July reading report and book of the month

July was a relatively quiet month for reading and reviews. Two reviews were published at Euro Crime and eight at Petrona. Of these ten, five are by women and five by men. The geographical spread is: USA 3; UK, 3, and one each for Canada, Germany, Norway and Sweden. Four are debut novels (to the best of my knowledge).

A smaller number of books means that, in principle, it is easier to select a book of the month. All the novels I read in July are good, and I can recommend any of them. So far as picking a “best” is concerned, I am not able to choose between two of the titles I read, so I’ll make one award for a debut author, and one for an author who has published novels before.

My non-debut award for July goes to Pierced, by Thomas Enger. From my review: “I urge you to read this novel (ideally after reading Burned), and hope you enjoy it as much as I did, even though it is written in the present tense. Its pleasures are enhanced by the excellent, colloquial translation by Charlotte Barslund.”

And my debut award goes to A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller, a wonderfully well-observed novel combining an evocative portrait of impoverished life in small-town West Virginia, with a crime investigation by a prosecuting attorney and her colleague, the sheriff. The author, a journalist, won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing for her account of the deadly tornado in Utica, Illinois.

The full list of books reviewed during July is below. Click on the book’s title for the review.

Euro Crime:

Meltwater by Michael Ridpath (UK author, set in Iceland – Fire and Ice #3). “….those looking for an exhilarating yet light read with a difference – provided by the Icelandic setting – will be well satisfied by this book.” 3/5

Border Run by Simon Lewis (UK author, set in the China/Myanmar borderlands). “Perhaps this book is best suited to a teenage readership because of its “coming of age” themes, or for those who prefer to read a simple adventure story without much else to it.” 2/5


Murder at the Mendel by Gail Bowen (Canada) 3.5/5

Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain (USA) 4/5

Gone in Seconds by A. J. Cross (England) 2.5/5

Pierced by Thomas Enger (Norway) 4.5/5

Playing Dead by Julia Haeberlin (USA) 2.5/5

A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (USA) 4.5/5

The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach (Germany) 3/5

Death of a Carpet Dealer by Karin Wahlberg (Sweden) 3/5

For other bloggers’ choices of their books of the month, see the round-up post at Mysteries in Paradise.

9 thoughts on “July reading report and book of the month

  1. A great list Maxine. I concur with Pierced (although another book will pip it to the post in my list). And it sounds like you’ve found a great debut with the Keller book. It is in compiling lists such as this that I can see the benefit of marking book out of 5. It will be interesting to see how many 5 star reads you have in 2012.

  2. Thanks, Sarah. (very few 5 stars I predict!) By the way, I’ve just found that Julia Keller has written a YA novel (as well as a work of non-fiction), so not sure if she still qualifies as a “debut”. Never mind!

  3. Maxine – Thanks for the great summing-up. I am determined to read Pierced, which I just haven’t got to yet. I’m very glad you liked it as much as you did. As to the rest of your terrific reviews, I’m archiving this post for the next time my credit card company allows ;-)…

  4. Maxine: Somehow I missed your review of Murder at the Mendel early last month. I enjoyed the review. I also appreciate your mention of my blog. I wish you could meet Gail but I doubt it will happen when she will not even fly around North America. Maybe you could come to Saskatchewan!

  5. Good post as usual. I just finished Black Skies, which was good. No surprise there. Indridason never disappoints. I’m now reading Malle Nunn’s third book, which is titled The Silent Valley, but over here across the pond, it’s titled “Blessed are the Dead.” (I never understand the logic of these title changes.)
    However, wanted to let you know that Stephen White — whose series you read — is finishing up his Alan Gregory books with a two-book conclusion. The first one is coming out this month and it’s called “Line of Fire.” He is wrapping up Alan Gregory’s saga and explains why at his website, citing changes in the publishing industry. Here’s the link: http://www.authorstephenwhite.com/Book_Collection/Line/line.html.
    I saw Julia Keller’s book promoted on a mystery bookseller’s email, so it should be in my library — hopefully — sometime soon. I do like good legal mysteries since Perry Mason was my introduction to them so long ago I don’t want to calculate.

    • Thanks for the comment, Kathy, and for the Stephen White info, which I’ll certainly check out. I do hope you can get, and like, the Julia Keller book. The author has a strong social conscience.

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