A Summer of Books – Part 1

So, what do teachers do with the six weeks holiday? I have to add here that it wasn’t actually 6 weeks, but 5 weeks and 3 days, and now I’ll hide behind a cushion while people tell me that’s more than they have off in year…

This summer has mainly been about books. To be fair, most summers are about books as when IMG_0406-0.JPGI go on holiday I tend to plough through them like they’re going to dive into a pool if I stop reading. Kindles were a godsend as now I can fill my suitcase with clothes and shoes instead of paperbacks.

First up this summer was In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer Fleming (Kindle Edition, Headline, June 2013). I started it prior to going away and finished it on the plane. It was good enough to stop me from sleeping after a very early, 2.30am, start. Set in December in a New York state town of Miller’s Kill, the novel follows Clare Fergusson, newly ordained priest, as she begins her career with the delivery of a newborn baby left on the doorsteps of the church on a freezing cold night.

The resulting investigation leads her to meet local cop, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and here were have Common Plot Device Number One. He’s attractive and in what seems like a fragile marriage. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking this. Part of the enjoyment of crime fiction for me is the romance angle – it goes hand in hand with a spot of murder. Kay Scarpetta and Benton Wesley. Temperance Brennan and Andrew Ryan. And if we encroach onto the TV side of things, Patrick Jane and Theresa Lisbon in The Mentalist (I did enjoy the end of last season).

Turns out that in Killer’s Mill there’s a couple who are just desperate for a baby and have struggled to adopt but a note left with the abandoned child recommends them to be the guardians. Cue Clare’s first issue. The second follows closely, with the discovery of the body oIMG_0003.JPGf a young woman, one who has recently given birth.

I enjoyed In the Bleak Midwinter and will certainly read the sequels. While this series is nothing particularly new, the writing is solid and the characters are believable. The plot was a nice ride with enough twists and turns and peril for Clare to keep me entertained on the boat ride from Naples to Ischia. The setting was particularly well drawn up as well, with the harshness of the winter creating some nice atmosphere. If you want an easy read that’s none too gruesome with plenty of potential murderers then this would be a good read for you.

After an uneventful, but early flight we arrived in Naples and were quickly ushered to the ferry to cross to the island of Ischia. I finished the book on the ferry, but still managed to take a few photos!

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