September reading report and book of the month


Although I didn’t post any reviews here on Petrona during September, three of my pieces came out at Euro Crime: Vanishing Point by Val McDermid, “an excellent mixture of media-inspired, over-the-top drama and intense suspense as the hunt for Jimmy seems to be doomed to fail. A great holiday read.” [full review here]; The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul, tr Martin Aitken, “in many ways a perfect “literary” crime novella” [full review here]; and Deon Meyer’s 7 Days, translated by K L Seegers, “tense and exciting……a marvellous crime novel which must be a strong contender for best crime novel of 2012.” [full review here].

I read several other books during September, notably eight books in the Joanne Kilbourn series by Gail Bowen. I very much enjoyed these books, which are quick to read but which address serious themes. I didn’t think the most recent two, The Brutal Heart and The Nesting Dolls, were as good as the previous books in the series because they focus on Jo’s excessively lovey-dovey marriage at the expense of her roles as a lecturer of political science and TV panellist, as well as jettisoning the minor, semi-recurring characters and there not being much of a mystery to them. I am hoping that Jo will be back on form in Kaleidoscope, which is not yet possible to buy in the UK.

I also re-read Michael Connelly’s first Harry Bosch novel, The Black Echo, which was still a good read after 20 years. In a generous act of serendipity, a good fairy then sent me a proof of The Black Box, not published until November. It is a compelling read, though the last section, when Bosch leaves LA on the trail of his case, is a disappointment. Interestingly, the book opens 20 years ago at the scene of the riots in LA over the killing beating [post corrected] of Rodney King, harking back to the first book.

Finally, I read two non-crime novels in September: Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, as ever a beautifully written book with many memories for me of what it was like to be a (very!) young woman in 1970s Britain. I was hoping the book was going to take a particular turn that it never did, but even though the male characters were a pretty grim lot, I enjoyed the book very much. The other novel I read was Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford (actually 4 novels, totalling more than 900 pages). I didn’t enjoy it that much, finding its existential fragmentation rather jerky and erratic. The TV series, adapted by Tom Stoppard, captured the essence of the books very well, though the main character was somewhat sanitised and idealised, and there was a strange debate between teachers about Marie Stopes’s ideas on sex (in marriage), which was not in the books.

In sum, on the crime front I read 13 books, 10 by women and 3 by men. The geographical distribution is: Canada, 8; USA, 2; Denmark, 1; South Africa, 1; and UK, 1. Two of these are translated. My book of the month? Almost a tie between The Black Box by Michael Connelly and 7 Days by Deon Meyer. No crime author writing today can top Bosch’s mesmeric intensity when he has the bit between his teeth, and I treasure Connelly’s occasional lurches into beautiful, yearning poetic prose – but for me, 7 Days pips The Black Box at the post for an equally compelling “cold case” plot, as well as having a more rounded, satisfying ending.

As usual, for other bloggers’ choices of books of the month for September, please visit the round-up post at Mysteries in Paradise.

Previous reading reports at Petrona.

August reading report and book of the month

August was a busy month, reading-wise. I reviewed four books for Euro Crime, including one at the end of July which I forgot to include in that month’s round-up, and fifteen at Petrona, making 19 in total. Nine of these are by women (two of them by pairs) and ten by men (including one pair). The geographical spread is: Sweden 7; Canada, 3; UK, 3 (one set in Gibraltar, one Scotland and one Wales); Norway, 2; and one each for Austria, France, Iceland and the USA. Eleven of the total are by authors new to me.

I have very much enjoyed most of these books. I’m not going to be able to single out a “book of the month” but will have to provide three titles that I can’t choose between: The Eyes of Lira Kazan by Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon (French authors); In The Darkness by Karin Fossum (Norwegian); and Another Time, Another Life by Leif G W Persson (Swedish). Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg (Canada) and The Blind Goddess by Anne Holt (Norway) are a whisker behind.

Links to my September reviews:

Euro Crime:

The Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

Summertime Death by Mons Kallentoft

The Drowning by Camilla Lackberg

Shadow of the Rock by Thomas Mogford

Petrona:

Talking to the Dead by Harry Bingham

The Wandering Soul Murders by Gail Bowen

A Colder Kind of Death by Gail Bowen

Sail of Stone by Ake Edwardson

In The Darkness by Karin Fossum

The Camera Killer by Thomas Glavinic

Some Kind of Peace by Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff

Sebastian Bergman by Hjorth Rosenfeldt

Killer’s Island by Anna Jansson

The Eyes of Lira Kazan by Eva Joly and Judith Perrignon

Blood Tears by Michael J Malone

Another Time, Another Life by Leif G W Persson

Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End by Leif G W Persson

A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read

Old City Hall by Robert Rotenberg

Season of the Witch by Arni Thorarnisson

As usual, if you would like to see other bloggers’ choices of books of the month for August, see the round-up post at Mysteries in Paradise.

All my book reviews for 2012, with rankings.

July reading report and book of the month

July was a relatively quiet month for reading and reviews. Two reviews were published at Euro Crime and eight at Petrona. Of these ten, five are by women and five by men. The geographical spread is: USA 3; UK, 3, and one each for Canada, Germany, Norway and Sweden. Four are debut novels (to the best of my knowledge).

A smaller number of books means that, in principle, it is easier to select a book of the month. All the novels I read in July are good, and I can recommend any of them. So far as picking a “best” is concerned, I am not able to choose between two of the titles I read, so I’ll make one award for a debut author, and one for an author who has published novels before.

My non-debut award for July goes to Pierced, by Thomas Enger. From my review: “I urge you to read this novel (ideally after reading Burned), and hope you enjoy it as much as I did, even though it is written in the present tense. Its pleasures are enhanced by the excellent, colloquial translation by Charlotte Barslund.”

And my debut award goes to A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller, a wonderfully well-observed novel combining an evocative portrait of impoverished life in small-town West Virginia, with a crime investigation by a prosecuting attorney and her colleague, the sheriff. The author, a journalist, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for her account of the deadly tornado in Utica, Illinois.

The full list of books reviewed during July is below. Click on the book’s title for the review.

Euro Crime:

Meltwater by Michael Ridpath (UK author, set in Iceland – Fire and Ice #3). “….those looking for an exhilarating yet light read with a difference – provided by the Icelandic setting – will be well satisfied by this book.” 3/5

Border Run by Simon Lewis (UK author, set in the China/Myanmar borderlands). “Perhaps this book is best suited to a teenage readership because of its “coming of age” themes, or for those who prefer to read a simple adventure story without much else to it.” 2/5

Petrona:

Murder at the Mendel by Gail Bowen (Canada) 3.5/5

Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (USA) 4/5

Gone in Seconds by A. J. Cross (England) 2.5/5

Pierced by Thomas Enger (Norway) 4.5/5

Playing Dead by Julia Haeberlin (USA) 2.5/5

A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (USA) 4.5/5

The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach (Germany) 3/5

Death of a Carpet Dealer by Karin Wahlberg (Sweden) 3/5

For other bloggers’ choices of their books of the month, see the round-up post at Mysteries in Paradise.

Books up for the International Dagger 2013, first post

Now that the winner of the 2012 CWA International Dagger has been announced, we can turn to the titles that are eligible for consideration for the 2013 competition. Karen Meek of Euro Crime has created her usual essential post of the books that qualify, and has included a GoodReads feed of the titles, also. Both of these are updated as more titles are published or announced, so check back regularly to the Euro Crime post or sign up to the GoodReads RSS feed for alerts of new books as the year goes on.

The criteria for consideration are that the book must be translated into English for the first time, and published in the UK between June 2012 and May 2013. The award is shared between the author and the translator. There are, therefore, several eligible books already published, some of which I’ve even read (sometimes a few years ago, if the book was published in the US before the UK). These read and reviewed titles are:

Adler-Olson, J. Disgrace, tr Kyle Semmel (Denmark)
Dahl, A. The Blinded Man, tr Tiina Nunnally (reviewed as Misterioso, the US edition and title) (Sweden)
Enger, T. Pierced, tr Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
Eriksson, K. The Cruel Stars of the Night, tr Ebba Segerberg (review of the US edition) (Sweden)
Holt, A. The Blind Goddess, tr Tom Geddes (review submitted) (Norway)
Indridason, A. Black Skies, tr Victoria Cribb (Iceland)
Juul, P. The Murder of Halland, tr Martin Aitken (review submitted) (Denmark)
Larsson, A. The Black Path, tr Marlaine Delargy (review of US edition) (Sweden)
Marklund, L. Last Will, tr Neil Smith (review of US edition) (Sweden)
von Schirach, F. The Collini Case, tr Anthea Bell (Germany)

Most of these books have been most enjoyable to read, but for me so far there are two clear favourites, Last Will and Black Skies. A couple of the others are extremely strong candidates, but fall short of my definition of a “crime” novel in one or two ways. Karen, of course, has listed many more titles, either published or due to be published. I’ve prioritised these so hope to be reading next:

Fossum, K. In the Darkness (Norway)
Tegenfalk, S. Project Nirvana (on order) (Sweden)
Ceder, C. Babylon (Sweden)
Meyer, D. Seven Days (South Africa)
Miloszewski, Z. A Grain of Truth (Poland)
Theorin, J. The Asylum (Sweden)
Camilleri, A. The Age of Doubt (Italy)
Kaaberbol & Friis. The Invisible Murders (Denmark)
Marklund, L. Lifetime (Sweden)

There are several others that appeal to me (and some I shall not be reading), so I am sure I’ll be reading more than those listed above between now and March 2013.

All my posts on the International Dagger.
Petrona’s International Dagger page, which includes a list of all the past winners and a link to the lists of all the eligible titles from each year, with reviews of many of them.

Which books are (or were) automatic buys for you?

A post at Kittling:Books made me think about books that one buys automatically, without knowing anything about them other than the author’s name. Bernadette’s subsequent post at Reactions to Reading took the concept a little further, in asking which authors were once auto-buys but are no longer.

Auto-buys for me include J. K. Rowling and Ian McEwan, but I’ll limit myself here to crime fiction. Authors whose books I buy as soon as one is published include:

Michael Connelly
Karin Altvegen
Liza Marklund
Arnaldur Indridason
Adrian Hyland*
Asa Larsson
C J Box
Helene Tursten
Andrea Camilleri
Catherine O’Flynn*
Stef Penney*
Peter Temple
Johan Theorin
Deon Meyer

*Even though these authors have each only written two novels, they’re on my list.

These authors have one thing in common, they don’t simply reprise the structure of their last book. Each novel they write can be guaranteed to have some different perspective, or if it is a series, to vary the structure and content in some way to produce an original book.

Authors who were in that category, but who have become disappointments and so I read no longer, include:

J. D. Robb (Eve Dallas series – good idea, rapidly became predictably formulaic)
Lindsey Davies (Falco series – original concept, not developed so became boring)
Elizabeth George (Lynley/Havers series – became far too long and content-free)
James Patterson (yes, I admit to enjoying his first half-dozen books, pre-franchise anathema!)
Richard North Patterson (I loved his early legal/political thrillers but he’s become too ponderous)
Karin Slaughter (quite gruesome, OK for the early books but the later ones focus on gruesomeness and are very slow)
Thomas Harris (Red Dragon is one of my favourite crime novels. Silence of the Lambs was OK-ish. Hannibal was thrown across the room, what a load of rubbish).
Patricia Cornwell (once a true original following on from Harris’s concepts in Red Dragon, now utterly tedious)
Jonathan Kellerman (I was addicted to the first half-dozen Alex Delaware books but then they lurched into monotony)
Janet Evanovitch (the first two books were funny and fresh, but rapidly became a stale re-working each time)
Lee Child (excellent first few books, now suffering from superman syndrome as well as flatness)
Denise Mina (I still read her but judiciously, but she has not matched her auto-buy days of the Garnethill trilogy or Sanctum)

One thing that strikes me about many of these ex-auto buy authors is that they have achieved “best-sellerdom” after I discovered them. And it is perhaps the pressures of “best-sellerdom” that requires someone simply to reprise a formula each time, than to risk something different, hence becoming non-reads for me. It is sad that this is what “mass market” readers seem to like. Not all the authors are like this: Elizabeth George varies her structure and subjects, but the problem with her books now is that they need editing to half the length (i.e. the same length as her first few).

From the “still auto-buying” list, Michael Connelly is a perfect example of an author who sells in shedloads, but who remains true to his readers – he simply does not take the lazy way out. That is, he has talent and, in his case, that’s what sells. Other authors on my auto-buy list are similarly varied in creating their compelling novels, but probably don’t sell in the same size of shedloads as Connelly ;-)

There are many other favourite authors whose books I am very likely to read, but I would check out their latest title before automatically buying it. There are also some recent good candidates who may well go on my auto-buy list, for example Gail Bowen, Y. A. Erskine and Julia Spencer-Fleming, but the jury is still out. There are also a few who have been auto-buys but who are currently wobbling in the light of their most recent titles. Some authors I enjoyed in years gone by, but for unknown reasons have become bored with their books – eg P D James, Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, Frances Fyfield.

Let me know what you think: do you like any of the authors on my lists? Who are your auto-buy (or ex-auto-buy) authors?

Search my book review archive by author name for reviews of books by authors in my auto-buy list.

Best new-to-me authors in 2012 #2

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise has started a meme in which bloggers are asked to write about their favourite “new to them” authors whose books they have read in each quarter of 2012. If you would like to join the meme, here is the April-June post for your link.

If I’ve counted right, I’ve reviewed 47 books during these three months, of which 18 were by new-to-me authors. The listing is below, including whether or not the book is a debut (to the best of my knowledge). M J McGrath has written non-fiction but White Heat is her first work of fiction. Just over half the books are debuts.

I enjoyed almost all these books; there are only one or two by authors I don’t feel inclined to try again. In fact, in two cases I have already read other books by the author (Gail Bowen and Julia Spencer-Fleming).

Picking out a winner from this list is very hard indeed as I’ve enjoyed almost all of them, and they are a varied bunch of books. I am going to have to go for a tie between Julia Spencer-Fleming, Gail Bowen and Ridley Pearson. Wendy James and Allison Leotta come a very close second. But others are really good, too!

As usual, click on the title of the book to read by review to get a more “nuanced view”, as they say, of each.

Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr (debut, USA)
Amuse Bouche by Anthony Bidulka (debut, Canada)
Deadly Appearances by Gail Bowen (debut, Canada)
The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhardsen (debut, Sweden)
In Her Blood by Annie Hauxwell (debut, Australia, London setting)
The Loyal Servant by Eva Hudson (debut, UK)
The Mistake by Wendy James (Australia)
Defending Jacob by William Landay (USA)
Law of Attraction by Allison Leotta (debut, USA)
The Other Child by Charlotte Link (Germany, England setting)
White Heat by M J McGrath (debut, UK, Canada setting)
The Pied Piper by Ridley Pearson (USA)
Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsay (debut, UK)
Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes (debut, UK)
Killer Instinct by Zoe Sharp (debut, UK)
A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez (UK)
In The Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming (debut, USA)
The Suspect by L R Wright (Canada)

I would like to thank Bernadette, Bill, Karen, Keishon and Sarah, who between them were responsible for my discovery of about half of these authors and their books!

My choice of best new-to-me authors in 2012 #1

International Dagger winner 2012

I am delighted to learn from Euro Crime that The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli, has won the International Dagger for 2012. From the CWA website:

The judges said ‘Camilleri’s Montalbano novels show just how much can be achieved with familiar materials when a writer conveys the sense of life in a recognizable place. He combines characters, plots, and reflections on Italy’s particular social and political problems, with wry—but never bitter—satire. In this novel the late-afternoon shadows lengthen; Montalbano is feeling his age.’

I reviewed this novel (as well as most of the others in the series) for Euro Crime. From my review:

THE POTTER’S FIELD is an excellent book. All the familiar characters are here, but events have taken a darker turn. Salvo is feeling his age, and with reason is increasingly depressed about the state of his beautiful country and the way in which it is ruined by politicians and gangsters alike. The novel is more than a crime novel – though the plot is very clever and convoluted, because of the way Salvo decides to proceed with it – it is a meditation on getting older, on failing powers, and on the uncertain future we all face.

Read the complete review here.

Euro Crime: Andrea Camilleri’s books in reading order, with links to reviews of all the titles.

The 2012 shortlist for the CWA International Dagger:

Andrea Camilleri – The Potter’s Field tr. Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Maurizio De Giovanni – I Will Have Vengeance tr. Anne Milano Appel (Italy)
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past tr. Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Deon Meyer – Trackers tr. K L Seegers (South Africa)
Jo Nesbo – Phantom tr. Don Bartlett (Norway)
Valerio Varesi – The Dark Valley tr. Joseph Farrell (Italy)

My own personal shortlist for 2012.

Already we are forced to think about 2103, as several books have already been published that must be strong contenders for next year’s award. Watch this space!

All my posts on the International Dagger awards.

Petrona’s International Dagger page – includes a list of each year’s winner with links to my reviews of each; a link to the shortlist for each year; and a link to Euro Crime’s comprehensive list of all the eligible titles for each year. A reader’s treasure trove.

June reading report and book of the month

June was not as productive for me as May, but I did manage to read and review 14 books, two for Euro Crime and twelve for Petrona. Eleven are by women and three by men, but unfortunately only three are translated. Geographically, the books range from England (7) to the USA (3), Sweden (1), Iceland (1), France (1) and Canada (1) – with one of the England-set books by an Australian author (Annie Hauxwell), and another by an Irish author (Jane Casey). Six of the books are debut novels, hence are by authors new to me – one other novel is not a debut but by an author new to me (Ridley Pearson).

When I read Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason I was convinced that it had to be my book of the month this month. It is just such a good crime novel, and I highly recommend it. Even so, a book I read later in June is, without a doubt, my top tip – Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti. It’s an original novel, and depicts so well how a small crime can extend into a complicated mesh involving corporations, countries, and the cosy way everyone helps each other out in return for present or future favours. Cynical does not begin to describe it, but how refreshing to read an intelligent, hard-hitting crime novel that gets to the roots of the political and economic mess of present-day Europe. (This is also one of the themes of Black Skies.)

You cannot do much better, in terms of crime fiction, than reading either of these books. Most of the others that I read this month also come highly recommended. There are appealing female protagonists in some of these novels (Catherine Berlin, Annie Hauxwell’s protagonist, the most original in a debut novel), and the police procedural thriller is alive and strong in the hands of Ridley Pearson. Julia Spencer-Fleming, N J Cooper and Jane Casey provide solid, readable entries in their series, and Carin Gerhardson produces an accessible slice of Swedish crime.

The full details are below, with links to my reviews. The score is out of 5, but should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Euro Crime:

Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason, tr Victoria Cribb 4

A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson 3

Petrona:

Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr 2.5

Amuse Bouche by Anthony Bidulka 2.5

The Last Girl by Jane Casey 3

Vengeance in Mind by N J Cooper 3.5

The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhardsen, tr Paul Norlén 3

Missing Persons by Nicci Gerrard 2.5

In Her Blood by Annie Hauxwell 3

Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti, tr Ros Schwartz & Amanda Hopkinson 5

The Pied Piper by Ridley Pearson 3.5

Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsay 2

Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes 3

A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming 3.5

The scoring system is explained in my 2012 reviews page.

Previous months’ reading reports and books of the month.

As ever, Kerrie has a round-up post of bloggers’ book choices for the month, so for more recommendations, please head on over to Mysteries in Paradise.

Internet choice: May 2012

Although I share links to interesting articles at Google +, I try to write a round-up post here once a month, to provide a little more detail of what I’ve enjoyed or found annoying over the past month online.

The Good Library blog: in an excess of Jubilee and Olympics celebrations, a succinct view of why we should instead be spending the money on books and libraries. No hope of that of course, but it’s a sentiment with which I have sympathy.

Tubes: Behind the Scenes at the Internet, sounds as if it is a fascinating book from this brief Observer review. There is a more in-depth account in a Q&A with the author at Metropolis (for which the author is an editor), in which the book is described as “an evocative trip to the heart of the Internet, a look at both the physical connections behind the web and the complex almost ad hoc infrastructure supporting it”.

I’ve stopped reading the Language Log a good while ago as it has lost its way in a wealth of judgemental detail. Nevertheless, this post about e-book “editing” is hilarious. “The Nook edition of Tolstoy’s War and Peace (in its English translation) has been de-Kindled, quite literally. Every instance of the text string kindle has been replaced by Nook.” This is one of the problems with our current “spell check” generation, where nobody can spell any more as they all rely on auto-correct (see this BBC article). However good an auto-spell-checker (and my colleague Jeremy tells me that Swipe for Android is “almost making the ‘art’ of spelling redundant”) I would challenge any of them on matters such as “out” or “are” for “our”, “their” for “they’re” and so on, but now I’ve read the Language Log post, I’d also challenge it on nonsensical commercial censorship grounds!

From the plethora of (mostly silly) articles about the James Daunt/Waterstone’s decision to sell Kindles and provide free wi-fi for customers to download directly in-store, perhaps the best was one by Martyn Daniels of the UK Booksellers’ Association, who writes “the reality is that the deal is not just about digital, and online it about really knowing what your customers want and not what you think they want.” (His point being that Waterstone’s have now kissed their customers goodbye, though of course many people already browse in bookshops and order the books they want from Amazon on their smartphones while in-store.) Indeed, the commenter who writes that the next step will be that Amazon will buy Waterstone’s may have a point! For another perspective, see “James Daunt “doesn’t get” reaction to Amazon partnership, denies ever calling Amazon the “devil,” and lashes out at publishers”, an article at Melville House.

The Guardian carried an interesting comparison between the original (1963) and updated selections for the new Penguin English library.

Mad Bankers part 94. Via the BBC, “Andrew Bailey, a director of the Bank of England who will soon become the City’s top regulator, has said that free banking is dangerous and needs to be reformed by the government.” How ridiculous. Personal customers are a cheap resource for banks, as branches disappear and everyone performs their transactions with machines – yet are subject to constant targeted marketing. How about Mr Bailey doing something much more important, concerning the billions of pounds the banks have lost owing to their own greed and incompetence? Too hard for him, I suppose, whereas it is easy to flick a switch and charge personal customers unfair fees. Incidentally, there is an informative post at Sifting the Evidence blog at Nature Network, by two economics students, on real vs nominal interest rates and how the economics editor of the Sunday Times gets it wrong. And if you are really into all this stuff, or are like me and reading about it in frozen but fascinated horror, the Huffington Post has a blog on A Survivor’s Guide to the End of the Euro, by Simon Johnson.

“When the Guardian was print-only, subs had three or four deadlines a day. Now every minute of the day is a deadline.” Excellent, and true, article by the Corrections editor on the changing role of the sub.

Finally, the latest visualizations. Tornado tracking at O’Reilly Radar – beautiful. And the Guardian is creating an interactive map of Britain’s best bookshops (while they exist!) and literary locations (a better long-term bet). Take a look.

Internet choice: previous posts.

International Dagger page, and statistics news

New page at Petrona.
I have created a page on this blog (underneath the header) to list the books that have won the CWA International Dagger award since its inception in 2006. In all but one case, I have read and reviewed the winning title, so I’ve included a link to that in the list. I have also provided a summary of the judges’ comments about each book, with a link to the CWA page for that year, so you can see the shortlisted books for that year, together with the judges’ views on them. For those who really are true collectors, I’ve also included links to the Euro Crime listings of all the eligible titles for each year from 2006 on – posts which include links to Euro Crime reviews of many of these books.

Amazon top 500 reviewer!
The other day, I achieved my longstanding goal of becoming a “top 500″ Amazon reviewer – an accolade that I believe means one’s reviews are more seriously regarded. I am not sure precisely how this ranking is calculated, but it is at least in part due to other readers marking one’s review as “helpful”. At time of writing, 87 per cent (597 of 684) of comments on my reviews are “helpful” (the rest are “unhelpful” votes, at least some of which will be from disgruntled authors and/or publicists!), so I’d like to thank everyone and anyone who has voted one of my reviews helpful, and hence propelled my reviews up the rankings. For those interested, here are my 200-plus reviews and nine “Listmania” lists of carefully filtered reading recommendations. Any further “helpful” votes are very welcome indeed!

Google plus and sharing
The icon “g+1″ appears on many blog posts (usually at the bottom) and newspaper articles now. If you’ve enjoyed reading an article, it is well worth clicking on the icon as this will increase the page rank given to the article by Google, and hence make it more visible in searches. You can just click on the icon, you do not have to have a G+ account or “share on G+” as prompted, a “+1″ is all that is needed to optimise for search. I have some time ago created a Google+ crime fiction page – when I like an article I add a link to that page and, in the persona of “crime fiction page” click on the “g+1″ icon there, as well (that’s two votes!). If you have a Google + account you can put the crime fiction page into one of your circles, then you can share your own or any other article (with the g+1 icon) to the crime-fiction page very easily. Google + may not have taken off as a social medium yet, but when it does, crime fiction is ready!
Google + crime fiction page.