Pick of the month: December 2012

4/5 for Cambridge Blue

4/5 for Cambridge Blue

I’ve moaned before that I get more time to read when I’m not on holiday (commuting’s not all bad), so books have been a bit thin on the ground recently. However, I’ve had no complaints about quality.

Cambridge Blue by Alison Bruce has a great sense of place, that place being Cambridge (obviously), a place I lived for a big chunk of my life and still travel to on a daily basis. The setting is non-academic, non-tourist Cambridge, and stirred up the nostalgia nicely. In fact I made a special pre-Christmas effort to visit some of the pubs mentioned. It is also a suspenseful crime story with realism and great characterisation. DC Gary Goodhew is an amiably off-the-leash policeman who delves a little too deep into the lives of his suspects. Four stars.

Penny Black by Susan Moody is a very, very 1980s book. Fun, fluffy and not very demanding. Penny Wanawake is a memorable protagonist who probably merits the description ‘sassy’, if I could bring myself to inflict that on anybody. She jet-sets around avenging the death of her friend Marfa. Three stars.

I blogged at EuroCrime about Modesty Blaise being my ‘find’ of 2012, so no more of her here. Suffice to say that Modesty Blaise and Cobra Trap are very enjoyable, and that since I chose A Taste for Death in November, I won’t be making another one pick of the month.


The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is the book which transformed the literature of espionage from colourful yarns of derring-do to stories of drab, flawed functionaries trapped in the gears of vast political machines they barely understand. I gave it four stars, but it probably deserves a five, so I’m making it my pick of the month.

A smiley for Smiley 🙂


About pastoffences

Past Offences exists to review classic crime and mystery books, with ‘classic’ meaning books originally published before 1987.
This entry was posted in Classic mystery book review, Espionage, Information Received, Suspense, Thriller and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Pick of the month: December 2012

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    Rich – Nice selection here! And I’m not surprised you chose The Spy…. It is in my opinion a really classic piece of espionage fiction.


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