Reading Highlights – May 2014

I got through six books last month and to my surprise I realized that four of the books were by authors already familiar to me. Quite why I was surprised is really the mystery as a quick check over my reading matter this year confirms that most of the books I read are the second, third, fourth etc book by the authors. Not really surprising, if you like something you tend to go back for more. Just goes to show that I am not anything like as adventurous in my reading habits as I had thought.

Onto the books themselves, which turned out to be the usual mix of crime mysteries, general fiction and a solitary non-fiction book. Two old favourites in this set. The Lost Boy by Camilla Läckberg is the seventh of her murder mysteries to be set in the picturesque Swedish town of Fjällbacka. A pretty dark tale, but very good. The Swedish Girl  is the eight of Alex Gray’s crime novels I have now read. Like the others this is set in a rather menacing Glasgow, though as the title suggests this one involves a couple of trips to Stockholm. Another good read.  The new one for me was The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths.  This was her first novel and features Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist who is inveigled into helping the police investigate a couple of murders. Set by the Norfolk coast a very good mystery and I will certainly read more of this series.

Spies is the third book by Michael Frayn I have now read. The previous two were comic farces, while Spies is a serious novels, though written with a light, gentle touch and does have many comic moments. The novel is made up of the recollections of a now elderly man, Stephen, as he revisits his childhood home and tries to make sense of his memories of this period in his life. It was during the 2nd World War and he and his friend saw German spies all around. A touching glimpse into growing up and what Britain was like during the war all seen from the limited perspective of a child. Betibú is by another of my favourite authors, Claudia Piñeiro from Argentina. Betibú is the pet nickname of Nurit Iscar, a retired writer of crime novels. She is asked to write some articles about the apparent suicide of one of the elderly residents in an exclusive gated community in Buenos Aires. Of course all is not as it seems and Betibú is soon involved in uncovering some very dark secrets among the rich and powerful. Part romance, part mystery and throughout a bitter and witty social commentary.

The one non fiction book I manage to read last month was YES – The Radical Case for Scottish Independence, by James Foley and Peter Ramand. These are exciting times here in Scotland just now, with the pros and cons of independence in everyone’s mind. This book is a very useful contribution to this debate. As the title suggests they are in favour of independence and base this on the ongoing and unreformable failures of the UK. The book outlines these failures in some detail. However the authors also look ahead to an independent Scotland and outline the key points of what they term Towards a Radical Needs Agenda. A very good and important addition to the debate.

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