Month: July 2018

Review: The Rules of Backyard Cricket (2016) by Jock Serong

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Text Publishing, 2016. File Size: 905 KB.  Print Length: 304 pages. ASIN: B01FPQQKTS. ISBN: 9781922253798.

30271762Book description: It starts in a suburban backyard with Darren Keefe and his older brother, sons of a fierce and gutsy single mother. The endless glow of summer, the bottomless fury of contest. All the love and hatred in two small bodies poured into the rules of a made-up game. Darren has two big talents: cricket and trouble. No surprise that he becomes an Australian sporting star of the bad-boy variety—one of those men who’s always got away with things and just keeps getting. Until the day we meet him, middle aged, in the boot of a car. Gagged, cable-tied, a bullet in his knee. Everything pointing towards a shallow grave.

My take: The Rules of Backyard Cricket is the second novel by Jock Serong. The story is  narrated in the first person, using both tenses, present and past, by Darren Keefe while he’s locked into the boot of a car running full speed from Geelong to the western suburbs of Melbourne. Darren has his hands and legs tied in with cables cutting into his flesh and a bullet wound on his right knee, though is not bleeding much. He shares the same space with a shovel and two large paper sacks of quicklime. While waiting for an almost certain death, he recalls different episodes of his life. His on-going quarrels and clashes with Wally, his elder brother, in a Melbourne suburb playing cricket in the backyard. His mother’s struggle to provide for her family in the absence of a paternal figure. And, most important, the talent that both brothers develop to play professionally cricket, reaching the higher goals in this sport. Darren has a natural talent but he’s particularly undisciplined, while Wally, much more constant and disciplined, is determined to become the best player. Both will become players of the Australian cricket team, with the aim of becoming their leader. As the story progresses, the reader finds out how the professional sport life of both brothers unfolds and why Darren finds himself in such a delicate situation.

Several are the themes covered by this novel, the constant rivalry between siblings, the role sport plays in the development of the personality, and the difficult retirement of elite sportsmen, to name a few. Specifically, this last one is evident in the following sentence: ‘Yes they were. Looking back on it, there wasn’t the support that athletes get these days. The money stops coming in, and you’re released from all those disciplines you’re accustomed to. And you know, people have been saying yes to you all your life, an then the music stops.’ Both by the themes treated and by the setting described in the novel, I’ve very much enjoyed its reading. Even I will venture to describe it as the best book I’ve read this year, so far. And, even though my knowledge of cricket is pretty scarce, not to say non-existent, I had not the least difficulty to follow the particulars of the story. This is noir fiction in its most pure sense, extremely well-written. To such an extent that some have qualified it a ‘literary thriller’. And the characters are superbly portrayed. I have not the slightest doubt that Jock Serong will continue to provide us many hours of interesting readings. In this sense, I very much look forward to reading On the Java Ridge.

As Margot Kinberg states so well ‘The Rules of Backyard Cricket is the story of two boys, both natural athletes, who lose their innocence as they move from childhood cricket play to the world of professional athletes. It takes place in a distinctly Australian setting and features an uncompromising look at the world of cricket.’

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the author: Jock Serong is the author of Quota, winner of the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction; The Rules of Backyard Cricket, shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction, finalist of the 2017 MWA Edgar Awards for Best Paperback Original, and finalist of the 2017 INDIES Adult Mystery Book of the Year; and On the Java Ridge, shortlisted for the 2018 Indie Awards. Formerly a lawyer, Jock is now a feature writer and was the editor of Great Ocean Quarterly.  He lives with his wife and four children in Port Fairy, Victoria.

The Rules of Backyard Cricket has been reviewed at The View from the Blue House, Crime Time, Crime Review, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist…, Shotsmag, Crime Watch, among many others. It was also reviewed by Bernadette at Fair Dinkum Crime,  but it seems that this website is no longer available on the internet.

Text publishing publicity page 

On My Radar: Jock Serong

audible

La reglas del cricket de patio, de Jock Serong

Descripción del libro: Comienza en el patio de un barrio suburbano con Darren Keefe y su hermano mayor, hijos de una madre soltera feroz y valiente. El brillo infinito del verano, la furia sin fondo de la contienda. Todo el amor y el odio en dos cuerpos pequeños vertidos en las reglas de un juego inventado. Darren tiene dos grandes aptitudes: el cricket y los problemas. No es de extrañar que se convierta en una estrella deportiva australiana del tipo chico malo, uno de esos hombres que siempre se salen con la suya y cada vez más. Hasta el día en que lo encontramos, de mediana edad, en el maletero de un automóvil. Amordazado, atado con cables, con una bala en la rodilla. Todo apunta hacia una tumba superficial.

Mi opinión: Las reglas del cricket de patio es la segunda novela de Jock Serong. La historia está narrada en primera persona, utilizando los dos tiempos, presente y pasado, por Darren Keefe mientras está encerrado en el maletero de un automóvil que corre a toda velocidad desde Geelong hasta los suburbios del oeste de Melbourne. Darren tiene las manos y las piernas atadas con cables que le cortan la carne y una herida de bala en la rodilla derecha, aunque no sangra mucho. Comparte el mismo espacio con una pala y dos grandes sacos de papel de cal viva. Mientras espera una muerte casi segura, recuerda diferentes episodios de su vida. Sus continuas peleas y enfrentamientos con Wally, su hermano mayor, en un suburbio de Melbourne jugando al cricket en el patio trasero. La lucha de su madre por mantener a su familia en ausencia de una figura paterna. Y, lo más importante, el talento que ambos hermanos desarrollan para jugar profesionalmente al cricket, alcanzando las metas más altas en este deporte. Darren tiene un talento natural pero es particularmente indisciplinado, mientras que Wally, mucho más constante y disciplinado, está decidido a convertirse en el mejor jugador. Ambos se convertirán en jugadores del equipo australiano de cricket, con el objetivo de convertirse en su capitán. A medida que avanza la historia, el lector descubre cómo se desarrolla la vida deportiva profesional de ambos hermanos y por qué Darren se encuentra en una situación tan delicada.

Varios son los temas tratados en esta novela, la rivalidad constante entre hermanos, el papel del deporte en el desarrollo de la personalidad y el difícil retiro de los deportistas de élite, por nombrar algunos. Específicamente, este último es evidente en la siguiente frase: “Sí, eran. Mirando hacia atrás, no había el apoyo que los atletas tienen en la actualidad. El dinero deja de entrar y tu quedas liberado de todas esas disciplinas a las que estás acostumbrado. Y sabes, la gente ha estado dando la razón toda tu vida, y de pronto la música se para.” Tanto por los temas tratados como por el ambiente descrito en la novela, he disfrutado mucho su lectura. Incluso me atrevería a describirlo como el mejor libro que he leído este año, hasta ahora. Y, aunque mi conocimiento del cricket es bastante escaso, por no decir inexistente, no tuve la menor dificultad para seguir los detalles de la historia. Esta es una ficción noir en su sentido más puro, extremadamente bien escrita. Hasta tal punto que algunos lo han calificado como un “thriller literario”. Y los personajes están magníficamente retratados. No tengo la menor duda de que Jock Serong continuará brindándonos muchas horas de lecturas interesantes. En este sentido, tengo muchas ganas de leer On the Java Ridge.

Como bien señala Margot Kinberg: ‘Las reglas del cricket de patio es la historia de dos niños, ambos atletas innatos, que pierden su inocencia a medida que pasan del juego infantil de cricket al mundo de los atletas profesionales. Tiene lugar en un entorno marcadamente australiano y ofrece una mirada implacable sobre el mundo del cricket.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Jock Serong es el autor de Quota, ganadora del Premio Ned Kelly 2015 a la Mejor Novela Novel; Las reglas del cricket de patio, fue seleccionada al Premio Victorian Premier’s de novela en el 2017, finalista de los Premios MWA Edgar en el 2017 al mejor libro original en rústica, y finalista del INDIES libro del año de misterio para adultos en el 2017; y On the Java Ridge, ha sido seleccionado al Premio Indie de 2018.  Con anterioridad ejerció como abogado, y ahora Jock es escritor y fue editor del Great Ocean Quarterly. Vive con su esposa y cuatro hijos en Port Fairy, Victoria.

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Man Booker Prize longlist 2018

Congratulations to Belinda Bauer whose book Snap has been longlisted for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (2)About the book: On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long. But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever. Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

About the author: Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa and now lives in Wales. She worked as a journalist and a screenwriter before finally writing a book to appease her nagging mother. With her debut, Blacklands, Belinda was awarded the CWA Gold Dagger for Crime Novel of the Year. She went on to win the CWA Dagger in the Library for her body of work in 2013. Her fourth novel Rubbernecker was voted 2014 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Her books have been translated into 21 languages.

(Source: Penguin UK)

20 Books of Summer 2018! An Update

Though I’m a bit behind my goal, still believe I can achieve it.

Have read so far:

  1. Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosh Series #20) by Michael Connelly
  2. The Rules of Backyard Cricket by Jock Serong , my review will follow soon
  3. Rupture, 2016 (Dark Iceland Series #4) by Ragnar Jónasson (Translated by Quentin Bates)
  4. The Pyramid of Mud, 2018 (Montalbano #22) by Andrea Camilleri (Trans: Stephen Sartarelli)
  5. The Hollow, 1946 (Hercule Poirot #22) by Agatha Christie
  6. Maigret and the Old People, 1960 (Inspector Maigret #56) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Shaun Whiteside
  7. Maigret is Afraid, 1953 (Inspector Maigret #42) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Ros Schwartz)

I’m  almost halfway through:

  1.  The Pale Criminal by Philip Kerr (in stead of Field Grey)

And I’m looking forward to reading next:

  1. The Intrusions (Carrigan & Miller Book 3), 2017 by Stav Sherez
  2. A Fine Line by Gianrico Carofiglio

Still to go (in no particular order)

  1. The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths by Harry Bingham
  2. Spook Street by Mick Herron
  3. Insidious Intent by Val McDermid
  4. Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito
  5. Downfall by Margot Kinberg
  6. The Trespasser by Tana French
  7. A Deadly Show by Sarah Ward
  8. Herejes by Leonardo Padura
  9. Paradime by Alan Glynn
  10. Fever by Deon Meyer
  11. Outsider in Amsterdam by Janwillem Van de Wetering

I’ll have to brush up my maths, that’s 21 books

Book Reviews 2018

Appointment with Death, 1938 (Hercule Poirot #16) by Agatha Christie (A+)

Sad Cypress, 1940 (Hercule Poirot #18) by Agatha Christie (Revisited) (B)

Maigret and the Tall Woman, 1951 (Inspector Maigret #38) by Georges Simenon (Trans: David Watson) (A)

The Late Show (2017), by Michael Connelly (A)

A Nest of Vipers (Inspector Montalbano mysteries Book 21), by Andrea Camilleri. Trans.: Stephen Sartarelli (A)

The Case Of The April Fools (1933) by Christopher Bush (#9 in Ludovic Travers) (A)

Have Mercy on Us All, 2001 (Adamsberg #3) by Ferd Vargas (Tran: David Bellos) (A)

Maigret’s Doubts, 1958 (Inspector Maigret #52) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Shaun Whiteside) (A+)

Masters of the “Humdrum” Mystery: Cecil John Charles Street, Freeman Wills Crofts, Alfred Walter Stewart and the British Detective Novel, 1920-1961, by Curtis Evans (Highly recommended)

Mystery in the Channel, 1931 (Inspector French #7) by Freeman Wills Crofts (A)

Maigret’s Mistake, 1953 (Inspector Maigret #43) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Howard Curtis) (A+)

This is How It Ends (2018) by Eva Dolan (A+)

Death Makes a Prophet, 1947 (Superintendent William Meredith #11), by John Bude (B)

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, 1940 (Hercule Poirot # 19) by Agatha Christie (A+)

Even the Dead, 2015 (Quirke #7) by Benjamin Black (A+)

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books (2017), by Martin Edwards Not rated since it is not a work of fiction but I strongly recommend it.

Maigret Travels, 1957 (Inspector Maigret #51) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Howard Curtis) (B)

The Lady From Zagreb, 2015 (Bernie Gunther #10) by Philip Kerr (A+)

Dust Devils (2011) by Roger Smith (A+)

The Castleford Conundrum, 1932 (Sir Clinton Driffield Mystery book #8) by J.J. Connington (A)

Five Little Pigs, 1942 (Hercule Poirot #21) by Agatha Christie (A+)

A Rising Man, 2016 (Sam Wyndham 1) by Abir Mukherjee (A+)

Evil Under the Sun 1941 (Hercule Poirot #20) by Agatha Christie (A+)

Maigret’s Revolver, 1952 (Inspector Maigret #40) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Siân Reynolds) (B)

Liberty Bar, 1932 (Inspector Maigret #17 ) by Georges Simenon (Trans: David Watson)  (Revisited) (A+)

Two Kinds of Truth (Harry Bosh Series #20) by Michael Connelly (A+)

The Hollow, 1946 (Hercule Poirot #22) by Agatha Christie (A+)

Maigret is Afraid, 1953 (Inspector Maigret #42) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Ros Schwartz) (A)

The Pyramid of Mud, 2018 (Montalbano #22) by Andrea Camilleri (Trans: Stephen Sartarelli) (A)

Rupture, 2016 (Dark Iceland Series #4) by Ragnar Jónasson (Translated by Quentin Bates) (A+)

Maigret and the Old People, 1960 (Inspector Maigret #56) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Shaun Whiteside (A+)

The Rules of Backyard Cricket, 2016 by Jock Serong (A+) my review will follow soon

The Pale Criminal, 1990 by Philip Kerr almost halfway through

The Intrusions (Carrigan & Miller Book 3), 2017 by Stav Sherez, next

Review: Maigret and the Old People, 1960 (Inspector Maigret #56) by Georges Simenon (Trans: Shaun Whiteside)

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Penguin Classics, 2018. Format; Kindle edition. File size: 3462 KB. Print length: 176 pages. ASIN: B078HWQY9N. ISBN: 978-0-214-30390-0. First published in French as Maigret et les vieillards, Presses de la Cité, 1960. Translated by Shaun Whiteside in 2018. First translated into English in 1962 as Maigret in Society by Robert Eglesfield.

cover.jpg.rendition.460.707 (1)Opening paragraph: It was one of those exceptional months of May, the kind you only encounter two or three times in your life, and which have the luminosity, the taste, the smell of childhood memories. Maigret called it a ‘May of hymns’, because it remind him both of his first communion and his first spring in Paris, when everything was still new and wonderful to him.

Book description: Maigret is called to the home of Armand de Saint-Hilaire, a highly respected official who has been found shot dead in his study by his housekeeper. After interviewing everyone concerned Maigret is at a loss to the identity of the perpetrator until he comes across a series of letters from the past fifty years between the victim and a recently widowed woman. As Maigret uncovers the details behind the two’s relationship he gets closer to discovering the tragic truth behind the official’s demise.

My take: Maigret and the Old People is, for my taste, one of the finest books of the final stage of Maigret mysteries. It was written in Switzerland, June 1960. The book is relatively short, even for the standards in the series, and suffice is to say that it revolves around the investigation of the death of a  former French ambassador whose body was found shot dead in his study, by his housekeeper. The case is far from easy and Maigret finds himself quite at lost, and in a fairly uneasy situation given that he has to relate with members of the upper classes of society.

Maigret wasn’t necessarily following a logical order, because nothing struck him as logical in this case, and he moved from one subject to another as if looking for the sore spot.

As Murielle Wenger accurately remarks, the essential themes of this novels are sun, tenderness, and old age. ‘Sun, with these descriptions in small touches of the Parisian spring, tenderness with the letters Isabelle and Saint-Hilaire wrote each other, and old age with the age of the protagonists, and the contrast between Maigret, also aging, and the insolent youth of Cromières.’

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

About the Author: Georges Simenon (Liège, Belgium, 1903 – Lausanne, Switzerland, 1989) wrote one hundred and ninety-one novels with his name, and an undefined number of novels and stories published under different pseudonyms, as well as memorabilia and dictated texts. The Commissaire Maigret is the protagonist of seventy-five of these novels and twenty-eight short stories, all published between 1931 and 1972. Famous throughout the world, already recognized as a master storyteller, today no one doubts he is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.

About the Translator: Shaun Whiteside has translated over 50 books from German, French, Italian and Dutch, including novels by Amélie Nothomb, Luther Blissett, Wu Ming and Marcel Möring. His translations of Freud, Musil, Schnitzler and Nietzsche are published by Penguin Classics, and his translation of Magdalena the Sinner by Lilian Faschinger won the 1996 Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize. A former chair of the Translators Association, he sits on the editorial board of New Books in German and the Advisory Panel of the British Centre for Literary Translation, where he regularly teaches at the summer school. He lives in London with his wife and son. (Source: Institut français du Royaume-Uni)

Maigret and the Old People has been reviewed at Crimepieces,

Penguin UK publicity page

Penguin US publicity page 

Maigret et les vieillards 

Maigret of the Month: September, 2008

Tout Maigret 

Maigret y los ancianos de George Simenon

Primer párrafo: Era uno de esos meses de mayo excepcionales, como sólo se conocen dos o tres en la vida, y que tienen la luminosidad, el gusto y el olor de los recuerdos de infancia. Maigret decía un mes de mayo de cántico, pues le recordaba a la vez su primera comunión y su primera primavera en París, cuando todo era para él nuevo y maravilloso. (Traducción de Jesús López Pacheco)

Descripción del libro: Maigret acude a la casa de Armand de Saint-Hilaire, un funcionario muy respetado que ha sido encontrado muerto por su ama de llaves en su estudio. Después de entrevistar a todas las personas involucradas, Maigret está perdido repecto a la identidad del autor hasta que encuentra una serie de cartas de los últimos cincuenta años entre la víctima y una mujer que enviudó recientemente. A medida que Maigret descubre los detalles detrás de la relación de ambos, se acerca cada vez más a descubrir la trágica verdad detrás de la desaparición del funcionario.

Mi opinión: Maigret y los ancianos es, para mi gusto, uno de los mejores libros de la etapa final de los misterios de Maigret. Fue escrito en Suiza, junio de 1960. El libro es relativamente corto, incluso para los estándares de la serie, y basta con decir que gira en torno a la investigación de la muerte de un ex embajador francés cuyo cadáver fue encontrado muerto a tiros en su estudio, por su ama de llaves. El caso no es nada fácil y Maigret se encuentra completamente perdido, y en una situación bastante incómoda dado que tiene que relacionarse con miembros de las clases altas de la sociedad.

Maigret no estaba siguiendo necesariamente un orden lógico, porque en este caso nada le parecía lógico, y se movía de un tema a otro como si buscara el punto sensible.

Como comenta con precisión Murielle Wenger, los temas esenciales de estas novelas son el sol, la ternura y la vejez. ‘Sol, con esas descripciones a pequeños trazos de la primavera parisina, ternura con las cartas escritas por Isabelle y Saint-Hilaire, y vejez con la edad de los protagonistas, el contraste entre Maigret que, también, envejece, y la juventud insolente de Cromieres.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Sobre el autor: Georges Simenon (Lieja, Bélgica, 1903 – Lausana, Suiza, 1989) escribió ciento noventa y una novelas con su nombre, y un número indefinido de novelas e historias publicadas bajo diferentes seudónimos, así como libros de memorias y textos dictados. El comisario Maigret es el protagonista de setenta y cinco de estas novelas y veintiocho relatos breves, todos ellos publicados entre 1931 y 1972. Famoso en todo el mundo, ya reconocido como un narrador consagrado, hoy nadie duda de que es uno de los mejores escritores del siglo XX.