Reading review – March 2015

Last month I completed five books, though I started six. As is the norm, four of these books were crime novels, and two were in audiobook format. I managed to keep up my monthly book in Spanish, but alas did not complete the non fiction book. Three of the books were by authors new to me.

Sleep like the dead is the eighth book in the DCI Lorimer series by Alex Gray. I had somehow managed to miss this one out, as Gray has now published 12 novels in the series. They are all set in Glasgow which adds a bit of familiarity to the reading. A number of apparently unconnected murders has DCI Lorimer and his team at their wits end. To complicate matters, it seems there is a professional hit man is on the loose, trying to get his payment for services rendered. But who is behind it all? Another powerful piece of complex and suspenseful writing from Alex Gray.

The Second deadly sin is the fifth of Åsa Larsson’s series to feature lawyer Rebecka Martinsson. Here she is still in Kiruna, her home area in the north of Sweden working as a public prosecutor. More grizzly murders take place and this time Rebecka has to work much of the time on her own as the case is given to a rival prosecutor. Though she is in her home territory, she seems to be a bit of an outcast and has many obstacles, both personal and professional, to overcome before she can unravel the mystery behind the murders.

Hypothermia is another of Arnaldur Indridason’s series of murder mysteries set in Iceland. The starting point for this novel is the discovery of a woman’s body hanging from the ceiling of her holiday cabin. It all points to a cut and dried suicide, but the woman’s best friend is sure it is not. Detective Erlendur decides to pursue the case on an unofficial basis. At the same time he gets drawn into the still unsolved mysteries of two unrelated disappearances from decades earlier. A rather sad tale, but engrossing all the same.

Perros de presa by David Barreiro is an unusual work. Though it has many of the attributes of a crime novel, it is much more a subtle and at times comic commentary on the sad state of contemporary life. At least as it affects many people in Spain and concretely those living in the dormitory towns surrounding Madrid during the current economic crisis. Federico Narváez the protagonist of the novel is a failed anthropology student who now works shifts as a security guard in a not very successful commercial centre. Federico has not much going for him and does not seem to care very much about it. He is though much troubled by the mysterious murder of his best friend who was killed one night in the commercial centre. Federico begins to investigate and ever so slowly he uncovers some very dark secrets.

The pregnant widow is the latest book by Martin Amis. Though a well known, indeed famous English writer, this is the first of his many novels that I have read. Or to be more precise, listened to in its audiobook form. Loosely based on Martin Amis himself, the novel is mostly about the reflections and memories of the main protagonist, Keith Nearing, as he looks back over his life and in particular the summer he spent in Italy in 1970. As we discover later on it is not Keith himself who is the narrator, but his alter ego. Though the subject matter is serious – the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s and ageing – the book is written more as a comedy of manners and is all the more enjoyable for this.  I am now tempted to search out some of Amis’s earlier works.

The War that ended peace by Margaret MacMillan is the book that I gave up on. A very long and dense tome on the origins of the 1st World War, it is a highly regarded book. However I found the early chapters too focussed on the  personalities of some of the protagonists, which I found just too boring. So I gave up.

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