August was quite a good reading month for me as I had a short break which allowed me to reduce my backlog (now creeping up again owing to various temptations and weaknesses for the “buy” buttons on Amazon every time a good translated novel moves from “not yet” into the “published” category).
At Euro Crime, I reviewed:
The Hanging Wood by Martin Edwards, fourth in the Lake District mystery series featuring DI Hannah Scarlett of the cold case crime squad and historian Daniel Kind. It’s a good, traditional mystery story – you don’t have to have read the previous novels in the series but I think readers who have done so will enjoy this one more.
Fear Not by Anne Holt (tr Marlaine Delargy) is another fourth, this time in the author’s Vik/Stubo series. (Vik is a psychological profiler and her partner Stubo head of Norway’s national police service). This novel is both an excellent mystery and an intelligent treatment of “hate” crimes from political and psychological perspectives. Again, one does not have to have read the earlier novels to enjoy this one but I think it helps, as Vik in particular has a back-story that, while not explicitly stated here very much, is relevant to her reactions and actions.
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler (tr Ann Long) starts well as a medical thriller but soon degenerates into unrealistic shock and “thrills”. It’s a pity as the book has a good premise, but one feels that commercial considerations outweighed other factors. The book did very well in its native Sweden partly (but not entirely) because its authors (a husband and wife team) are well-known there – and a massive publicity campaign did no harm to sales, either.
The Quarry by Johan Theorin (tr Marlaine Delargy). Third in the loose series making up the Oland quartet, this is simply a superb psychological mystery novel. It is a novel of many strands and themes, so all I can do is urge you to read it! (See my review, linked here, for more details.) This is peak quality crime fiction.
And reviewed at Petrona:
Prime Cut by Alan Carter. An impressive debut – a police procedural with a difference set in a small mining town in Western Australia. It has just won the Ned Kelly award (best first fiction category).
The Caller by Karin Fossum (tr Kyle Semmel). A series of petty pranks escalate into disaster. Great sense of foreboding evoked by descriptions of small details.
The Chatelet Apprentice by Jean-Francois Parot (tr Michael Glencross). Agatha Christie-style mystery set in 1760s France. Not my cup of tea, but fine for those who like this type of book.
Fire and Ice by Dana Stabenow. First of an alternative series by the same author set in Alaska. Brisk, over-romance-fuelled plot but too similar in formula to the first series.
Witness by Cath Staincliffe Excellent account of a crime from the point of view of four witnesses, from the perpetration through the police investigation to the trial. Very good at the resultant personal and social dilemmas.
Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton. First in series set in Galloway, Scotland about DI Marjory Fleming, the UK foot and mouth disease outbreak, and a mystery involving a long-ago missing girl. Atmospheric and involving, particularly concerning the farming community, though the plot outcome is a bit predictable and stretches credibility.
I read more books than this during August (according to Good Reads the total is 20); reviews of the rest will be out in due course either here or at Euro Crime.
My book of the month? Without a doubt, The Quarry by Johan Theorin. In any other month I would have been hard pressed to choose between Fear Not (Anne Holt), Prime Cut (Alan Carter), Witness (Cath Staincliffe) and The Caller (Karin Fossum). Tough competition but I can highly recommend these and in fact most of the others. (See my actual reviews of each via the provided links for further information.)
As an aside, this batch of books is by authors from: England (2), Norway (2), Sweden (2), Australia (1), Scotland (1), USA (1) and France (1).