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.

Bookgeeks:

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

Petrona:

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.

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17 thoughts on “May reading report and book of the month

  1. What a great post and so many books i want to read. I have ‘Night Rounds’ on my shelf to read and have been promised the Liza Marklund. You have been going great guns on your reading and there are so many here I now want to add to my reading list.

  2. What an amazing reading month you’ve had. I haven’t read many of your list – but of those I have read I think I am in general agreement with your assessments. Trackers was a very good book. I am looking forward to tucking into some of these – especially LAST WILL – when I get settled into my new home in a couple of weeks). But I’ve got 3 International Dagger shortlisted books to get through first. I just started listening to the NJ Cooper book after your recommendation and it is jolly good – much better than my last audio book (the gruesome BIRTHDAYS FOR THE DEAD)

    • Glad you are enjoying N J Cooper- if nothing else the heroine is a great, strong-minded, wilful creation ;-)

  3. You’ve had an excellent month Maxine. I’ve added your book to the meme. and made a note of the book for my own list.

    • Ah, you logged on before me, Kerrie! I had this post on timer and intended to add the book later. Thanks.

  4. Last Will is definitely a great read, just chock full of plot twists, political, scientific and journalistic ethic questions. Plus Annika Bengtzon, one of the most interesting women protagonists in crime fiction. She says what she thinks, thanks to Liza Marklund. (I also was disappointed with Moonlight Mile, thought the wrong author’s name was on the book, but raved about L.R. Wright’s The Suspect, when I read it a few years ago, after Felony & Mayhem Press re-published it.)
    My good news is that I’ve won another Annika Bengtzon fan based on Last Will, who is now looking to see what books of Marklund’s the library has, although I’ve advised her to steer cleer of the one co-authored with HWSNBN; she was surprised at that writing coupling, but I guess U.S. marketing and sales was the reason. She said the only book she opened up by HWSNBN ended up being thrown in the trash.

  5. One more point is that my best reads of May were — aside from Last Will, The Invisible Ones by Stef Penney, at beautiful story about a 1980′s Roma family living in England. It’s a family saga with a deep-rooted family mystery. The review here and at RTR prodded me to read it, and I am so glad I did. I was enriched by reading it, not a claim made after reading many books these days. Superb writing!

    • I loved The Invisible Ones too, Kathy. I hope many people read it and learn (it isn’t out in PB yet, which will help in that goal I hope). So glad Last Will is proving popular over there, when it is published in the UK in Sept, I hope it will evoke a similar response. And I am not surprised about the fate of HWMNBN’s book ;-)

  6. Maxine – Another great report ! Thanks so much for this. As always I’m in awe of the quantity and quality of your work. Ken (and I’m in the middle of Last Will)

  7. Maxine – What a wonderful group of books you’ve read! I can’t say I’m surprised either at your choice for pick of the month. I really do like Marklund’s Annika Bengtzon series very much and Last Will is coming soon on my TBR. I’m happy for you that you had such a productive month. I’m archiving this so I can come back to it as my credit card company permits. ;-)

  8. The month of May has been dismal for me for the most part. I couldn’t get into anything even some books that are highly regarded. It’s my mood so I changed track and started another type of mystery that worked out great! Hope to post on it next week. I have quite a few books off your list so I am excited to read them when I get to them! I love these end of the month book reports. I don’t participate because I don’t read very many :-( Look up slow reader in the dictionary and you’ll find me there.

    • I go through these slumps from time to time, too — but you are always welcome to join the posts, even if you only read one book a month ;-) Looking forward to the mystery of your upcoming mystery review ;-)

  9. I may check to see if Abe Books or Awesomebooks or Better World Books have copies of early Marklunk books. Found some good deals of used books at Better World Books. They don’t charge shipping or tax and get you the books quickly. They have slews of used books. I’m going to look for early Agatha Christie, Nero Wolfe, John Dickson Carr and find more early Nordics.

  10. I may take Invisible Ones out of the library and loan it to library-using friends, just to kick start the reading. Or wait and buy it as a pb and then loan it.
    I have to get more friends into Camilleri, my goal of 2012.

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