Books of the month: May 2016

Pick of the month

AnIsolatedIncidentMaguireAuthors who choose to subvert the tropes of much loved genres always take a big risk but in the case of AN ISOLATED INCIDENT Australian author Emily Maguire has been successful. Although it opens with the murder of a beautiful young woman this book does not focus on the elements you might expect based on that. There’s no italicised grabs of the killer’s thoughts or even much of a police perspective. It’s a book about the impact of violent death on loved ones and the impact of the violent death of pretty young girls on the wider community. It’s my favourite book of the year so far.

The rest, in reading order 

A bit of a light month both in terms of quantity and quality

  • Lynda La Plante – PRIME SUSPECT (a reverse adaptation in which the book was based on the television screenplay, and not a patch on the excellent original)
  • *Margaret Millar – AN AIR THAT KILLS (my Crimes of the Century book for this month was a 1957 tale of domestic suspense before that became ‘a thing’)
  • Fiona Barton – THE WIDOW (the latest hyped up novel to feature an unreliable female narrator; I didn’t like it as much as most people but found the journalist who shares the stage with the eponymous character a compelling voice)
  • Lindsay Tanner – COMFORT ZONE (a crime caper written by a former federal government minister this one missed the mark for me, it’s cute but too obvious to be really enjoyable)
  • *Jørn Lier Horst – THE CAVEMAN (the ultimate winner of this year’s Petrona Award, offers an interesting comparison between police and journalistic investigations)
  • *Agatha Christie – AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (evidence, if you need it, that Dame Christie wasn’t all about cosy drawing rooms and bloodless stories; this is a dark and brutal tale which has now been the subject of an excellent adaptation)
  • *C.J. Sansom – DARK FIRE (the second Matthew Shardlake novel which I didn’t get around to reviewing but did enjoy as much as the first, covering the period when Thomas Cromwell is losing his influence – and ultimately his head – the book pits Matthew and an unlikely accomplice against the powers of alchemy).

anything with an asterisk is worth a read

Progress Towards 2016’s Bookish Goals

Challenge Goal Progress
Australian Women Writers Challenge Read 25 eligible books, review at least 20 of them Read and reviewed 8 books
Reading US Fiction Challenge Read 6 books by new to me authors set in different states of the US  2/6 achieved
Personal – Reduce TBR Have a TBR of 100 or less by the end of 2016 (starting point 145) TBR = 143 at end of month
Personal – Buy Australian Buy no physical or eBooks from non-Australian stores FAIL. Bought 2.
Personal – Read older books too Participate in at least 6 of the monthly Crimes of the Century challenges hosted at Past Offences  5/6 achieved
Personal – No Girl books Read no books with the word Girl in the title. Because meh.  0/0 achieved

As mentioned last month I broke my self imposed rule and ordered 2 physical books from overseas. I console myself that they’re from the publisher directly – and a small one at that – rather than one of the big box stores I’m trying to avoid but still… Moira from Clothes in Books alerted me to the existence of Greyladies Press which publishes Well-Mannered Books by Ladies Long Gone and I ordered two titles (in my defence I could easily have ordered more but tried to show a level of restraint). I’ll be reading one of them, Ethel Mary Channon’s THE CHIMNEY MURDER, for June’s Crimes of the Century contribution as it was originally published in 1929.

Other than ‘Read Older Books Too‘ it’s looking increasingly shaky that I will be successful with my challenges this year but overall I am enjoying my reading and that is far more important. Right? Though winter is upon us here in the southern hemisphere and that is traditionally when my reading does pick up a bit, especially as I will start June with a week off work as I entertain overseas visitors, who will hopefully be at least a little jet-lagged and require much snoozing time 🙂

Other Stuff

If you happen to be a fan of podcasts and/or true crime you might want to check out the Bowraville series of podcasts from The Australian newspaper. If you listened to season one of Serial last year you’ll know that there has been an explosion in true crime podcasts since then but for my money this series of five podcasts is one of the few that matches Serial for journalism and dramatic narrative. Journalist Dan Box has investigated the still unsolved murders of three Aboriginal children from the same street in Bowraville over 25 years ago. It’s compelling stuff for all sorts of reasons, not least of which what it says about race relations in Australia.

Looking ahead…and a plea

USAFictionChallengeButtonIf anyone has recommendations for American crime novels set in states I have not yet visited virtually feel free to leave a comment or drop me a line via the sidebar. My personal twist on the Reading USA Fiction challenge is the books all have to be by new-to-me authors and you won’t know if your recommendation is that or not but I might give it a try anyway if your recommendation grabs me 🙂

To start June I am going to read Peter Hannington’s A DYING BREED thanks to a recommendation from Sarah at Crimepieces (and a personal love for books about journalism) and try to make inroads on the Australian Women Writers Challenge from my TBR mountain. I have another conundrum too as I was sent Derek B Miller’s latest novel for review. I would normally be eager to read the follow up to a book I loved but it is called THE GIRL IN GREEN and reading it would mean I fail at my ‘No Girl Books‘ challenge. Sigh.

What about you? Did you have a great read during May? Anything good coming up for June? Do the seasons affect your reading? Are you looking forward to some summer beach reads or some winter warmers? 

This entry was posted in Agatha Christie, books of the month, C.J. Sansom, Emily Maguire (Aus), Fiona Barton, Jorn Lier Horst, Lindsay Tanner (Aus), Margaret Millar. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Books of the month: May 2016

  1. kathy d. says:

    The Widow was OK. I’m not sure if enjoy is the right word to describe my feelings about it. It was better than The Girl on the Train (overhyped, annoying), but it pushed me to think bout a type of life I don’t want to think about and psychopathology I don’t want to think about either.
    I enjoyed The Caveman, will lead me to read more by Horst in the William Wisting series.
    I am thrilled to read that Derek B. Miller, creator of Sheldon Horowitz, has a new book out. How can it equal Norwegian by Night? I think I’ll have to see.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Busting to read Emily Maguire’s novel…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Margot Kinberg says:

    The Maguire really does sound good, Bernadette. And the rest of your reads have a nice variety to them. You’re making progress with your challenges, too, which is more than I can say of myself.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Patti Abbott says:

    I enjoyed THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tracybham says:

    Emily Maguire’s book does sound very good but not available here yet so will have to wait on that. Which is fine, because I have so many books. Most of the other books sound good too, I will read AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. someday.

    I will think about suggestions for your US books challenge. The first two I thought of probably would not be easy for you to find and I am not sure you would like them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Now I am curious as to what books you think I won’t like 🙂


      • tracybham says:

        For Alabama, I was going to suggest Ann George’s Southern Sisters series, set in Birmingham, AL, my home town. I stopped reading them after one, probably because they hit too close to home. Humorous, I don’t like too much humor.

        For New York, I had a suggestion (Rex Stout) but now I see you have already done New York. You might not like his early books (chauvinistic, etc.), might like his later books OK. Set in New York City, except when they leave for another state or for Europe.


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