Thursday, February 2, 2012

January Crime Fiction Reads - Pick of the Month

My fellow Anzac book blogger and crime fiction fan Kerrie of the excellent Mysteries in Paradise blog has kickstarted a new meme in 2012, where book bloggers share their respective 'pick of the month' from what they've read. It's a great chance to pause and reflect on what we've been reading, and also build up a little database of recommended books from a variety of readers and reviewers, etc.

I'm aiming to read about 6-7 books per month in 2012 (78 total, or one and a half a week, down from 2 per week in 2011 - going for quality over quantity a little more this year), of which around five per month will be crime novels (I'm trying to read a little more broadly than my 88 per cent crime fiction intake in 2011) - so each month I will share the crime novels I've read, provide a few brief comments, and choose a 'pick of the month', for whatever reason. In my case, I might not always pick the 'best' book, but perhaps the one I enjoyed the most, for whatever reason, or the one that I think readers should give a go, that is lesser-known.

For January 2012, I've had a slow-ish start to the reading year, with only four books completed (I have another three on-the-go, non-fiction, so they're taking a little longer). Here's the line-up thusfar:
  • 1ST TO DIE by James Patterson: I was at a beach house on a rainy first week of the year, and grabbed this off the bookshelf there. I was after an easy, breezy, quick read, and as usual Patterson provided it. The first of his 'Women's Murder Club' series, this introduces the cast of characters, but as usual is more about a quick-moving serial killer plotline, with only minor dashes of characterisation, setting, etc. Enjoyable-ish for what it was, but like fast food, quickly devoured and forgotten. 2 stars.
  • SHADOW MEN by Jonothan King: this had been on my TBR shelf for a while - I'd heard good things about King, but just hadn't got to him yet. On holiday in Nelson, I decided to give him a go - and wasn't disappointed. The third in the 'Max Freeman' series, this sees the private investigator trying to find out what happened to three men working in the Florida Everglades eighty years ago. King brings the Everglades - the atmosphere, setting, and history - alive on the page, and weaves in an intriguing plot with some interesting and memorable characters. I will definitely read more. 4+ stars.
  • THE TIN COLLECTORS by Stephen J Cannell: I'd enjoyed some of Cannell's TV shows, but hadn't yet read any of his fiction, so when I saw this in a secondhand bookstore in Nelson, I grabbed it. And was glad I did. The first Shane Scully book, it finds the LA cop under investigation after shooting a fellow cop beating his wife. Plenty of political intrigue, conspiracies, visual storytelling, a twisting plotline that kept me hooked, and much more. I will read more Cannell. 4 stars.
  • PHANTOM by Jo Nesbo: the new Harry Hole book. Can't say too much as not yet released. Harry finds himself back in Oslo investigating, off the books, a seemingly solved crime that may have tendrils going deep into a nexus between Oslo's police, political and criminal communities. Fantastic storytelling that's a must-read for fans of Nesbo and those who like quality crime fiction. 5 stars.
So, for me, as much as I really enjoyed the two 'new-to-me' authors this month - King and Cannell - and loved reading their books and will definitely read more of each of their work, my Pick of the Month for January has to be PHANTOM.

Okay, it's not out until February or March in most English-speaking countries, but it was my best read of January. Including for some reasons which I can't yet share, for spoiler and other reasons. Terrific stuff.

What has been your best crime fiction read of January? Please feel free to share your choices with me here in the comments section, and with all of us on Kerrie's meme at Mysteries in Paradise.


  1. Craig - I'm glad you enjoyed The Tin Collectors. It's certainly got a fast pace and some solid suspense in it.

  2. recieved Phantom - Jo Nesbo today from my lovely Random rep! Can't wait to read it - with your hints at a great book it should be another good read. I also look forward to meeting you (and Vanda and Ben etc) at the Crime Writers event here in Hamilton. See you there


  3. I can't wait to read 'Phantom' Craig. Thanks for not giving the plot away too much.

  4. I am pleased to see your Phantom did not have the Next Stieg Larsson stickers which are on every Nesbo at my local bookshop.

  5. Oh a new Harry Hole book! I've been saving The Leopard because it was the latest, now I can quite happily read it asap!!! lol really, I'm delighted. And your review of 5 for Phantom, makes me very excited to read it.

    I like this idea of book of the month. I'll go tell Kerrie too. Thanks for your post! Oh - totally agree with your assessment of Patterson, which is why I had to give up reading him.