Yes, I’m procrastinating. Two posts in one day? What else could possibly be going on? I’ve got a document to draft by Tuesday, and I meant to have it finished by Thursday evening. It’s far from done, so I’m crossing off other bits of mental laundry so that tomorrow can be as productive as physically/mentally possible. Terrifyingly, it’s nearly 6 months since I last jotted notes here on my recent reading. In the meantime, I’ve finished 32 books (what can I say, the longer commute and the part-time work suit me down to the ground). As last time, links go to my commentary elsewhere online.

As some of you are aware, I’ve been lucky enough to have some extended time off this year, which inevitably means that I’ve been reading like the dedicated bookworm that I am. I’m likely to read as many books by the end of June as I’ve read in an entire year (during a lean year, anyway), and I’ve loved every minute. It’s been a couple of months since I last captured what I’ve thought of this mountain of material, so I wanted to do another recap – although I have had the time to be much, much better about logging reviews and ratings on my LibraryThing, which is increasingly becoming my main platform for all book-related activity.

A quick flit through my first quarter of reading, before I forget the details. It’s been a book-heavy year, with lots of opportunities to get some quality reading time in during the Christmas break in Australia and my boy’s month-long absence in India (not to mention my time off in March). I’ve put this to good use and read like the bookworm I am, devouring 20 books to date – most of them fresh reads rather than old favourites.

I first read Susan Hill at school – The Woman in Black inevitably and I'm the King of the Castle. Woman stands out as the perfect chiller, and I've subsequently seen the excellent stage adaptation; King was a downright unpleasant exploration of children, read alongside Lord of the Flies and in a similar vein.

Crime felt like a departure for Hill, but it was obvious from the beginning that the Simon Serrailler novels were not typical police procedurals. The fictional cathedral town of Lafferton is entirely real and recognisable, for all it exists as only a few well-described key locations; Hill taps into the platonic English country town to sketch the rest. we don't need detail or maps, because we have all been there in some incarnation.

In contrast, the principal characters – the Serrailler family – are thoroughly considered, and the novels are more about their lives, causes and preoccupations than about the murders that drive the plots. Where Susan Hill excels throughout the series is her nuanced look at humanity's strengths, fatal flaws and other weaknesses through the lens of the family's experience. The series seems designed to make the reader uncomfortable, and the latest is no exception in it's wish to challenge the reader's ethics and sense of justice.

As we approach our eighth anniversary, my boy and I have been reflecting intermittently on what it is that draws us together. One popular theory is our willingness to (indeed enthusiasm for) take the piss: not just partners, but sparring partners. Another, often revisited, is our uncanny tendency to think and say the same thing at the same time. Last night, watching the rather good Public Enemies, our shared frame of reference and ability to follow random cues was the key: as the film introduced a Chicago villain, my boy leant over and murmured without preamble “Proper fucked”.

Possibly the rest of the audience were curious as to why I found that particular scene so funny, but he was absolutely right. I haven’t a clue what the actor’s name is either, but it was certainly him. And he was, as it turned out.