Sunday, 3 April 2016

BLOG TOUR - ALAN JONES - BLOQ

Scottish author Alan Jones is back on the blog today as part of a blog tour promoting his latest book Bloq.


A gritty crime thriller. Glasgow man Bill Ingram waits in the city's Central Station to meet his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train pulls in, and she doesn't get off it, he makes a desperate overnight dash to find out why. His search for her takes over his life, costing him his job and, as he withdraws from home, family and friends, he finds himself alone, despairing of ever seeing her again. 

At Amazon UK here.
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Alan has previously featured with reviews of his two earlier books - The Cabinetmaker and Blue Wicked, as well as a favourite features post regarding Books, Music and Film.

Today he has more of his favourites...........FOOD, DRINK and PLACES!

Food (I know there are more than ten but I love food.)

Cheese - Soft goat's cheese or Manchego

Vegetarian dish - Ratatouille

Breakfast cereal - Bran flakes with sultanas

Fast food - Burritos. Discovered these on holiday in California

Curry - Lamb Dhansak with naan bread

Bread -  White cob from the Co-op

Meat - Lamb just shades it, but roe deer venison superb

Dessert - Trifle just beats rhubarb crumble & custard by a whisker

Tapas - Morcilla; beautiful Spanish black pudding

Vegetable - Onion, followed by aubergine

Salad  - Rocket & spring onion, mustard dressing

Fish - Sea Bream or Turbot, with Scallops

Potatoes - Mashed with skins

Surf and turf - Beef fillet with lobster tail.

Drink (Just managed to keep this down to ten)

Real Ale  Leezie Lundie Pale Ale. I don't normally enjoy real ales but this one is lovely.

Cocktail - Jolly rodger (Particulary apt for the first drink in harbour after a rough day's sail.) Made from dark rum, Galliano, apricot brandy & orange juice

Short - Dark rum, usually with Coke

With a Curry - Cobra. Cold and crisp to put the fire out!

Stout - Guinness. A meal and a drink in one glass. Great when you're in the mood, or in Ireland.

Red wine - Syrah

White wine - Sauvignon Blanc just pips a nice Verdicchio

Heavy - Belhaven best

Cider - Magners. Hard to beat, sitting outside on a hot simmer day

Bottled beer - Peroni. A few bottles with pasta or pizza is just right.

Places

The first three are wonderful places to visit; even more magical to sail into.

Canna - Inner Hebrides. Wild outside, sheltered anchorage. Café Canna is the only eating place but it's fantastic.

Tarbert, Loch Fyne - One of the best natural harbours, great bars and eating places. Wonderful scenery.

Tobermory, Isle of Mull - Picture postcard beautiful. Great food and the Mishnish bar is one of a kind, often jumping with live music.

Tobermory
Malta - Small, with amazing architecture, culture and history. Notte Bianca in Valetta is an annual night of music and dancing and art, including street opera and cinema!

The Canary Islands - All year round sunshine, total relax-time for me.

Marseille - If I'm honest, the whole of the French south coast, full of spectacular food, wine and scenery. I find the people much friendlier than in the north, and they're happy when you make the effort to speak French.

Marseille


Glasgow - My birthplace and where I was brought up. It can be dark and brutal but it's warm and friendly, and the humour is second-to-none.

Edinburgh - In my opinion, no city in Britain matches it for the wow factor, and it's very European in its cultural outlook. Sacrilege for a Weegie!

Ceridigion, South-West Wales. The old Cardiganshire. I lived there for four years and I couldn't have been made more welcome. I even learnt welsh. Pob hwyl I chi.
Ceridigion

Barnsley, South Yorkshire. I worked on a farm just outside Barnsley as a student, and I still have great friends down there; fellow farm workers and all honest Yorkshiremen. The Old No. 7 pub in those days had the best juke box for punk in town, and I got a taste for Tetleys.

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The next leg of the tour is tomorrow at It Takes a Woman!

Thanks again to Alan for his time.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

BLOG TOUR - QUENTIN BATES - THIN ICE

Quentin Bates is an author who I'm familiar with but haven't yet read, though I am currently correcting that oversight with his latest Thin Ice currently on the go.


Snowed in with a couple of psychopaths for the winter...When two small-time crooks rob Reykjavik's premier drugs dealer, hoping for a quick escape to the sun, their plans start to unravel after their getaway driver fails to show. Tensions mount between the pair and the two women they have grabbed as hostages when they find themselves holed upcountry in an isolated hotel that has been mothballed for the season. Back in the capital, Gunnhildur, Eirikur and Helgi find themselves at a dead end investigating what appear to be the unrelated disappearance of a mother, her daughter and their car during a day's shopping, and the death of a thief in a house fire. Gunna and her team are faced with a set of riddles but as more people are quizzed it begins to emerge that all these unrelated incidents are in fact linked. And at the same time, two increasingly desperate lowlifes have no choice but to make some big decisions on how to get rid of their accidental hostages...

Thin Ice is the fifth book in the Gunnhildur Mystery series.

You can catch up with Quentin at his website here.
He's on Twitter here - @graskeggur


Quentin was kind enough to share some thoughts with me on his favourite music, books and films.....


Music
Sailin’ Shoes, by Little Feat
I was 17, picked this album up in a second-hand record shop and asked the guy behind the counter to play a couple of tracks. Fell in love on the spot. One track on this album is dedicated to the ‘Late, great Chester Burnett.’
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6Fb3LJHD5Q

Smokestack Lightnin’, by Howlin’ Wolf
Of course, Chester Burnett was the magnificent Howlin’ Wolf.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJ-upxjutX4

Stones or Beatles? The answer is The Who. ‘Nuff said.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR5v4yyPV6Y


Ökuljóð, sung by Sigfús Pétursson frá Álftagerði.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMCptv0dGZU

Elli Ghir, by Lili Boniche
I came across a mention of Lili Boniche in one of Jean-Claude Izzo’s Marseilles crime novels. A quick trip to the internet, and there were Lili Boniche, Maurice el Medioni and so much more.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wmp5aLvqR5c

Sir Henry at Rawlinson End, by Vivian Stanshall
Wonderful, ragged, sprawling, magnificent, hilarious, packed full of fantastic wordplay. The only album I’ve owned on vinyl, cassette and CD, plus various bootlegs.

Wreckless Eric is just brilliant, in his own idiosyncratic way. His book, a Disfunctional Success: the Wreckless Eric Manual (written by the author) is pretty good as well.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEtkeES8SzM


Not too much I'm especially familiar with if I'm honest. I do like some Who tracks but wouldn't consider myself a fan. The rest.......hmmm, sorry Quentin but each to their own! (Hopefully the links have survived intact and work - if they don't apologies and blame me!)

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Books
Ashenden, by WS Maugham
Some of the Ashenden stories were allegedly destroyed on Churchill’s instructions as giving away a little more than was comfortable about the activities of British intelligence. The book also contains one of my all-time favourite fictional villains – the Hairless Mexican.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
It’s just wonderful escapism. Forget the rubbish movie, the book is a zillion times better. Originally a radio series, it has a spread of imagination that is just breathtaking. Anyone who knows where his towel is should have read this.







Lorraine Connection, Dead Horsemeat, Affairs of State, by Dominique Manotti
Dominique Manotti writes sharp, brutal, highly intelligent crime fiction. I may have to learn French if no more translations appear.


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, by John Le Carré
There’s something about Le Carré’s voice that comes through in his prose that is arresting. There’s lots of drinking tea and talking, but it’s still unputdownable.


Earthly Powers, by Anthony Burgess
It’s huge, it spans decades. Has one of the finest opening sentences ever.

Parker, Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)
He’s ruthless, unscrupulous, driven by money and these books are as sharp as a razor.


Maigret, Georges Simenon
Pick any one you like. They’re all great.


Sjöwall & Wahlöö
Ten stories, all of them are excellent. The forerunners of Nordic Noir, and still haven’t been bettered.


Short stories, Saki
The Unrest Cure is probably the best short story ever; closely followed by Sredni Vashtar.

A bit more familiar ground here. I'm in agreement on the Parker books by Richard Stark. He's more hard-boiled than the cover I've selected, but it is a great one.

I have a few from Simenon on the stacks, probably more Roman Durs than Maigret and I've sampled Sjowall and Wahloo, though I'll need to read more to be totally convinced. 

I'm intending to read my way through Le Carre's Smiley books, but have stalled after the first. Dominique Manotti looks my cup of tea, but he's not someone I have yet tried.
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Films

Simply the finest motion picture ever made.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n3LL338aGA

I was going to go for the The Lavender Hill Mob, but instead I’ll cast a vote for The Ladykillers, the 1955 version with Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom and Katie Johnson as the delightful Mrs Lopsided.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwTBKuRzYd4

The film of Arnaldur Indriðason’s novel. Dark, moody and atmospheric. Some of the background music was recorded at the Ísafjörður swimming pool.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXkEkOXc-tI

The Killing and the Bridge were brilliant, but for my money, Laure Berthaud has a slight edge over Sarah Lund and her Faroese sweater and and Saga Norén in her muddy green Porsche. And that Maître Karlsson can give me a grilling whenever she likes.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K67-aFSn27I

The film of Len Deighton’s first book, and I could as easily have put this in with the books. Harry Palmer (In the film  – the character doesn’t have a name in the books) was the working-class antidote to Bond. The book was written fifty years ago and it’s still as smart as a fresh coat of paint.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ui5ec35Toc4

This was made almost a hundred years ago and it’s just glorious.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s4nVg_W_6Y

The conclusion of the Night Shift, Day Shift and Prison Shift series from Iceland. Hilarious, dark and tragic all at once.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFhwWCTQlp4

I have laughed at Life of Brian though it's maybe 30-odd years since I saw it in full. Not rushing for a re-watch if I'm honest. I read Jar City a few years ago and I'm tempted to track down this film version. I ought to have seen The Ipcress File but can't remember to be truthful, only in recent years have I come to appreciate Michael Caine.
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Quentin's blog tour continues tomorrow at Crimespree. Yesterday he was hosted by Mrs Peabody.

Many thanks to Quentin for his time, even if he has added to my TBR pile. Thanks to Linda MacFayden for hooking us up. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

2 BY TIM DORSEY

2 from Tim Dorsey this week.

Tim Dorsey’s books from the outside reminded me a little bit of Carl Hiaasen, an author that I quite enjoy; though it has been a year or two since I read anything by him. Both have worked in the newspaper industry as journalists, both write comedy-crime books, set in and around Florida.





















Dorsey’s main character is Serge Storms and there are about 20 books in the series, starting with Florida Roadkill back in 1999. This is the only Dorsey I’ve read so far, so I don’t know if my initial comparison with Hiaasen is valid. Most of Hiaasen’s books seem to have concerns over Florida’s future and the drains on the environment and ecology that a constant population influx are creating. Dorsey maybe just plays it for laughs?
 
I probably have about 8 in the series at a guess (that's the logged figure so far), but I kind of stopped buying them as I wasn't keeping up with his output - how very restrained of me.


Tim Dorsey's website is here.











The Stingray Shuffle (2003)

"In this brand-new saga, The Stingray Shuffle, Serge takes on all comers: the Russian mob, the Jamaican mob, the cocaine cartels, and spoiled frat boys. But there must also be time for hobbies, and Serge's newest "interest" is trains: how they developed Florida, where the old historic cars are on display, when to book a trip on Amtrak and share his enthusiasm with the other passengers." "And for Tim Dorsey readers, here are some answers. Ever since the publication of his first four novels, Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Orange Crush, and Triggerfish Twist audiences everywhere have clamored for details: Where's the briefcase with the $5 million? What happened to the loonies who somehow managed to survive the merry bloodbaths? How did Serge end up with amnesia? And can he meet the increasingly difficult challenge of maintaining his spot atop the wacko pile that is Florida?" "The Stingray Shuffle answers all these and more as Serge and friends pinball between stops including Tampa, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Cocoa Beach, and the Keys before setting their sights on New York City." "Which brings up a whole new set of questions. How will Serge survive outside his native state? Will New York City survive? Will luck finally shine on Johnny Vegas, the Accidental Virgin?" What about the women's book club, whose members want more excitement in their lives and decide to hook up with a hyper but delightful tour guide from Florida? Does this mean romance is in the air? And will it involve props?

Torpedo Juice (2005)

The drinks are on us!


Serge A. Storm returns -- and so does Tim Dorsey -- for another hilarious tour of the wacky underside of the Sunshine State. And this time our lovable but maniacal hero is on a mission: Stay off police radar and reinvent himself.

Naturally Serge makes a beeline to the Reinvention Capital of the United States, the Florida Keys, where nobody is who they seem to be and the freaks are the least of your worries.

The perfect place for Serge to blend in!

Unfortunately, some other less likable lunatics have latched on to the same idea, and the sheriff's fax machine keeps jamming because of all the APBs coming in like a storm front about to break ... Lurking beneath paradise are many questions: Who is the mystery driver of the metallic green Trans Am? The brown Plymouth Duster with Ohio plates? What about the white Mercedes with tinted windows?

Who can keep it all straight?

Serge can!

At least when he's not conch blowing, Seven-Mile Bridge running, underwater romancing, operating an all-inclusive twelve-step program, or trying to convince his accidental posse that he's not the messiah.

But the questions only lead to more questions: Why is everyone afraid to set foot on No Name Key? 

Why are they more afraid of the smuggler left over from the old days, when all the phone booths are covered with drug dealers' numbers? What was Serge thinking when he got married? What was she thinking? Who rises from the dead to wreak havoc on the newlyweds' bliss? Will the Skunk Ape win the scavenger hunt? Who will survive the Key West beach bash from hell? And why is everyone hammered all the time?


Maybe it's something in the Torpedo Juice ...

Monday, 14 March 2016

LOGGING THE LIBRARY - PART SEVENTY-TWO




Another week and tub 72 under the microscope!

Tub 72
Oops, this is actually tub 73! Doh!

Jason Webster, Garry Disher, Dave Stanton x 2, Joan Brady,

Non-fiction by Joan Brady

Donald E. Westlake, Chelsea Cain, Tess Gerritsen, Karin Slaughter x 2,

Ray Winstone, Robert Schofield, Patrick Hoffman, J. Mark Bertrand, Chris Holbrook,

Top actor - Ray Winstone

Patrick Hoffman
At a dive bar in San Francisco's edgy Tenderloin district, the dishevelled Emily Rosario is drinking whiskey and looking for an escape. When she is approached by a mysterious and wealthy Russian, she thinks she has found an exit from her drifter lifestyle and drug-addict boyfriend. A week later she finds herself drugged, disoriented and wanted for robbery.


On the other side of town, cop Leo Elias is broke, alcoholic and desperate. When he hears about an unsolved bank robbery, the stolen money proves too strong a temptation. Elias takes the case into his own hands, hoping to find the criminal and the money before anyone else does.
With sharply drawn characters and twists that surprise until the end, The White Van introduces a strong new talent.
Mark SaFranko, Adrian McKinty, James W. Ziskin, Mark Pryor, Kathryn Rogers,

Adrian McKinty - Sean Duffy series.

Mark SaFranko

Ellen Kirschman, Mark SaFranko, A. D. Garrett, Terry Shames, Ken Livingstone,

A. D. Garrett,

Larry D. Sweazy, Robert B. Parker/Helen Brann, Carter Dickson, Clifford Hanley, Mark Dawson,

Carter Dickson,

John Carenen, Roger Jon Ellory, Jerome K. Jerome, Judy Nedry, Brian Hamm,

Marlen Haushofer, Karin Slaughter, Marc Pastor, Dashiell Hammett, Thomas Maurin,

Marlen Haushofer
Considered her greatest literary achievement, Marlen Haushofer's The Wall is the story of one quite ordinary, unnamed middle-aged woman who awakens to find she is the last living human on Earth. Surmising her solitude to be the result of a too successful military experiment, she begins the terrifying work of not only survival, but self-renewal. Variously interpreted as an ironic Robinson Crusoe story, a philosophical parable of human isolation and as dystopian fiction, The Wall is at once a simple survival story and a disturbing meditation on twentieth-century history. First published in English more than twenty years ago,
M. J. Carter, Katie Gilmartin, Walter Mosley, Margaret Moore, Cal Moriarty,

Cal Moriarty
 Bobbi Lomax was the first to die, the bomb killed the prom queen on her own front lawn.
Just moments later one of the nails from the city's second bomb forced its way into the brain of property investor Peter Gudsen, killing him almost instantly.
The third bomb didn't quite kill Clark Houseman. Hovering on the brink, the rare books dealer turns out to be Detectives Sinclair and Alvarez's best hope of finding out what linked these unlikely victims, and who wanted them dead and why. But can they find the bomber before he kills again?
Set deep in the religious heartlands of America, The Killing of Bobbi Lomax follows this troubled investigation as a narrative of deceit, corruption and forgery emerges, with an unlikely hero at its heart - a rare coins, books and manuscript dealer - who could either be a genius or the devil.
Walter Mosley

Lori Rader-Day, Adrian McKinty, Soji Shimara, Alexander Lernet-Holenia, Pierre Boileau/Thomas Nercejac,

Adrian McKinty - Sean Duffy and some size 9 loafers,

Alexander Lernet-Holenia

Tub 72 - put to bed!
Since taking the happy snaps for this tub back in December, 2015 I've read three of these already......Terry Shames, Ellen Kirshman, Garry Disher - so a slight dent has been made.

HIGHLIGHTS...... Patrick Hoffman, Mark SaFranko, Donald E. Westlake, Dave Stanton, Adrian McKinty, Soji Shimara,

LOWLIGHTS....... not too much, though the Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter's are probably more my wife's cup of tea than mine. I will very probably enjoy them though.

FULL LIST OF 50 AS FOLLOWS:


AUTHOR TITLE YEAR SERIES
BOILEAU/NARCEJAC PIERRE/THOMAS SHE WHO WAS NO MORE
BRADY JOAN AMERICA'S DREYFUS
CAIN CHELSEA EVIL AT HEART
CARENEN JOHN SIGNS OF STRUGGLE
CARTER M. J. THE INFIDEL STAIN
DAWSON MARK BLOOD MOON RISING
DICKSON CARTER THE JUDAS WINDOW
DISHER GARRY THE HEAT
ELLORY ROGER JON CANDLEMOTH
GARRETT A. D. EVERYONE LIES
GERRITSEN TESS THE SILENT GIRL
GILMARTIN KATIE BLACKMAIL, MY LOVE
HAMM BRIAN THE ART BROKER
HAMMETT DASHIELL THE HUNTER AND OTHER STORIES
HANLEY CLIFFORD THE TASTE OF TOO MUCH
HAUSHOFER MARLEN THE WALL
HOFFMAN PATRICK THE WHITE VAN
HOLBROOK CHRIS HELL AND OHIO
JEROME JEROME K. THREE MEN IN A BOAT
KIRSCHMAN ELLEN THE RIGHT WRONG THING
LERNET-HOLENIA ALEXANDER I WAS JACK MORTIMER
LIVINGSTONE KEN YOU CAN'T SAY THAT
MAURIN THOMAS BROKEN TRUST
McKINTY ADRIAN GUN STREET GIRL
McKINTY ADRIAN I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREETS
MOORE MARGARET BROKEN CHORD
MORIARTY CAL THE KILLING OF BOBBI LOMAX
MOSLEY WALTER AND SOMETIMES I WONDER ABOUT YOU
NEDRY JUDY THE DIFFICULT SISTER
PARKER/BRANN ROBERT B./HELEN SILENT NIGHT
PASTOR MARC BARCELONA SHADOWS
PRYOR MARK HOLLOW MAN
RADER-DAY LORI LITTLE PRETTY THINGS
ROGERS KATHRYN MEMPHIS HOODOO MURDERS
SAFRANKO MARK THE SUICIDE
SAFRANKO MARK DIRTY WORK
SCHOFIELD ROBERT MARBLE BAR
SHAMES TERRY A DEADLY AFFAIR AT BOBTAIL RIDGE
SLAUGHTER KARIN FALLEN
SLAUGHTER KARIN BROKEN
SLAUGHTER KARIN CRIMINAL
SOJI SHIMARI THE TOKYO ZODIAC MURDERS
STANTON DAVE DARK ICE
STANTON DAVE HARD PREJUDICE
SWEAZY LARRY D. A THOUSAND FALLING CROWS
WEBSTER JASON A DEATH IN VALENCIA
WESTLAKE DONALD E. DANCING AZTECS
WINSTONE RAY YOUNG WINSTONE
ZISKIN JAMES W. STONE COLD DEAD
BERTRAND J. MARK BACK ON MURDER
I'm running a bit behind and haven't yet established year of publication, author gender, nationality, series entry or fiction/non-fiction status for the all-important OCD spreadsheet!

Sunday, 13 March 2016

FEBRUARY 2016 - READING LIST AND PICK OF THE MONTH

February's reading total was the same as January with 14 reads of various lengths in the month. 7 full length novels, one collection of short stories, 3 novellas or short novels, call them what you will and 3 short stories - all available on their own so they all count in the tally!


Garry Disher - The Heat (2015) (5)

Bill Pronzini - Casefile (1983) (4)

Robert Palmer - The Survivors (2015) (4.5)

Lono Waiwaiole - Wiley's Lament (2003) (4)

Nathanael West  - Miss Lonelyhearts (1933) (2)

Sean Costello - Squall (2015) (4.5)

Lawrence Block - A Bad Night for Burglars (2011) (4)

J. A. Kazimer - A Very F***ed-Up Valentine's Tale (2015) (4)

Lawrence Block - Keller in Dallas (2009) (4.5)

Lawrence Block - Death of the Mallory Queen (2016) (3)

Bill Pronzini - Quicksilver (1984) (4)


Noreen Ayres - The Juan Doe Murders (2000) (3)

Max Allan Collins - Quarry's List (1976) (5)

Malcolm Mackay - Anatomy of a Hit (2013) (5)



As is my want, a bit of data .......

14 reads from 12 different authors, 

4 of the 12 were new-to-me authors.

3 – 5 star reads Garry Disher's The Heat, Max Allan Collins with Quarry's List and Malcolm Mackay's 70 page Anatomy of a Hit.


2 of the 3 concern hit men, the other is a professional thief, who will kill to avoid capture! You can see where my reading preferences lay, I think!


Book of the month on the basis that I'd be more inclined to re-read this one - Garry Disher - The Heat!

3 of the 14 were 4.5 star reads, 5 scored 4.0 and 2 were 3.0s and 1 was a 2.0..... 

The 3.0s were ok, Noreen Ayres and her The Juan Doe Murders dragged a bit Lawrence Block's Chip Harrison short story was averagely good 

Nathanael West's 1933 novella Miss Lonelyhearts wasn't all that good, but on the plus side it was only 70-ish pages long.


10 of the 12 authors read were male. 2 females only - a decrease on last month! 

Cover of the month! Sean Costello's Squall. The fast-paced tale was really enjoyable as well.

9 of the 12 authors hail from the US - not a surprise!. 1 from Australia, 1 from Scotland,1 from Canada,  

1 book from the 1930s, 1 from the 70s, 1 from the 80s, 3 from the 2000s, 6 from this decade - 2011 (x1), 2013 (x1), 2015 (x3) and 2016 (x1).

All 14 were fiction. 

4 books were sent to me by the publishers, 10 were owned copies - though 5 of them were gotten from Amazon when freebies. (3 with thanks to Mr Block!)

4 were paperbacks, 1 was a hardback, 9 were Kindle reads, 

My two monthly series reads continued - 2 Quarry books down 9 to go from Max Allan Collins, 13 Nameless books from Bill Pronzini read maybe 30 to go!



I did also manage to read a Scottish and an Australian book, which gets me a bit closer to completing the irritating sidebar challenges. I must be halfway on my US State reading challenge but haven't updated it in about two years!

Total page count - 2168 - a slight decrease on December's 2593.


Kerrie over at Mysteries in Paradise, collates crime fiction bloggers monthly round ups and their best books over at her site.

Check out what others enjoyed in February here.

Rest of the covers......