Friday, July 15, 2011

Just a few things: 1) re the CWA International Dagger shortlist reads; 2) my choice for said award; 3) review of Needle in a Haystack, by Ernesto Mallo

With sincere apologies to the author (like he's going to read this, but whatever) I've decided not to read Parot's The Saint-Florentin Murders, because after looking at it, I've realized that it's #5 in the series and I can't jump this far into the middle without knowing anything about the characters or the past storylines, etc.  I can't help it -- I'm a series purist and there's absolutely no time to pick up the other four and read them, especially if they're as hefty as this one!  I probably should have figured this out much earlier, but it is what it is.

This means I have a brand new, unread copy if anyone would like it -- gratis, international is okay. First person to leave a comment on this post takes it.

Second, I'm currently finishing up Three Seconds, and will post a review probably on Sunday. Let me just say that I liked Box 21 much better, but we'll get to that in a couple of days.

If I were voting, my bet would be on Needle in a Haystack, by Ernesto Mallo. I read this last November and was completely blown away by how very well written it is.  After finishing that book, I went on to make a list of other books set in that awful time period (both crime fiction and literature), and have been happily reading ever since.  When I got back from my vacation, his Sweet Money was waiting for me here, and I am going to waste no time delving into it, although I did wonder how he was going to do a sequel, considering the ending of Needle in a Haystack.  

Finally, a note about upcoming reads: I'm plowing through all of the Camilleri books and seeking out crime fiction authors enjoyed by Salvo Montalbano, noting, ordering and stacking, so expect to see reviews of books by authors like Antonio Tabucchi, Manuel Vazquez Montalban and Friedrich Durrenmatt.   I also joined the Europa Challenge, so I'll be reading crime fiction published by Europa Editions for a while -- by authors like Jean-Claude Izzo, Alicia Gimenez-Bartlett and Carlo Lucarelli to name a few.  And then there are all the new books I've been slowly piling up, like Misterioso by Arne Dahl, which has been tempting me since I got home.  I often regret having to sleep -- there are so many evil deeds and great detectives to read about.


  1. I haven't read that French novel either - I downloaded #1 very cheaply on Kindle but have not even read that yet. Like you, I don't like to start a series so far on.
    Having read the rest of the shortlist, I agree with you on the Mallo!

  2. I don't know about this. I liked Mallo's book a lot, although I found it tough to read, because that period was so brutal and the book reflected the reality of the junta. But it is well-written.

    I think you're quite courageous to keep on reading books about that period of political repression.

    I won't predict the Dagger as I have only read three books, and it would not be fair for me to do that. (I'm waiting for my library to obtain some of the books, and then I'll read them.)

    I am seriously hooked on the Camilleri series, as I have written on your blog in response to some of your reviews. A few days with Montalbano, iced tea and my a/c and I've happily had a vacation in Vigata, Sicily.

    Am eagerly looking forward to your reading and reviewing the books by authors Camilleri/Montalbano has recommended. He also likes Simenon, and I plan to read a few of his Maigret books.

    A friend has just discovered Durrenmatt and wished he had found him earlier on.

    If you would like to send me the Parot book, I will read it and pass it along to several friends, one of whom will be lost in France for as long as it takes her to read it. I think my email is visible to you. If not, please let me know how to send you my address. Thanks.

  3. If you would like to give away the Parot, I toss my name into the mix. My email is

    Rest assured that not only I would read it, but about 5 other people, one of whom would be buried in France until she finishes, and another woman who reads anything about France who'd enjoy it, too.

    Thank you for your kind offer. If it is appropriate please add my name.

  4. No name tossing involved ... It's yours. Just send an email oakesn at gmail dot com with a home address and it will go out Monday!

  5. Thank you very much.
    I am so glad I found this website through Friend Feed. What drew me to it was your terrific reviews of the books set in one of my favorite locations: Vigata, Sicily, for all of the reasons outlined.
    I discovered that series when I read August Heat last year before the Dagger award was announced. I loved it, in all respects, and that set me on a mission to read the series.
    I now have one left at home and six to go after that. I am holding on to it the way one holds onto good chocolate, not wanting it to be finished.

  6. @Maxine: Sorry for the delay in responding. I'm FINALLY finished with all of the CWA shortlist books (well, with the Parot exception), and yes, it's definitely Mallo. And now I'm going to go grab my copy of Sweet Money, sit on my patio by my pool and read it the rest of the day.

  7. @kathy d: First, I have degrees in history (mine are in Chinese & East Asian history, but it's history all the same), and I am particularly fascinated with Latin American history of all time periods, but most especially the Dirty War and the Chilean coup. I rarely turn away from books due to their awful subject matter, unless they're so disgustingly written that I can't take it. In the case of the Dirty War, well, yes, it's brutal, but we can't turn our backs on it because it's ugly. It happened and people are still dealing with it through their writing.

    Finally, you're welcome for the book -- so not a problem. I often give books away, and I'd rather see them go to people who will appreciate them. If you also read literary fiction, I give books away over at the other blog, too.


  8. Whoops, that "second" shouldn't be there!

  9. Nancy, I know a bit about the Argentinian junta and much about the anti-Allende coup in Chile and its terrible aftermath.

    I know and have heard speak Chileans who were held in military camps and tortured after the coup. I've heard a Chilean woman speak in great detail about the terrible brutality and sexual abuse leveled against the women who were imprisoned then.

    At the time of the coup in Chile, I joined in protests against it and against the deaths, incarcerations and disappearances of people.

    A hero of mine is the songwriter, Victor Jara, who was killed in a stadium in front of thousands of people.

    A favorite film of mine is "The Official Story," starring Norma Aleandro about an Argentinian woman who realizes her child was the child of two young people who "disappeared" during the coup. Many times I heard Jacobo Timmerman speak about his incarceration and torture by the generals.

    I have read news and political commentary for decades and follow these issues continually and read news all day long, including about many horrors that have taken place in Honduras since Pres. Zelaya was ousted.

    All I'm saying is that when I read fiction it's to be distracted and entertained. It's my way of taking virtual vacations, as I don't travel, enjoying great characters, laughing at the humor, somewhat to get away from the awful news of wars and weapons and budgets that are cutting poor children from health care, etc.

    We all have different goals in reading fiction. It's my escape. The daily news, whether in print newspapers or online is enough reality reading for me.

    I am very glad that authors who have first-hand knowledge and experience of these horrible times are writing about them for wider audiences. The more, the better.


I don't care what you write, but do be nice about it