May reading report and book of the month

During May, the English weather made a late run to redeem itself and I reviewed 18 books: four for Euro Crime, one for Bookgeeks and the rest for Petrona. Nine are by women, eight by men, and one by a woman/man pair. Four are by authors new to me, all of which are debut novels. (I haven’t counted Per Wahloo, because though I haven’t read any books solely by him, I have read the Martin Beck series written by him and his wife Maj Sjowall.) Eight of the books are translated, slightly better than the past couple of months’ averages in this regard, I’m glad to say. The geographical spread is: USA 4; England and Sweden 3 each; Canada 2; and 1 each for New Zealand, Denmark, South Africa, Finland, Italy and Ireland.

Book of the month?! Although it has been a very strong reading month to the extent that two books won a very rare 5/5 marks from me and three books won 4/5, which by my scheme is very good indeed, there is no doubt in my mind as to the winner! First, apart from a couple, I very much enjoyed almost all the books I read this month – anything with a score of 3 or above from the list below is highly recommended. Of these, honourable mentions go to the excellent books by Allison Leotta, Julia Spencer-Fleming and Cath Staincliffe, all of which scored four. Deon Meyer’s Trackers scored 5, and is deservedly on this year’s shortlist for the International Dagger award. For me, though, the winner is most definitely Last Will by Liza Marklund, tr Neil Smith – a brilliant thriller that combines all the elements I love in a book.

Here are the details of the books I read in May, with direct links to my reviews in each case:

Euro Crime:

Murder on the Thirty-First Floor by Per Wahloo, tr Sarah Death (Sweden) 3/5
Historical futuristic novel about a terrorist threat to a corporation in a totalitarian state.
Split Second by Cath Staincliffe (England) 4/5
Moving account of the aftermath of a crime in Manchester, told from several viewpoints.
Nights of Awe by Harri Nykänen, tr Kristian London (Finland) 3/5
Murder and mayhem on the streets of Helsinki as police detective Ariel Kafka chases the criminals.
Trackers by Deon Meyer, tr K L Seegers (republished review) (South Africa) 5/5
Scorching, emotion-drenched thriller of several linked instalments, about modern and ancient tracking amid South Africa’s political tensions.


Taken by Robert Crais
PI Elvis Cole is kidnapped while tracing a missing woman in the California desert; Joe Pike must find him. (USA) 3/5


Disgrace by Jussi Adler-Olsen, tr Kyle Semmel (Denmark) 3/5
Department Q takes on the case of an old and apparently solved murder, while a crucial witness is a fugitive in Copenhagen’s streets.
Deadly Appearances by Gail Bowen (Canada) 3.5/5
First of a series in which political speech-writer Joanne Kilbourn investigates the death of the Saskatchewan politician she worked for.
Face of the Devil by N. J. Cooper (England) 3/5
Southampton-based forensic psychologist Karen Taylor becomes involved in the case of a mentally ill teenager who may have committed murder.
Tuesday’s Gone by Nicci French (England) 4/5
London is atmospherically drawn in this exciting story about the identity of a dead man and the mystery of why he died.
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (USA) 2.5/5
Reprise of a missing persons case when a Boston teenager vanishes many years after being abducted as a young child.
Law of Attraction by Allison Leotta (USA) 4/5
Excellent debut legal thriller set in Washington, DC, featuring passions of the present as well as shadows of the past.
Last Will by Liza Marklund, tr Neil Smith (Sweden) 5/5
Brilliant scientific-based thriller as Annika Bengtzon juggles journalism with family while trying to solve a Nobel-prize-related crime in Stockholm. My book of the year?
The Nameless Dead by Brian McGilloway (Ireland) 3.5/5
Reconciliation is the theme of this sure-footed police procedural set in the borderlands of Ireland.
In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming (USA) 4/5
Award-winning opener to series featuring ex-military helicopter-pilot priest Clare Ferguson, now based in New York state.
Containment by Vanda Symon (New Zealand) 3/5
Sam Shepherd of the Dunedin police investigates a drowning that is more complicated than it seems at first.
Night Rounds by Helene Tursten, tr Laura A. Wideburg (Sweden) 3/5
Irene Huss solves a mystery among nurses at a decaying private hospital in Goteborg.
The Dark Valley by Valerio Varesi, tr Joseph Farrell (Italy) 2.5/5
The past haunts the gloomy Tuscan village where Soneri takes a holiday – in more ways than one.
The Suspect by L. R. Wright (Canada) 3.5/5
The Sunshine Coast of Canada is the setting for this psychological study of guilt.

See the round-up post at Mysteries in Paradise for other bloggers’ choices of book of the month for May – and add your favourite May read to the collection.