Now that the hassle of new laptop and setting it up etc is behind me (well almost, scanner on printer not working yet but I am ignoring it for the moment), I am finally getting down to posting about books. I mentioned in one of my summing up posts of 2012 that I was seriously wondering whether to rename this blog to Random Crime as I seem to read such a lot of crime fiction. This genre has always fascinated me since my discovery of Dame Agatha Christie at the age of eleven when I was given a very old battered Pan edition of what we now call Ten Little Indians and spent a morning ignoring all school work but totally engrossed in wondering How on Earth this was going to end. After that I was up and running.
I love 1930's crimfic and Ngaio Marsh is another of my favourites. Gorgeous detective, Roderick Alleyn and I re-read all of these every year or so. Dorothy L Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey, well what can one say? Love love love them and only read them for the first time about ten years ago, a treat worth waiting for.
Now I read anything I can get my hands on. Enjoy most crime writers, but there have been failures. Patricia Cornwall is far to gory for me, she goes into the forensics and anatomical detail with almost too much lip smacking enjoyment and after reading four or five, gave up. Lisa Jackson, OK, but over written and with lots of inner musings along the line of Come on Get a Grip written in italics and all gets a bit wearying. Have tried Dean Koontz but not for me and have yet to enjoy a Sarah Paretsky book, so my hit rate is not 100%. BUT I still have discovered a wealth of stonking good reads over the last few years and here are a few of them.
Michael Connelly - the Harry Bosch books. I read them all out of order and we all know he is that well know character the Maverick Cop which can become tiresome after a while, but great fun and tightly plotted. Set in Los Angeles. His other hero, Mickey Haller an LA lawyer, I find more enjoyable and the court room scenes are totally gripping and fascinating.
Linda Castillo - all her books have an Amish setting and while I am starting to doubt whether this body count can really be kept up (getting as bad as Midsomer Murders) her main protagonist, Kate Burkholder who is the chief of police in a small town, is immensely likeable. Flawed of course, that goes without saying, but immensely readable.
Tess Gerritsen - wrote a slew of romantic/crime books before she started on her Rizzoli and Isles series set in Boston. These are much better and very well written. TV series which I can now see on Sky, dire.
These are just a few of the US writers I have discovered recently.
So we turn to Scandinavian detective fiction which has increased enormously in popularity, mainly due to the Wallender series on BBC4. Ignore the Ken Branagh version which, though watchable is a bit off the wall, the Swedish version so much better. I read all the books by Mankel but sadly he has now finished with this detective and there will be no more. The final one in the series was rather melancholy and sad. I now realise when writing this that I have an inflated idea of just how much ScandiCrime I have read as all my other expertise in this area comes from watching The Killing Series 1-3 on TV. There has been a 'novelisation' of the first series which I found rather unreadable and hope they do not attempt the others. Other watching was The Bridge which was pretty stunning.
Camilla Lackberg - brilliant. Here is the link to a review of one of her books and one of Linda Castillo in the same post
I am mentioning also Jo Nesbo though I have found his most recent titles rather gory and upsetting. First one of his I read, the Snowman, gave me nightmares for weeks. I have his latest on the shelf, but finding it difficult to get into so leaving it for a bit.
Quentin Bates has written thrillers set in Iceland which I have read and enjoyed.
Now we come to Italy and oh how I love the Montalbano books by Camilleri. They are set in Sicily and are witty and funny and have reduced me to tears of helpless laughter; they have also reduced me to tears for quite another reason. Montalbano is a wonderful character, a man of feeling and love and I wish the author a long and happy life so he can continue producing these wonderful books,
I have waiting for me two books by Marco Vichi which are set in Florence. I read and loved the first one, which I reviewed here, and I know this may sound daft, but I am just enjoying having these on my shelves knowing they are there waiting for me. I am saving them up as a treat, and a treat they will be that I guarantee. Set in Florence in the sixties, before computers and mobile phones, they are engagingly old fashioned in procedure and I found that charming.
Commisioner Alec Blume - set in Rome. Author is Conor Fitzgerald. May not grab you at first but persevere, they are worth reading.
Brunetti books set in Venice and written by Donna Leon. Loved them all, even if Brunetti's smart arse wife who seems to be able to discourse intelligently on Henry James while knocking up spahgetti vongole at the same time, is beginning to get really really boring. But the last one, Beastly Things, was poor and I get the feeling she is tiring of her hero. A non Brunetti book, published just before Christmas, also pretty poor. Sad.
Then the wonderfully named, Giancarlo Carofiglio. Superbly written and credit must go to the translater who has done a marvellous job. Set in Puglia and Involuntary Witness one of the best thrillers I have read in ages and the court room scene totally pinned me to my seat.
Back home and in the last couple of years I have discovered the Roy Grace books of Peter James, set in Brighton, a place I know well, and they are real page turners with a running personal story line in each book which is working up to a climax. Cannot wait for next one in the series.
DCI Banks books by Peter Robinson. Another discovery by me over the last year and gosh they are good. Am now catching up on the TV series which I missed first time around; good as well and sticks to the story lines pretty closely though not sure about the characterisation of Banks.
My latest discovery is Martin O'Brien. I have not reviewed all of his books but click on his name to see a review of my first of his which sent me off in chase of all the others. They are set in Marseilles and feature a rather gorgeous Daniel Jacquot and they are excellent and totally unputdownable.
There are so many others I have discovered over the last few years, but no room or time to mention them all otherwise I will be hear all night, but as I find new ones (and have just enjoyed a debut thriller set in Maine this week) I will be posting about them. I also realise I have not mentioned PD James, Ruth Rendell and many others but you will have to take it as read that I devoured the lot and loved them.
As a final note, I picked up a battered old Penguin edition of a Simenon Maigret book recently. I have never read any of them and as there seem to be about a hundred or so, I really feel I ought to give them a whirl. Can I ask any of you out there if you have read them, what you think of them and recommend any titles please?