Well, 2020 has come and gone (I imagine there aren't many (if any) people who are glad to see the back of it. It was a strange year in many ways, even for me for whom very little actually changed. In truth I have been self-isolating for the last 17 years, thus one would have thought the whole pandemic and 'stay at home' wouldn't have that much effect on me.
That wasn't the case, at least not in terms of reading. I read far fewer books than I normally do and far fewer than I would have liked to have read. For quite some time I reverted to reading fanfic on a regular basis, rather than just now and then, reading a few books along the way. I didn't keep a note of what I actually read, but I fear it was less than my goal of 52 books (probably considerably less).
A big part of not reading books I realise was down to not being able to settle down to actually choosing a book; night after night after night I would start a book, then discard it and start another and discard it, as nothing really held my attention. I did manage to clear out my Kindle 'Samples' folder, so that was something. I love my Kindle and as I've mentioned before, I actually would struggle to read much at all without it. But when it comes to choosing a book, it isn't quite the same as going to a book case and looking at the covers and seeing what grabs your attention.
My Kindle is sorted nicely (within the proverbial inch of its life) so it's not as though I have to hunt through page after page after page to find the genre or author I want. But still I struggled to settle on anything. Towards the end of the year I re-read the first half of two series and ended the year with several Christmas books, and that was the single most concentrated period of reading something other than fanfic.
I was afraid 2021 might turn into the same, so when my good friend caffyolay posted her beginning of the reading year post including a picture of some of the books she hoped to read (a TBR Shelf) I had the brainwave of creating such a folder on my Kindle whereby negating the need to plough through my twelve pages of folders to search for books. I have been very conservative to begin with, as I didn't want to choose 50/60/70 books now as I'd feel I had to read them, which in turn might well have a negative effect. Thus I went for two dozen, albeit some of those are the first book in a series or the next book in the series from the above-mentioned re-reads and I haven't included any Christmas books for December. NB. I may have added another eight books to the folder *g*
With that done I actually was able to settle down far more happily and read a book and move straight onto a second. Thus, I decided that as I was going to read the books, I would also do a short review of them - I won't include all the books/series in the folder as some are rereads of books I have already reviewed.
In London's Bloomsbury, Inspector Julian Rivers of Scotland Yard looks down at a dismal scene. Here is the victim, burnt to a crisp. Here are the clues - clues which point to a good climber and expert skier, and which lead Rivers to the piercing sunshine and sparkling snow of the Austrian Alps.
I had high hopes for this book because not only was it by one of my favourite BLCC authors (albeit writing under a different name) it was also involved snow. And the cover is lovely. However, whilst I didn't dislike it, nor did I love it.
Unfortunately, it contained two of my 'pet dislikes'. Firstly, it swapped locations every chapter (or at least almost every chapter) as we moved from London to Austria and back again. It's rare that I enjoy this kind of thing because I keep getting thrown out of the story by the change, I get settled into one location and one set of characters and then we move.
Secondly, the Austria part involved sixteen 'main' characters (plus the odd waiter/guide, etc.) and to be honest I simply couldn't keep track of who was who. By the end of the book I could only say for certain who one character was and that person was the red herring. Reading on a Kindle I was at least able to pop a character's name into search and at least look him or her up to see if he was the doctor or the airman or the civil servant, etc. But I really felt I didn't get to 'know' any of them - or even get a feel for any of them in an individual way. They were just sixteen people (eight men and eight women) most of whom were completely interchangeable.
Also, whilst I did love the location and the descriptions of the snow and the mountains and the skiing, etc. I can't say I enjoyed the part set in Austria all that much. Most of it felt unnecessary and little more than padding in order to give us false clues. The characters never really felt real.
I did, however, really enjoy the London part of the story and liked the detective and his side-kicks very much indeed. I certainly got a feel for the setting and felt as if I got to know the detectives and the other characters far more than I got to know any of the ski party. The crime was interesting and held my attention and I wanted to know who, how and why.
I didn't dislike the book, I enjoyed it well enough. However, I won't be rereading it and I will think twice about getting any other books the author has written under this name. Maybe I went into it with too high an expectation based on how much I enjoy the books she write under her other name and also the setting. Maybe I was always going to be disappointed.
I don't do Good Reads as some of my friends here do, but if I were to rate it I would give it 2.5/5.