30 November 2013

What I read in November 2013

It is very unlikely that I will finish another book today so here is my November 2013 summary post.

This month I've made a lot of use of my Kindle as you can see in the list below.
I've read a couple of classics in THE BIG SLEEP by Raymond Chandler,   PIETR THE LATVIAN by Georges Simenon,  three books translated from French, and some other excellent offerings.

My pick of the month is  BITTER WASH ROAD by Garry Disher but ALEX by Pierre Lemaitre and THE CUCKOO'S CALLING, J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith came very close.
  1. 5.0, BITTER WASH ROAD, Garry Disher - Kindle, Australian author
  2. 4.2, MRS POLLIFAX AND THE LION KILLER, Dorothy Gilman  - audio book, USA Reading Challenge
  3. 4.2, THE BIG SLEEP, Raymond Chandler  - kindle
  4. 4.3, IN A WORD: MURDER, Margot Kinberg (edit) - kindle, short stories
  5. 4.3, PIETR THE LATVIAN, Georges Simenon  - kindle, translated
  6. 4.5, NO MAN'S NIGHTINGALE, Ruth Rendell  - library book
  7. 4.2, A COLD DAY FOR MURDER, Dana Stabenow - audio book, USA Reading Challenge
  8. 5.0, ALEX, Pierre Lemaitre  - translated, Kindle
  9. 5.0, THE CUCKOO'S CALLING, J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith -audio book
  10. 4.6, THE STONE BOY, Sophie Loubiere  - Kindle, translated
  11. 4.5, REFUSAL, Felix Francis  - library book

Check my review

See what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month 

29 November 2013

Review: BITTER WASH ROAD, Garry Disher

My Take

BITTER WASH ROAD is set smack bang in the present day; more than that, in a South Australia I recognise: fragile economic climate, police corruption and whistleblowing, small rural communities struggling to survive, reduced resources, drought - you name the issue, it's there.

Until I did a bit of research I thought Tiverton, South Australia, the wheat belt town near the Barrier Highway where Paul Hirschhausen is posted, was fictitious. But it exists all right. Garry Disher seems to me to have played a little with the geography, but the flavour of the setting rings true.

This is Australian crime fiction at its best. A body is discovered but Hirsch is frustrated when his local boss Sergeant Kropp seems determined to keep him away from any real action. Hirsch faces real issues of getting himself established in the small town. The cops in nearby Redruth where Kropp is have a reputation for being bullies, mates with every one and turning a blind eye to what their mates get up to, perhaps even participating in crime themselves.

I absolutely loved this book.

Read an extract on Amazon.

My rating: 5.0

I've also reviewed
4.7, WYATT

Review: MRS POLLIFAX AND THE LION KILLER, Dorothy Gilman - audio book

  • originally published in 1996, #12 in the Mrs Pollifax series
  • available from Audible
  • narrated by Barbara Rosenblat
  • Length: 6 hours, 16 mins
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Part-time CIA agent Emily Pollifax accompanies her young friend, Kadi Hopkirk, to Africa on a mission to stop terrorists from disrupting the coronation of Sammat, Kadi's childhood friend, as the new king of Ubangiba.

My Take

Beneath the rather cozy exterior of this story are some quite serious considerations related to issues surrounding small African nations trying to establish their place in world affairs, and viable lives for their citizens, in the late 20th century.

Kadi Hopkirk is a reminder of the violent past of the improbably named Ubangiba for she is the daughter of white American doctors killed during a revolution. Sammat on the other hand is the overseas educated grandson of the old king. He once imagined that he could set up a democracy but finds that he is actually king-to-be.

The country of Ubangiba has been impoverished by megolomaniac rulers since Sammat's grandfather was assassinated and even now there is a group murdering people but making it look as if they have been killed by a lion. But there are no lions in Ubangiba. We are talking here of a population that still believes in witchcraft.

On the surface Emily Pollifax is an elderly woman, but, some years before, at the age of 60 she became a part time CIA agent, and she has rather Marple like qualities of observation.  Soon after their arrival young Kadi is attacked in the palace grounds, and, having survived that attack, she is abducted. Mrs Pollifax thinks king-designate Sammat is altogether too trusting of those around him.

My rating: 4.2

I have also reviewed #13,  4.0, MRS POLLIFAX, INNOCENT TOURIST

About the author
Dorothy Edith Gilman (June 25, 1923 – February 2, 2012) was an American espionage and mystery fiction writer. She was best known for the Mrs. Pollifax series. Emily Pollifax, her heroine, became a spy in her 60s and is very likely the only spy in literature to belong simultaneously to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the local garden club.

In 2010 Dorothy Gilman was awarded the annual Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.
She died in New York of Alzheimer's disease in 2012, aged 88.
More at Wikipedia.

25 November 2013

Review: THE BIG SLEEP, Raymond Chandler

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 311 KB
  • Print Length: 177 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1604445181
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (July 7, 2005)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9AH2
  • originally published 1939
Synopsis (Amazon)

The Big Sleep is Raymond Chandler's most famous and popular novel of all

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is working for the Sternwood family. Old man Sternwood, crippled and wheelchair-bound, is being given the squeeze by a blackmailer and he wants Marlowe to make the problem go away. But with Sternwood's two wild, devil-may-care daughters prowling LA's seedy backstreets, Marlowe's got his work cut out - and that's before he stumbles over the first corpse . . .

My Take

It is probably highly improper for a crime fiction addict to admit in public that she has never read any Raymond Chandler, or at least I don't think I have. Of course, I have heard of Philip Marlowe, the P.I. that Chandler created, the model for many P.Is for future generations of writers.

And so why hadn't I read THE BIG SLEEP before now? Probably because American noir has not really been my genre of choice, because I mainly read British, Australian, and translated crime fiction.

I can see how the gun-packing Marlowe is very different to sleuths created in Europe at approximately the same time. Poirot, Marple, and Maigret are altogether more cerebral with blood and guns rarely sighted. Many modern American sleuths are really just more modern versions of Marlowe, solving more modern murders.

To be quite honest though, I didn't find THE BIG SLEEP as captivating as I had expected. It felt a bit dated, although Chandler is a good model for characterisation and descriptive prose. It probably still should be regarded as essential reading for crime fiction students, especially those who are interested in the history of the genre. But then again I have managed pretty well without, haven't I?

My rating: 4.2

Philip Marlowe (Fantastic Fiction)
1. The Big Sleep (1939)
2. Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
3. The High Window (1942)
4. The Lady in the Lake (1943)
5. The Little Sister (1949)
6. The Long Goodbye (1953)
7. Playback (1958)
8. Poodle Springs (1989) (with Robert B Parker)
The Simple Art of Murder (1950)

20 November 2013

Review: IN A WORD: MURDER, Margot Kinberg (editor)

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 3510 KB
  • Print Length: 141 pages
  • Publisher: Margot Kinberg (November 3, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

This book is dedicated to the memory of Maxine Clarke and proceeds from sales will go in aid of the Princess Alice Hospice, which cares for people with cancer and other illnesses living in a large part of Surrey, south west London and Middlesex. 

Maxine, who died after a long battle with cancer in December 2012, had a huge impact on crime fiction blogging as an editor, blogger, and mentor. She is remembered through the blog Petrona Remembered and also through an annual Petrona Award for best Scandinavian crime fiction translated into English.

The inaugural Petrona Award, announced at CrimeFest 2013, went to LAST WILL by Lisa Marklund.

See the list of "eligibles" for 2014.

About the collection
This collection of stories edited by Margot Kinberg pays tribute to Maxine’s interest in crime fiction and her professional skill as an editor and blogger. All of the stories focus on crime in the writing, reviewing, editing, publishing and blogging world. That leaves open a fairly broad range of possibilities for stories, so you’ll find a variety of takes on the theme here.

Table of Contents

Introduction ……………………..  Margot Kinberg  
The Agency ……………………..  Pamela Griffiths  
The Story…………………………. Paula K. Randall  
The Million Seller………………..   Margot Kinberg  
Hollywood Coverup……………..   Jane Risdon  
A Beach Report From Myrtle Clover…………….. Elizabeth S. Craig
La Lotte .…………..................... Sarah Ward  
The In-Box………………………  Margot Kinberg  
The Killing of Captain Hastings…   Martin Edwards  
Dreamer …………………………  Jane Risdon

My Take

Many thanks to Margot Kinberg for putting this collection of short stories together. I thoroughly enjoyed them all, particularly Elizabeth Craig's Miss Marple spoof A Beach Report From Myrtle Clover. For me the cleverest was The Killing of Captain Hastings by  Martin Edward. Well done folks!

My rating: 4.3

Check reviews from fellow bloggers

18 November 2013

Review: PIETR THE LATVIAN, Georges Simenon

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon) - read an extract at this site
  • File Size: 537 KB
  • Print Length: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (November 7, 2013) - originally published in 1931
  • translation into English by David Bellos.
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English

My Take

The recent decision by Penguin to republish fresh translations of all of Simenon's Maigret novels, in the original order of publication, provides a real opportunity for readers to catch up on titles that have been out of print for some time. Apparently the 75 novels will be published at the rate of one a month. There is even an accompanying 24 page brochure available giving biographical details about Simenon and the characters he created.

I've been a Simenon reader for decades and could not pass up the opportunity to read, on my Kindle, the very first of the Maigret titles.

Maigret comes over as a mountain of a man, with enormous energy, and the ability to push himself to the limits of human endurance.
    Inevitably Maigret was a hostile presence in the Majestic. He constituted a kind of foreign body that the hotel's atmosphere could not assimilate.

    Not that he looked like a cartoon policeman. He didn't have a moustache and he didn't wear heavy boots. His clothes were well cut and made of fairly light worsted. He shaved every day and looked after his hands.

    But his frame was proletarian. He was a big, bony man. His firm muscles filled out his jacket and quickly pulled all his trousers out of shape.

    He had a way of imposing himself just by standing there. His assertive presence had often irked many of his own colleagues.
In many ways PIETR THE LATVIAN gave a good idea of the style that readers could expect in future novels, as well a structure that makes the reader work hard to follow the plot lines.It introduces both Maigret and the long suffering Madame Maigret who at one stage cooks meals for three days without knowing whether her husband will be home to eat them, indeed not knowing what he is up to.

In his exploration of international crime rings that manipulate world-wide economies Simenon shared similar concerns to his contemporary Agatha Christie who was also convinced of the control of world economies and politics by evil forces.

My rating: 4.3

Another review to check:
Mrs Peabody Investigates

17 November 2013

Review: NO MAN'S NIGHTINGALE, Ruth Rendell

Read a free chapter

My Take

Nearly 40 years on since he emerged in FROM DOON WITH DEATH (1964) Reg Wexford, now retired after a lifetime as Chief Inspector Wexford, is happily reading his way through The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Retirement is suiting him better now than it did in THE VAULT where he took up Detective Superintendent Tom Ede's offer of being an unpaid serious crimes adviser. But he still likes to feel needed, doing something important.

This time it is former colleague and friend Mike Burden who asks him if he would interested in a bit of unpaid consultancy following the murder of a local vicar.

Most of NO MAN'S NIGHTINGALE  is written from Wexford's point of view.  Wexford finds for example that Burden is running the the investigation differently to the way he would have done. In his opinion Burden has too many conferences and Wexford finds that in his consultancy capacity he is really not able to voice his opinions freely. Nor can he prevent his friend from making some disastrous errors. Because the murder has taken place in the community in which he lives Wexford finds he at times has to tread a very narrow line. For example, as a private person he learns information that he wouldn't come across as a policeman, and he is not sure whether he is still duty bound to report it to the police.

I think Rendell has taken great pains to present us with an aging Wexford, whose brain is still very much alive and alert, but no longer quite as agile as it used to be. But his powers of observation and deduction are still strong.

So, an aging person myself, that assured my feeling of empathy with Wexford.

And what about Rendell, now 83. How is her writing going? Well, I don't think this is her best book, but it still puts her at the forefront of today's writers. Fans will enjoy Wexford's latest outing.

My rating: 4.5

Other reviews on this blog

16 November 2013

Review: A COLD DAY FOR MURDER, Dana Stabenow - audio book

  • #1 in the Kate Shugak series
  • this edition from Audible
  • originally print published 1992
  • audio version 2011
  • unabridged
  • narrator Marguerite Gavin
  • length 5 hours 31 mins
Synopsis (Audible)

Eighteen months ago, Aleut Kate Shugak quit her job investigating sex crimes for the Anchorage DA’s office and retreated to her father’s homestead in a national park in the interior of Alaska. But the world has a way of beating a path to her door, however remote. In the middle of one of the bitterest Decembers in recent memory ex-boss — and ex-lover — Jack Morgan shows up with an FBI agent in tow. A Park ranger with powerful relatives is missing, and now the investigator Jack sent in to look for him is missing, too.

Reluctantly, Kate, along with Mutt, her half-wolf, half-husky sidekick, leaves her wilderness refuge to follow a frozen trail through the Park, twenty thousand square miles of mountain and tundra sparsely populated with hunters, fishermen, trappers, mushers, pilots and homesteaders. Her formidable grandmother and Native chief, Ekaterina Shugak, is — for reasons of her own — against Kate’s investigation; her cousin, Martin, may be Kate’s prime suspect; and the local trooper, Jim Chopin, is more interested in Kate than in her investigation. In the end, the sanctuary she sought after five and a half years in the urban jungles may prove more lethal than anything she left behind in the city streets of Anchorage.

My Take

I haven't read many crime fiction novels set in Alaska. Similarly while I have heard of Dana Stabenow I have never read one of her books. A COLD DAY FOR MURDER is the first in her Kate Shugak series of which there are now 20, the latest published just this year. See Fantastic Fiction.

I think I solved the mystery of what had happened to the two missing people, and who was responsible, about half way through the novel, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment. The characters are well drawn and the plight of the Alaskan Aleuts trying to make their way in a "modern" world is well described. As is the concern of the elders to preserve the old ways and their wish to keep the young people from leaving.

So if you are ready for a new series, maybe this is the one for you. I read it as part of my reading for the USA Fiction Challenge.

My rating: 4.2

About the author

Dana Stabenow was born in Anchorage, Alaska on March 27, 1952, and raised on a 75-foot fish tender in the Gulf of Alaska.  Read more

Learn more about Kate Shugak on the author's website.

15 November 2013

Forgotten Book: THE CAVALIER CASE, Antonia Fraser

My pick this week for Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books comes from books that I read in 1991.

#7 in Antonia Fraser's Jemima Shore mysteries, published in 1990, THE CAVALIER CASE combines love of history with her ability to write engaging mysteries. I was a history teacher at the time, loved English history, and just becoming addicted to crime fiction, so this fitted the bill for me.

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Publisher's Weekly

In her seventh Jemima Shore novel, Fraser deftly brings together her two previously separate fortes, history and mystery. In an unusual premise, long-dead viscount and Cavalier poet Decimus Meredith repeatedly exits his portrait on the wall to haunt his 20th-century heirs.

The contemporary viscount, suave and manipulative ladies' man and tennis star ''Handsome Dan'' Meredith, has unconventional visions about keeping up expensive Lackland Court. Dan would model its grounds into very different kinds of courts, where he and his fashionable friends would serve tennis balls and be served ''designer drinks'' between matches.

Shore, a TV commentator, agrees to create a program about ghosts in country houses at the same time that she falls in love with a portrait she has been lent, which, coincidentally, features Decimus Meredith. Meanwhile, preparations for a costumed Cavalier Celebration at Lackland Court are upset by a death, a startling discovery and an attack by the resident ghost. Jemima's clearheaded sleuthing sorts out the many suspects, some of whom fit historical roles in the family history.

12 November 2013

Review: ALEX, Pierre Lemaitre

Read an extract at Amazon

My Take

ALEX came on to my reading list as a result of winning the CWA International Dagger award this year, but also because of some excellent reviews that I have read.

Many reviewers have commented on the difficulty of writing a review that does not reveal too much about the novel. That is certainly indicative of the complexity of the novel's structure which is a brachial one. The resolution of the first part of the story, the kidnapping of Alex Prevost, leads seamlessly into the second which is why she was kidnapped, and then comes the story behind that.

But that is not all there is to this novel: Commandant Camille Verhoeven is returning to this kind of investigation a considerable time after his pregnant wife was kidnapped and died as a result. So in a sense Verhoeven is facing his demons, and not even he is sure he should be taking on this case. While following this theme we explore the relationships between the members of his investigative team.

I think what makes this a great read is that it explores psychological issues and in the end questions whether justice has been done.

My rating: 5.0
Other reviews to check
  • The Guardian
    The winner of countless French crime-writing prizes, Lemaitre is far too canny to join the ranks of thriller authors who merely revel in disturbing details and gory crimes. Where another novel would have finished, Alex is just beginning, and the book moves from read-as-fast-as-you-can horror to an intricately plotted race to a dark truth.
  • The Independent
    How easy is it to reinvigorate a shop-worn formula? One way is to shoot each familiar effect full of adrenalin. The other is to inject subtly innovative elements into the detail, subverting the clichés. Alex by Pierre Lemaitre is a book that has it both ways, and succeeds in having its cake and eating it.
  • The Game's Afoot 
  • EuroCrime 

Author website 
Pierre Lamaitre has won a number of crime fiction awards since 2006, and ALEX is his first novel to be translated into English.

In ALEX, I create a setting in Paris to give a colour and atmosphere to the story, but I try to develop themes that I believe are universal : revenge, family neuroses, violence against women, and so on.

10 November 2013

Review: THE CUCKOO'S CALLING, J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith - audio book

Synopsis (Audible)

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case. Strike is a war veteran - wounded both physically and psychologically - and his life is in disarray.

The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model's complex world, the darker things get - and the closer he gets to terrible danger…

A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London - from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho - The Cuckoo's Calling is a remarkable book. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is a classic crime novel in the tradition of P. D. James and Ruth Rendell, and marks the beginning of a unique series of mysteries.

My Take

To be honest I read this knowing that it was J. K. Rowling's first venture into crime fiction. I'm not a Harry Potter fan although I have read a couple of them.

In THE CUCKOO'S CALLING Rowling has created a sleuthing partnership - Cormoran Strike and his temporary office help, Robin Ellacott - that works really well. Cormoran Strike is a good detective and Robin provides invaluable backup.

The novel has an interesting timeframe in that it is firmly set in the first decade of the 21st century, referring to the war in Afghanistan etc. The characters really come alive and the plot, though it has lots of twists and tangles, is plausible and enthrallingly constructed.

So this is J. K. Rowling for adults and I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Robert Glenister was the perfect choice for the narrator. The blurb says this is the beginning of a series and I certainly hope Cormoran and Robin get a second outing.

My rating: 5.0

Other reviews to check
Robert Galbraith site - including Rowling decided to write under a pseudonym (see FAQs)

8 November 2013

Forgotten Book: THE CHILL by Ross Macdonald

This week's Friday's Forgotten Books hosted by Pattinase is featuring the work of Ross MacDonald.

In 1995 the Mystery Writers of America published a list entitled The Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time.
Ross Macdonald: The Chill (1963) was listed at #91. (See the complete list here)

THE CHILL was published in 1963 (50 years ago)

Synopsis (Google Books)

Private detective Lew Archer has better things to do than take on an investigation for Alex Kincaid, a young man claiming that his new bride, Dolly, has gone missing.

Snapped by a hotel photographer on the day of their wedding, the beautiful girl vanished only hours after and Alex has heard nothing since.

But when Archer begins digging, he finds evidence that links Dolly to brutal murders that span two decades, and a terrible secret.

Click on the cover to the right to read the first few pages.

7 November 2013

Tribute to Maxine Clarke: IN A WORD: MURDER

Good friend and author Margot Kinberg has announced the publication of an e-anthology of short crime stories that are a tribute to Maxine Clarke, who died far too young of cancer.

Click on the cover to the right to go to Amazon.com or visit Margot Kinberg's blog to find out more.

The anthology, edited by Margot Kinberg, contains stories from Martin Edwards, Pamela Griffiths, Paula K. Randall, Jane Ridson, Elizabeth S. Craig, and Sarah Ward, as well as illustrations from Lesley Fletcher.

6 November 2013

Review: THE STONE BOY, Sophie Loubiere

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 670 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (October 1, 2013)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BU1DG2C
  • Published in French in 2011 as BLACK RIVER (The child with Pebbles). The book has won at least 3 awards.
  • translated by Nora Mahony 2013 
Synopsis (Amazon)

When the elderly Madame Préau returns to her own house after several years spent in a convalescent home, she immediately notices that the neighbourhood has changed. A new family has moved in next door and, from her window, she watches their three children playing in the garden after school.

Two of the children seem perfectly healthy, but Madame Préau is struck by the third child, who seems listless and stands apart from the others. When she reports this to social services, they refuse to believe her. Cut off some years ago from her own grandson, she begins a mission to help this boy, even when those around her start to fear for her sanity.

The Stone Boy is an award-winning and darkly atmospheric psychological thriller from a critically acclaimed French author. Packed with shocking twists and turns that will appeal to fans of Barbara Vine and Erin Kelly, Madame Préau's story will hold you entranced until the very last page.

My Take

Madame Preau speaks with some authority on the matter of children, or so it seems. She is a long retired ex-headmistress, and certainly a person who is very alert to ill-treatment of children. But what is the medication that her son prescribes for her, why was she in the convalescent home for so long, and why does she have a weekly appointment with her GP?

Elsa Preau seems to have little difficulty in getting the authorities to listen to her, but that is as far as it gets - she can't substantiate her claims about seeing an abused child in the garden next door, and eventually she has to try to get the evidence herself.

The plot of THE STONE BOY abounds with little mysteries, and solving them is rather like peeling onion skins. It is an engrossing read with plenty of meat to keep the reader occupied.

Although Sophie Loubiere is the author of five novels, this is the first available in English.

My Rating: 4.6

4 November 2013

Review: REFUSAL, Felix Francis

  • published by Michael Joseph 2013
  • ISBN 978-0-7181-5937-5
  • 419 pages
  • library book

Synopsis (Amazon)

Sir Richard Stewart, chairman of the horse racing authority, wants Sid Halley to look into some suspicious race results, but Sid gave up the investigating business six years ago and he thought nothing could make him go back.

He thought wrong.

The following day, Sir Richard is found dead and Sid receives a threatening call from a man with an Irish accent. The man insists that Sid Halley should investigate the alleged race-fixing and it is only when his six-year-old daughter goes missing that Sid realises that he may pay the ultimate price for his refusal. With his life in tatters and his family in mortal danger, Sid is forced to act.

Maybe he has underestimated the evilness of his foe, but has his foe underestimated the guile and determination of Sid Halley? Extreme situations demand extreme solutions and Sid is desperate to get his life back, or die trying...

My Take

I've always enjoyed the racing novels by Dick Francis, and now we have his son Felix carrying on the name.  For me this novel hits the spot.

Perhaps it is that tomorrow is Melbourne Cup Day here in Australia, said to be "the race that stops the nation". Anyway a well written novel about race fixing combined with murder mystery will always get me in. And Sid Halley's return is seamless. I am very willing to believe he is the same Sid Halley that Dick Francis wrote about all those years ago. Sid Halley was the jockey/sleuth who featured in Dick Francis' first novel in 1965: ODDS AGAINST.

The author Dick Francis died in 2010 and before then his son Felix appeared on the dust covers of a number of novels as co-author. The titles on a number make you think that the original idea was the father's while the actual writing is the son's. I'm usually a bit scathing about what I call coat-tail connections, newer authors who are trying to build their writing careers through connection with a famous person, but in this case it doesn't worry me at all. The writing is good enough. REFUSAL is the 7th novel to bear Felix's name. (I have already read two: DEAD HEAT and  SILKS)

REFUSAL is a bit longer than Dick's novels used to be, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is really a cozy on horseback although there is a little bit of violence as Sid Halley gets beaten up. There are other themes that I'm sure will connect to future novels featuring Sid.

My rating: 4.5

2 November 2013

7th Canadian Book Challenge

I have been participating in John Mutford's Canadian Book Challenge for a number of years now, confining my reading to crime fiction of course.

Details for the 7th Canadian Book Challenge can be found here.

The challenge runs from one Canada Day to the next, so it has already started but so far I have read only one book.
4.7, NEVER SAW IT COMING, Linwood Barclay

I read only 8 books for the challenge in 2012-13.
  1. 4.3, CHALK VALLEY, Dan Johnstone
  2. 4.2, ASIA HAND, Christopher G. Moore
  3. 4.9, THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, Louise Penny
  4. 4.7, I AM HALF-SICK OF SHADOWS, Alan Bradley
  6. 4.7, WATCHING THE DARK, Peter Robinson 
  7. 4.7, SPEAKING FROM AMONG THE BONES, Alan Bradley  
  8. 5.0, TRUST YOUR EYES, Linwood Barclay

1 November 2013

Forgotten Book: DEATH OF A HOLLOW MAN, Caroline Graham

My pick this week for Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books comes from books that I read in 1991.

It is DEATH OF A HOLLOW MAN by Caroline Graham, #2 in her Chief Inspector Barnaby series, published in 1989.

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A visit to a Causton Amateur Dramatic Society production is not Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby's idea of good entertainment, but loyalty to his wife prevails. And when the leading man takes his role too much to heart in a gruesome final act, Tom finds his professional skills are called upon.

The first in this series THE KILLINGS AT BADGER'S DRIFT was featured in my Forgotten Books post in August 2011, and was also listed at #80 by the British Crime Writer's Association in their The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time is a list published in 1990.

You might like to take this advice also - never visit Midsomer during a Festival!

What I read in October 2013

Another good month: 3 Australian authors, one NZ author, and a couple of Agatha Christie's.
Mostly library books this time, which just shows how good our South Australian library system is.
My pick of the month is TRACES OF RED by NZ author Paddy Richardson.

Synopsis (Penguin Australia)

Rebecca Thorne is a successful television journalist, but her world is thrown into turmoil when her Saturday night programme is axed because of falling ratings. Not only will she lose her job but her big story on the convicted triple murderer Connor Bligh, whom Rebecca believes is innocent, has to be abandoned.

Rebecca's lover Joe, a married man and the barrister representing Bligh, also thinks Bligh is innocent – or does he? And if he loves Rebecca so much, why is he prepared to cast her off?

Meanwhile Bligh languishes in jail, convicted of three brutal murders and continuing to protest his innocence. He's clearly not a saint – but did he do it? Rebecca refuses to let the matter lie.

Paddy Richardson's fourth novel is psychological crime fiction at its best.

See my review

See what others have chosen as their Pick of the Month.

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month October 2013

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2013

Many crime fiction bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they've read, and some, like me, even go as far as naming their pick of the month.

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for October 2013, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

You can list all the books you've read in the past month on your post, even if some of them are not crime fiction, but I'd like you to nominate your crime fiction pick of the month.

That will be what you will list in Mr Linky too -
ROSEANNA, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - MiP (or Kerrie)

You are welcome to use the image on your post and it would be great if you could link your post back to this post on MYSTERIES in PARADISE.


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