Monday, June 30, 2014

Reading in June and Pick of the Month

In June I read ten books. Looking back, this surprises me. I felt like I was reading slowly and had several distractions. I continued my plan of reading one Very Long Book a month, but still I finished ten books. 

I completed the Once Upon a Time Challenge, hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings, and joined into a new challenge, the Japanese Literature Challenge 8. More about that later. I read my 10th book for the 7th annual Canadian Book Challenge sponsored by John Mutford at The Book Mine Set. A new challenge, the 8th annual Canadian Book Challenge will start on July 1, 2014. 

One of the ten books I read was a memoir, The Film Club by David Gilmour. Gilmour allowed his 15-year-old son to drop out of high school on the condition that he watch three films a week with him. Gilmour is a film critic, among other things, and the book contains some interesting thoughts and tidbits about the movies, directors, and actors.

My crime fiction reading for June...

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
Horse Under Water by Len Deighton
The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach
Mr. Campion's Farewell by Mike Ripley
The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home
The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout
Slow Horses by Mick Herron
A Hearse on May-Day by Gladys Mitchell
Sorrow Bound by David Mark

It is difficult to pick a favorite crime fiction book this month. I enjoyed so many of the books I read, and I haven't even reviewed four of them. Reviewing always helps me focus in on what I liked about a book. Nevertheless, I will pick one book as my favorite: The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home.

This debut novel by a Scottish author is set primarily in Edinburgh. Three separate plots are intertwined throughout the book: a "detective" studies ocean currents and tracks the objects deposited by them; a female Detective Constable loves her job but has difficulty being taken seriously; an Indian girl who has been sold into prostitution endeavors to discover a friend's fate. It is a complex story but I never got lost or bored.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Mr. Campion's Farewell: Mike Ripley

A new novel has been published in the Albert Campion series. Margery Allingham created the character; the last novel authored by Allingham was The Mind Readers (1965). Phillip Youngman Carter, her husband, completed the novel that Allingham was working on at her death, A Cargo of Eagles, and published two more books in the series in 1969 and 1970. Mike Ripley has now completed a partial manuscript started by Youngman Carter. Mr. Campion's Farewell was published first in the UK, and will be available in the US in July.

If you are not familiar with the original works of Margery Allingham, or if you would like a refresher course, this article at The Telegraph, Margery Allingham: the Dickens of detective writing, gives a good overview of her crime writing career and the diversity of style and subject found in the books.

When a writer continues a series begun by another author, I have two questions: Does the book stand on it own merits? And has the author successfully conveyed the characters and the style of the previous books? In my opinion, Mike Ripley has succeeded quite well at both. Not only that, but it is clear that he has been a devotee of the series for years and cares about the characters.

Margery Allingham's books about Albert Campion were written between 1929 and 1965, and within the books, Albert Campion does age. This is somewhat unusual for series written at this time. This book by Mike Ripley is set in 1969. Campion is getting on in years, and hampered by the vicissitudes of old age. So it is a different type of story, but keeping the same spirit of the earlier books. He is still sharp mentally, and keeps the inhabitants of the village of  Lindsay Carfax on their toes.

Campion comes to the village of Lindsay Carfax at the suggestion of Superintendent Charles Luke, an old friend who is concerned about several questionable incidents in that area which have not been solved, or even investigated to any extent. Coincidentally, Campion's niece is living in the village, and ends up being hurt in an event that is treated as a prank or an accident.

Campion's investigations into the disappearance of one of the residents for nine days, the incident leading up to his niece's injuries, and other strange goings-on in the village are entertaining. The story is complex; there are characters that are quirky; others that are menacing. The plot moves at a brisk pace, never boring the reader.

I enjoyed revisiting the world of Albert Campion and his family and friends. I appreciated the segments which feature Rupert, Campion's son, and his wife, carrying on some of the investigation in Monte Carlo. All of the sleuths in this story are way more adventurous than I am, which is as it should be. I had forgotten that the series was ending in the late 1960's. One of the characters talks about watching the moon landing on television; this took me back to my experiences on that day.

Mike Ripley is both an author and a critic. He is well known for the Fitzroy Maclean Angel series, which I plan to try soon. I have read many of his columns on crime writing, both at Shots Crime & Thriller Ezine and in the pages of the Deadly Pleasures magazine. They are informative and entertaining. An interesting fact about Mr. Ripley is that he has worked as an archaeologist. And this book features an archaeological dig.



Publisher:  Severn House, July 2014 (US release).
Source: Review copy supplied by the publisher via NetGalley
Length:  300 pages (print release)
Format: e-book
Series:  Albert Campion
Setting: small village in the UK
Genre:  Mystery

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Mother Hunt: Rex Stout

Rich at Past Offences proposed a challenge during the month of June: to blog about books from 1963. It turns out I had several books published that year. I reviewed Horse Under Water by Len Deighton here. The Mother Hunt by Rex Stout is my second book of 1963.

One of the many things I love about the Nero Wolfe novels is the beginnings. Usually the first paragraph or two provides a very good introduction.
When the doorbell rang a little after eleven that Tuesday morning in early June and I went to the hall and took a look through the one-way glass panel in the front door, I saw what, or whom, I expected to see: a face a little too narrow, gray eyes a little too big, and a figure a little too thin for the best curves. I knew who it was because she had phoned Monday afternoon for an appointment, and I knew what she looked like because I had seen her a few times at theaters or restaurants.
Also I had known enough about her, part public record and part hearsay, to brief Nero Wolfe without doing any research. She was the widow of Richard Valdon, the novelist, who had died some nine months ago drowned in somebody's swimming pool in Westchester and since four of his books had been best sellers and one of them, Never Dream Again, had topped a million copies at $5.95, she should have no trouble paying a bill from a private detective if and when she got one. After reading Never Dream Again, five or six years ago, Wolfe had chucked it by giving it to a library, but he had thought better of a later one, His Own Image, and it had a place on the shelves. Presumably that was why he took the trouble to lift his bulk from the chair when I ushered her to the office, and to stand until she was seated in the red leather chair near the end of his desk. As I went to my desk and sat I was not agog. She had said on the phone that she wanted to consult Wolfe about something very personal and confidential, but she didn't look as if she were being pinched where it hurt. It would probably be something routine like an anonymous letter or a missing relative.
In this case, in two paragraphs we know a good bit about the client, and have learned about Wolfe's reading habits and his "bulk." And the paragraphs illustrate another thing I love about the books, which is Archie Goodwin's narration of the story.

I know I am not alone in my love of Archie, having seen many reviews with the same views. Yvette at In So Many Words has a post celebrating Archie: The Wit and Wisdom of Archie Goodwin.

Lucy Valdon, the woman described above, has been caring, temporarily, for a baby that has been left in her vestibule. She has approached Wolfe to find the identity of the mother and determine if her husband was the father of the child. The hunt for the mother starts a series of events leading to a murder that Wolfe must solve.

This story is unusual in that Archie gets involved with the client. As far as I can remember, she is the only woman other than Lily Rowan that he gets involved with. He is attracted to a lot of women but it never goes far. The story also seems to me to be more complex than some of the novels. I have read all of the novels multiple times, and this one is in my list of top Nero Wolfe novels.

Since I am an unabashed, hard-core fan of Rex Stout and his creations Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, I can only say that this book is highly recommended. If you have already tried a few of the Rex Stout books, you will probably already know if you like the series. If not, you should try at least one of the books.

The other Nero Wolfe novels that I have reviewed:
Fer-de-Lance (the first Nero Wolfe mystery)
The Golden Spiders

I give more background on the series in those posts so I will not repeat it here.


Publisher: Viking Press, 1963.
Length:    182 pages
Format:    Hardcover
Series:     Nero Wolfe
Setting:    New York City
Genre:     Mystery

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Film Club: David Gilmour

Overview from Dundurn Press:
From the 2005 winner of the Governor-General's Award for Fiction and the former national film critic for CBC television comes a delightful and absorbing book about the agonies and joys of home-schooling a beloved son. Written in the spare elegant style he is known for, The Film Club is the true story about David Gilmour's decision to let his 15-year-old son drop out of high school on the condition that the boy agrees to watch three films a week with him. The book examines how those pivotal years changed both their lives.
I read this book for several reasons. Colm Redmond, regular guest blogger at Clothes in Books, talked about the book in this entertaining post. I like to read books about films, almost as much as I like to read books about books.  In this case, I was pretty sure that the author would not be going into a lot of detail about each film, which can be a good thing, and he did not. The author is Canadian and the events are set in Canada, so it fits in with the Canadian Book Challenge.

I found the author's story of his experience of living with his son, Jesse, during those three years to be interesting on some levels; at other times he seemed boring and full of himself. The book spends a lot of time covering his son's romances and sexual experiences at the time. I would have preferred some emphasis on the author's struggle to find work during those years. However, the author's love for his son and evident concern for his future comes through in everything they do together, and they both were lucky to have this experience together. [Jesse's mother and Gilmour's ex-wife fully supported the experiment to the extent of letting them live in her house while she lives elsewhere. His current wife was also supportive. This speaks to a family who care for each other's welfare.]

The parts of the book I liked most are the discussions of films, which are sprinkled throughout. Not in depth, just pithy comments from both father and son. Gilmour does not necessarily see all movies the same way I do, but I usually enjoy hearing others opinions on films, regardless if we agree or disagree. Some of the movies I have never seen, and would like to try. Others I haven't seen in a long time, and would love to revisit.

Some quotes from the book:
I designed a Stillness Unit for us to watch. This was about how to steal a scene from all the actors around you by not moving. I started, of course, with High Noon (1952). There are happy accidents in the movies where everything seems to just click into place. Right script, right director, right cast. Casablanca (1942) is one, The Godfather (1972) another, and High Noon...
The film was made at a time when Westerns were usually in color and for the most part featured a kind of granite-chinned, high-minded hero, more of a cartoon than a human being. Suddenly along came High Noon, shot in stark black-and-white—no pretty sunsets and gorgeous mountain ranges; what we got instead was a small, rather mean-looking town.
High Noon is one of the few movies that Gilmour goes into detail about.  He also does a good few paragraphs about Steve McQueen and Bullitt.

Gilmour has some snarky comments about people he had interviewed, which I thought were in poor taste. He has very nice comments on Robert Altman, a director who I like a lot: "chatty, literate, easygoing; no wonder actors worked for him for a song."

More of the comments on movies were fairly brief, like this sentence about Under Siege. I love Under Siege, I have watched it many, many times.
We kept the guilty-pleasures momentum going with Under Siege (1992), a yummy bit of nonsense that boasted two villains, Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones, both superb actors, both gnawing on the material.
To be fair, as I skimmed through the book looking for examples, I found other movies that he had discussed in depth, and some actors that he covered in more detail. So, if you are reading it for a sort-of movie review book, it can be a good source and entertaining.

Overall, I liked this book more than I disliked it. The good outweighs the bad. I will be reading through it again more than once to follow up on films I want to watch or re-watch. There is a list of movies discussed at the end of the book; I just wish it had an index.

Goodreads information about this author:
The author of six novels, he also hosted the award-winning Gilmour on the Arts. In 2005, his novel A Perfect Night to Go to China won the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. His next book, The Film Club, was a finalist for the 2008 Charles Taylor Prize. It became an international bestseller, and has sold over 200,000 copies in Germany and over 100,000 copies in Brazil. He lives in Toronto with his wife.
Some resources:


Publisher:  Twelve Books, 2008 (orig. pub. 2007)
Length:      217 pages
Format:     Hardback
Genre:       Non-fiction, memoir

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Once Upon a Time VIII: Wrap Up

Summer is upon us and the Once Upon a Time Challenge is over. That challenge is hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings, and encourages reading or viewing from four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology.

My goal was to read five books, but I read and reviewed only four books. My choices were all in the fantasy genre, although several were cross-overs with the mystery genreI did watch the first two Hobbit movies in April and write a post on that topic.

I enjoyed all the books I read. 

The books I read for this event were... 

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
9tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Among Others by Jo Walton

You can check out the Review Site where participants posted links to any book or screen posts related to this event. Also, bloggers will link their summary posts HERE.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Collini Case: Ferdinand von Schirach

This is a book that is difficult to review without telling too much of the story, primarily because of its brevity. It is a novella -- a simple, straighforward story with one overarching idea as its main point. It is a crime novel but it is about the why of murder, not the who.

From the publisher's page on this book (
Fabrizio Collini is recently retired. He’s a quiet, unassuming man with no indications that he’s capable of hurting anyone. And yet he brutally murders a prominent industrialist in one of Berlin’s most exclusive hotels.
Collini ends up in the charge of Caspar Leinen, a rookie defense lawyer eager to launch his career with a not-guilty verdict. Complications soon arise when Collini admits to the murder but refuses to give his motive, much less speak to anyone.

The plot does have twists but this is not a thriller.  The writing is simple and sometimes flat in the telling, but the story itself is very compelling. It is interesting in many ways: the picture of the legal system in Germany; glimpses at Germany's history during and after World War II and how it continues to haunt the people who live there.

For me, this book resonated most because it shows how a person's life can be changed forever by traumatic events. Even when a person survives a psychologically damaging event in their life, it may shape every other event that follows. We get some back story of events in both Collini's and Leinen's younger years. Leinen ends up investigating Collini's past in order to come up with some defense, even though Collini will not speak about the incident or the reason. The result is not surprising but is still affecting.

I received my copy of this book from Rebecca at Ms. Wordopolis Reads and I am very grateful that she gave it to me. I don't know where I read about this book first, but it was Rebecca's review that really sparked my desire to read it.

Please check out Rebecca's review of The Collini Case, which has links to several other reviews which in turn link to more information on the book. This review at The Complete Review is very detailed and has links to many, many reviews and articles. It is useful to look into after you have read the book, but you would not want to get all the details available there before reading it.


Publisher: Penguin Books
Length:  186 pages
Format:  Hardback
Setting:   Germany
Genre:  Legal Mystery
Translated from the German by Anthea Bell

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Horse Under Water: Len Deighton

I have admitted in the past that I did not enjoy The Ipcress File when I read it. It was the first book by Len Deighton that I read, and I was disappointed. I also felt like I was alone in this, since I had read so many favorable reviews. It is on the list of top 100 mysteries for both the CWA in the UK and the MWA in the US.

When I read The Ipcress File, I got lost and had no idea what was going on in the first half. Now that I have experienced more of Deighton's work, I think I should return to that book someday. Shortly after that, I read Berlin Game, the first Bernard Samson novel, and I loved it. I became an immediate Len Deighton fan.

Horse Under Water is the second in the Nameless Spy series, which began with The Ipcress File. I am happy to say that I enjoyed reading it. If you have heard this series referred to as the Harry Palmer novels, that name was given to Deighton’s hero (played by Michael Caine) in the film adaptations; in the books the hero is not named.

In 2009, Jeremy Duns, author of another series of spy novels, wrote a very complimentary article in The Guardian on Deighton's spy novels. At one point, he notes that the complexity in the novels may be what keeps Deighton's books from being widely read today.
Deighton's novels usually contain enough elements for several books. Horse Under Water, for instance, featured a wrecked submarine, forged currency, heroin, ice-melting technology and British Nazis. 
The story is set primarily in Portugal, with some scenes in London. The wrecked submarine is off the coast of a small fishing village in Portugal, and our hero and his crew are diving in search of forged British and American currency. As in most spy novels, things (and people) are not always what they seem.

The nameless spy is more of a common, everyday person than the James Bond type of spy; sure, he visits exotic locales, and he deals with dangerous situations and dangerous people, but he is just a working-class guy, doing a job, and has a girlfriend from the office. (To be honest, I have not read the James Bond novels recently and I am using the image of James Bond that we have from the movies in this comparison.)

In Deighton's introduction to this book, he talks about how he gathered research from the War Museum in Lambeth, using books, films and documents stored there:
In the final year of the war, there had been tremendous scientific advances in undersea warfare and I pursued these reports — British, American and German — with particular zeal. The War Museum’s librarian asked me to help by categorizing the material I examined, so that I became an unofficial member of the Museum staff. At the time, I had no idea that the notes I made would be used for anything other than my interest in history. It was during my stay in Portugal, when I was asking local people about German activity there during the war, that I recalled all that underwater warfare material. The book’s plot fell into place and I started writing.
I also found his comments on the movies starring Michael Caine very interesting:
The indomitable Harry Saltzman, who had co-produced the James Bond films and was making The Ipcress File, solved everything with the sort of unhesitating practical move for which he was renowned. Michael Caine was cast to play the hero of that film and Michael was a Londoner, as I was. He was named Harry Palmer. It was the right decision. Michael and the man of whom I’d written fused perfectly. I am indebted to Michael for the dimensions his skill and talent provided to my character.
For me, the introductions to the reissues of Deighton's book make them worth the price.


Publisher:  Reissued 2011 by Sterling (first published 1963)
Length:   242 pages
Format:   trade paperback
Series:    Nameless Spy
Setting:   Portugal and the UK
Genre:    espionage fiction

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sleep While I Sing: L. R. Wright

This book is set in an unusual part of Canada, or so it seems to me. RCMP Staff Sergeant Karl Alberg works in Sechelt, a small town on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada. As described in the book:
This part of British Columbia was famous for sun, and for a balmy climate in which roses and eucalyptus trees thrived alongside giant Douglas firs and wild rhododendrum. The richness of the land was equaled only by the richness of the coastal waters...
But in winter the sun often disappeared for days or weeks at a time. And then Alberg couldn't easily recall how brilliantly blue the sea could be, how bright and hot were the days of spring and summer and fall.
Sleep While I Sing is the second book in the Karl Alberg series by L. R. Wright. The first book, The Suspect, won the Edgar for Best Mystery Novel. Both books feature good storytelling, excellent characterization, and loads of atmosphere.

At the end of The Suspect, Karl Alberg and Cassandra the librarian seem to be getting seriously interested in each other. My thought was... another series with a developing love interest. Sometimes those are fine, sometimes I find them tiresome. But no. In this second book in the series, Cassandra has a thing going with an actor from Los Angeles who has been visiting his mother and sister in Sechelt. The relationship between Karl and Cassanda is awkward. I liked this unexpected element.

This second entry in the series starts with the discovery of a dead woman in a secluded area. A big problem is that there is nothing to identify the woman, and she is not from the area. This severely limits the investigation. An artist's sketch is made and distributed, but does not generate the identification they were hoping for.

I enjoyed this  mystery immensely. I liked the characterizations. Karl is a loner and divorcee who misses his family. He has his problems, but he is happy in his work and good at it. The secondary characters and side plots are interesting. The writing is understated. I also liked how various elements of the story tied together at the end.

I did guess who the culprit was, although certainly not the motivation. But I never consider that a negative. I recommend this author, and I recommend starting with the first book in the series. This one can certainly stand alone, but the first one is well worth reading and you get a fuller picture of Karl.


Publisher: Reprint ed., Penguin Books, 1987. Orig. pub. 1986.
Length:  212 pages
Format:  paperback
Series:   Karl Alberg
Setting:  Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada
Genre:    Mystery, Police Procedural

Saturday, June 7, 2014

I Am Pilgrim: Terry Hayes

Summary at the US publisher's site:
This astonishing debut espionage thriller depicts the collision course between two geniuses, one a tortured hero and one a determined terrorist, in a breakneck story reminiscent of John le Carré and Robert Ludlum at their finest.
PILGRIM is the code name for a world class and legendary secret agent. His adversary is a man known only to the reader as the Saracen. As a young boy, the Saracen barely sees his dissident father beheaded in a Saudi Arabian public square. But the event marks him for life and creates a burning desire to destroy the special relationship between the US and the Kingdom. Everything in the Saracen’s life from this moment forward will be in service to jihad. 
I rarely buy a book in the year it is published. I was so excited about this book that I pre-ordered a copy to get it in hardback on the day it was published in the US. So, of course, I worried that it would not live up to my expectations. I was not disappointed. This is one of my favorite reads so far this year.

I am very fond of espionage fiction, so it is no surprise that I liked this. I don't know about comparing the author's writing to Le Carré and Robert Ludlum. I have read Le Carré (and think very highly of his writing) but I think every author brings something different. If you like Le Carré, this could be for you. I have not read Robert Ludlum although I intend to read some of the Bourne books.

The central character, the spy who has run an elite espionage unit in the past, has had many identities and many code names. Of those who even know of him, he is a legend. But he has reached a point in his life when he has left spying behind and is in a new untraceable identity.  Then several events come together to force him back into the spy game.

The author's writing kept me interested in the adventures of the Pilgrim through the 600 plus pages. That in itself says a lot, since I prefer shorter books. It was not a fast-paced plot, but it never dragged.  This is a debut novel, but the author has written screenplays for several movies and mini-series.

There were many interesting characters, although the most compelling were the spy and his quarry. I especially enjoyed the parts of the story that take place in Bodrum.

Other reviews:
At S. Krishna's Books, Ms. Wordopolis Reads, crimepieces, Clothes in Books, girl vs bookshelf, Mysteries and More from Saskatchewan.


Publisher:  Atria / Emily Bestler Books, 2014
Length:    604 pages
Format:   Hardcover
Setting:   The US, Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and Turkey
Genre:    Spy fiction

Monday, June 2, 2014

Among Others: Jo Walton

I thought this might be a difficult book to review. I enjoyed reading it but I wasn't sure what to say about the book and why I liked it. It has so many elements. It is about a 15-year-old girl (Morwenna or Mori), who has moved to a new home, living with her father for the first time in her life, and has been placed in a boarding school. She doesn't fit in; she has a disability, she limps, and she is different. It is a coming of age book but I don't see it as Young Adult fiction; of course, it can be read and enjoyed by that age group.

The book is definitely in the fantasy genre. There are fairies, and magic comes into play. Still, the story of Mori's first year at a boarding school that she hates is the strongest element. She turns to the world of books for comfort, and most of the time she is reading science fiction or fantasy authors. She mentions many authors in those genres throughout out the book, with allusions to what she thinks about the author and/or the book, although with few specifics about books.

Some readers will enjoy the inclusion of her reading and her adventures at the library, trying to acquire the books she wants to read. Others may find that part of it a distraction. The story is told via entries in Mori's diary, so we only get Mori's story, Mori's opinions and what she tells us about her life. Unlike other fantasy books I have read, this one allows the reader to question if Mori truly is dealing with fairies and magic, or if this is all her imagination.

I don't know if this is a great book, but it is definitely one I will reread. I will pick up more books by the various authors mentioned in the book and try out some of the authors I have not read yet. Many of the authors were familiar to me, although I may have read some of their books long ago. Others were totally new to me. Such as Samuel R. Delany. To be honest, the fact that the book features reading, books and authors as a major part of the story was the main draw for me, and I might never had read it otherwise.

This is the first fantasy novel by Walton that I have read, but I have read her trilogy of books set in an alternate England where Germany and England reached a peace agreement in 1941: Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown. Tor has recently published a book compiling some of her blog posts for the website, titled What Makes This Book So Great. That book also talks mainly about fantasy and science fiction books and authors, and Walton's love of books and libraries shines through.

Walton's dedication for Among Others:
This is for all the librarians in the world, and the librarians who sit there day after day lending books to people.
There are elements of the book that are auto-biographical. The author drew on her own experiences with a disability and turning to books instead of friends for solace. The author talks about this on her website and this interview at the Guardian website.


Publisher: Tor Books, 2011
Length:   302 pages
Format:   Trade paperback
Setting:   Wales
Genre:    Fantasy

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Mysteries in May and Pick of the Month

In April I read six mysteries, one book in the fantasy genre, and finished three non-fiction books.

When I read non-fiction, I usually spread it over several months. The non-fiction books I read were The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction, Infographic Guide to the Movies, and Wartime: Britain 1939-1945.

The fantasy novel that I read was Among Others by Jo Walton, and I have not reviewed it yet. Jo Walton is primarily an author of fantasy fiction, but she also wrote a trilogy of mystery novels set within an alternate England where Germany and England reached a peace agreement in 1941. I loved books 1 and 3 of that series, book 2 was one of those mid-trilogy novels which fell short of the other two. The books in the trilogy are Farthing, Ha'penny, and Half a Crown. Among Others is the first fantasy book by her that I have read, and I liked it too.

These are the mysteries I read this month. Two of them are cross-genre, fantasy blended with mystery. I am still behind on reviews, maybe I will catch up by next month.

The Malcontenta by Barry Maitland
In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany
Whispers Under Ground by Ben Aaronovitch
Skeleton in Search of a Cupboard by Elizabeth Farrars
9tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Sleep While I Sing by L. R. Wright

I liked all of the mystery novels I read. My favorite for the month is an easy pick, although it did edge out one of the others by a slim margin. 9tail Fox is my Pick of the Month for May. That novel is fantasy blended with mystery, and the mystery elements were stronger in this novel than in many cross-genre novels (at least I see it that way). The other book that came close was Whispers Under Ground, which is also cross-genre, but the fantasy elements in that books are much stronger. This is the third book in the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch and all of the books in that series are a lot of fun.

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