I'm back from my two-week holiday*, and am delighted to report that I took with me precisely the correct number of books. It is always hard to estimate these things and I usually get it slightly wrong in one direction or the other. This year, I needed to get it right because I thought (correctly, as it happens) that English-language books would be difficult to find if my guess turned out to be an underestimate.
Going away for two weeks, I thought I'd take 14 books. As I was busy right up until an hour or two before I had to leave and had not yet packed, my selection process consisted of grabbing what was on top of the nearest piles of books. I thought one or two of the 14 looked quite short, so added a couple more, then two more for luck. Eighteen books in total. I started one in the departure lounge at the airport, and began number 18 on the flight on the way back home. Not bad!
Here is the list, in reading order:
Willing Flesh by Adam Creed, second in the "Staffe" police procedural series (UK/London).
Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo (police procedural in Argentina, translated).
Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum (creepily atmospheric "effects of a crime", Norway, translated).
Dragon Man by Gary Disher (first in Hal Challis series, Australian police procedural)
The Silence of the Rain by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza (police procedural in Brazil, translated).
Acts of Violence by Ryan David Jahn (anatomy of a crime, USA in the 1960s)
A Jew Must Die by Jacques Chesseux (anatomy of a crime, Switzerland 1942, translated)
Play Dead by Harlan Coben (romantic thriller, USA)
A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn (police procedural drama in South Africa, 1952)
Havana Red by Leonardo Padura (Cuban police procedural of literary/political emphasis, translated)
The Girl with the Crystal Eyes by Barbara Baraldi (serial-killer thriller, Italy, translated)
The Terrorists by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Swedish culmination of 10-book series, translated)
Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves (police investigation and mystery story, UK/Yorkshire coast)
Day After Day by Carlo Lucarelli (second in Italian police procedural series, translated)
Dead at Daybreak by Deon Meyer (South African PI/mystery thriller; translated)
Chinatown Beat by Henry Chang (first in police procedural series set in New York)
American Visa by Juan de Recacoechea (Bolivian existentialist noir, translated)
Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai (mystery with strong politics/social commentary, set in India).
Several of these books will be familiar to readers of this blog as having been reviewed and recommended by other crime fiction bloggers, particularly those at the Friend Feed crime and mystery fiction group. Other titles have come from the ever-generous Karen of Euro Crime, and the rest are just books that appealed to me for one reason or another.
My next challenge will be to write up reviews of all these books – if I can remember them all in sufficient detail! Of this crop, it took a while for me to get to one that truly absorbed me, and I was quite surprised as to which one it was. There are, in fact, only three titles that completely gripped me of the 18 I read. There are a few I actively disliked for reasons ranging from "rubbish" to "not my cup of tea". Several of them are good, solid reads that I enjoyed reading but which did not knock my socks off. A few I would define as "meh", borrowing Bernadette's economically accurate description (examples here and here). I was being quite adventurous, though, as 11 of the books I read are by authors are new to me. (I was interested in trying new authors, and a range of regions of the world, in this reading window of opportunity.)
*As my holiday destination was not to a country featured in my recent Country book reviews feature, I am providing a pictorial clue in this post!