I will think about great books today to take my mind off the terrible events of 7 July 2005, but I have already shed a tear and remembered the 52 victims.
This week I will eliminate two more books from my final four.
August Heat. [by Andrea Camilleri translator Stephen Sartarelli] Although I love the Inspector Montalbano books of Andrea Camilleri I suspect they may be an acquired taste. August Heat is the tenth book in the series, and unless you have read the previous nine growing up with the characters I don't expect the reader will find the quirkiness as enjoyable as I do. My article on the Picador website Appreciating Camilleri tries to explain my fondness for these books.
August Heat is a pleasant summer read, but I have to admit it lacks both the plot and depth of the other contenders.
I must say it took a lot of willpower to eliminate a book with the line:
"Mullet in onions:served cold a delight."
I am eliminating from contention the very hot favourite [see Karen's polls at Eurocrime] despite the fact that I thought it was a very exciting thriller with a satisfying ending. Hornets' Nest was infinitely superior to the first book in the trilogy because Stieg Larsson had developed from a journalist to a storyteller. In another year with a weaker short list I would regard it as certain winner, but the CWA International Dagger should be all about which is the "best" book that year, not about the book with the biggest sales, or the book with the most influence on the market. One of the tests I have is how much detail about the plot and characters can I recall several months after I have read a book. The problem with the Larsson books is that Lisbeth Salander, even playing a passive part in this third book, is so memorable that everything else seems a blur.
In my personal opinion the remaining two books are slightly better written crime fiction novels, and they stand alone far better than the Stieg Larsson, which is obviously the third book in a trilogy.
So my final two contenders for the CWA International Dagger are:
[To be continued next week.]