The last few months have been pretty disastrous as far as reading has gone. A combination of holidays, visits and the small matter of a referendum resulted in little time for relaxing or reading. In August and September I only managed to get through three books each month, while October was almost book free – one solitary book prevented a total wipe-out, book wise. November was a bit better, with five books completed, but, alas, December does not look good. I will be lucky to finish three books, and one of these is a repeat. Next year will be better – an early New Year’s resolution!
As regards the 15 books, the majority, 10 in all, were crime novels. Back to basics in a way. I also failed to read a single non fiction book in all that time. Another New Year resolution coming up! Only three of the novels were in audio form. I am beginning to exhaust the library’s collection of interesting audiobooks. A bit sad, as they are still far too expensive to buy.
I enjoyed all the books which included five by authors new to me. Death in Pont-Aven by Jean-Luc Bannalec, is a crime novel set in Brittany. Despite the author’s name the author is from Germany and writes in German. Banalec is his nom-de-plume. The others were The Sisters Brothers, a kind of western, by Patrick De Witt, Breakdown, another crime novel, by Sara Paretsky, and The Heroes’ Welcom and My Dear I have something to tell you, both by Louisa Young. The last two are wonderful novels set before, during and after the 1st World War, which I intend to write about in a separate post.
Four other books are worth a special mention. Dead Water, by Ann Cleeves is a late addition to her quartet of crime mysteries set in Shetland and the Fair Isles. Is it now a quintet, or will she continue and write some more mysteries set in the Northern Isle? A very good addition to the series, this one features a new detective, Willow Reeves, a young woman from the Hebrides who has been sent north to lead the investigation into yet another disturbing murder. Jimmy Perez is still around, but still recovering from the trauma of the murder of his fiancé. Good story, good atmosphere and good writing. Let’s hope for more.
The Sisters Brothers by Canadian writer Patrick De Witt was an unexpected pleasure. Set in California during the gold rush period the Sisters Brothers are indeed a pair of brothers with the surname Sisters. They are also a pretty taciturn pair of hired guns. The novel recounts what turns out to be their last adventure. During their quest for their prey they meet up with all kinds of characters and things do not turn out as planned. De Witt tells the tale in a deadpan, non-judgmental way. T here is also plenty of humour, mostly of the blackest kind to lighten the tale. It reminds me a bit of the picaresque tradition of Spanish storytelling.
The Long Glasgow Kiss and The Deep dark sleep, by Craig Russell, make up the second and third novels which feature Canadian born, but Glasgow based private detective, Lennox. Both are set in the early 1950s in a Glasgow just emerging from the post war gloom. Though there is still plenty of gloom around. Not to mention a great deal of violence and the odd murder here and there. Lennox who carries his own mental scars from the war is a bit of a shady and violent character himself, who works on both sides of the law. Thanks in main to his involvement with the three leading crime barons in Glasgow – the Three Kings. As the novels progress, Lennox tries harder and harder to work himself free of his links to this criminal underworld. In both novels Lennox gets deeper and deeper involved in this dark and dangerous underworld as he attempts to solve various murders. While at the same time he tries desperately to rediscover his dignity. Very good atmospheric and very dark stuff. The first in the series is simply titled, Lennox and is also well worth reading. Looking for more from Craig Russell.