Saturday, February 27, 2016

Four Years of Blogging

About four years ago I started blogging. My main goal at the time was to have an outlet for writing about the books I read. Also, a record of which books and authors I had read and whether I liked them and why. Of course, I got much more than that. Other bloggers reached out and I took part in some challenges, and learned about even more bloggers who focused on crime fiction old and new.

Since then, I have discovered that the joy of blogging is learning from other bloggers about books and authors I never knew about, or would have considered reading. The pain of blogging is knowing that I will never be able to read all the books I am interested in, which has come up in many comment threads lately.

Last year in my third anniversary post I talked about how my reading tastes had changed and expanded since I started blogging. This year I thought I would focus on one of my favorite publishers of crime fiction, Soho. And specifically the books published by Soho that are in my TBR stacks.

The picture above features several authors I am looking forward to reading, either for the first time or to continue a series. Soho Crime specializes in crime fiction with an international setting. 

  • Quentin Bates' Officer Gunnhildur Mystery series is set in Iceland.
  • Magdalen Nabb's Marshal Guarnaccia series is set in Italy.
  • Leighton Gage's Chief Inspector Mario Silva series is set in Brazil.
  • Rebecca Pawel's Tejada series is set in Spain in the years before World War I.
  • Peter Lovesey's Peter Diamond series is set in England.
  • Colin Cotterill's Dr. Siri Paiboun series is set in Laos.
  • Grace Brophy's two books about Commissario Cenni are set in Italy.
  • Martin Limón's George Sueño and Ernie Bascom series is set in Korea in the 1970's
  • T. Frank Muir's DCI Andy Gilchrist series is set in Ireland.
  • Graeme Kent's Sister Conchita and Sergeant Kella mystery series is set in the Solomon Islands.
  • David Downing's John Russell series is set in Germany in the late 1930s and the 1940s.
  • Qiu Xiaolong's Inspector Chen Cao series is set in China.
  • Stan Jones' Nathan Active series is set in Alaska.
  • Gary Disher's Inspector Hal Challis series is set in Australia.
  • Helene Tursten's Inspector Huss series is set in Sweden.

I have had most of these books for several years and I have only read books by seven of these authors, which means I have lots to look forward to.

Night Rounds is the second book in Helene Tursten's Inspector Huss series. Below are my thoughts on the first book, which is titled Detective Inspector Huss:
Irene Huss is a strong female character, and I like that. In addition to highlighting sociological issues in Sweden, the book addresses women's roles in male dominated jobs like law enforcement.
The author has the gift of portraying the characters ... at least the detectives ... as real people with real lives. The details of Huss' day to day life feel authentic but not boring.
My full review is here. This book was reviewed by Maxine at Petrona.

I haven't read any of the books by this author and this is the first in the series.

From the review at Publisher's Weekly:

The hero of Jones's promising first novel is Nathan Active, an Alaska state trooper. He is an Inupiat, but was given away by his mother when he was a baby, and raised by a white couple in Anchorage. Now he knows little of his background, and feels torn between two worlds. Nathan's bafflement hasn't been helped by his work assignment in Chukchi, the town in the rural northwestern corner of Alaska where he was born and where his birth mother still lives. The Inupiat townsfolk there have welcomed the opening of the Gray Wolf copper mine, as it provides jobs for young people. The number of wife-beatings and liquor-related offenses has declined dramatically. But now two local men have died in the same week, each of a gunshot wound in the throat.

Kittyhawk Down is the second novel in Garry Disher's Inspector Hal Challis series. I did read the first one, and enjoyed it. Maxine at Petrona said that Kittyhawk Down "is even better than the first, Dragon Man, and that’s saying something."

From the back of the book:

A missing two-year-old girl, and the body of an unidentified drowning victim have brought Homicide Squad Inspector Hal Challis, of the Peninsula Police Force, to Bushrangers Bay at the Australian seaside not far from Melbourne.

Of all these series published by Soho, this one is set in the most exotic location: the Solomon Islands. I know little about that area. I was motivated to buy this book both for the cover featuring skulls and the unusual location. And it doesn't hurt that it features a nun, Sister Conchita.

From the summary at Goodreads:

It's not easy being Ben Kella. As a sergeant in the Solomon Islands Police Force, as well as an aofia, a hereditary spiritual peacekeeper of the Lau people, he is viewed with distrust by both the indigenous islanders and the British colonial authorities. In the past few days he has been cursed by a magic man, stumbled across evidence of a cargo cult uprising, and failed to find an American anthropologist who had been scouring the mountains for a priceless pornographic icon. Then, at a mission station, Kella discovers an independent and rebellious young American nun, Sister Conchita, secretly trying to bury a skeleton.

The first book in Downing's John Russell World War II spy thriller series was Zoo Station. Each book in the series has the name of a train station in Berlin as its title. Silesian Station is the second novel in the series.

Summary at Soho Press website:

Summer, 1939. British journalist John Russell has just been granted American citizenship in exchange for agreeing to work for American intelligence when his girlfriend Effi is arrested by the Gestapo. Russell hoped his new nationality would let him safely stay in Berlin with Effi and his son, but now he’s being blackmailed. To free Effi...

There is a review of Silesian Station at Eurocrime along with a review of One Man's Flag from Downing's Jack McColl series.

Of all of these books, Buddha's Money by Martin Limón is the one I want to read next. I read the first two books in the series, Jade Lady Burning and Slicky Boys, and I liked them a lot. My review of Slicky Boys is here.

The books in this series can be described as hard-boiled police procedural thrillers. The two heroes, Corporal George Sueño and Sergeant Ernie Bascom of the US Army, are Criminal Investigation Division agents in Seoul, Korea in the 1970s. Limón gives us a look at Korea, its culture, and its people at this time.

From the back of the book:

Retired Army officer Herman Burkowicz has quite a lucrative setup smuggling rare Korean artifacts. But then his nine-year-old foster daughter, Mi-ja, is abducted, and her kidnappers demand a ransom Burkowicz doesn’t have: a priceless jade skull from the age of Genghis Khan. Sueño and Bascom—more accustomed to chasing felons and black marketeers in the back alleys of Itaewon than ancient treasures—go in over their heads as they agree to search for the skull...


pattinase (abbott) said...

I know I will die with hundreds of books still on my TBR. But would having none be better?

TracyK said...

Definitely not, Patti. That is hard to imagine. I will continue enjoying new books and reading new authors.

Anonymous said...

Great new perspective, publishers, and am enjoying your reviews. At the moment searching for a new reading direction 2016. I've mentioned you on my a great inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on four terrific years of blogging, Tracy!! I love it that you have so many good books to look forward to reading. There's never time to read it all, but what a treat it is to try, right?

Clothes In Books said...

Congrats on four great years of blogging, Tracy, and here's to many more! I think we feel the same way: that we love the unexpected delights that blogging has brought. But your point about too-many-books is borne out by the fact that you can do a whole post about unread books from one publishing house...

Peggy Ann said...

Congratulations Tracy! The greatest joy in life is collecting books, even if I never get them all read. I just love them. I think we are the same on that thought! Lovely covers. I will have to look into this Soho!

TracyK said...

Thank you, Nancy. I am always inspired by your posts and your thorough analysis of books. Have fun finding a new reading direction. One of my new goals this year is reading more short stories, and I have not done so well so far. But I am not giving up. I think it means I have to develop some new habits and ways of reading.

TracyK said...

Thanks and you are so right, Margot, the best part is pursuing the goal.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Moira. I haven't quite figured out how I started collecting the Soho books, whether it was because I found some titles from countries I was interested in, or that I just fell in love with the design of the covers. Probably a little of both, and either way it is a good thing because I have picked up some books I otherwise would have missed.

TracyK said...

I agree, Peggy, collecting books, whether I read them or not, is a big part of my life and I love it. (I wish I had access to the used bookstores you are near to now!) I start getting ready for the big book sale in September (with lists, etc.) way in advance and my husband keeps me informed throughout the year how many months are left to the book sale.

RebeccaK said...

Congratulations on your blogging anniversary, Tracy, and wishing you many more. You have pointed me to many goood books, for which,I'm thankful.

TracyK said...

And you have pointed me to many books also, Rebecca. I am currently reading Blind Goddess by Anne Holt, although it is slow going because it is an e-book and sometimes I have problems adjusting to that reading format. I bought Havana Red by Padura because of your review of Havana Blue, even though you had issues with that book. (Haven't read it yet but that is another story.)

col2910 said...

Congrats Tracy. I'm looking forward to enjoying your blog for many more years to come. I have a few Soho crime books, but not as many as you. I like the sound of the Kent book, but probably shouldn't even go there!

I like the sneak peak at the shelf below as well - Glen's Nameless collection, I reckon!

Kay said...

Congrats on 4 years blogging! And I love your quest to read your Soho books. They are a great publishing house and I've either tried or mean to try many of the series that you listed. You're right when you say there will never be enough time.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Col. I will let you know how the Kent book is.

Yes, you have very good eyes. That is Glen's shelf below, his Pronzini books.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Kay. Now that I have put it in writing, it is like a personal challenge to make more progress on those particular books / authors. A perpetual one of course.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Congratulations Tracy - this is great going and enjoying the look ahead greatly!

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Many congratulations, Tracy! I admire your dedication to your wonderful blog. All the best for a fifth year of blogging.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Sergio. The difficulty is fitting the "new" books in with my reading of older books, although some Soho books are reprints of vintage mysteries.

TracyK said...

You are so kind, Prashant. I look forward to this next year of blogging also.

Bill Selnes said...

TacyK: A belated congratulations on 4 years of blogging. I constantly enjoy your posts.

I spend little attention to publishers. I could not tell the publisher of almost any of my books. I have read several of the series published by Soho and hope they will continue to publish many more.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Bill. I usually could not tell you which publisher published which book, but when Soho was putting out these books, the style of the cover was so uniform that I could see the connection easily. In the last few years they have changed the design of the covers and those I did not even know were published by Soho. (And I got a bookmark from the local independent bookstore listing the Soho Crime authors.)

Jay said...

Happy belated blogoversary! I hope the next four years of blogging are as enjoyable. :-)

TracyK said...

Thanks, Jay, I hope so too.