Fiction Pick of the Month April 2013

pick of the month 2013I read nine books in April, but am a little behind on the reviews.  It was an interesting and very varied month: I got introduced to new authors, new countries and new points of view.

Louise Penny: Dead Cold

Stefan Slupetzky: Lemmings Zorn (in German)

Mari Hannah: Deadly Deceit – review coming up on

Marcus Malte: Garden of Love (in French) – troubling, unusual storytelling, playing with your mind and perception

Esi Edugyan: Half-Blood Blues

Martin Walker: The Crowded Grave – beautiful sense of place and an easy, fun read despite the grim subject matter (ETA separatists, terrorist plots etc.)

S.J. Bolton: Dead Scared – thrilling read about a spate of suicides amongst Cambridge students

Quentin Bates: Chilled to the Bone – review coming up on

Petros Markaris: Liquidations à la grecque (Greek original, read French translation) – veridical, if depressing portrayal of a country and a city in profound crisis

Not a single bad read among them, which is unusual. And my pick of the month is the only not-quite-crime-fiction read of them all: ‘Half Blood Blues’, for the self-assured, inimitable voice of a black jazz musician.  The plot was somewhat predictable and yes, there is a bit of a mystery about it, although perhaps not quite enough to call it crime fiction.  It felt very much like ‘Amadeus’ and Salieri’s jealousy of the seemingly effortless genius of his younger rival, Mozart.  It also very nearly won a Booker Prize, which just proves once more that genre distinctions are meaningless and that crime fiction can be very literary, and literary fiction can be very criminal too!

10 thoughts on “Fiction Pick of the Month April 2013”

  1. Love your description of Half Blood Blues. Makes me want to read it, and I’m not a huge fan of crime fiction. Thanks for that.

    1. It’s more about jazz musicians (particularly black musicians) in Nazi Germany and then occupied France. Historical novel, with a mystery at the heart of it, also a love story – highly recommended!

  2. Marina Sofia – So glad to hear that you had a good reading month. I like your variety of selections, too. And as for your top choice? A mix of music and mystery? Oh yes, I’m interested!

    1. I think you would like it, Margot. The storyline may feel just a tad predictable to us old ‘crime hands’, but it is beautifully written and the ending is just so lovely. And I always love an unreliable narrator.

    1. I hope more of Markaris gets translated into English – I think lots of people could relate to his work. But yes, it’s been a month of good reads!

  3. I’ll echo everyone else’s sentiments about “Half-Blood Blues.” Good story and setting, but even better voice and style. I’ll go further and suggest that everyone obtain an audio copy of the book and listen to it! The performing reader, Kyle Riley, absolutely nails the rhythm, the hipness, the musicality of Edugyan’s prose. It’s as if I were listening to an improvisation by a great jazz musician.

    I have seen reviews and comments that the book difficult to read for some because of the phonetic spellings and uses of slang and jargon of the time, so some readers might prefer the audio version.

    1. That is a great idea! I didn’t find the jargon and accent overdone or too distracting, but I can see how it might grate on some readers.

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