June was not as productive for me as May, but I did manage to read and review 14 books, two for Euro Crime and twelve for Petrona. Eleven are by women and three by men, but unfortunately only three are translated. Geographically, the books range from England (7) to the USA (3), Sweden (1), Iceland (1), France (1) and Canada (1) – with one of the England-set books by an Australian author (Annie Hauxwell), and another by an Irish author (Jane Casey). Six of the books are debut novels, hence are by authors new to me – one other novel is not a debut but by an author new to me (Ridley Pearson).
When I read Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason I was convinced that it had to be my book of the month this month. It is just such a good crime novel, and I highly recommend it. Even so, a book I read later in June is, without a doubt, my top tip – Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti. It’s an original novel, and depicts so well how a small crime can extend into a complicated mesh involving corporations, countries, and the cosy way everyone helps each other out in return for present or future favours. Cynical does not begin to describe it, but how refreshing to read an intelligent, hard-hitting crime novel that gets to the roots of the political and economic mess of present-day Europe. (This is also one of the themes of Black Skies.)
You cannot do much better, in terms of crime fiction, than reading either of these books. Most of the others that I read this month also come highly recommended. There are appealing female protagonists in some of these novels (Catherine Berlin, Annie Hauxwell’s protagonist, the most original in a debut novel), and the police procedural thriller is alive and strong in the hands of Ridley Pearson. Julia Spencer-Fleming, N J Cooper and Jane Casey provide solid, readable entries in their series, and Carin Gerhardson produces an accessible slice of Swedish crime.
The full details are below, with links to my reviews. The score is out of 5, but should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Black Skies by Arnaldur Indridason, tr Victoria Cribb 4
A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson 3
Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr 2.5
Amuse Bouche by Anthony Bidulka 2.5
Vengeance in Mind by N J Cooper 3.5
The Gingerbread House by Carin Gerhardsen, tr Paul Norlén 3
Missing Persons by Nicci Gerrard 2.5
In Her Blood by Annie Hauxwell 3
Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti, tr Ros Schwartz & Amanda Hopkinson 5
The Pied Piper by Ridley Pearson 3.5
Broken Silence by Danielle Ramsay 2
Crossbones Yard by Kate Rhodes 3
A Fountain Filled With Blood by Julia Spencer-Fleming 3.5
The scoring system is explained in my 2012 reviews page.
Previous months’ reading reports and books of the month.
As ever, Kerrie has a round-up post of bloggers’ book choices for the month, so for more recommendations, please head on over to Mysteries in Paradise.
June may not have been as productive, but it is still hugely impressive by my standards. The MANOttI sounds so good I’ve ordered it I shall report back as soon as I get the chance to read it. (Ummmm maybe better if you don’t hold your breathfor that one :-))
I’m really glad you enjoyed Lorraine Connection that much Maxine. Wonder if Manotti is not writing a crime fiction with the current financial and economic crisis, background.
I seem to have missed your review of the Manotti which was clearly an oversight given you enjoyed it so much, I’ve just taken a look now. 5 stars is high praise indeed. I completely agree about your other recommendation of ‘Black Skies’ – I enjoyed this v much.
Thanks, Maxine. The Indridason and the Manotti both look great – just beginning to line up my summer holiday reading and these two look like they would complement each other very well.
Thanks, all….the Manotti book was first published in 2006 but still highly relevant! A later book by her, Affairs of State, is set in the Mitterrand administration and is similarly a brilliant exposure of corruption set against a crime plot.
Maxine – You did have some good reads this month. And I absolutely must read that Manotti! Sometimes it’s better not to read quite as much but to have some good experiences than it it is to read more, but be disappointed…
I do agree the Manotti is an excellent book – for me a more well-rounded experience than the later book Affairs of State. Clearly I also need to get my hands on Black Skies going by yours and other reviews, I shall look forward to it.
I agree that Affairs of State is more sprawling/less focused than Lorraine Connection (and perhaps less successful as a straight crime novel), but I loved it! Thanks for the comment, and hope you enjoy Black Skies as much as I and other recent reviewers have done!
Oh, another rave review of Black Skies. My will power is buckling. Must hide the credit card.
And other descriptions fascinate me. I’m thinking I should do nothing but read this summer, having started off with Nesser, Camilleri and now Gail Bowen’s latest, which is so pleasant to read.