I read five books in November.
As I said in last month’s reading round up I was lucky enough to spend October in New Zealand. And I forgot to mention one book I read while I was there so I’ll catch up on it now; it is set in NZ.
The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton by Katherine Hayton
Read on Kindle. This is the first in a trilogy featuring Detective Ngaire Blakes, a half-Maori detective in Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand.
Magdalene Lynton died forty years ago, a vivacious teenager who fell victim to a grotesque, accidental drowning. Now someone has confessed to her murder …
I thought this was a terrific police procedural, very dark in places, and can thoroughly recommend it. (I have bought but not yet read the second one.) And you’ve got to love an author whose biography reads: ‘Katherine Hayton is a forty-two year old woman who works in insurance, doesn't have children or pets, can't drive, has lived in Christchurch her entire life, and resides a two-minute walk from where she was born. For some reason, she's developed a rich fantasy life.’
My last week Down Under was spent with lovely cousins in Tasmania.
An anthology of stories from the ten finalists in the 2018 Tasmanian Writers’ Prize. And one of those finalists was my talented cousin Allison Mitchell with Keeping Quiet, a story inspired by family tales.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Read on Kindle. The book opens with the Richardson’s house, in a genteel American suburb, burning down and it’s discovered that a fire was made in each of the bedrooms. The suspect is the youngest of their teenagers, Isabelle; she has run away. We then go back to find out what led up to that moment. Totally engrossing.
Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
I’ve come late to Elizabeth Strout’s party but I’ll be staying right to the end. So far her Olive Kitteridge continues to be in first place for me but Amy and Isabelle is a compulsive and unsettling read, with all the characters living on in my mind. Isabelle and her teenage daughter Amy live in a small American town – a quiet, uneventful life until Amy has an affair with one of her teachers.
News from Heaven by Jennifer Haigh
Another small-town America book – this time of short stories, some of which link with each other. Jennifer Haigh has written an award-winning novel which I haven’t read (yet) called Baker Towers, set in the fictional coal-mining town of Bakerton, Pennsylvania. This declining town is also the setting for the short stories. Loved them – she really gets under the skin of her characters, male or female, whatever age they are.
Murder at the Mousetrap by Helena Marchmont
And now for something completely different – the first in a series of short, cosy, countryside mysteries, with Alfie, a protagonist described as ‘Miss Marple meets Oscar Wilde’. And where cosier to have a murder mystery, laced with a good dollop of humour, than the Cotswolds? A fun read (on Kindle). Look forward to the second one.