I managed to read six books this month, including two audio books. This is not bad considering that I was away on holiday for two weeks. A rather unusual collection of books in that half were non crime novels. A bit of a first this, probably due to only six books in total. I did manage to read a couple of books by authors new to me – Tom Franklin with Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and Matt Rees with The Bethleham Murders. Very little progress with my Reading Challenges. The Death of Achilles, another very good novel in the Erast Fandorin series of crime mysteries by Boris Akunin counting towards my meager East European collection. The other novels were Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa, a strange tale of enduring love in response to betrayal and loose living: Sir Harry Hotspur by Anthony Trollope about the decline and fall of an old aristocratic family and finally The Confidential Agent by Graham Greene. While all the books were enjoyable the stand out was Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin, which I have already reviewed here. Two other books are worthy of additional mention.
The Bethlehem Murders is the first novel in a quartet of crime novels set in Palestine or at least about Palestinians. It is also the first novel by Matt Rees who was for a time a journalist based in Israel. With first hand experience of Palestine he wanted to write about the area, but not as another reportage. So he came up the original idea of writing a crime novel which would as is the case with many novels in this genre, also inform the reader about the ordinary lives of Palestinians. While Israel and Israelis do feature in the book and the Occupation is a constant background facet, the novel is primarily about Palestinians and their divisions, conflicts and friendships. A very good book and I look forward to the other three in the series.
The Confidential Agent is one of Graham Greene’s early works. It was written in 1939 and is clearly influenced by the recent civil war in Spain. Though no country is named, it is pretty clear that the Confidential Agent is a representative of the Republican government in Madrid. It is a very entertaining novel. Though it is in part a thriller, the predominant tone is ironic and lightly comedic. The novel also exposes the immorality and double dealings of the aristocratic people running the UK. Not much has changed then!