Crime Fiction Pick of July
Come and join me over at Mysteries in Paradise, led by the very able and well-read Kerrie, to see what everyone has been reading this month. In my case, fewer books got read this month, for a very simple reason called school holidays!
Even fewer got reviewed, so let me just add a sentence or two about my thoughts for each one:
1) Bernard Minier: The Frozen Dead
A strange tale involving a decapitated horse, a serial killer and a mental asylum in the Pyrenees. Exciting read to cool off during the hot summer months (it takes place in winter, as you might have guessed from the title). Full review will be shortly available on Crime Fiction Lover.
2) Frédérique Molay: The 7th Woman
Tarantino-like crime caper set in Japan, involving an American assassin, a French professor from the Sorbonne, grumpy yakuza chasing each other and a bottle of saké belonging to (you guessed it!) Quentin Tarantino. Dynamic, explosive and just a shade incomprehensible.
4) Denise Mina: Garnethill
How did I ever miss this series? A fantastic narrative voice, plunging you into the gritty world of low-paid jobs, drugs and Glasgow squalour. Not as grim as it sounds: ultimately hopeful and uplifting.
5) Karin Fossum: Calling Out for You (a.k.a. The Indian Bride)
Almost unbearably sad story about settled, peaceful middle-aged Norwegian man Gunder Jomann and his Indian bride, who gets murdered as soon as she arrives in the country. It was disturbing to see how evil deeds can arise out of nowhere, in the apparently most peaceful little town in one of the safest countries in the world. Not your average police procedural, and one that will haunt me for weeks to come.
6) Orhan Pamuk: The Museum of Innocence – will get a review of its own for my Works in Translation Challenge.
Not as cosy as you might think at first sight, given the idyllic location of the Greek islands, the authoritative presence of the investigator Hermes Diaktoros and the overall charm of the author’s writing style. The ‘whodunit’ component was not quite compelling enough, but this is a book to savour for its characters, descriptions and telling details. Perfect holiday read, in the best sense of the word.
8) M.C. Grant: Devil with a Gun
Another great holiday read, this time a would-be noir set in San Francisco, featuring the Russian mafia and starring Dixie Flynn, the most feisty, witty, don’t care-ish female detective (actually, a journalist) since V.I. Warshawski and Kinsey Millhone. Review coming up on Crime Fiction Lover.
9) The PEN/ O. Henry Prize Stories 2012
The quality of the stories is not in doubt, but I was somewhat disappointed by the uniformity of the selection. All the stories were rather wistful and nostalgic, all a bit oblique – sometimes too much so, to the point where I felt like saying ‘So what?’. But perhaps that’s just me being obtuse.
Happy to say that half of my reads were by women authors this month, and four of them were originally written in another language. And my Crime Pick of the Month? It’s a tie between Denise Mina and Karin Fossum, very hard to choose, but perhaps the Fossum book will linger in my memory longest.