June Reading & Crime Fiction Pick of the Month

Amazing amounts of reading this month – that’s what business travel does for you! 17 books in total.

6 books in translation or foreign language – 35%

Raymond Queneau: Zazie dans le métro – absurd and fun

Hanne  Ǿrstavik: The Blue Room – sinister and claustrophobic

Domingo Villar: Water-Blue Eyes – atmospheric and world-weary

Lena Divani: Seven Lives and One Great Love – delightful and witty

DorinFrançoise Dorin: Va voir maman, papa travaille

Way ahead of its time – this book was published in 1976 and discusses the ambivalence of motherhood, of gender inequality, of combining career ambitions and work satisfaction with parenting in a way which makes the current crop of domestic goddesses seem self-deluded and vapid. A very honest account, which makes you question your own assumptions.

untitledPaulus Hochgatterer: The Sweetness of Life

Or should that be called the ‘sadness of life’?  Highly unusual crime fiction – more of a meditation on the nature of evil, on mental illness and the darkness inherent in all of life. Perfectly captures the depression and neuralgia of small-town Austria during winter and introduces an interesting detecting duo: psychiatrist Horn and police inspector Kovacs.

1 Non- Fiction:

Summer Pierre: The Artist in the Office  – inspiring and no-nonsense

1 Paranormal Thriller:

Lauren Owen: The Quick – Victorian Gothic with vampires

2 Psychological Rollercoasters:

Tamar Cohen: The Broken – cringingly true-to-life

Miriam Toews: All My Puny Sorrows – emotionally charged

7 Additional Crime Novels (total crime this month: 53%)

DarkestHeartDan Smith: The Darkest Heart – to be reviewed on Crime Fiction Lover website; an ominous journey through the heartland of Brazil, echoes of Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’

Linwood Barclay: Trust Your Eyes – unusual premise, stylish execution

D.S. Nelson: The Blake Hetherington Mysteries – charming cosy series featuring a pedantic hat-maker

Sam Alexander: Carnal Acts – great marketing campaign, still waiting to hear who Sam Alexander is

Edward Wilson: The Whitehall Mandarin – more in the thoughtful Le Carré mould than in the heroic American style, but at some point I will write a blog post about why I find spy thrillers in general a little disappointing

M.J. McGrath: The Boneseeker – unusual characters and locations, lovingly described

Taylor Stevens: The Innocent – a tougher than nails heroine not always acting in strictly legal fashion, trying to save a child abducted by a cult; to be reviewed on Crime Fiction Lover


pick of the monthPerhaps it’s inevitable that, when you go through so many books a month, you end up wading through an average books portion – books that are OK but nothing to really get excited about. This has been such a month. There were also a couple of books I really did not enjoy very much (luckily, not that many). My crime fiction pick of the month (if you haven’t yet come across this meme at Mysteries in Paradise, go check it out: a great source of recommended reads to add to your TBR list)  is probably Linwood Barclay’s Trust Your Eyes. I felt from the start that I was in the hands of a competent and elegant storyteller. For a few choice Linwood Barclay quotes from Geneva Book Fair, look here. 





7 thoughts on “June Reading & Crime Fiction Pick of the Month”

  1. Marina Sofia – It sounds as though you did have some decent reading, even if it wasn’t all stellar. And I agree; Linwood Barclay is a skilled writer. He writes with a sense of wit that I enjoy, and tells a solid story.

    1. I also enjoyed The Boneseeker, The Darkest Heart and The Sweetness of Life and on any other month, they would easily have been my Pick of the month – but the Barclay one was the one that stuck in my mind this month.

  2. books that are OK but nothing to really get excited about

    The sense of flatness could also be a result of doing the reading while on business travel. I tend to take research-related reading on business trips since it doesn’t much matter if I’m emotionally jaded when I’m reading it.

    A long train/bus journey is a different matter, oh yes.

    1. You could be right: although on other occasions I’ve discovered some corking reads while travelling on business. And this time I read all of the Tamar Cohen book in Manchester Airport (although that was on the journey home…).

  3. I’ve not read that Linwood Barclay yet but I do have it on my list – he is a fab storyteller. The Darkest Heart looks good too. I will keep my eye out for your thoughts on spy thrillers…wonder if your reasons are similar to mine.

    I’ve been having a strange couple of months – reading nominations for an award panel – everything from the brilliant to the truly, unbearably awful was on offer and I have to say that reading became more of a chore than the joy it normally is. I feel quite chuffed today that I can read for choice again…now which one of the 200 or so books on my pile to choose…

    1. Keep your eyes open for my review of The Darkest Heart – coming up within a couple of days. Meanwhile, the author has written about his own experiences in Brazil here (quite eye-opening):

      As for reading for awards – I can imagine that can be very tiring and not always pleasant. I sometimes read some very average books for reviews and although I turn them down if they are really awful and I cannot bear to read them to the end, most of the time they are … meuh… so I struggle through… but then feel like I’ve wasted so much time!

    2. Huge sympathies, bernadetteinoz! I served on the judging panel for the World Fantasy Awards one year back in the ’90s. After half a year or more of intensive reading — some items good but most of them mediocre (the outright bad ones got discarded fast) — the job was done, but for weeks afterwards I was almost phobic about reading fiction: all I read was the newspaper. I was mighty relieved when the aversion passed!

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