- Easy Challenge: read one novel from each of six continents (Africa, Asia, North/Central America, South America, Europe, Australasia) in 2010 - trying to find novels/countries/authors that are new to the reader;
- Medium Challenge: read two novels from each of the six continents, trying to read and review novels from 12 different countries if possible; and
- Expert Challenge: as above, plus two novels set in Antarctica
In the first week of May, I'm going along okay with the Expert Challenge, having tried several new authors, and books from or set in several countries. In fact, earlier this week I read my fourteenth and final book to complete the Expert Level, AMERICAN VISA by Juan de Recacoechea. It has been a great challenge to be a part of, and a huge congratulations has to go to Dorte for all her efforts (and an assist to Kerrie too). It's great to see so many readers and book bloggers around the world embracing books from outside the 'traditional markets'. Not that that's to say I've neglected my US and UK crime and thriller fiction reading while I've been reading the 14 books for the Global Reading Challenge. I've read more than 30 novels thusfar this year, and several of the reviews I've done that have not counted for the challenge are of books set in the United States or Britain - e.g. Robert Crais's THE FIRST RULE, Harlan Coben's CAUGHT, and Michael Robotham's BLEED FOR ME.
AFRICA: This year I have read two books set in Africa, both from authors that are new-to-me; THE ANUBIS SLAYINGS by PC Doherty (set in Ancient Egypt), and A DEADLY TRADE (set in modern-day Botswana).
PC (or Paul) Doherty is the author of several acclaimed mystery series set in different historical periods, including the Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan, the Hugh Corbett Medieval Mysteries, and the Canterbury Tales of Mystery and Murder. I picked up a copy of THE ANUBIS SLAYINGS, the third book in Doherty's Ancient Egypt series starring Lord Amerotke, while travelling through Egypt in January, from a bookstore in Luxor (ancient Thebes).
I enjoyed this book a lot, and will be looking to read more of Doherty's Ancient Egypt series. I was reading it in Egypt, having just travelled through many of the areas mentioned in the book, and having just learned quite a bit about the Ancient Kingdoms, hieroglyphics, gods, traditions etc - so it was great to see the accuracy in Doherty's work, and they way he wove quite a lot of setting and history in, without overwhelming the reader with detail, or suppressing/slowing what is a well-plotted story. In comparison, I also picked up another Ancient Egypt-set book, THE TREE OF LIFE by Christian Jacq, and found the writing far inferior (I haven't actually finished it yet, putting it aside and not yet getting back to it).
I really enjoyed this book, and gave it a 3 1/2 star rating (3 stars is 'enjoyable') for a review that appeared in the April issue of Good Reading magazine. Kubu (nicknamed because his manner and build resembles a hippopotamus - seemingly slow and serene but deadly when roused) is a delightful main character, and I'm looking forward to going back and reading their debut, A CARRION DEATH, when I find the time. In my GR review I said, "Sears and Trollip entice the reader with a well-drawn setting in the heart of Southern Africa, and a fascinating protagonist... while the authors also raise some interesting questions and provide some insights into the history and ongoing tensions of an exotic region."
So, so far this year I have read two books set in continental Europe, both from authors that are new-to-me; SELF'S MURDER by Bernhard Schlink (translated from German, set in Germany), and THE BLACK MONASTERY by Stav Sherez (set in the Greek Islands).
THE BLACK MONASTERY is Stav Sherez's second crime novel, following his debut THE DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger back in 2005 (there was a five-year gap, and a change in publishers, between Sherez's first and second novels).
But in terms of the two 'official' Australasian/Oceanian books for the challenge, I chose Laurie Mantell's A MURDER OR THREE and Leah Giarratano's BLACK ICE, both of whom were new authors to me in 2010.
WHITE FOR DANGER by David Stevens (1979) starts in New Zealand and heads to Antarctica, as renowned writer and adventurer Logan Adams is roped into tagging along with his brother-in-law's Antarctica expedition - his brother-in-law was the sole survivor of a previous mission, and he's determined to go back and find the two men left behind, that he believes are still alive and were taken to a hidden city on the frozen continent. The wealthy backers of the return expeditition aren't worried about finding the men (who they presume are dead), but are very interested in the potential archaeological find. But (of course) there is much more than meets the eye to the motives of those on the expedition, and other outsiders as well. During the perilous journey to the target area a series of disasters which seem like sabotage effects the already strained relationships of the team. Even worse awaits them once they reach their destination.