January 2016 Round Up and Raven’s Book of the Month

_DSC0185 (Common Raven)As we proceed into the new year, January has found the Raven in slightly pensive mood as to the direction of my blog, and what I review.  Having read fellow bloggers’ reading resolutions, I have decided to come up with a couple of my own….

So, first off, I have pretty much dispensed with my e-reader and consigned it to the interstellar realm of oblivion- a bottom drawer. In my work life I spend my whole day recommending books, proper paper books, and the tactile experience of reading,  and that really is where my heart lies.  I find it such a soulless experience reading on an electronic device , and more often than not just scan down the screen of text so I’m not actually taking in everything I read, which isn’t right for me, or fair to the authors whose work I’m trying to engage with. So from now on, it will be a very rare occurrence for me to read on an e-reader. Viva la book!

I also want to concentrate more on debuts, authors I have not reviewed before, and those strange quirky European delights- a shift of focus that began to a certain degree last year. I will probably post less on mainstream authors as I usually have to read the big new releases as part of my remit as a bookseller, and they are invariably very widely reviewed with a higher profile, whereas I do get a vicarious thrill out of discovering new crime authors and hollering about them. Looking at the next couple of months proof pile, there will be a plethora of debuts hitting this blog!  Obviously, I will still enjoy reading and reviewing  time with my old favourites. You know who you are….

And I have to make time to read more fiction. I had a spell last year where I read over 20 crime books back-to-back, neglecting my overflowing pile of fiction, and leading to a little bit of crime burn-out. There’s some brilliant fiction debuts winging their way to us over the next few months,  I’ll give you an early tip for Anatomy of a Soldier  by Harry Parker out in March- the only book that has ever reduced me to tears, and one of the most honest, harrowing and poignant depictions of war I have ever read. Also there’s some great rediscovered classics coming up for air. Currently in the thrall of Thomas Savage- The Power of the Dog from 1967 which is a sublime mash-up of Annie Proulx and Cormac McCarthy.

So, to January which was chockfull of blog tours, giveaways and some great reads:


Craig Robertson- In Place of Death

Kevin Wignall- A Death In Sweden

 Nadia Dalbuono- The American

 Ragnar Jonasson- Nightblind 

Tim Baker-Fever City  

Coffin Road book jacketI also read and largely enjoyed Peter May- Coffin Road– a return to the wild outposts of Scotland, with an interesting commentary on the environmental havoc we are waging on our bee populations, alongside an intriguing plotline involving murder and memory loss. Although I didn’t think it was quite as strong as some of his previous books, a Peter May on an offish day is still a delight.

aaaDavid Mark’s Dead Pretty saw a series going from strength to strength, and it is always a delight to spend time in the company of freckled faced detective Aector McAvoy in Humberside. Although I was slightly discombobulated by one of his main characters acting so far out of character, as to be almost unrecognisable, Mark has once again produced an emotional and engaging rollercoaster of a police procedural.

51x9Zv9I5-L__SX323_BO1,204,203,200_And of course, Stuart MacBride’s In The Cold Dark Ground the 10th outing for the wonderful Logan ‘Lazarus’  Macrae and his ex-boss the acid-tongued DCI Steel. Pathos, violence and humour all the way, and always a pleasure, never a chore.


theamericanAs I have genuinely enjoyed every book I reviewed this month, this was yet again a tough choice, but Nadia Dalbuono- The American has triumphed. With a  compelling and quixotic central police protagonist, shifting timelines and locations, and interesting commentary on the nefarious and corrupt grip of the Vatican and the CIA,  this intricately researched and gripping tale was an intelligent and hugely satisfying read. Highly recommended and an early contender for the end of the year Top 5.




  1. I like your resolutions – looking forward to hearing more about general fiction and quirky authors from you. I wish I could leave my e-reader aside, but when you don’t have easy access to English language books and posting costs almost more than the book itself for paperbacks, it makes sense to just download the e-book… But I don’t really enjoy reading books on them, especially when I want to go back and search for a particular passage or quote, I find I do far better with physical books (ironically).

    • Thanks Marina. I’m going to begin February with a graphic novel which is a complete first for me! Totally take your point about e-readers as I sometimes have downloads from Netgalley before the physical books and access to books can be tricky. I never did get on with that highlighting/bookmarking business which is frustrating for reviewing.

  2. Glad you enjoyed The American – I thought it was excellent. Although I thought the prequel, The Few, was even better! And the protagonist was rather attractive (for some reason I pictured the Prison Break guy – Wentworth Miller, as him, although I don’t like WM. Go figure, as they say over there.) If you’ve not read it, try and squeeze it in. Italy is such rich pickings for books featuring crime/conspiracy/blackmail/nepotism/political machination/spies/murders – and the Mafia and the Vatican – and that’s the sort of thing I really adore. Tobias Jones’ is very good on non-fiction, but any recommendations, do pass them on! Rather strong month overall – I’ve a couple there still to read. Coffin Road was good, but I agree, not his strongest.

    • Thanks Linda! I did read The Few and that made my top 5 in 2014. I think Dalbuono will be one of my ‘I must get the next book as soon as it comes out’ writers! Love her mix of great characters and social observations. (I always liked Lincoln in Prison Break myself 😉 )

  3. Ooh, glad to hear you’re enjoying The Power of the Dog, since that’s coming up soon on my own reading list. Looking forward to being tempted by some of your forthcoming debut authors…

Leave a Reply to orangepekoereviews Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.