In April I read seven books, all mysteries. My reading included books set in four countries: one in Canada, one in Australia, two in the UK, and three in the USA.
It was a strange month for reading. I had a trip planned to visit my family in Alabama late in the month and most of my activities centered around that. My mother has health problems and my sister is her primary caregiver, so my thoughts have been focused on that for a while. I hate to fly and it is a long trip, but the positive factor is the reading I can get done in the air and on the ground (assuming I can get good light).
I have only reviewed four of the books I read. I did have access to a computer to work on, but there was neither time nor energy to write reviews while I was in Alabama. So once I can get my thoughts on the books together, I will be catching up on reviews.
The books I read in April are:
Time's Witness by Michael Malone
The Burning by Jane Casey
Original Sin by David Mark
The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout
The Night the Gods Smiled by Eric Wright
Eleven Days by Donald Harstad
A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill
I am not sure it is fair to pick a favorite for the month when I have not had time to digest and review my feelings for nearly half the books. This is especially true because so many of the books I read this month had wonderful qualities, yet none of the new books that I read for the first time this month really rose above the others.
I will feature two of the books I felt are worth highlighting:
Time's Witness, is the second book in a police procedural series. Cuddy Mangum is the narrator and the Chief of Police in Hillston, North Carolina. Cuddy is educated, but he is not refined, and to the powerful and rich inner circle of Hillston residents, he is a redneck. The book was published in 1989 and set around the same time period. The story in this book centers on George Hall, a black man arrested seven years earlier for killing a white cop. He is now on death row and supporters are seeking a reprieve or pardon. This is a very long book and there are many characters, but Malone does a beautiful job with them all. There are some quirky characters and the story is told with humor at times. Yet it is a very serious story. The themes are the death penalty, racism, inequity in the justice system, and the power that the rich can wield to get what they want. The author is passionate about his beliefs; telling the story via Cuddy make this more palatable.
The Golden Spiders is typical in some ways: we get to see some of the activities in Wolfe's home, his love for food, his quirks, and we get the final gathering of suspects where Wolfe reveals the killer. However, in this novel, Nero Wolfe uncharacteristically agrees to work with a young boy from his neighborhood on a potential case of possible kidnapping. Archie and Wolfe and his pack of freelance detectives investigate a group of people taking advantage of poor immigrants who are seeking help in getting settled in this country.
This story seemed unusual to me because Archie, Fred, Saul and Orrie actually get into a gun fight with some thugs. Archie often carries a gun, but rarely uses it. The plot is very convoluted and the book is shorter than some Nero Wolfe novels. My copy was 150 pages. The first eight Nero Wolfe novels were all around 300 pages long.
The Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme is hosted at Mysteries in Paradise. Bloggers link to a summary post for the month, and identify a crime fiction best read of the month.