While January was an amazing month for reading, sadly, February was another disappointment.
It did lead to a realisation though: for years I’ve been turning to crime fiction whenever I’m suffering from a reading slump, expecting a dose of murder to have me flicking eagerly through the pages.
But actually, I think crime fiction has become the problem. A lot of the books I’ve read over the last couple of years have been fairly mediocre, so perhaps it’s time to break away from the genre a bit and try new things.
I’ll always have time for a great crime thriller, but there is so much else out there.
Bones in the Nest, by Helen Cadbury
The best of this month’s crime reads, this is the second book in a series of crime novels following Doncaster PCSO Sean Denton as he attempts to build a career in the police. While a young woman is trying to make a fresh start after spending time in prison, racial tensions are troubling the Chasebridge Estate and Sean gets caught up in the case when a body is found there, close to his estranged father’s flat.
Helen Cadbury’s debut, To Catch a Rabbit, was excellent and while I didn’t enjoy the follow up quite as much, it was still a solid read. Sean Denton is an interesting character, as a young PCSO starting out in the police force he is different to the jaded middle-aged detectives we so often see. He’s not without his troubles of course, with a difficult upbringing that has left a mark on him.
But he’s smart and seems to have a knack for getting people to trust him, which brings him to the heart of the cases he investigates. It will be interesting to see how he progresses through the series and as the books have been optioned for television we could soon be seeing more of the Doncaster detective.
The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware
After a traumatic break-in at her London flat, journalist Lo Blacklock struggles to deal with anxiety. She believes going on assignment on a luxury yacht is just the thing she needs: not only the chance she’s been waiting for to progress her career, but also a way of escaping the effects of the burglary that left her traumatised.
When she wakes up in the middle of the night and witnesses a woman being pushed overboard, she’s horrified. But things only get worse when she alerts the crew and finds out that no one is missing.
So who was the woman staying in the next cabin who lent her a mascara earlier that day, and whose possessions have mysteriously disappeared?
Lo is determined to find out the truth, but there’s a killer on board and he knows that she’s looking for him…
I read the author’s debut novel, In a Dark, Dark Wood, the year before last and was keen to get hold of the follow-up. The premise is right out of Agatha Christie, with a plucky female passenger determined to hunt down a killer who no one else believes exists.
Sadly, I was disappointed.
Firstly, I found the press trip that Lo is invited on fairly unlikely. The passengers include a couple of other journalists and a photographer, plus the yacht’s wealthy owner and some of his friends. The group feels more appropriate to a Christie novel than a modern day press junket.
And while the setting is claustrophobic, it limits the story options, making the pacing uneven and Lo’s narration of events a bit on the hysterical side.
Not bad, but not amazing either.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling
I don’t think this one needs an explanation – after a slow few weeks, I wanted to spend a Sunday immersed in a novel and the first Harry Potter seemed like a good bet.
I was not disappointed.
Angel, by LJ Ross
This is the fourth in a series of self-published crime novels set in North East England that follow Detective Ryan and his exploits investigating the crimes of a satanic cult and their associates.
While previous books have been dark and fast paced, I found this one a bit dull in comparison. But it did pick up towards the end, with a fantastic cliff-hanger that set the scene nicely for book five, so I probably will read on to see what happens next.
Sweetpea, by CJ Skuse
Like Bridget Jones meets Dexter, this is chick-lit meets bloody crime thriller. Rhiannon is a serial killer. Anyone who pisses her off ends up in her diary, and some of them even end up dead.
But when she tries to catch two local rapists who attack women in lonely lay-bys, her secret life begins to unravel.
This is a dark and violent story told in a bold and attention-grabbing voice.
It’s certainly original and if you enjoy a genuine bit of mayhem with your murder, then this might be for you.
This post contains affiliate links. I received an e-copy of Sweetpea from the publisher via Netgalley, but all opinions are my own.