Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Update Part One - Crime

I've actually read quite a few books in the time that I was MIA, more than usual I think because of the not knitting thing.

Anyway there are rather too many for just one post so I've decided to split them up into the crime fiction and the non-crime. Today's post will concern just the crime fiction.

I finished A Darker Domain by Val McDermid and liked it. Better than the previous one, though still not my favourite McDermid book. I liked the descriptions of the pit villages in Fife and found the new police characters interesting. I don't know if this is planned to be the start of a series, but I think I'd read more.

Then I read White Nights by Ann Cleeves, the second in her Shetland Quartet, which I'd been waiting to come out in paperback for seemingly ages. I liked it a lot, possibly even more than the first volume. She's definitely got an ear for language has Ann Cleeves. Not sure I can hang on for the paperback of the next volume as it's out now in hardback and not due in paperback until February. This one's serious contender for my crime novel of the year so far. A full review will appear on Eurocrime.

I took a little detour after that as I had a couple of books to read for crime reading group. The first was David Hewson's The Sacred Cut which I had on audio. I had a little trouble with this. Firstly it was too long. The audio book was over 13 hours and it seems to go off at tangents and lose all pace and tension, while the detectives drank a lot of coffee. The narrator was a tad irritating - there was one voice that he did with a thick New York accent that was really grating. The final straw was that the discs wouldn't play in the car, so I ran out of time and had to skim-listen to the last hour or so, most of which seemed to involve coffee drinking and reflection and not a lot of plot resolution. I think if faced with another Hewson I would read as opposed to listen so I could go at my own pace, which might improve things a bit.

The other book was Steven Saylor's House of the Vestals. This is a collection of short stories that fill in the gaps between some of Gordianus the Finder's investigations. Now I've read some of Saylor's novels and they're not an easy read - bit heavy on the politics and the history for my taste, but the short stories were much lighter, funnier - Steven Saylor-lite if you will. I quite enjoyed them in a detached, not-too-serious way. I didn't get them all finished, due to the overrunning of the Hewson audio, but In liked the ones I read. However if I hadn't read any Saylor before and then went to the novels on the strength of this book I may have been in for a shock.

I had a review to write about Blood on the Cowley Road by Peter Tickler. It's set in Oxford, in an area of Oxford that I know quite well so I was hoping for good things which it sadly did not deliver. Some of the characters felt underdeveloped and the plot was not very strong. Again there will be a full review on Eurocrime when Karen gets the time to put it up, but overall it was a disappointment.

Lastly I got my hands on a proof of the new Ian Rankin, The Complaints. This is due for publication on 3rd September. I was a bit wary as I didn't especially like Doors Open but this was the real deal - a well crafted, well-plotted intelligent crime novel. It's about Malcolm Fox who works in the Complaints and Conduct department - he's a man who does everything by the book and hence is about as far as Rankin could get from Rebus and still be on the right side of the law. It's not a book about serial killers or even about murder though there is at least one in the book. This is a book about ethics and about trust and it's a book that makes you think. I wavered while reading it between thinking maybe it wasn't so hot, and absolutely loving it. By the time I got to the end I was totally convinced. Rankin is a very clever writer. Again a full review will be wending its way to Eurocrime but I'll need to find the pad I wrote it on and type it up first.

Tomorrow, well maybe Sunday because I'm working tomorrow so will be brain dead by the time I get home, I'll catch up on the non-crime I've been reading - some of it very unexpected and with totally unpredicted results.

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