the month

chameleonpeoplehansolavl30307_fI know February is a short month but I can’t blame that entirely for my reading drop off. After a strong start to the year I only read 4 books during February (though it is only other avid readers who will feel my pain, when I lamented this figure in my office and 20-something colleague replied that he hadn’t read that many books since leaving high school). I can’t go past Hans Olav Lahlum’s CHAMELEON PEOPLE  as my favourite read of the month because it really did pull me out of a reading funk. I really enjoy this series set in Norway’s recent past and this instalment is my favourite yet with its combination of family drama, fascinating history with eerie connections to modern politics and unexpected turns in the lives of series regulars. Oh and of course there’s the ripper murder mystery as well. There is nothing quite so satisfying as a much anticipated book being all that you hoped for and then some.

The rest, in reading order 

  •  Patricia Wentworth’s THE CHINESE SHAWL (my contribution to Crimes of the Century for 1943 can be summed up with the word meh)
  • Mindy Mejia’s THE LAST ACT OF HATTIE HOFFMAN (thoroughly enjoyed this nearly not crime novel about how we choose our identities and whether we can fight nature to be someone else)
  • Wendy James’ THE GOLDEN CHILD (sadly for me this was one of those occasions where a much-anticipated book did not live up to expectations, but I am a lone voice as this book is getting raves from most readers)

Progress on bookish goals

aww2017-badgeAustralian Women Writers Challenge: Read & Review 25 books 

2 down, 22 to go. Really need to pick up speed

image borrowed and edited from http://theviewfromthebluehouse.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/classic-crime-curriculum.htmlParticipate 8 times in Crimes of the Century

2 down, 6 to go. On track

mount-tbr-2017Read 36 books owned prior to the start of the year and/or reduce the TBR to less than 100 (from 131)

None of the 4 books I read were owned prior to the start of this year and I bought some more new books so my TBR is now at 134 which is more than I started the year off with 😳. I’m hopeless.

Image sourced from http://mumsgrapevine.com.au/2014/01/7-ways-to-buy-australian-made/

Buy no physical or eBooks from stores outside Australia (Audio books are my exception)

Achieved.

USAFictionChallengeButtonRead at least 10 books eligible for my virtual tour of the US via its fiction (each one set in a different state and by a new-to-me author).

Did not add to my tally (Mindy Mejia is a new (to me) American author but I have already visited Minnesota on my virtual tour).

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

What about you? How did your reading go on Feburary? Any books you need to recommend? Got any sure-fire strategies to prevent me acquiring more books?

Posted in books of the month, Hans Olav Lahlum, Mindy Mejia, Patricia Wentworth, Wendy James (Aus) | 7 Comments