February reading report

In February I reviewed 4 books for Euro Crime and 11 at Petrona. The geographical spread was fairly broad, but only one title is translated, so I must rectify that when possible: England 5 (1 set in Holland; 1 non-fiction); Wales 1; Ireland 2; Scotland 2; Japan 1; Australia 1; Canada 1 (set in USA); USA 2. The gender balance between authors is 7 female: 8 male.

Several of these books were highly rewarding, but it isn’t too difficult to award my book of the month for February to THE BROTHERHOOD by Y A ERSKINE. Set in Tasmania, the novel is a police procedural with a 360-degree perspective, set over the course of one day, with hard-hitting social comment and shifting in mood from straightforward to dark, darker and darkest. Great stuff.

Highly commended in a very strong crop are two novels by Peter May (The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man), a series set in the Outer Hebrides conveying a wonderful sense of “place” as well as telling stories of past misdeeds hidden by traditions and codes of conduct ; and Bloodland by Alan Glynn, an exciting, original global thriller. A shade behind these novels are V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton, Kinsey Milhone’s latest outing is into the murky world of organised shoplifting; The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty, a police investigation into a crime committed in the chaos of 1981 Belfast; and Dead Scared by S J Bolton, about mysterious suicides in the groves of academe, with a gothic and suspenseful touch. However, I’d recommend any of the books in the list, particularly those that score 3 or more out of 5. Click on the titles below for my reviews.

Euro Crime:

The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves 3

Death in a Cold Climate: a guide to Scandinavian crime fiction by Barry Forshaw 3 (non-fiction)

Good People by Ewart Hutton 3

The Sick Rose* by Erin Kelly 3.5


The Accident by Linwood Barclay 3

Dead Scared by S J Bolton 3.5

Long Gone by Alafair Burke 2

The Brotherhood by Y A Erskine 4

Bloodland by Alan Glynn 4

V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton 3.5

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, translated by Alexander O Smith with Elye Alexander 2

The Blackhouse by Peter May 4

The Lewis Man by Peter May 4

The Cold Cold Ground by Adrian McKinty 3.5

Needlepoint by Jenny Roberts 3

For more February reading choices from book bloggers, see the round-up post at Mysteries in Paradise.

*US title, The Dark Rose, which makes no sense given the author’s explanation of “the sick rose” during the novel.

10 thoughts on “February reading report

  1. You did have a good month – I am looking forward to the Peter May books after hearing so many good things. I have the first one here somewhere. I am however chuffed to see THE BROTHERHOOD as your selection for the month – a book I am still recommending to people even though it’s ages since I read it.

    I meant to say I thought your review of the Forshaw book was spot on – it really doesn’t add much to the conversation, even for me who is not nearly as well read on the Nordic crime front as you are. I’m only about 3/4 through but not really compelled to finish I must say.

    • Thanks, Bernadette, it’s good to have your take on the Forshaw book as I hoped I had been fair to it. And thanks, also, for your recommendation of The Brotherhood – I’d never have heard of it otherwise.

  2. It looks you read some good books Maxine. I’ve heard good things about ‘The Brotherhood’ too and it’s on my list to read.
    I’ve been toying with using a rating system but my experience of crimesquad.com and goodreads is that everything I read is usually a 3 or a 4. I notice a swathe of similar ratings this month on your reading. Is this usual or do ratings help you?

    • I’ve only been doing ratings recently, Sarah, in response to a reader’s suggestion. I do find I tend to give an average rating to most! I don’t usually give 5/5 as what can be perfect? And if something is as bad as 1/5 I don’t review it. So most are about the same – perhaps rendering the system pointless, not sure. It is certainly subjective, eg I never know what score to give a book that is fine in itself but which wasn’t my cup of tea so I didn’t enjoy it even though there is nothing objectively “wrong” with it.

  3. Maxine – Sorry I’m a bit late commenting here. I’m very glad for you that you had such a good reading month. I really do want to read the McGinty; it’s been bumped up on my “priority list.” I’m hopeful it will be released over here soon. In the meantime, an extra thanks for all of the work linking to your reviews. Not good for my TBR, but definitely helpful for me :-).

  4. I so appreciated your comment on FF, calling a book “rubbish.” It just made me laugh. Often, comments tiptoe around what a writer or reader thinks, but this hit the proverbial nail on the head. It was spot on. I have to remember to do this, instead of sometimes waltzing around an opinion, especially with certain types of books, including poorly edited ones — truly maddening.

    • Perhaps I was a bit blunt, but it is one of those hyped books, I really regretted wasting the time it took me to read it. I’d have preferred to peel the potatoes (or do the laundry 😉 ). Seriously, though, it probably isn’t very fair to call a book rubbish in an actual review, I tend not to review such disappointments.

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