28 February 2011

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011 - Letter H - week begins 28 Feb 2011

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

It is never too late to join in on this meme and you don't have to post each week if reading (or life) gets in the way. And it is so easy!

And the books and authors being suggested are a great way of learning about books you haven't read. We have participants from all over the globe too.

Letters already covered: A B C D E  F G  
A note to remember: We'll have a little rest on the week beginning April 24. There's a double public holiday here in Australia for Easter Monday and then Anzac Day. But we'll start up again on Monday May 2. 

This week's letter is the letter H:

Here are the rules

By Friday of each week you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.
[Those who intend to participate regularly have signed up here.]

Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname.
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.
(It is ok too to skip a week.)

Please link your post for the week back to this page. (a letter image is supplied that you can use in your post as well as the meme icon if you wish).

After your post is published, put a link to your actual blog post in the Mr Linky that appears below.
(leave a comment if Mr Linky has disappeared)

Then come back at the end of the week to check to see who else has posted and visit their blog (and leave a comment if you can).

Please check each Monday for the letter of the week

Letters already covered: A B C  D  E F G  
Thanks for participating.

27 February 2011

Review: THE ROAD TO HELL, Paul Levine

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 444 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Ransom House (February 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004MYFU6Y
  • Source: I bought it
The four stories in this anthology have something in common in addition to the word “hell” in their titles.
The heroes travel dark and dangerous paths as they confront devilish and powerful villains. The journeys are by land, by sea, and in one case, perhaps only in the mind.

In El Valiente en el Infierno, (The Brave One in Hell), a 13-year-old Mexican boy tells his own story as he makes a treacherous midnight crossing into California in search of his father. The boy’s courage is tested when he runs into two gun-toting American vigilantes, and the confrontation will change all of them forever.

Development Hell
is a well-known Hollywood term symbolizing the purgatory where projects are stuck in “development,” rather than being made into films. The story imagines a pitch session in which a bedraggled Poe squares off with a slick Hollywood producer who wants to make a cheesy slasher flick out of “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Bookgasm praised the story as “going straight to the funny bone.”

A Hell of a Crime: A prosecutor prepares for a homicide trial while being pestered by his domineering mother, a famous lawyer herself. Just what role did she play in the murder? And how is the prosecutor’s enigmatic wife involved in the case? It’s a mystery with a punch to the gut at the end.

Two of the author’s best-loved characters, Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord, appear in Solomon & Lord: To Hell and Back. The ethically-challenged Steve Solomon and the very proper Victoria Lord are mismatched Miami law partners. Steve says he's going fishing with Manuel Cruz, a sleazy con man. Victoria knows that Cruz embezzled a bundle from Steve's favorite client and is an unlikely fishing buddy. So just what is Steve up to now? Something between mischief and murder, Victoria figures. To protect Steve from himself – and Cruz – she hops aboard the boat, and the three of them head for deep water and dark troubles.

My take:
For me the best of the stories was El Valiente en el Infierno and A Hell of a Crime. Both have an interesting twist at the end. I was a lot less interested in Development Hell and I thought To Hell and Back was just too long and felt as if it needed me to be familiar with the the central characters Solomon and Lord, which I'm not. Followers of these characters will probbably feel very differently about this short story.

This e-book also includes quite a large excerpt from MORTAL SIN, a novel featuring Jake Lassiter.
Lassiter is a lawyer with a dangerous conflict of interest. He’s sleeping with Nicky Florio’s wife…and defending the mob-connected millionaire in court. Florio has hatched a scheme deep in the Florida Everglades that oozes corruption, blood, and money. One false move, and Jake will be gator bait.

Whereas in another e-book that I reviewed just recently, DARK BLOOMS, this attempt at hooking me into reading more by the author felt that it worked well, in the case of  THE ROAD TO HELL I'm afraid that it hasn't despite the fact that Paul Levine comes well-credentialled (see below). I actually felt as if I would have preferred more short stories instead of the excerpt.

My rating: 4.1

About the author:
The author of 14 novels, Paul Levine won the John D. MacDonald fiction award and was nominated for the Edgar, Macavity, International Thriller, and James Thurber prizes. A former trial lawyer, he also wrote more than 20 episodes of the CBS military drama “JAG” and co-created the Supreme Court drama “First Monday” starring James Garner and Joe Mantegna. The critically acclaimed international bestseller “To Speak for the Dead” was his first novel. He is also the author of the “Solomon vs. Lord” series and the thriller “Illegal.” His next novel, “Lassiter,” will be published in hardcover—and as an e-book—by Bantam in Fall 2011. Visit Paul Levine on the Web at http://www.paul-levine.com.

I've read this for the e-book challenge


  • Format: Kindle Edition (amazon)  and .mobi (Smashwords) N.B.other formats available on Smashwords
  • File Size: 42 KB
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: D2C Perspectives (December 11, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FV4SKI
  • Source: I bought it
An e-book of short suburban noir fiction, a collection of 11 short stories, some little more than vignettes, each skilfully leaving something to the reader's imagination.

  • A Thousand and One Bottles of Wine
  • Tranquility
  • Sitting with the Dead
  • Amputation
  • Superior
  • Out of Options
  • Under Surveillance
  • Reverberation
  • Work After Dark
  • For Temporary Relief 
  • Love Is Blind
Each story takes a scenario that may have crossed the reader's mind, like George in Tranquility enjoying his early morning solitude reading is newspaper at the kitchen table. Our newspaper delivery man appears to be attemtping to demolish a particular plant. In George's cases the delivery is deadly accurate in landing the paper in a puddle created on his driveway overnight by the watering system.

In Sitting with the Dead, what deadly family secrets might Clara, her grandson's fiance, uncover with her stupid seances?
And what about Superior, where road rage has a quite unexpected result?

We all have neighbours who we "keep an eye on". Surveillance asks how they might see the fact that we are constantly watching them. In Reverberation a night of fire cracker celebrations triggers terrible reprisals. And have you ever worked back late in a creepy building? Work After Dark shows just how scary that can be.

A lovely collection of flash fiction that explores some of those thoughts we've all had, that lie just beneath the surface.

My rating: 4.3

Cathryn Grant’s Suburban Noir fiction has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Her short story, I Was Young Once received an honorable mention in the 2007 Zoetrope All-story Short Fiction contest. Her flash fiction has been published at Every Day Fiction and Powder Burn Flash.
Connect with Cathryn online: website: http://suburbannoir.com Twitter: http://twitter.com/cathryngrant Facebook author page: Cathryn Grant, Suburban Noir Author

Counted in e-book challenge

Review: DARK BLOOMS: Two Crime Fiction Shorts, Melissa F. Miller

A Brown Street Books Publication 2011
available only as an e-book
Source: complementary copy from the author

The threat begins with the death of the goldfish and then the dog. The new nanny Lei seems heaven-sent and then Grace realises she has a serious problem on her hands.

All her life Violet has been managed and organised by others, her father, her husband, her best friend, and now her doctor. And now her independence is threatened again. But Violet is nothing if not resourceful.

There's a bonus to these two shorts - the opening chapters of IRREPARABLE HARM, Melissa F. Miller's legal thriller available April 2011.
Hemisphere Air's Flight 1667, a Boeing 737 enroute from Washington National to Dallas-Fort Worth International slams into the side of a mountain at full speed and explodes in a fiery wave of metal and burning flesh, killing all 156 people on board.
This has the potential to ruin the airline overnight. And was the crash an accident?

My take:

DARK BLOOMS is without doubt a ploy to whet the reader's appetite for more by this author.
Both are well crafted quirky stories with unpredictable endings, and yes, I came away hooked. The promise of intriguing plots seemed to have been carried through to the opening chapters of IRREPARABLE HARM.

My rating: 4.2

DARK BLOOMS is available now at Amazon and at Smashwords in a variety of e-formats.  You can learn more about Melissa at her website and at her blog.
And, of course, follow her on twitter.

I've added DARK BLOOMS to my count for the e-book challenge

Sunday Salon: 27 Feb 2010: New Zealand fundraiser

Good morning fellow Sunday Saloners

Life got in the way last Sunday and I didn't get to write a Sunday Salon post or visit yours.
My apologies.

Today I'd like to alert you to a fundraiser

Margot at Confessions of  a Mystery Novelist is organising a charity raffle Do the Write Thing to raise money for Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake relief.

She is asking authors to donate novels to the raffle and then will invite people to participate in a raffle for packages of novels by donating to the New Zealand Red Cross.

Check Margot's blog post for details of how to participate.

A couple of days ago I paid fees and accommodation to attend CrimeFest in Bristol in May.
Will I see you there?

During the past week I've hosted a couple of Blog Carnivals

Coming up this week:
Tomorrow Crime Fiction Alphabet moves on to the letter H

Do you read or write blog post reviews about Australian crime fiction?
Caught up with Fair Dinkum Crime yet?

My posts for the last 2 weeks
Headlines & News

26 February 2011

Where to find things on my blog: a guided tour

I really must get around to doing another of those "virtual tours" but in the meantime here's a text version to assist you in navigation and exploration.

Just recently I installed some "pages" and you'll find these running along the top of the blog page:
  • Crime Fiction Alphabet
    this is just designed to take you to the stages on the journey of this year's Crime Fiction Alphabet.
    This week has been the letter G. Remember if you blog and like your crime fiction you can post a contribution to this.
  • Reading Challenges Update
    here I am keeping a running tally of how I'm going in the various reading challenges I've signed up for.
    I'm doing pretty well actually, 30 books read so far, and lots of "overlapping"
  • Latest additions
    Basically this shows the books I've read and the reviews I've written in the last 2 months
  • Authors A-Z
    this is an A-Z index of all the authors (and titles) of the books I've reviewed since the beginning of 2008
  • All Reviews (ranked)
    this shows nearly 400 reviews in order of my rating of the book. Don't put too much emphasis on the differences within a rating like 4.9 or between 4.9 and 4.8.  But I've tried to think about my "top reads" - those that get a rating of 5 - so they really are in order, but there is an element of "brain fade" that plays a part.
  • 2011 Reviews
  • 2010 Reviews
  • 2009 Reviews
  • 2008 Reviews
Other links at the top
  • Blogs I'm watching
    this takes you to Crime Fiction Journeys, a list of 100 blogs by crime fiction addicts which gives you a link and a few words from their latest post. Great if you are looking for some blogs to follow or just want to see what people are talking about.
  • Agatha Christie Carnival
    each month I host a monthly Agatha Christie Blog Carnival. This will also tell you about the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge.
 In the right hand column look for
  • Featured Posts
  • Breaking News - news items I think visitors will be interested in
  • My Book Review Policy & Guidelines
  • My reviews on Library Thing
    all my reviews are also posted on Library Thing - in fact there are more there than on this blog as my spot there is older
  • Follow me - lists 5 ways you can follow this blog
    See me also on FaceBook: Kerrie Smith and on Twitter: smiksa
  • Fair Dinkum Crime - an Australian blog that specialises in Australian crime fiction
  • Search this blog - a Google search that does a pretty good job
  • Customised Crime Fiction search - this is a Google search that I've created that searches about 100 sites mainly blogs about crime fiction. Great if you are looking for reviews of a particular book or author.
  • Revolver Map - a widget that shows who is visiting at the moment
  • Audiobook Jukebox - I contribute links to my audiobook reviews to this
  • Recent Library Thing entries
  • Most Friendly Discussion Room: Crime and mystery fiction on FriendFeed
  • Most Recent Reviews: a widget that list my most recent 5
  • What I blog about: my top tags
There's lot more - but explore for yourself!

25 February 2011

Promo: Do the Write Thing: Earthquake Relief & Donations

Margot at Confessions of  a Mystery Novelist is organising a charity raffle Do the Write Thing to raise money for Christchurch, New Zealand earthquake relief.

She is asking authors to donate novels to the raffle and then will invite people to participate in a raffle for packages of novels by donating to the New Zealand Red Cross.

Check Margot's blog post for details of how to participate.

24 February 2011

Review: WYATT, Garry Disher

Text Publishing 2010
ISBN 978-1-921656-02-6
274 pages
Source: my local library

Publisher's blurb

Wyatt’s been away. Now he’s back.
Garry Disher’s cool, enigmatic anti-hero has been, uncharacteristically, out of action for a while. Now there’s a new Wyatt—and his legion of fans will not be disappointed.
The job’s a jewel heist. The kind Wyatt likes. Nothing extravagant, nothing greedy. Stake out the international courier, one Alain Le Page, hold up the goods in transit and get away fast.
Wyatt prefers to work alone, but this is Eddie Oberin’s job. Eddie’s very smart ex-wife Lydia has the inside information. Add Wyatt’s planning genius and meticulous preparation, and what could possibly go wrong?
Plenty. And when you wrong Wyatt, you don’t get to just walk away.

My take:

I came to WYATT not having read any of the earlier novels in the series, not surprising really as the last one was published a decade ago:
1. Kickback (1991)
2. Paydirt (1992)
3. Deathdeal (1993)
4. Crosskill (1994)
5. Port Vila Blues (1996)
6. The Fallout (1997)
7. Wyatt (2010)

As a result I had little idea about what I would find.
What I did know was that WYATT won the 2010 Ned Kelly award for Best Fiction.

Disher brings to his writing a polished style that is gritty, bare, and yet flowing. It suits the character of Wyatt who is also gritty, clever, prepared, focussed. He doesn't hesitate to kill if he has to, and there are times when he does, seemingly without compunction.

The novel feels firmly embedded in its Australian environment, Victoria in particular. I don't think non-Australian readers will need a glossary or translation service though.
One aspect that some readers may not like is that we are seeing crime from the criminal's point of view.
In many ways Wyatt is evil, and he wins! Some would say, a very suitable Ned Kelly winner.

My rating: 4.7

Garry Disher's page on Text Publishing.

February 2011 edition Agatha Christie blog carnival posted

This month's edition of the Agatha Christie blog carnival has 9 contributions from 13 contributors.

Find it here

Forgotten Book: DIED IN THE WOOL, Ngaio Marsh

This week's contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books is a book I have just completed reading.

I read this as an audio book from Audible.com
Publisher: BBC WW
Narrator: James Saxon
LENGTH: 9 hrs and 2 mins
Originally published:1945

One summer evening in 1942 Flossie Rubrick, MP, one of the most formidable women in New Zealand, goes to her husband's wool shed to rehearse a patriotic speech and disappears. Three weeks later she turns up at an auction, packed inside one of her own bales of wool and very, very dead.

My take:
As with COLOUR SCHEME (see mini-review below) Ngaio Marsh used World War II as the setting for DIED IN THE WOOL. Roderick Alleyn from Scotland Yard was in New Zealand as part of the war effort, seeking out fifth columnists and espionage undermining the war effort.
Mount Moon station on the South Island is being used by two young men as a base for developing a new anti-aircraft device, and the authorities believe that the blueprints have been leaked.

Marsh uses the setting as a country house, closed venue, mystery. There can only be a certain number of suspects, because of the isolation of the station. Alleyn arrives at Mount Moon over 18 months after Flossie Rubrick's murder and in fact after the death of her husband from illness.

One of the interesting ploys of the plot is that Alleyn assembles the main characters and gets them each to tell their opinions of the dead Flossie, who does not appear to have been a very nice character at all.

It was interesting to hear of the things that were concerning the characters (and by extension the author) late in the War. Flossie is very conscious that she must contribute to the war effort, although her offers of assistance to the War Cabinet in London have been repulsed. Three of the young people at Mount Moon station have already been "over there". The preoccupation with the possible presence of enemy agents is also interesting.

I thought there were a few things apart from the setting that dated the book. The style was a bit ponderous and the vocabulary contained words no longer in frequent use. The plot was very carefully crafted though and has worn well.

My rating: 4.3

Mini-review COLOUR SCHEME, published 1943, my rating 4.2
COLOUR SCHEME    Believed by some to be her best novel, this classic by Ngaio Marsh is set in New Zealand during World War 2. Someone is assisting Germans to sink British ships off the coast of New Zealand and flashing lights on a nearby mountain are thought to be an enemy agent signalling a German boat or submarine. The setting is a run-down spa with boiling mud pools in the North Island near a Maori pa. This is an almost theatrical novel. Marsh makes extensive use of her knowledge of Maori customs and of course there is a murder, a victim lured into a boiling pool. Enter Roderick Alleyn on loan to the NZ government, searching for enemy agents.

I'm counting DIED IN THE WOOL in my lists for 2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge, Historical Fiction Challenge, 2011 Global Reading Challenge (7th Continent: History), and my list of New Zealand novels.

23 February 2011

Crime Fiction Journeys - your passport to great blogs

Crime Fiction Journeys must be one of my best kept secrets, or so it seems from the fact that it attracts so few daily visitors.

It lurks at the top of my blog as Blogs I'm watching

It's purpose is to provide a jumping off space to well over 100 crime fiction fiction blogs worthy of your attention.
It uses RSS feeds from the blogs to provide an ever changing kaleidoscope of blog post snippets.
It originally began as my blog roll of favourite blogs but gradually outgrew the space available in my sidebar.

21 February 2011


Publisher: Severn House Publishers 2008
ISBN 978-1-84751-084-6
236 pages
Source: My local library

Publisher's blurb
A Charlie Woodend Mystery his first . . - DS Charlie Woodend has a murder to solve. Trouble is, nobody seems to want him to solve it not Eddie, a Liverpudlian thug sent to threaten him; not DCI Bentley; not Deputy Commissioner Naylor, whose word is law in Scotland Yard; not even the dead girl's mother herself. But Woodend cares. He will find the murderer, he promises himself, even if that means putting his career and perhaps even his own life on the line.

My take:

First of all, a warning: don't be deceived like I was, by the title, into thinking I was reading the first title in the Charlie Woodend series. In fact you are tackling the last in the series.
It is June 1973 and Chief Inspector Charlie Woodend is about to retire after 25 years in the job, to hand over to Monika Paniatowski (whom I met in THE RING OF DEATH). Monika has been his protege and Charlie decides to tell her one last story, that of his first case, the one that very nearly ended his career in the police force before it had even got off the ground.

I should have read the blurb on the back which quotes Kirkus Reviews:
    Woodend fans should cherish this finale, which rounds out the professional career of Lancaster's famous subversive.
There are 20 titles in the Woodend series, and I have the first of the Paniatowski series (which follows) on my shelf from the library. Will I go back and read more of the Woodend titles? I'm not sure, because as you know, I like to read books in series order. But perhaps I'm not yet stymied and I could even now pick up an earlier Woodend title.

Certainly there's enough encouragement in the quality of the writing, a nice solid police procedural, a good read.

My rating: 4.4

I'll be adding this to my count for the British Books Challenge

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011 - Letter G - week begins 21 Feb 2011

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

It is never too late to join in on this meme and you don't have to post each week if reading (or life) gets in the way. And it is so easy!

And the books and authors being suggested are a great way of learning about books you haven't read. We have participants from all over the globe too.

Letters already covered: A B C D E  F
A note to remember: We'll have a little rest on the week beginning April 24. There's a double public holiday here in Australia for Easter Monday and then Anzac Day. But we'll start up again on Monday May 2. 

This week's letter is the letter G:

Here are the rules

By Friday of each week you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.
[Those who intend to participate regularly have signed up here.]

Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname.
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.
(It is ok too to skip a week.)

Please link your post for the week back to this page. (a letter image is supplied that you can use in your post as well as the meme icon if you wish).

After your post is published, put a link to your actual blog post in the Mr Linky that appears below.
(leave a comment if Mr Linky has disappeared)

Then come back at the end of the week to check to see who else has posted and visit their blog (and leave a comment if you can).

Please check each Monday for the letter of the week

Letters already covered: A B C  D  E F
Thanks for participating.

20 February 2011

Book Review Blog Carnival LXIII - February 20, 2011

Welcome to the February 20, 2011 edition of book review blog carnival.


book reviews

Lauren Obst presents There are so many colors in the rainbow. Which one are you? posted at The Very Hungry Bookworm.
“There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
                            So many colors in the flower and I see every one”

At Imagineering antariksh presents a number of reviews:
Zohar of Man of la Book has been busy reading too.
Jim Murdoch has reviewed The Story of Mr Sommer by Patrick Süskind at The Truth About Lies, saying, "A boy's village childhood with all the traditional attributes – father, mother, brother, sister, a house on a lake, tree climbing, going to the races, music lessons, a bicycle, a crush on a girl in the class – is bedevilled by the mystifying appearances of the eccentric Mr. Sommer. Moving through the landscape in silent haste, like a man possessed, with his empty rucksack and his long, odd-looking walking stick, Mr Sommer runs like a black thread through the boy’s days. A fascinating little book, very much a children’s book for adults."

KerrieS reviewed THREE SECONDS, Roslund &Hellstrom at MYSTERIES in PARADISE, saying, "Gritty, noir, but believable crime fiction from Sweden. This book won the 2009 Swedish Academy of Crime Writers' Award for Swedish Crime Novel of the Year."

KerrieS presents Review: BOUND, Vanda Symon posted at MYSTERIES in PARADISE. "#4 in a great New Zealand crime fiction series"

shah presents A Book Review of DRACULAS: A Novel of Terror. by Crouch, Kilborn, Strand and Wilson. posted at WordsinSync.

Alicia Markey reviewed Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon posted at (th)ink.

John Fawkes presents Book Review: Talent is Overrated posted at John Fawkes.

children's books 

Read Aloud ... Dad presents Stunning Read Alouds: The Seven Silly Eaters posted at Read Aloud Dad, saying, "The Seven Silly Eaters is a picture book that will take you by surprise. I came across it almost by chance, it cropped up while I was looking for books that would hopefully help to defuse a "fussy eater" situation in my own home..."




Clark Bjorke presents I'd Know You Anywhere posted at I'll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book!, saying, "A psychological thriller by Baltimore's finest."

JHSEsq also reviewed I’d Know You Anywhere posted at Colloquium, saying, "She was allowed to live. All of Walter's other victims died. After being held captive for 39 days when she was just 15 years old, Eliza was freed to grow up & build the life for herself that she is currently enjoying. But Walter's date with execution is approaching and he wants something from her. Can she grant his request? At what cost to her? If Walter answers the question that has always haunted her -- why was she allowed to live when the others were not? -- will she finally find the peace that has eluded her for so many years? A fascinating exploration of a variety of issues, including the death penalty, "I'd Know You Anywhere" by Laura Lippman gets my highest recommendation."

JHSEsq presents Book Review and Giveaway: Hush posted at Colloquium, saying, "Kate White's thriller, "Hush," is set in Manhattan and centers around Lake Warren, a woman who makes a couple of bad choices that may end up costing her everything: Her career, custody of her children . . . her life. It's a stylish, nuanced mystery about fertility clinic doctors who may be engaging in unscrupulous behavior with New York City as a prominent supporting character."

Cynthia Merritt presents 25 Best Novels for Psychology Buffs posted at Masters in Health Care


non fiction


Malia Russell presents Review- Sherri Graham's Intentional Planner posted at Homemaking 911, saying, "Always love checking out new planners. Here is one I tried out recently."

Fred Tracy presents Power Vs Force: The Levels of Consciousness posted at Personal Development, saying, "Power Vs Force: The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior by David Hawkins is a revolutionary book about the levels of consciousness, among many things. This provides us with a real concrete road map of sorts to happiness, bliss, and even enlightenment."

Jeanne presents Hamlet's BlackBerry posted at Necromancy Never Pays, saying, "A book for tech addicts"

SenoraG presents My Father at 100 by Ron Reagan-Book Review posted at Reading, Reading & Life.

TaraV presents Buy Buy Baby: A Review of Mini Shopaholic! Book posted at The Fabulous Shopping Mom Blog.

ACRC Update - 20 February 2011

My intent in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge is to read her books in order, so that I can get some idea of what she is doing, problems she is attempting to solve, and her development as a writer. If you look at some of my reviews you will see that I have been able to undertake some of this reflection.

Currently I am managing about a book a month, and now I'm back on schedule.
I've read 25 books and 11 collections of short stories.

Read & reviewed so far
    1924, Poirot Investigates (short stories: eleven in the UK, fourteen in the US)
  7. 1927, THE BIG FOUR
    1929, Partners in Crime (fifteen short stories; featuring Tommy and Tuppence)
    1930, The Mysterious Mr. Quin (twelve short stories; introducing Mr. Harley Quin)
  12. 1932, PERIL AT END HOUSE
    1932 The Thirteen Problems (thirteen short stories; featuring Miss Marple, also known as The Tuesday Club Murders in the US)
    1991, Problem at Pollensa Bay publ. 1991 (Two of them feature Hercule Poirot, two Mr. Satterthwaite and Mr. Harley Quin, and two Mr Parker Pyne.)
  16. 1935, THREE ACT TRAGEDY (aka MURDER IN THREE ACTS)- Hercule Poirot and Mr Satterthwaite.
    1933, The Hound of Death - 12 short stories, UK only
    1934, Parker Pyne Investigates - 12 stories introducing Parker Pyne and Ariadne Oliver
    1934, The Listerdale Mystery - 12 short stories, UK only
  17. 1935, DEATH IN THE CLOUDS (aka DEATH IN THE AIR) - Hercule Poirot
  18. 1936, THE A.B.C. MURDERS (aka THE ALPHABET MURDERS) - Hercule Poirot
    1947, The Labours of Hercules - Hercule Poirot - 12 short stories
  19. 1966, THE THIRD GIRL - Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver
    1997, Miss Marple: complete short stories - Miss Marple - 20 short stories
    1997, While the Light Lasts - 9 short stories - incl. 2 Hercule Poirot
  20. 1936, MURDER IN MESOPOTAMIA - Hercule Poirot
  21. 1936, CARDS ON THE TABLE - Hercule Poirot, Superintendent Battle, Colonel Race, Ariadne Oliver
  24. 1937, DEATH ON THE NILE - Hercule Poirot, Colonel Race
  25. 1938, APPOINTMENT WITH DEATH - Hercule Poirot, Colonel Carbury

    Reading schedule
  26. 1939, MURDER IS EASY (aka EASY TO KILL)
  28. 1940, SAD CYPRESS
  30. 1941, EVIL UNDER THE SUN
  31. 1941, N or M?
  35. 1944, TOWARDS ZERO
Check the opening blog post of the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge here.
If you'd like to join the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge click here.

I am using the list at Wikipedia of novels and collections of short stories. I will interlace the short story collections into the list where I can, but may have to read them out of order. I have decided on a method for reporting on the short stories. Here is my latest short story update.

Please feel free to join in my challenge, comment on my reviews etc.

I have set up a block over in the right hand column called Agatha Christie Reading Challenge (with the same logo as this post) where I am listing the books I'm currently reading and those I've finished.
The challenge is called ACRC so each review will be preceded by those letters.

If you want to follow my progress through your RSS reader, then the RSS URL is
Just save that in your bookmarks or RSS reader and you will be notified when I have written a new post.
Alternatively you could subscribe to the feed through FeedMyInbox. Just copy the RSS URL, click on the FeedMyInbox link and paste the URL in there.
You will need to confirm your subscription by email.

Contribute your blog postings about any Agatha Christie novels to the monthly carnival. Make an agreement with yourself that whenever you complete reading an Aggie you will write a blog posting about it and then submit the posting to the carnival.
If you are participating in the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge then write updates like this one and submit them to the Carnival. Let us know what progress you are making.

19 February 2011

Review: OPERATION NAPOLEON, Arnaldur Indridason

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 711 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: CCV Digital (October 7, 2010)
  • Source: I bought it.
First published with the title Napóleonsskjölin by Vaka Helgafell, Reykjavík in 1999
English translation copyright © Victoria Cribb 2010

1945: a German bomber flies over Iceland in a blizzard; the crew have lost their way and eventually crash on the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest in Europe. Inexplicably, there are both German and American officers on board. One of the senior German officers claims that their best chance of survival is to try to walk to the nearest farm and sets off, a briefcase handcuffed to his wrist. He soon disappears into the white vastness.
1999, mid-winter, and the US Army is secretively trying to remove an aeroplane from the Vatnajökull glacier. By coincidence two young Icelanders become involved – but will pay with their lives. Before they are captured, one of the two contacts his sister, Kristin, who will not rest until she discovers the truth of her brother’s fate. Her pursuit puts her in great danger, leading her on a long and hazardous journey in search of the key to the riddle about Operation Napoleon.

My take:
I didn't enjoy this as much as Indridason's Erlendur novels. I kept wondering if Erlendur would make even a cameo appearance. There was a detective (There have been some funny goings on here,’ observed the scruffily dressed detective in his early fifties ) but his appearances really came to nothing.

OPERATION NAPOLEON reminded me of thrillers that I used to read back in the 70s by writers like Jeffrey Jenkins, Alistair MacLean and Clive Cussler. The difference between those and OPERATION NAPOLEON is the character of Kristin. Those earlier thrillers rarely had capable women.
It reminded me also of another novel I reviewed: THE MASK OF ATREUS by A.J. Hartley, mainly I think because of the idea of a secret cargo.

One interesting element was the discussion of Icelandic dependency on US funding and assistance.
Kristin is talking about why her friendship with the American Steve collapsed:
    It’s partly political. I oppose the presence of the American army on Midnesheidi. I could understand its strategic significance during the Cold War, but that didn’t mean I agreed with its presence. I’ve always regarded it as a blot on the landscape. It’s as simple as that. The Icelanders shouldn’t have an army and they certainly shouldn’t get into bed with one. Far too many people have prostituted themselves to the Defense Force already – businessmen, particularly. I should never have allowed things to go so far between us but . . .’
My rating: 4.5

My other Indridason reviews on MiP

Other reviews to check
EuroCrime review by Maxine
Review on From the Blue House by Rob Kitchin

I am listing this book in the e-book challenge and Nordic Challenge 2011

Review: BOUND, Vanda Symon

Publisher: Penguin Books 2011
ISBN 978-0-14-356527-7
314 pages
Source: I bought it. (from Wheeler Books)

Publisher's blurb
A brutal home invasion shocks the nation. A man is murdered, his wife bound, gagged and left to watch. But when Detective Sam Shephard scratches the surface, the victim, a successful businessman, is not all he seems to be.

My take:
This is #4 in the Sam Shephard series.
The story opens with a prologue, a woman bound to a chair, looking at the body of her husband, the top of his head blown off, waiting for her teenage son to arrive home.

The investigation of this horrific murder falls to D.I. Johns and his team. Sam Shephard, recently promoted to Detective, is the liaison with the wife and son of the victim.
The local newspaper instantly puts pressure on the police task force to find the perpetrators of this "Killer Home Invasion."  The description the victim's wife gives seems to tally with the idea of some sort of revenge killing, but what had John Henderson been involved in to become this sort of target?

The plot of BOUND seems to change tack at least twice. The original murder is followed by two more deaths, one of which is a murder. There is a range of candidates for the second murder, and just when the first appears to be solved, Sam throws a spanner in the works.

While I'm sure the author Vanda Symon has tried to make it possible for a new reader to meet Sam Shephard for the first time in BOUND, I find it hard to assess whether that would be realistic, as I've read them all. Elements of Sam's backstory flooded back to me as I read BOUND.
Be that as it may, if BOUND is your first Sam Shephard novel, I'm sure you will be looking for the earlier novels.
What BOUND does demonstrate is that Vanda Symon is a force to be reckoned with in Australasian, if not world, crime fiction. She is a skilled story teller, has managed the art of developing threads, at the same time as weaving peronal elements from Sam's life into the novel. And at the end, we are assured there will be another in this series - Sam has unfinished business.

My rating: 4.8

Vanda Symon's website
BOUND No. 1 Bestseller!
Of News and Reviews

CONTAINMENT was shortlisted for the inaugural Ngaio Marsh crime fiction award in 2010.
I'm adding BOUND to my list for the Australasian novels in 2011 Global Reading Challenge

18 February 2011


First published in France 1955
Translated from French by Eileen Ellenbogen
This edition: Chivers Press Large Print 1990
238 pages
ISBN 0-7451-1079-7

Blurb from back cover
Two brothers find a grisly package clinging to the propeller of their barge in the Canal de Saint Martins, and by the time Maigret arrives most of a mysterious corpse has been assembled, except the head. The search shifts from finding the missing piece to finding a motive, as the Inspector's keen mind gathers clues from the torso which lead to a trio of suspects. A flash of intuition linking the principal suspect's sordid life to the whereabouts of the victim on his last day alive brings the case near its end but starts Maigret thinking about the reason for the crime.

My take:
This is one of the Maigret novels that demonstrates quite clearly how timeless an author Simenon was.
The discovery of body pieces without a head, thus making identification very difficult, is a scenario explored by a number of crime fiction authors since. In fact I have some books reviewed here in MiP:
    PRIME CUT, Alan Carter And then they are called to a murder scene, at HopeToun: a headless torso in the shallows on the beach. The local policewoman is Senior Sergeant Tess Maguire, recovering from sick leave after being beaten up. ... 
    SKELETON HILL, Peter Lovesey The bone discovered during the battle is re-discovered by three rescue dogs, and is found to belong to a headless corpse. Forensics tells Peter Diamond, Head of Bath CID, that not only are the bones not old, but the skeleton is female,
    THE SIMIAN CURVE, Mark Lalbeharry First of all when young Hattie Locke becomes stuck in a narrow walkway between two lockup garages in London, a headless corpse is discovered. Hundreds of kilometres away in a Frankfurt court, the charges against small time villain ...
It is a case just made for Maigret who worries tenaciously at identifying the corpse, and once he thinks he has that nailed, takes the focus to who killed him and why.
Another theme that emerges, that we tend to see frequently in more modern novels, is how the case takes over Maigret's thinking, and indeed his whole life. It serves to illustrate what a special person Madame Maigret is, in that this doesn't cause a marriage breakdown, but instead evokes a sort of sympathy from her, as she realises he is even eating without tasting.

THE HEADLESS CORPSE illustrates how, like Sherlock Holmes in many ways, Maigret can assemble minute observations and then make an intuitive leap that generates a bigger question.

My rating: 4.5

I am listing this book in my 2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge and of course among my "translated" books.

17 February 2011

Forgotten Book: SCENE OF THE CRIME, John Creasey

This week's contribution to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books comes from my records early in 1992.

Published in 1965.

Publisher's blurb:
Are the murders of two women and the theft of antique jewellery the work of the same criminal? If so, Superintendent Roger West may have the wrong man in custody.

What an incredible writer! Some of us have come across his creations on television (e.g.Gideon, and The Baron) without realising.
He published his first novel  SEVEN TIMES SEVEN in 1932 at the age of just 24. It is obvious if you check the lists that he was publishing up to 5 books a year.
SCENE OF THE CRIME is listed at #29 in his Inspector West series which he wrote from 1942 to 1978.

John Creasey (September 17, 1908 - June 9, 1973) was born in Southfields, Surrey, England and died in New Hall, Bodenham, Salisbury Wiltshire, England. He was the seventh of nine children in a working class home. He became an English author of crime thrillers, published in excess of 600 books under 20+ different pseudonyms.

Creasey's first published novel
He invented many famous characters who would appear in a whole series of novels. Probably the most famous of these is Gideon of Scotland Yard, the basis for the television program Gideon's Way but others include Department Z, Dr. Palfrey, The Toff, Inspector Roger West, and The Baron (which was also made into a television series).
He was awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services in the United Kingdom's National Savings Movement during World War II.

In 1962, Creasey won an Edgar Award for Best Novel, from the Mystery Writers of America, for Gideon's Fire, written under the pen name J. J. Marric. And in 1969 he was given the MWA's highest honor, the Grand Master Award.

From Wikipedia:
During 1953, John Creasey founded the Crime Writer's Association (CWA) in the UK.
The CWA New Blood Dagger is an annual award given by the British Crime Writers' Association for first books by previously unpublished writers. It is given in memory of CWA founder John Creasey and was previously known as The John Creasey Memorial Award. The award is voted on by past winners and the prize consists of an ornamental dagger and £1,000.

16 February 2011

Why do you read crime fiction?

Last week, when I ran the post When did you begin to read crime fiction? at least one commenter suggested a follow up post should ask why.

So here it is.

Now I'm a naturally squeamish person and blood, in the flesh so to speak, puts me right off.
I can't hold the cat's paw at the vet's, let alone deal with grazed knees, deep cuts (or even shallow ones) etc. And graphic TV programmes such as Silent Witness have me hiding my eyes at the worst bits.

So why does crime fiction have such a hold on me? Here are a few thoughts.
  • I love puzzles
  • I believe that events in the present often have causes in the past
  • I can escape into a world that I won't ever inhabit, or hopefully have to deal with in real life
  • There is such variety in the genre that I never get bored
  • I have discovered some really great authors
OK - I'm not going to do all the work - over to you! Why do you read crime fiction?

15 February 2011

Review: D-E-D DEAD! Geoffrey McGeachin

Published by Viking (Penguin Group)2005
ISBN 0-670-02931-9
283 pages
Source: Local Library

From the back cover:
From the moment Alby drops his gun on a St. Kilda tram he knows he is in for a bad day. Then his partner Harry is gunned down in a Double Bay coffee shop. By lunchtime Alby realises someone wants him dead - and they want him dead now.

My take:

Alby Murdoch is a famous photographer working for WorldPix International, a front for an Australian ultra-secret government department  D-E-D, the Department for Extra-territorial Defence. He and his partner Harry are supposed to be doing the biannual positive vetting on US personnel at Bitter Springs, a US-Australian Joint Defence Facility out in the middle of nowhere. Harry it seems found something wrong with the CIA's list of 300 names and dates of birth of people working at the Springs.

On the surface D-E-D DEAD! has all the hallmarks of a conventional spy thriller - assassins, bombs, car chases, and the obligatory beautiful female CIA agent. But the irreverent and comedic treatment that emerges at times shows that it is a spoof. Alby and his new friend Mary Travers flee to Bali and hitch a boat ride to Broome.

An unconventional and enjoyable read if you don't mind a bit of Australian laconic humour and slang mixed into your thriller. Not entirely my cup of tea, but I still rated it at 4.4.

McGeachin's first novel, FAT, FIFTY & F***ED! won the inaugural Australian Popular Fiction Competition and was published by Penguin in August 2004.

D-E-D DEAD! introduced Alby Murdoch and was nominated for a Ned Kelly Award.
It was followed by SENSITIVE NEW AGE SPY in 2007, also nominated for a Ned Kelly Award.
In 2009 #3 DEAD AND KICKING was published.

I am including D-E-D DEAD! in my list for this year's Aussie Author Challenge

NYOR 2012 Australia

Australian libraries and library associations are behind a campaign to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading, NYOR,  linking together all the great things that are already happening around books, reading and literacy, and giving them an extra boost, with fun programs and activities taking place across the country.

Upcoming events listed on the website Love2Read include World Book Day on 3 March, and World Read Aloud Day on 9 March.

And here at MYSTERIES in PARADISE we'll be doing our little bit throughout the year, because we all agree that reading is so important.
One of the websites associated with NYOR opens with some sobering thoughts:
    Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians who can't read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.
The Patron of NYOR is William McInnes, writer, actor, narrator, popular speaker at various writers' weeks. We look forward to seeing him at various events.
He doesn't write crime fiction but I really enjoyed his account of growing up in rural Australia, which seemed to have so much in common with my own experience. My review: A MAN'S GOT TO HAVE A HOBBY

14 February 2011

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2011 - Letter F - week begins 14 Feb 2011

The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

Contributors to this series of the Crime Fiction Alphabet are already stretching their brains (and mine!). In the past week we have a 3D post, a triple D posts, a post with a misleading title, some authors to look for in the D shelves of your library, as well as some D titles.
Bernadette chatted about dogs in crime fiction, while Dorte asked who your favourite detective is.
It is not too late to join in and you don't have to post each week if reading (or life) gets in the way.

Letters already covered: A B C D E 

This week's letter is the letter F:

Here are the rules

By Friday of each week you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.
[Those who intend to participate regularly have signed up here.]

Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname.
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.
(It is ok too to skip a week.)

Please link your post for the week back to this page. (a letter image is supplied that you can use in your post as well as the meme icon if you wish).

After your post is published, put a link to your actual blog post in the Mr Linky that appears below.
(leave a comment if Mr Linky has disappeared)

Then come back at the end of the week to check to see who else has posted and visit their blog (and leave a comment if you can).

Please check each Monday for the letter of the week

Letters already covered: A B C  D  E 
Thanks for participating.

13 February 2011

Review: FROZEN TRACKS, Ake Edwardson

Published at Vintage 2008
originally published in Swedish 2007
#3 in the Erik Winter series
English translation by Laurie Thompson
ISBN 978-0-099-47207-0
538 pages
Source: I bought it.

Publisher's blurb
The autumn gloom comes quickly on the Swedish city of Gothenburg, and for Detective Inspector Erik Winter the days seem even shorter, the nights bleaker, when he is faced with two seemingly unrelated sets of perplexing crimes. The investigation of a series of assaults and a string of child abductions take Winter to "the flats," the barren prairies of rural Sweden whose wastelands conceal crimes as sinister as the land itself. Winter must deduce the labyrinthine connections between the cases before it is too late and his own family comes into danger.

My take:
    They never worked on one isolated case at a time. That might have been the situation in the best of all worlds, but that wasn't where they were living. In the best of all worlds they wouldn't have existed at all as a profession. In the best of all worlds there was no such thing as CID detectives, no uniformed police officers. Law and order took care of itself. Everybody lived in a land of milk and honey.
In FROZEN TRACKS Edwardson brings together two seemingly separate threads: assaults on young male university students, and child abductions. The Gothenburg CID knows about the first because a couple of the students sustain life threatening injuries and end up in hospital. Knowledge about the child abductions accumulates only slowly, pointing up a hole in Sweden's decentralised policing system. Parents report severally to their local police station stories their 4 year olds are relating about being taken for a ride in a car, a "mister" who has offered them sweeties. But no-one connects the dots until it is nearly too late, and the stories remain just that, local reports that are never passed on to a central office.

Christmas is approaching, and the various members of DCI Erik Winter's team have their own personal problems, one recovering from recent bereavement, one a wife leaves home unexpectedly, and Winter's own family wants to visit his mother on Costa del Sol. As Christmas gets closer the pressure rises, and in neither investigation are there any reliable witnesses, although the reader sees some of the abduction thread through the eyes of the abductor.
    'This is the country we have built, the new Jerusalem,' said Winter.
Like his more famous country man, Henning Mankell, for whom this is often a theme, Ake Edwardson asks how life in Sweden has come to this.

I'm not sure however that I found the final tying off of the threads particularly credible.
It also seemed to me that Edwardson used the idea that police investigators are routinely, because of economic pressures, required to deal with more than one case at once, as a justification for writing a complex novel in which the same team was required to handle two "serial" threads. I suspect also that it provided for him, as the author, a technically difficult writing challenge - or am I just being a little too cynical?

My rating: 4.4

I'll be counting FROZEN TRACKS as a title in the Nordic Challenge 2011 and also for the letter F in Crime Fiction Alphabet.

Another review to check: Fiona Walker on EuroCrime


Blog Widget by LinkWithin