Monday, December 28, 2020

European Reading Challenge 2020: Wrap-Up Post

This is my wrap-up post for the 2020 European Reading Challenge. The goal was to read and review at least five books by different European authors or books set in different European countries. I enjoyed reading these books and will be signing up for this challenge in 2021.

These are the books I read and reviewed for the challenge:

MALTA:  Coffin in Malta by Gwendoline Butler

A very strange mystery set in Malta. Inspector Coffin of Scotland Yard is called in to investigate a murder shortly after his friend John Azzopardi returns to Malta.

SWEDEN:  An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten

Translated by Marlaine Delargy 

The five stories in this slim volume all focus on eighty-eight-year-old Maud, who lives in a lovely apartment in Gothenburg, Sweden, rent free.

DENMARK:  The Absent One by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Translated by K. E. Semmel

Carl Mørck is a homicide detective in Copenhagen, and has been chosen to head the new Department Q, focusing on high profile cold cases. This is the second in a series.

FINLAND:  Snow Angels by James Thompson

This is the first novel in the Inspector Vaara series. A very interesting setting: Finnish Lapland, a hundred miles into the Arctic Circle.

UNITED KINGDOM:  The Saint Valentine's Day Murders by Ruth Dudley Edwards

This is book 2 in the Robert Amiss series, following on Corridors of Death. The first two books in the series feature office settings (specifically civil service jobs), and focus on bureaucracy and office politics.

LUXEMBOURG:  The Expats by Chris Pavone

A spy fiction thriller set in Luxembourg, although not your standard spy fiction story.

FRANCE:  The Awkward Squad by Sophie Hénaff

Translated from the French by Sam Gordon

A mystery featuring police detective Anne Capestan, who has been suspended for six months. When she returns to work she is give a new department made up of misfits and rejects from other areas. Their mission is to follow up on unsolved cases.

GREECE:  Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz

This is the sequel to an earlier book by Anthony Horowitz, Magpie Murders. In both books the main character is Susan Ryeland, and both feature the "book within a book" format.  Moonflower Murders begins and ends in Greece, and that setting is lovingly described. The main action takes place in the UK.

NETHERLANDS:  Shooting in the Dark by Carolyn Hougan

This spy story was published in 1984, and the story takes place during the Iran hostage situation, and at the time of the coronation of Queen Beatrix in the Netherlands, in late April 1980. Claire Brooks visits Amsterdam on a whim after her husband announces that he is leaving her.

GERMANY:  Grand Hotel by Vicki Baum

Translated from the German by Basil Creighton with revisions by Margot Bettauer Dembo

Grand Hotel provides a good picture of Germany in the late 1920s, between the two wars. It describes several people who stay in the Grand Hotel in Berlin over several days. First published in 1929.

SWITZERLAND: The Arms Maker of Berlin by Dan Fesperman

This book is a mixture of adventure novel and spy thriller,  with a dual timeline. History professor Nat Turnbull gets mixed up with the FBI when his former mentor is arrested for stealing important documents from World War II.

ITALY:  October Men by Anthony Price

This is the fourth book in a cold war espionage series. David Audley is the central character throughout the series, but each book is different, focusing on other characters within the team. In this book Audley takes his wife and child to Italy.

RUSSIA:  The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

Translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

This is a Russian classic novel written in the 1930's and finished shortly before the author died in 1940, at the age of 49. The novel was finally published in Russia in 1966.


Margot Kinberg said...

You've got some great books here, Tracy! I've been wanting to read the Tursten (I like her writing), and I'm glad you've reminded me of Ruth Dudley Edwards. I haven't read any of her work in a while and I should get back to it. I'm glad you enjoyed your virtual travels!

CLM said...

This is impressive and makes me want to try the challenge next year! I think I will look for one of your Malta books. I had one blissful day in Malta about 20 years ago, and liked it so much I encouraged my parents to go for a whole week. The combination of history, beautiful scenery, and delicious food was hard to beat.

TracyK said...

Margot, I have four more books by Ruth Dudley Edwards to read, so I plan to continue reading her books. Tursten's short stories were all good.

Katrina said...

It also makes me think I should join in next year. I've only read three of these books, Russia, Germany and Switzerland.

TracyK said...

Constance, the European Reading Challenge is my favorite. I think I would read and review books from five different countries in a year without even trying, but I aim for more and also to add new countries I haven't done before.

The Inspector Coffin books are mostly set in the UK, COFFIN IN MALTA was an aberration. I had had my copy for years. I think it can be found used pretty easily. I did see one movie set in Malta, and although the movie was pretty bad, Malta did look beautiful.

In 2012, I read another book set in Malta, THE INFORMATION OFFICER by Mark Mills. It was set in World War II and I liked it a lot.

TracyK said...

Katrina, THE MASTER AND MARGARITA was the perfect book for this challenge. Maybe in 2021 I will read ANNA KARENINA because it has been on my TBR forever and it is on my Classics list. That one I know I read when I was younger, but I don't remember a lot about it.

I always enjoy the European Reading Challenge and make it a priority in my reading.

Cath said...

Thirteen books read if I counted right, that's so good, Tracy! I managed nine and can't decide whether to do this one again next year. I think I probably will as I still have books to read that I didn't get to this year.

TracyK said...

Cath, I am planning to sign up for several challenges for 2021, including the historical fiction challenge that you are doing. I know it is risky but as long as I don't get stressed about it, it is just a guideline for reading. One thing I want to do is more, shorter reviews. We will see how that goes.

col2910 said...

Well done, you're far better than me at following through on challenges. I do like them, but I'm just a bit rubbish at staying the course. Thanks for the reminders of Price, Fesperman and Henaff!

TracyK said...

All three of those authors are good, Col. I have other challenges I let fall by the wayside. I plan to sign up for about 5 this year and I hope I can stick with all of them.

Bill Selnes said...

Well done. It is an impressive list of reading. I sometimes wish someone would take up Kerrie's alphabet in crime fiction. It got me some unexpected reading.

TracyK said...

Thanks, Bill. I miss the alphabet in crime fiction also. It was fun to pick a subject and delve into it.

Gilion at Rose City Reader said...

Thanks for completing the challenge and posting your wrap up post! Although you didn't win the Jet Setter Prize, you got an Honorable Mention for visiting more than 10 countries. See the winner announcement post here:

TracyK said...

Thanks, Gillion. I love the European Reading Challenge, although I am geting a slow start this year.