Reading Highlights – February 2016

I think I surpassed all previous records last month by getting through nine books. Once again audio versions played a key role in this achievement. Five of the books were in this format. There was also a little bit of cheating this time around. One of the audio books was not the full book, but an adaptation into a radio play. Still, I feel quite chuffed with myself.  Smugness aside, nearly all the books were crime novels, and the two that weren’t could almost fall into that category. Here is the full list.

Murder on Page 3, by Ella Griffiths – an intriguing murder mystery set in Oslo. Written in 1982 this was the first of Griffiths’ novels to be translated into English.

Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam, by M C Beaton – this is the tenth in Beaton’s very lighthearted series of mysteries, but the first I have read, or listened to. Though I did see the first of the equally enjoyable TV series.

7 Days, by Deon Meyer – another fast paced, Cape Town set thriller, to feature detective Benny Griessel.

Strip Jack, by Ian Rankin – another murder for Rebus to solve. This was the radio play.

The Art of Deception, by A J Cross – this was my first encounter with Dr Kate Hanson, an academic psychologist, who also helps out the police. She is called upon to help unravel a complex and disturbing case that goes back decades.

State Counsellor, by Boris Akunin – the sixth novel in this series, and another exciting outing for the dashing Erast Fandorin, as he has to unearth a revolutionary ring in Moscow in 1891.

Angelica’s smile, by Andrea Camilleri – more mysteries for inspector Montalbano to resolve. This time he has also to overcome the beguiling charms of the lovely Angelica.

Cold Winter in Bordeaux, by Allan Massie – this is the third novel by Massie to be set in Bordeaux during the German occupation in the early 1940s.

The Disappeared, by Kristina Ohlsson – Frederika Bergman is once again called to use her analytical skills to help solve some ghoulish murders in Stockholm. This time it gets very personal for all of the team.

I enjoyed all the books and it was good to make a first acquaintance with Ella Griffiths and AJ Cross. I will certainly read more of her Birmingham set mysteries. A special mention to the following two books.

7 Days, by Deon Meyer – I have read most of Meyer’s crime novels and all are excellent. This one is no exception and is the third of the novels to feature detective Benny Griessel. Griessel is a complex and complicated character. A recovering alcoholic with a failed marriage, Benny is nevertheless an excellent detective. This time he is leading the race against time to discover and stop the person who is shooting police officers in an attempt to force them to re-open an investigation. With only seven days to resolve the case, this is a fast paced thriller, interspersed with Benny’s ongoing struggle to regain control over his personal life. Behind the events Meyer continues to provide insights into the complexities and traumas of relationships in post-apartheid South Africa.

Cold Winter in Bordeaux, by Allan Massie – chief inspector Lannes is once again landed with the poisoned chalice of solving or not solving a brutal murder. This time the victim is a piano teacher who turns out to have had a rather nasty past. Under age sex, both hetero and gay, forms the background to this mystery. As with the previous novels in this series, high up and well protected people with connections with Vichy and the Germans complicate the matter for inspector Lannes. The adventures of Lannes’ son Alain, and his friends Leon and Jerome, who are all now in London with the Free French also feature in this novel. However the central thread of the tale remains the conflicts, both moral and practical, that face people living under occupation. Massie is very good at giving dramatic effect to the difficult choices that can face us all during difficult times.






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