Euro Crime reviews for January, and a few more

January January is by far the longest month – you get paid for December before Christmas instead of on the last day of the month, so from that point of view, January starts on about 23 Dec. Then you buy things for Christmas in a last-minute splurge, then there are the sales, then back to school and work, then a long, long time in the snow, sleet, dark and cold before the 31st arrives. One upside of this is that there are more opportunities for reading than usual, so I have a nice crop of Euro Crime and Petrona reviews to show for January. The links to these are archived on my reviews page at Petrona, and the reviews themselves are archived at my Vox blog (which is not bang up to date but not far off). I also log on that blog what I'm currently reading and (an occasional feast) watching.

So, without further ado, my Euro Crime reviews for January 2010 were:

Tooth and Claw, by Nigel McCrery, the second in the series about DCI Mark Lapslie, begun in the rather good "Agatha Christie noir" novel CORE OF EVIL (aka STILL WATERS). As might be expected from the author's credentials as an ex-policeman and highly successful TV scriptwriter, both books are smoothly written, with the action occurring at a fast pace.

Blue Lightning, by Ann Cleeves, final installment of the Shetland quartet. I cannot recommend the novels too highly. Together they represent a superb achievement, both as excellent crime fiction and as sensitive evocations of the meshing of age-old lifestyles with the priorities and technologies of the modern world. [Actually, this review was posted on 1 February, but never mind.]

Captured, by Neil Cross, one of those books for which you will have to set aside an hour or two to read from first page to last without a break.

The Disappeared, by M. R. Hall, second in the series about coroner Jenny Cooper, a fascinating character who stands out as a true individual in a crowded crime-fiction landscape.

About Face, by Donna Leon, a perfect miniature of a book with a social sting in its tail.

If I am allowed to count the 1 Feb as "January", my Euro Crime review award for the month goes, without a doubt, to Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves. If not, Captured by Neil Cross takes the medal.

Of all the books I reviewed in January, my award has to go to an exceptional book, Truth, by Peter Temple. Any other month, and Reunion by Simone van der Vlugt or The Vault by Roslund-Helstrom would have romped home, but all aces are trumped by Truth.