I've chosen to go for the expert challenge: three books from each of seven continents, with each book to be from a different country/state.
I'll use this post here to update my progress throughout the year, listing the books I've read and reviewed under each continent, with links to the reviews I write both here on Crime Watch or elsewhere online. I'll also list the books on my bookshelf that I intend to read for each continent to complete the challenge, complete with current status. I'm fortunate that although I've only been in the UK for a few months, and have left more than 500 books on my TBR bookshelf/storage locker in New Zealand, that I've already acquired more than 60-70 books here in the UK, from a wide range of countries and author nationalities. So trying a new author or country/continent is as easy as walking over to my bookshelf (or digging through the packing boxes, as I've just moved house).
Participants can chose some parameters for themselves, beyond the one, two, or three books per continent requirement. In my case, I will focus on crime fiction for this challenge (though I will read other books this year), and I will generally list books by the setting first, while also seeking to read as many author nationalities as possible too - ie I will see if I can tick off the challenge on both fronts. I'll also go for books at least partially set in exotic/unusual places, although I will list them by their main setting first.
I am also restricting myself to books read after 1 January 2015, and not including books I read late last year but haven't reviewed until 2015 (which would have been helpful, ticking off several countries quickly).
Here's my progress so far, as of 21 February 2015.
- Botswana: DEATH OF THE MANTIS by Michael Stanley (Headline, 2011). When a series of bizarre deaths point to a nomadic bushmen tribe, Detective "Kubu" Bengu must journey into the depths of the Kalahari to uncover the truth. What he discovers there will test all his powers of detection . . . and his ability to remain alive. Author nationality: South African/USA Status: On shelf/To be read
- Yemen: THE ABRUPT PHYSICS OF DYING by Paul E. Hardisty (Orenda Books, 2015). An oil company engineer with a violent past is ensnared between opposing armies, controllers of the country’s oil wealth, Yemen’s shadowy secret service, and rival factions as he tries to rescue his friend who was kidnapped by a wanted terrorist who thinks his employer is poisoning a local village. Author nationality: Australian/Canadian. Status: Currently reading.
- Sri Lanka: IN THE LION'S THROAT by Bob Marriott. Motivated by the death of his younger brother, undercover Interpol cop Brett Sadler searches for a missing friend and wages war against the tidal wave of drugs flowing out of South-East Asia. Author nationality: New Zealand. Status: To be read
- Christchurch, NZ: FIVE MINUTES ALONE by Paul Cleave (Penguin NZ, 2015). Old police colleagues Theo Tate and Carl Schroder, both trying to put their lives back together after several tough cases that almost destroyed them, are in action once more as someone is helping violent crime victims exact revenge on their attackers. Author nationality: New Zealand. Status: Read.
- Fiordland, NZ: POISON BAY by Belinda Pollard (Small Blue Dog, 2014). Aussie TV journo Callie Brown joins friends from the past on a trek into New Zealand's most brutal wilderness, in the hope of healing a broken heart. What she doesn't know is that someone wants them all dead. Lost in every sense of the word, the hikers' primal instincts erupt. Author nationality: Australian. Status: Read.
- Australia: TBC
- Iceland: FROZEN OUT by Quentin Bates (Robinson, 2011). The discovery of a corpse washed up on a beach sparks a series of events that propels the village of Hvalvik's police sergeant Gunnhildur into the deep waters of a cosmopolitan world of shady deals, hired killers, government corruption and violence. Author nationality: English. Status: Read.
- Glasgow, Scotland: BEYOND THE RAGE by Michael J Malone (Saraband, 2015). Glasgow criminal Kenny O'Neill is angry. Not only has his high-class prostitute girlfriend just been attacked, but his father is reaching out to him from the past despite abandoning Kenny as a child after his mother s suicide. Kenny is now on a dual mission to hunt down his girl's attacker and find out the truth about his father... but instead he unravels disturbing family secrets and finds that revenge is not always sweet. Author nationality: Scottish. Status: Read.
- Greece: ASSASSINS OF ATHENS by Jeffrey Siger (Piatkus, 2009). When the body of a boy from one of Greece's most prominent families turns up in a dumpster in one of Athens' worst neighbourhoods, Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis - now head of the Special Crimes Division - is certain there's a message in the murders. But who sent it - and why? Author nationality: USA. Status: On shelf/To be read.
- Cuba: HAVANA GOLD by Leonardo Padura (Bitter Lemon Press, 2011). A 24-year-old teacher is beaten, raped, and then strangled. Lieutenant Conde is pressured by 'the highest authority' to conclude his investigation quickly. Set in a Havana of crumbling, grand buildings, secrets hidden behind faded doors and corruption. Yet also a eulogy to Cuba: its life of music, sex and the great friendships of those who chose to stay and fight for survival. Author nationality: Cuban. Translated: from Spanish by Peter Bush. Status: On shelf/To be read.
- Washington DC/Virginia/Maryland (USA) + Iraq: THE NIGHT CREW by Brian Haig (Thomas & Mercer, 2015): Cocky US Army lawyer Lt Col Sean Drummond is forced to take a case with a fiercely anti-war civilian lawyer defending a naive or evil female prison guard accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners. As Drummond uncovers evidence that his client has been used as a pawn in a secret strategy involving torture, he realizes that he’s caught up in a conspiracy that reaches the highest levels of government. Author nationality: USA. Status: Read.
- Canada: TBC
- Pennsylvania, USA: DEATH FALLS by Todd Ritter (Avon, 2015, originally published by Minotaur as BAD MOON in 2011). Decades after nine-year-old Charlie Olmstead went missing, presumed drowned, on the night Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, Perry Hollow Police Chief Kat Campbell is convinced by Charlie's brother to follow newfound evidence that Charlie might have been abducted, and that he wasn't the only victim. Author nationality: USA. Status: Read.
THE SEVENTH CONTINENT
To be decided.
GENERAL COMMENTS AND LOG
21 February 2015: I'm on to my 12th book, and eighth crime novel of the year, and so far I've covered eight different authors of six different nationalities, who have set their thrillers in five different countries. So that's not too bad a start! I'm looking forward to a lot of great authors and books to come, and am excited about some of the new-to-me authors on my bookshelf.