Reading Highlights – May 2013

11222011_ReadingJudging by the last two months my reading seems to have settled into a pretty regular pattern.  In May I managed to read eight books in total, of which four were crime mysteries, three general fiction and one was a non fiction book.  The only unfortunate difference from previous months is that this time I did not succeed in reading a novel in Spanish.  Will definitely make it up next month.  The crime novels included three by Scottish writers.  A Pound of Flesh by Alex Gray is another excellent mystery featuring detective Lorimer and psychologist Solly Brightman.  I have enjoyed all of her novels so far and look forward to further instalments.    Brother Grimm is the second in Craig Russell’s series set in Hamburg and featuring detective Jan Fabel.  It is another very good novel, though a pretty gruesome tale of murder and mayhem.  The other Scottish writer was Alice Thompson, a new one to me.  Her novel The Existential Detective is a rather strange and very mysterious tale.  Set in Portobello in Edinburgh there is a dream like and almost surreal atmosphere to her writing.  Will now try and find out more about her work.  The other crime novel was Let the Dead Lie by Malla Nunn, the Swaziland born Australian writer.  This is the second of her novels to feature detective Cooper. It is now 1953 and Cooper is working unofficially for his former boss Major van Niekerk in the Duban docks.  The discovery of the body of a murdered white boy sets off a series of tense and exciting investigations which expose the underbelly of apartheid South Africa in the 1950s.  As excellent as the first in the series – A Beautiful Place to Die, reviewed here.  I now look forward to reading the third in this series, Silent Valley.

The general fiction novels were very contrasting affairs and surprisingly all were in the form of audio books.   Carl Hiaasen specialises in wickedly funny exposés of some of the most wacky and grotesque aspects of modern American society.  In Star Island his focus is the lengths people will go to achieve and maintain stardom.  There are precious few nice characters in Star Island.  Hiaasens seems to delight in creating far out, over the top oddbods.  But then again, maybe they do exist in the good old USA.  Testimony is by another American writer, Anita Shreave.  This is the first time I have read one of her books and very good it was.  Testimony retells the fall out from a sex scandal at a private school in New England.   It does this through the testimonies of some of the main characters involved in the scandal.  Gradually we learn more about the people involved, the school and the lead up to the events in question.  A richly drawn and sensitive tale.  The third fiction novel was the True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey.  This comes under the historical novel heading.  Carey has taken the known facts about Ned Kelly and used them to weave an intricate and lyrical tale about life in rural Australia in the 1860s and 1870s.  The novel takes the form of a series of letters written by Ned Kelly to his daughter.  Everything is presented as if this is a true historical record and very convincing it is too.  The final book I read was a very good biography of Douglas Haig by Walter Reid.   I have reviewed this biography here.  Happy reading!

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