The Best of March’s Reading

March photoWe all know March isn’t really spring but in the north of England we were surprised and dismayed by the poor weather this month. We got early crocus flowers, then drifting snow and we’re heading into April with cold temperatures.

I’ve been luckier with my reading, however. Lots of books by old favourites were published this month including offerings from Fred Vargas, Jonathan Kellerman and Shona (now S G) MacLean. I don’t think there was a dud amongst them but my hands-down favourite was by Leif G W Persson. Linda, As in the Linda Murder was unusual and funny and must have been a guilty joy to translate from its original Swedish.

The eight books I read for crimepieces were:

1. Linda, As in the Linda Murder by Leif G W Persson

2. The Ghost Riders of Ordebec by Fred Vargas

3. The Locked Room by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö

4. Guilt by Jonathan Kellerman

5. The Healer by Antti Tuomainen

6. The Devil’s Recruit by S G MacLean

7. The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Soderberg

8. Dandy Gilver and a Bothersome Number of Corpses by Catriona McPherson

I also reviewed Johan Theorin’s Asylum for Eurocrime.  Do head over there and have a look what I thought of it.

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise is putting together a list of reviewers’ favourite books for March.

Jonathan Kellerman – Guilt

GuiltI have a partiality for series in my crime fiction reading. I’ve heard that a publishing trend is moving towards more standalone novels, and while I can see some advantages in them, what I want to read above all is a new book in a series that I love. I don’t read in a methodical way; the only series that I’ve deliberately read in order are the Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö Martin Beck books. The downside of series, of course, is that they can go off the boil. I don’t intend to list them here, but I can name a fair few that have started well and then when you reach, say book 12, the quality dips. At that point, with so much else out there, I usually stop reading them.

However, there are some writers who  manage to keep the impetus going, the topic of a recent post at the crime fiction blog Reactions to Reading. My nomination for a series that is a ‘must read’ are the Alex Delaware/Milo Sturgis novels by Jonathan Kellerman, the latest of which, Guilt, was published in the UK at the beginning of March.

A pregnant woman unearths the body of a baby in the back garden of a house she is buying and the evidence points towards a tragedy that occurred sixty years earlier.  Nearby, a recent set of baby’s bones are found in a park and a woman working as a nanny is found shot dead. The cases seem miles apart but in wealthy LA, the highest echelons of society are prepared to pay, obfuscate or murder to conceal their actions.

The principal attraction of Kellerman’s books is the relationship between Milo and Alex. Milo is a gay LAPD detective whose outsider status allows him a free hand with investigations. Alex Delaware, is a consulting psychologist who assists with cases and often helps solve them. Their close relationship has been well drawn from the very first book,When the Bough Breaks and their affectionate banter in the midst of violent crime is always good to read.

The plots of the books, although well constructed, are often difficult to distinguish from each other. Guilt, however, involving an historic and present day case was better than some and I enjoyed the insight into the lives of the super rich and famous. Early in the series, the books were far more psychology focused and although Kellerman has moved away from this, it would be nice sometimes to see Alex in his psychologist’s guise rather than zooming around LA to solve a case.

Overall, considering this is the 28th book, I thought it held up pretty well and will no doubt delight Kellerman’s legion of fans.

Thanks to the publisher Headline for my copy.