Book ReviewsCrime and thrillers

Uncovered: An Overdose Of Crime On The Shelves

Today marked yet another attempt to bring some order to the chaos of my book collection. Thanks to a mini cull I can see some space on the bookshelves which is just as well because the piles on the floor are in danger of toppling.

Every time I do this exercise I make a discovery about my stock of “owned but unread” books. Today’s discovery was that I own a load more crime fiction novels than I expected.

It’s a surprise because, though I’m partial to a little crime fiction from time to time, I’ve never considered myself a huge fan.

I view them as entertaining, something I enjoy at the time, but not the kind of book that makes me think or that lingers in my mind long after I’ve got to the final page. Most of them are so forgettable that, were you to ask me to describe a particular book, I’d be in difficulties.

Those I do recall are memorable because the characterisation is sharp, the setting evocative and the narrative deals with interesting issues. Hence why I enjoy Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series so much.

Given all this, how have I ended up owning 22 crime fiction books?

Fortunately I can turn to the spreadsheet where I record all my purchases and acquisitions (gifts, donations, ARCs etc) to find some answers.

Completing A Series

A few are parts of a series I’ve been following. That accounts for my copies of Nature Of The Beast and Bury Your Dead which are part of the series by Louise Penny I mentioned earlier.

It also accounts for In Two Minds by Alis Hawkins. It’s the second in her Teifi Valley Coroner series and I enjoyed the first None So Blind so much I had to get the follow up. I do need to read this soon however because there is a third book Those Who Can due out in May 2020.

Earlier this year I started reading a series by Abir Mukherjeeset in India at the time of the Raj. I must have been convinced this would be good because even before I read book one, A Rising Man, I had already bought books 2 and 3 and have an ARC of the fourth.

Who Can Resist A Bargain?

I can’t, at least not when it comes to books.

I volunteer at a National Trust property which runs a second hand bookshop as a way of raising funds. So of course every time I report for duty I just have to have a peek at the most recent donations.

The prices are ridiculously low – just £1 will get you a paperback in good condition (the volunteers who run the shop vet everything before it goes on the shelves). So hard to resist…..

Which is how I acquired two books by Jane Harper: The Dry and The Lost Man, both of which a friend had highly recommended.

A “two for the price of one” offer at The Works brought me Stasi Child, a debut novel by David Young which has won several awards. What attracted my interest was that it is set in the former East Germany during the time of the Cold War. I also bought the follow up Stasi Wolf.

I have a set of three books by Alexander Wilson that came as a discounted bundle from The Book People. Wilson was one of the pen names of Alexander Joseph Patrick “Alec” Wilson, an English spy and MI6 officer. I’ve no idea about the quality of the books; maybe their plots won’t be as interesting as the real life story of the author. After his death in 1963 he was discovered to have been a serial bigamist but then questions began about the true nature of his intelligence work.

Buzz Books

There are some books I bought purely on the strength of reviews from other bloggers, mentions in social media and the occasional newspaper review. Unfortunately I failed to record the exact source of the recommendation – something I shall try to remedy with any future purchases.

Into this category falls Sixty Four by Hideo Yokoyama which revolves around the disappearance of two teenage girls 14 years apart. It was published with considerable buzz in 2018. It’s a massively chunky book , which is probably why I haven’t tackled it yet.

I also have Lewis Man by Peter May which is clearly a mistake because it’s book number one in a trilogy and I don’t have book one. So now I have to decide whether to go back to the beginning and add yet another title to my shelves…..

It’s going to take me a few years to work my way through all of these because I’ll space them out among other genres. If you’re a crime fiction expert maybe you can help me decide which of these to read first? And if there are any titles here that I could maybe give away…..


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

28 thoughts on “Uncovered: An Overdose Of Crime On The Shelves

  • Sheree @ Keeping Up With The Penguins

    I’m feeling weirdly “into” crime fiction the last few weeks, actually – great timing with this post! I think it’s because coming to the end of a big year, having read a lot of intense stuff lately, there’s something really reassuring about the formulaic and the page-turner-y that feels relaxing and not too taxing. I’m also interested in a slightly loftier (if still nebulous) idea about crime (especially true crime) as a form of resistance against patriarchal oppression, especially where it’s written/voiced by women. Looking forward to hearing what you think of the Jane Harper books (as a fellow Aussie) when you get them!

  • I don’t think I read any crime fiction, though I’m always intrigued by real-life crime books. That’s not to say I read them; I’m always scared off by the controversy that surrounds true crime books, especially those that are perhaps stretching the truth.

  • Louise Penny is fabulous, she’s a Canadian treasure we are all proud to call our own 🙂 I’m the same way-most crime books are totally forgettable to me, even if I enjoyed them. They all sort to blend in to each other, but I’ll still read them because I find them entertaining.

  • I tried the Japanese Sixty Four and found it beyond boring. So, realthog, you have company. I abandoned it immediately.

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence, alison41! I persevered until the end, but “persevere” was the apt term. I’ve enjoyed almost all of the Japanese crime fiction I’ve read; this one was an exception.

    • You’re a fan clearly Josee. I read a few out of sequence so have gone back to the beginning and now slowly making my way up to date. I enjoy them so much I like to space them out to savour the experience

    • William Monk didn’t ring any bells with me so had to look it up. I hadn’t linked it with Anne Perry. Ive never read her but she’s got loads of books under her belt

      • I haven’t read the most recent ones because she got into crimes I couldn’t deal with but I love Monk and Hester. I need to read her other series.

        • Sometimes the detail can be offputting. I don’t much care for anything involving child abuse for example

  • You absolutely need to read the whole series by Louise Penny, they are better and better, and never 2 are alike. A feat!
    I have read only one book by Peter May, but I thought his writing was amazing, and you know how picky am!

    • I’ve been wondering how Louise Penny can keep coming up with plots that involve Three Pines.Quite a feat!

  • Mukherjee is really very good—and, as an offering to counterbalance what FictionFan says above, the fourth book (Death in the East) sees the main character tackling his opium addiction and trying to get clean…which, naturally, leads him to another crime. It’s nice to see character development in a series, and I’d really recommend them.

    • Thats great insight, I was wondering whether the addiction would become too prominent and take over the narrative too much. Sounds like its been well handled

  • It is kind of neat to find books that one has forgotten that one owned. It is also neat to read books that one has owned for awhile.

    I have not read a lot of crime fiction. I am sure that there is some good stuff out there. Sixty Four sounds very good.

    • Finding forgotten books used to be a more common occurrence until I hd the spreadsheet. I’d discover I had bought a book of which I already owned a copy…..

  • Same thing happens to me, although it’s usually impulse buys in charity shops or online that mount up and I forget I have them until I have a clear out. I can’t offer any sensible advice as I’ve not read any of the authors – maybe just try reading the first few pages and if you’re not grabbed, discard them??

    • Reading the first chapter is a practice I’ve been adopting with the books that are oldest on my TBR. It’s a good way of filtering out the ones I bought but no longer know why.

  • It’s a while since I read The Lewis Man but I think it can be read as a standalone from memory, although there is a bit of a running story through the trilogy too. Fortunately the first in the trilogy, The Blackhouse, is great too! The first couple of Mukherjees are very good though for me the series has gone off the boil now, due to the central character’s opium addiction which is getting too much space at the expense of all the India stuff which made the first ones so enjoyable. I also loved The Dry, but was less enthusiatic about The Lost Man…

    • Groan, now you are making a case for me to add yet another book with your recommendation for the Blackhouse….

  • The only ones I’ve read that you mentioned are The Dry and Force of Nature….I enjoyed them both and are worth a read!

    • Interesting to see you liked both Jane Harper where Fictionfan wasn’t as keen on The Lost Man

      • Meanwhile I’d vote for The Lost Man as the best of the three!

      • I liked her first two (The Dry and Force of Nature) best! Although well written I didn’t care for the morally ambiguous ending of Lost Man…reminiscent of the ending in Where the Crawdads Sing

        • At least I will open Lost Man fully aware to expect that kind of ending

  • I’d join your friend in thoroughly recommending Jane Harper’s The Dry and The Lost Man, especially the latter. I also liked her second novel, Force of Nature, very much indeed. She seems to be just getting better and better.

    I’m the person who didn’t much like the Hideo Yokoyama novel.


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