October reading and reviews

At Euro Crime during October, I reviewed four books:

The Sacrificial Man by Ruth Dugdall***. From my review: “There is a great deal to like about this book. It is a readable, very well-plotted tale, with believable and sympathetic characters. I particularly liked the understated jousting between Alice and Cate, as Alice homes in on Cate’s perceived weaknesses but fails for some time to truly recognise the position she herself is in. Cate is a less vivid character than Alice, but I like the resolute way she deals with her weak ex-husband and the various male authority figures she encounters in her work. Above all, this novel is a great tale of psychological suspense, and I recommend it very highly.”

The Retribution by Val McDermid**, seventh in the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series and very much of a muchness with the previous novels. To my mind, the plot machinations are slightly too obvious, and I don’t like the device of trying to make the reader thirst for revenge by making the baddie appallingly awful. But, if you like the McDermid formula you won’t be disappointed in this example of it.

Midwinter Sacrifice by Mons Kallentoft***, translated by Neil Smith, is a book that seems better in retrospect than it did when I reviewed it just after reading it. It is a bit long and digressive, but it introduces an interesting detective to the Swedish crime fiction scene – quite a crowded stage but Malin Fors will hold her own on it, I’m sure. One nice aspect of this novel is the excellent translation by Neil Smith, who is doing such a great job on Liza Marklund’s books too.

Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Asa Larsson*****, translated by Laurie Thompson, is another Swedish crime novel (fourth in a series) set in the far north of the country, as is Midwinter Sacrifice (first in a series). Interestingly, both books use the narrative device of having a dead person “speak” to the reader – not something that I like as I am not keen on the supernatural, but it is subtly done by Larsson. Asa Larsson’s books are wonderful, contrasting urban and rural values as well as the perspectives of the old with those of the young, as Rebecka Martinsson seeks to find her niche in life. A highly recommended series which is among the very best that crime fiction can offer.

I’ve had quite a busy month at Petrona, too, reviewing novels from Italy, the USA (2), Norway, Argentina, England, Peru, Sweden and Scotland.

Temporary Perfections by Gianrico Carofiglio***
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin*****
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman***
Headhunters by Jo Nesbo****
All Yours by Claudia Pineiro****
The Vault by Ruth Rendell***
Red April by Santiago Roncagliolo**
Anger Mode by Stefan Tegenfalk***
The Darkness and the Deep by Aline Templeton***

I’ve given star ratings out of five, so it has been a pretty good month on the whole. I’ve awarded the full five stars to Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter – my book of the month for sure – and Until Thy Wrath Be Past. However, Headhunters and All Yours are both very funny (if black), breezy books that I highly recommend (4 stars each). Most of the rest earn a respectable 3 stars.

What’s next? Well, despite good intentions I have acquired far too many books recently, so I won’t list them all here. I’m currently reading Lethal Investments by K O Dahl, but after that I’ve about 10 print books, 3 print library books and 3 Kindle books to read – so I hope I can avoid falling into yet more temptation until I have made some serious inroads into them.