The Best of July’s Reading

CalverFor crime fiction readers and writers the month of July is dominated by the Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. The weather was perfect and I had a wonderful time catching up with old and new friends. A summary of the days can be found here and here.

My reading slowed down a little because of work commitments but at least there wasn’t a bad book amongst the ones that I did read. I’m trying to alternate between Scandinavian crime fiction for the Petrona Award and everything else I want to read. My book of the month is one of the submissions for the Petrona. Cold Courage by Pekka Hiltunen was an unusual and creepy read and it was fascinating to read about London through the eyes of an expat.

The five books I read for crimepieces were:

1.  Scafell by Matthew Pink

2. Someone to Watch over Me by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

3. Redemption by Jussi Adler-Olsen

4. Cold Courage by Pekka Hiltunen

5. The Innocence Game by Michael Harvey

To view the pick of the month from other crime fiction readers, head over to Mysteries in Paradise which has a useful round up reviewers choices.

Review: Matthew Pink – Scafell

ScafellMy resolution at the start of the year to read my e-books has slipped recently and I’ve been having to decline what look like decent novels that have been published independently. One that I couldn’t resist, however, was Scafell by Matthew Pink. Although I’m based in the Peak District, I have relatives in the nearby Lakes and the name Scafell has a lot of emotional resonance for those of us who know the region. The area is home to the highest peaks in England and, biased as I may be towards my own national park, I do think the Lakes their own special beauty. I’ve also mentioned before that I think a rural setting makes a great backdrop to a crime novel and, once again, I’m proved right.

Stephen ‘Sparky’ Markham moves to the Lake District in search of peace and quiet. However his hopes of a rural idyll are dashed by the discovery locally of a mutilated body. His friend, Detective Charlie Slider, is supposed to be investigating the case but disappears and Sparky is forced to confront the mysterious world of fracking that is proposed for the local bay.

Those familiar with the Lake District will love the references to the area. I think some artistic licence has been taken with the location of a few of the places but, to be honest, this didn’t bother me in the slightest. Surely the whole point of fiction is that it represents reality without being bound by it.

The writer has a distinct narrative voice and this comes across clearly from the first page. The opening is particularly strong and the evocation of the elements struck a chord.  The countryside is harnessed to the weather and the writer cleverly balances a murder plot with a strong feel for the setting. Rain is part and parcel for those of us living in the north of England and, in this book, you could almost smell the damp oozing out of the pages.

The plot is kept interesting by twists and turns that are very much in the crime fiction conventions and kept me engrossed until the end.

I hope that this writer will reach a wider audience as Scafell is well written crime novel with a special setting. Thanks to the author for sending me a copy of the book.