Looking forward to…

Episode 6

Another selection in my occasional looks back at old reviews which I finished by saying something along the lines of “I’ll be looking forward to reading more of her work/this series/his books in the future” to see if I actually did read more and, if I did, did I like the ones I looked forward to as much as the ones that made me look forward to them?

Let’s see then…

The Blinded Man by Arne Dahl

First reviewed 11th April, 2013. This is the first book in the Intercrime series, about a special police unit set up by the Swedish authorities to investigate ‘violent crimes with an international character’. I said “an enjoyable, well plotted police procedural with elements of both mystery and thriller” and mentioned that I was looking forward to reading the next in the series. But did I?

I did! The next one was Bad Blood, also in 2013, a dark and complex story about a serial killer who has come to Sweden from the USA. I gave it five stars and again said I’d be looking forward to the next one. But I haven’t read any more since. I was already losing interest at that stage in both Scandi crime as a genre, though I’ve continued to read some sporadically over the intervening years, and in darker, more graphic crime generally, and I guess by the time his next novel appeared it simply didn’t appeal to me. And I’m afraid it still doesn’t. The blurb mentions terrorism and massacres – not for me, I fear!

* * * * *

Close to the Bone by Stuart MacBride

First reviewed 19th April 2013. This is the eighth in MacBride’s Aberdeen-set Logan McRae series which I had been following since it started. However, my enthusiasm was wearing thin, since it seemed to me MacBride was bored with his characters and taking the series in the direction of broad farce more than crime fiction. I said “I’m not sure where the series is heading and I’ll probably stick with it for another book or two but I think it may be close to the time that it should reach an end before it becomes too farcical.” So did I?

Hmm, no and yes. When the next book came along I decided I really wasn’t enthusiastic to read it, so dropped the series. However, a couple of years ago HarperCollins sent me a review copy of All That’s Dead, the 12th book in the series, and I decided to give it a chance to bring back the old magic. And to an extent it did. I said “I felt he’d pulled the recurring characters back a little from the extreme caricaturing that lost me eventually in the earlier books” and I felt the plotting was stronger again. I enjoyed it a lot and gave it 4½ stars. It hasn’t made me want to read the books I’ve missed, though, and I’m not sure whether I’ll read the next, if a new one comes along. Maybe. His most recent book is a standalone thriller and it doesn’t appeal to me at all – apparently about a serial killer called the Bloodsmith! Sounds graphic, gruesome and bloody – not for me!

* * * * *

Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru

First reviewed 23rd April 2013. A beautifully written book about a diverse cast of characters all of whose lives are affected in some way by the location in which they find themselves, the empty and mysterious Californian desert. I said “…the wonderful prose, the fascinating tales, the occasional flashes of humour and, above all, the sympathetic characters all combine to make this a book to be both savoured and enjoyed.” Its five star rating put it on my list to read more from him. But did I?

I did! I loved his next book, White Tears, even more than Gods Without Men – a book that uses the history of early blues music to muse on race, on cultural appropriation, and on race guilt, and a book I still think of often. Then I was a little disappointed by his next, Red Pill, purely because its subject matter – a man having an existential crisis mirroring the political existential crisis in the US, all told with a lot of reference to German romantic poetry – didn’t work for me. He’s still firmly on my looking forward to list though, and has a back catalogue that I must find time to explore. His breakthrough novel, The Impressionist, has been lingering on my wishlist for far too long…

* * * * *

Death in a Scarlet Gown by Lexie Conyngham

First reviewed 23rd April 2013. This is the first in the Murray of Letho series – historical fiction set in the Scotland of the early 19th century. When I reviewed it I had already read a couple of the following books, and said “For me, this one is the weakest in terms of plotting but the setting and historical context make it well worth reading.” I fully intended to continue with the series… but did I?

I did! Well, for a while anyway. I read and thoroughly enjoyed the first five books. And then, at the end of the sixth, the author did something to one of the characters (can’t explain – spoiler!) that would seriously affect the direction of future books. I hated it, so much so that I commented that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with the series as a result. And I didn’t. However, doing this post has reminded me of how much I enjoyed Conyngham’s writing, and I see she’s branched out into a new series now, starring Hyppolyta Napier, a crime-busting doctor’s wife in the Scottish town of Ballater in the 1820s, so it’s time to put her back on my wishlist!

* * * * *

So, one author I probably won’t read more of, one I’m ambivalent about but might, one who’s a firm favourite and a fixture on my list, and one I’d fallen out with over character differences but am now prepared to forgive, forget and move on!

Have you read any of these authors?
Are they on your “looking forward to” list?

34 thoughts on “Looking forward to…

  1. I haven’t read any of these authors, but Gods without Men sounds interesting, because I love the CA desert (well, really any desert)…and then I like how White Tears goes in a completely different direction and left a lasting impression on you. That’s saying something, considering the way you’ve described how quickly books pass through your system.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved the way he used the desert in Gods Without Men as a way to look at the various waves of people who have populated the area over the centuries. And while his writing is always excellent, the second half of White Tears particularly is fantastic – he kind of becomes surreal but with a real rhythm to it which was very apt given that the book was based around music. Yes, of all the thousands of books that I’ve read in my life it’s a very small proportion of them that stay in my mind for any length of time!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed the Arne Dahl tv adaptation but I think the books will be too graphic for me.

    I’m pretty sure The Impressionist has been buried in my TBR for years. Your enthusiasm for Kunzru makes me think I should finally dig it out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t remember now if I watched the TV adaptation, and to be honest even the details of the books have pretty much faded from my mind. But that was at the very end of my flirtation with the more graphic side of crime – I was already finding that really I’m much more comfortable with a nice vintage mystery! Kunzru on the other hand is highly recommended – undoubtedly one of my favourite writers, and happily he’s not horribly prolific so it’s possible, I think, to catch up with his catalogue at some point!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s funny, isn’t it, FictionFan, how we stop reading an author as soon as something happens to a character we love, or the series takes a direction we don’t like, or….or… I do the same thing. And for me, anyway, it has to be an author whose work I love if I’m to forgive and try again; I give you credit for being willing to do that. And I must read White Tears. I’ve been wanting to, but just…haven’t yet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, doing this is reminding me of lots of books I’ve loved, but it’s also reminding me of lots of series that I stopped for one reason or another. As often as not it’s because my tastes continue to change which has always been part of reading for me. But often it’s because the author takes the series in a direction that just doesn’t feel right to me. However I’m glad to see that Lexie Conynham has started a new series, because I did enjoy her writing. White Tears is really excellent – I hope you enjoy it if you get to it one of these days!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I haven’t read any of these authors. Lexie Conyngham’s doctor’s wife series sounds ilike it might be nteresting. But I’m wary of it because of what you mentioned about the last series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but she didn’t do anything like introduce graphic gore or any of the other many things that I complain about on a regular basis. It was just that she took one of her character’s life in a direction that I didn’t feel happy about. And I knew that I wouldn’t feel any happier about it in the next book! But I am glad she’s started a new series because I did enjoy her writing. 🙂

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  5. I haven’t read any of these authors. I’m impressed you followed through though with your intentions to read at least one of their subsequent books (but I’m a bit disappointed for you that they failed to live up to your expectations).

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to be much better at following through before my TBR got so out of control. But I’ve always been a reader whose tastes have changed constantly, so it’s not unusual for me to really enjoy an author for a while and then to move away from them. And it’s not really a comment on the author – it’s purely to do with my subjective taste. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t read any of these, but you have me curious about Gods Without Men and I might have to see if my library has it. As for White Tears, I think you know how much I love music of any type and that part sounds wonderful. However, the whole race guilt part totally turns me off. 😑

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean – normally books that are about race guilt or that kind of thing are a real no-no for me too, but I felt the way he handled it was really interesting and not as simplistic as black good/white bad, as so many current books are. Plus the writing was wonderful, and as you know I’m not hugely into music but he had me spending endless hours on YouTube listening to early Blues and thoroughly enjoying the experience! It got very mixed reviews so I don’t know, to be honest, whether you would like it or not but it might be worth checking out from the library if you ever get a free slot on your TBR!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Bingo! I’ve read something from all the authors you mentioned. I don’t remember Arne Dahl but I see I have a Kindle version of Misterioso, the first in the Intercrime series, from a decade ago. The fact I didn’t continue with the series probably suggests it wasn’t for me. I have also read a few books in the Stuart MacBride series, I may read more but I’m generally more interested in mysteries than thrillers. I have really appreciated the three Hari Kunzru books I’ve read and your review is a nudge to see if there are more of his books I could read.
    You introduced me to Lexie Conyngham way back and I’ve kept reading her three series. I do remember the review 🙂 that stopped you reading the Murray series! (Eventually the series moved on from that plot twist.) I’ve continued to enjoy her Murray of Letho books, as well as the Hippolyta Napier and the Viking Orkneyinga series. I hope you enjoy Hippolyta if you do begin to read that series.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a feeling Mysterioso is the same book as this one – another of these books that are given a different name in different countries. I really don’t remember much about them now at all, but my reviews suggest that I did enjoy them at the time. I think my tastes have just changed fairly dramatically over the last few years because they don’t appeal to me now at all! When I was doing this it led me to look at the back catalogues of various of these writers and Kunzru has actually written considerably more than I realised. I had thought that The Impressionist was the only one that I hadn’t read, but I was wrong!
      Glad to hear you’ve continued to enjoy Lexie Conyngham. I was so annoyed over the 6th book disaster that I’ve never looked to see what else she might have produced, until again I was doing this post. I’m looking forward to getting back into her. However I must say that if doing these posts keeps adding to my wish list at the rate it has been doing so far, I may have to stop doing it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I can see why Red Pill did not appeal – existential crisis and German romantic poetry? Yikes? Sounds like a little too much going on there. I haven’t heard of this before so I may have to be on the lookout for his earlier stuff…

    Liked by 1 person

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