Friday, August 30, 2013

Review: A Song From Dead Lips by William Shaw

A Song From Dead Lips by William Shaw, August 2013, 400 pages, Quercus, ISBN: 1782064168

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

This brilliant first book is not only a police procedural but a modern historical mystery set in October 1968. Marylebone, London CID is where DS Cathal 'Paddy' Breen is stationed. The office banter is very sexist and racist in tone and police corruption is not considered remarkable. Breen is injured during a particular action and consequently he finds it very painful to drive and a very chatty WPC is assigned to him.

This was the time when the Beatles and all news about them was everyday in the newspapers and their records were always been played and analysed for hidden meanings.

DS Breen & WPC Tozer are called to investigate the murder of a young woman found strangled and naked in St John's Wood. The local neighbours that they question suspect that a new black resident is culpable and Breen finds it very difficult to argue against the bigotry that existed at that time. A clue that WPC Tozer identifies, leads them to the West Country and yet more murders.

This very well plotted and historically well researched story comes to a dramatic conclusion in the final chapter. As someone who was around during the '60s it was really memorable being reminded of cigarette brands such as 'Peter Stuyvesant' and shop names that no longer exist and the other commercial trade names of the time. The author really knows how the write a gripping storyline, with well defined characters and I look forward to reading more books about Breen and Tozer. Well recommended.

Terry Halligan, August 2013.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

CWA Daggers 2013 - Gold, Steel, Creasey - Shortlists announced as well as the TV & Film Daggers

The shortlists for the Gold, Steel and Creasey Daggers have been announced along with the TV Dagger shortlists (full press release below):

Gold Dagger Shortlist

Belinda Bauer for Rubbernecker (Bantam/Transworld)
Lauren Beukes for The Shining Girls (HarperCollins)
Mick Herron for Dead Lions (Soho Crime)
Becky Masterman for Rage Against the Dying (Orion)

Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Shortlist

Roger Hobbs for Ghostman (Transworld)
Stuart Neville for Ratlines (Random House)
Mark Oldfield for The Sentinel (Head of Zeus)
Robert Wilson for Capital Punishment (Orion)

John Creasey Dagger Shortlist

Hanna Jameson for Something You Are (Head of Zeus)
Malcolm Mackay for The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter (Mantle)
Derek B Miller for Norwegian by Night (Faber and Faber)
Thomas Mogford for Shadow of the Rock (Bloomsbury)

Press Release:

The motives are numerous, the list of suspects lengthy, and the body count sky high…the shortlists for this year’s Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards in association with the Crime Writers’ Association are announced today. In addition to the ceremony itself ITV 3 will show a six-part prime time series, The Crime Thriller Club which includes a crime thriller version of the successful TV Book Club, starting on 16th September.

The winners of 11 Awards honouring TV, Books and Film will be announced at The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards on Thursday 24th October at the Grosvenor House Hotel. The stars of all three genres are guaranteed to turn out in force. The awards for books include the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger for the Best Crime Novel of the Year, the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the Best Thriller of the Year, and the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger for the Best New Crime Writer of the Year, alongside Film and TV-based Daggers.

This year’s CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year is fiercely contended, and pits Belinda Bauer’s Rubbernecker, featuring the obsessive Patrick, whose anatomical dissection class reveals unwelcome truths, up against Lauren Beukes’s The Shining Girls, in which the victims of a century jumping psychopath speak again. Also in the mix, Becky Masterman’s Rage Against The Dying reveals the secrets of mummified flesh, and Dead Lions by Mick Herron, brings flesh and blood to the shady world of cold war spooks.

Viewers will need good detective skills to uncover the winner of the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger for Best New Crime Writer of the Year, so well matched are the talented debut writers vying for the prize. The award pits an 82 year old ex-Marine, in Derek B. Miller’s Norwegian By Night against a hired hitman Caruana in Hanna Jameson’s Something You Are. Menacing urban crime is equally apparent in Malcolm Mackay’s Glasgow based The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter, whilst Thomas Mogford’s Shadow of the Rock is set in the sunnier, though no less brutal, climes of Tangiers.

The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year has a cast list that includes Indian mobsters, the remnants of Franco’s savage Secret Police, a secret network of Nazi asylum seekers in Ireland, religious fanatics, and a fair smattering of homegrown British criminal masterminds: Thriller authors, Roger Hobbs for Ghostman, Stuart Neville for Ratlines, Mark Oldfield for The Sentinel and Robert Wilson for Capital Punishment are all preparing to slug it out.

The awards, which showcase the UK’s best crime fiction and drama are part of the ITV3 Crime Thriller season, which includes a crime writing magazine show for crime fans called The Crime Thriller Club which will feature 'Living Legends' – interviews with established authors Martina Cole, Nicci French, Harlan Coben, Patricia Cornwell, Wilbur Smith and Frederick Forsyth, who will be inducted into the CWA Hall of Fame at the Awards Ceremony.

At the heart of the Crime Thriller Club series is The Crime Thriller Book Club, with six specially selected titles guaranteed to grip readers who can join the discussion online. The 6 books were selected by Amanda Ross of Cactus TV and her team, whose selections for the TV Book Club created many No 1 Best Selling Authors. The featured titles are:

Trust Your Eyes by Linwood Barclay (Orion)
Dare Me by Megan Abbott (Picador)
Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler (Transworld)
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay (Pan Books)
City of Devils by Diana Bretherick (Orion)
The Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor (Harper Collins)

Amanda Ross, Managing Director of Cactus TV, who created the Awards for ITV3 said: “I was delighted to bring a Crime Thriller version of my Book Club to TV. All the titles we’ve picked are great, with a wide range of styles to suit every type of Crime fan, and hopefully encourage some new readers to the Crime Thriller genre.”

Alison Joseph, Chair of the Crime Writers’ Association, commented: "The 2013 Crime Thrillers Award shortlists are all about inspirational story-telling and great writing. They show, once again, just why this genre continues to be so hugely popular and so greatly loved by readers."

The cream of acting talent is also recognised at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards with categories across Film, TV (UK and International) and for those talented individuals who so masterfully bring unsavoury characters to life, with awards for Best Actor and Actress, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress.

Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers, said: “As autumn creeps in there’s nothing I like more than curling up with a good book, the more bloodcurdling the better. Therefore it’s a pleasure to be a part of the Crime Thriller Awards for several years now, truly the premier showcase of world class writing, acting and production.”

The Complete Shortlists for Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards are as follows:

The CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year

Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer (Bantam/Transworld)
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (HarperCollins)
Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman (Orion)
Dead Lions by Mick Herron (Soho Crime)

The CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger for Best New Crime Write of the Year

Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller (Faber and Faber)
Something You Are by Hanna Jameson (Head of Zeus)
The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter by Malcolm Mackay (Mantle)
Shadow of the Rock by Thomas Mogford (Bloomsbury)

The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller of the Year

Ghostman by Roger Hobbs (Transworld)
Ratlines by Stuart Neville (Random House)
The Sentinel by Mark Oldfield (Head of Zeus)
Capital Punishment by Robert Wilson (Orion)

The Film Dagger

Sky Fall
Jack Reacher
Killing Them Softly
Seven Psychopaths

The TV Dagger

Top of the Lake
The Fall
Bletchley Circle

The International TV Dagger

Boardwalk Empire
The Killing 3
Arne Dahl

The Best Supporting Actor Dagger

Paul McGann for A Mother's Son
Mandy Patinkin for Homeland
Andrew Buchan for Broadchurch
Warren Brown for Luther
Roger Allam for Endeavour

The Best Supporting Actress Dagger

Pauline Quirke for Broadchurch
Amelia Bullmore for Scott & Bailey
Holly Hunter for Top of the Lake
Jodie Whittaker for Broadchurch
Ruth Wilson for Luther

The Best Actor Dagger

Damien Lewis for Homeland
David Tennant for Broadchurch
Idris Elba for Luther
Jason Isaacs for Case Histories
Paddy Considine for The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder in Angel Lane

The Best Actress Dagger

Sofie Grabol for The Killing 3
Olivia Colman for Broadchurch
Claire Danes for Homeland
Gillian Anderson for The Fall
Lesley Sharp for Scott & Bailey

The Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2013 will take place on Thursday, 24th October at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel produced by Cactus TV, and will be televised on ITV3 on the 29th October at 9pm. The 2013 Awards are the sixth annual event created and produced by Cactus TV for ITV3, and the annual sponsored by Specsavers and in conjunction with the Crime Writers' Association.

Visit for more information

Review: The Carrier by Sophie Hannah

The Carrier by Sophie Hannah, August 2013, 464 pages, Hodder Paperbacks, ISBN: 0340980745

Reviewed by Susan White.
(Read more of Susan's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Gaby Struthers is a successful research scientist and entrepreneur, spending most of her life jetting around Europe for business meetings concerning her latest project, much to the annoyance of her partner, Sean. On her latest trip to Düsseldorf, her flight is cancelled and she meets Lauren Cookson, a fellow passenger who is devastated and frightened by the delay.

Lauren clings to Gaby who finds herself reluctantly becoming Lauren's companion on the distressing, lengthy and tiring journey home. Lauren mentions that she knows an innocent man who is accused of murdering his wife, and Gaby is horrified to realise that the man is Tim, the man she still loves, who gave her up to return to his wife, Francine

Gaby, without knowing any of the facts, knows that Tim is innocent and returns to England determined to prove it. With Tim back in her thoughts, she has to face the question of her feelings or lack of them for Sean, she has to persuade the police that Tim is innocent despite his confession of guilt and she has to discover why Lauren sought her out in Germany.

DC Simon Waterhouse is also not sure if Tim is guilty mainly because Tim cannot or will not say what his motive was in killing his wife. Tim’s friends, Kerry and Dan, have given a home to Tim and Francine after her stroke, and remain very loyal to Tim, backing up everything he says. Simon believes that a lot of information is being kept from him and he involves his team and his wife, DS Charlie Zailer, in his search for the truth, but nothing prepares him for that truth.

This is another compelling read from Sophie Hannah and another outing for Waterhouse, Zailer, Sellars, Gibbs and Proust. The interactions and relationships between these characters is a continuation from previous novels but the book stands alone. If you are looking for a thrilling murder, then this is not the book for you. If you are interested however in what makes people behave as they do and what lengths ordinary people will go to in response to extraordinary events, then you will enjoy this.

Susan White, August 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Petrona Award mention in The Long Shadow

I received a review copy of Liza Marklund's The Long Shadow yesterday and was very pleased to see inside, reference to the fact that Last Will won the Petrona Award. Both titles are translated by Neil Smith.

Work is quietly going on in the background regarding the 2014 Award with the judges reading the titles submitted so far. The list of potential entries for the 2014 Award can be found on this Petrona Award Eligibles post.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

TV News: French thriller Point Blank on BBC Four

I blogged about the film, Point Blank, when it was released back in 2011 and it is to be on BBC Four at 9pm on Saturday 31 August.

When male nurse Samuel saves a thief, his pregnant wife is taken hostage by the thief's henchmen to make him spring their boss from the hospital. A race through the subways and streets of Paris ensues as the body count rises. Can Samuel evade the cops and the criminal underground and deliver his beloved to safety?

It's also available quite cheaply on DVD.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: Too Close for Comfort by Niamh O'Connor

Too Close For Comfort by Niamh O'Connor, March 2013, 432 pages, Transworld Ireland, ISBN: 1848271395

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

A woman's body is found in Ireland's most notorious body dump area, a locality in the Dublin mountains where a number of women have disappeared in the past. The victim is from an exclusive gated development in the suburbs - where the main suspect in the vanishing triangle cases, Derek Carpenter, now lives. It seems like the past is coming back to be repeated in the present. The victim is a solicitor by profession and the police wonder whether one of her clients could be involved.

DI Jo Birmingham is leading the investigation and doesn't believe the case is as predictable as her superiors believe. Her husband Dan was part of the original investigation team; is she trying to protect her fragile domestic peace? The one person who could help her crack the case, Derek's wife Liz, is so desperate to protect her family that she is going out of her way to thwart all efforts to establish the truth. Can both women emerge unscathed?

This multi-faceted story weaves the on-going search for the perpetrator of the crime alternating with the desperate goings on that occurred at the News Of The World newspaper before it ceased to be published. Niamh O'Connor has written two previous books with the protagonist DI Jo Birmingham that I have enjoyed reviewing and when not researching and writing her books she is the true crime editor for the Sunday World, Ireland's biggest selling Sunday newspaper. A job in which she interviews both high profile criminals and their victims which means she really knows the world that she writes about.

This third book of hers I found a real pleasure to read as it had many sub-plots to keep me guessing and I found the story immensely gripping and fast moving and the pages just shot by. It was long but it was very well plotted with many twists and turns and I look forward to reading her future books as much as I enjoyed this one. Recommended.

Read another review of TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT.

Terry Halligan, August 2013.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: The Orpheus Descent by Tom Harper

The Orpheus Descent by Tom Harper, May 2013, 496 pages, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN: 1444731351

Reviewed by Amanda Gillies.
(Read more of Amanda's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

A simply fantastic story! It was so totally absorbing that I zoomed through it in a few days and was most disappointed when it ended. A lovely mix of fact and fiction; Harper has seamlessly blended together the history and philosophy of mysterious Ancient Greece and Ancient Italy with characters from his own imagination and produced a winning combination. Sometimes the reader is left thinking, ‘Why?” or ”Who??” regarding the historical stuff, and there is definitely not enough about Orpheus to satisfy my appetite, but most questions are answered by the end and any that are not can easily be sorted by a visit to Wikipedia – THE ORPHEUS DESCENT is fiction after all, not a history lesson.

In brief, the story alternates between following the adventures of Plato, as he struggles to accept the execution of his friend and tutor, Socrates, and leaves his home to travel to Italy, in search of his elusive friend, Agathon. He is terrified of the sea and his plans are ruined when the ship he is sailing in is wrecked in a storm. Plato is washed ashore with one other survivor and together they make their way in this strange land. Agathon was seeking a mysterious book, so Plato starts to look for it as well, and his adventures lead him to places he could only have begun to imagine before leaving home. A large number of his more famous letters and laws are based upon this life-changing trip. He returns home a different man.

Interspersed with this wonderful tale about Plato is a modern-day story featuring a young archaeologist, Lily, and her husband, Jonah. Lily is in Italy for the summer, at work on a dig, and Jonah is touring with his band. At the end of his tour he drives his trusty van down south to Lily’s dig so that they can go home together. He arrives safely but then disaster strikes. Lily disappears and nobody seems that bothered about it. All their friends, and the police, think that Lily has ended the marriage but Jonah refuses to believe it and sets off to find her. His journey mirrors that of Orpheus, the legendary Greek musician who was destined to be forever in search of his wife in the Underworld. The reader hopes that Jonah will be more successful than Orpheus, but time is running out and his path is far from easy.

If you like tales of Ancient Greece and archaeology then you are going to love this book. There is just the right amount of factual detail; leaving you neither overloaded and swamped nor wanting so much more that the story is incomplete. THE ORPHEUS DESCENT is Harper’s eighth book (as well as three more as Edwin Thomas) and should prove to be at least as successful as his previous work has been. Personally, I loved it!

Highly recommended.

Amanda Gillies, August 2013.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Pilgrim Soul by Gordon Ferris

Pilgrim Soul by Gordon Ferris, August 2013, 416 pages, Atlantic Books, ISBN: 0857897624

Reviewed by Susan White.
(Read more of Susan's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Douglas Brodie is an ex-soldier, ex-policeman now working as a crime reporter in Glasgow in the late 1940s. His landlady, also his girlfriend, is an advocate. She asks him to investigate a series of burglaries that are targeting the Jewish émigré community when the police seem to be ignoring the crimes. At the same time she is asked to go to Germany to assist with the ongoing prosecution of Nazi soldiers.

Douglas reluctantly starts to investigate but soon finds a link with Germans fleeing the prosecutions - someone appears to be helping certain high level officers escape the justice of the courts. He is coerced into going to Germany to give evidence regarding the interrogations that he undertook of some of the prisoners. Enlisted again into the army with a temporary promotion he uses the opportunity to further his enquiries into the escape route on behalf of the secret services.

As his investigations lead him closer to the Germans he is seeking, he realises that he, his amateur team of Jewish helpers, and his ex-policeman friend Danny, have a traitor in their midst - and it seems that they are not the only people hunting on the streets of Glasgow.

PILGRIM SOUL is a very exciting, but harrowing, story. Very well written and with well rounded characters, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are quite graphic descriptions - or perhaps that was my imagination filling in the gaps - of the atrocities carried out in the concentration camps, not only the deaths of millions but also the way that prisoners were experimented upon.

I am not a fan of war novels, so my enjoyment was a surprise to me. This is not a novel for anyone of a nervous disposition but I recommend it as a good read. One that will remain with me for a long time. Gordon Ferris is someone on my must read list - I must read the others in the series.

Read another review of PILGRIM SOUL.

Susan White, August 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

New Reviews: Casey, Delaney, Fitzgerald, Goddard, Hand, MacNeal, Neville, Oldfield, Wilton

This week's set of reviews, added to Euro Crime today, is a mixture of new reviews and a catch-up of those posted directly on the blog in the last few weeks, so you may have read some of them before if you're a regular :).

Also I've now set up a Euro Crime page on Facebook which you can like.

Michelle Peckham reviews Jane Casey's The Stranger You Know, the fourth in the DC Maeve Kerrigan series;

Amanda Gillies reviews Luke Delaney's debut, Cold Killing which is now out in paperback;

Lynn Harvey reviews Conor Fitzgerald's The Namesake, the third in the Commissario Alec Blume series;

Geoff Jones reviews Robert Goddard's The Ways of the World;
Lynn also reviews Elizabeth Hand's Generation Loss, the first in the Cass Neary series;

Terry Halligan reviews Susan Elia MacNeal's His Majesty's Hope, the third in the Maggie Hope series;

Terry also reviews Stuart Neville's Ratlines, which is now out in paperback;

Lynn also reviews Mark Oldfield's The Sentinel, the first part of the 'Vengeance of Memory trilogy'

and Rich Westwood reviews Robert Wilton's Traitor's Field, the second in the Tom Roscarrock series.

Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here along with releases by year.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: Cold Killing by Luke Delaney

Cold Killing by Luke Delaney, August 2013, 464 pages, Harper, ISBN: 0007486081

Reviewed by Amanda Gillies.
(Read more of Amanda's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

What a fabulous story! Cold and twisted and, at times, very close to being too graphic with its grisly details; this book had me hooked right from the start! It is right up my street in terms of the way it messed with my head and is extremely well-written to boot. I loved it, especially the wonderful twist at the end that I was nowhere near guessing. COLD KILLING is Luke Delaney’s debut novel and, if this is a sign of things to come from him, as I am sure it is, then he is definitely a name to watch out for. Delaney’s years of experience in the Met murder squad are very obvious. His writing has an authentic ring to it and his main characters are all extremely scary people – even the good guy!

To give you a taste, the book is the first in a series featuring DI Sean Corrigan, who has an uncanny knack of being able to catch killers by empathizing with them. The product of an abusive childhood, he is haunted by his own memories and sometimes sails very close to the wind in terms of losing it himself. At a murder scene he is able to think like the killer and sees things that nobody else does. In this book he is shocked to discover that the murderer is extremely adept at leaving no traces of himself on the bodies of his victims. There is no link between the victims, and no apparent motives for the killings, yet Sean has a hunch that they are all the work of the same person and knows who this person is. All he has to do is prove it. Despite annoying several rather influential people, Sean continues with his search, getting closer to the killer but all the while knowing that his man is always a few steps ahead of him.

Chapters detailing Sean’s chase are interspersed with others written from the killer’s point of view; both his actions and his private thoughts. He is a cold and evil man, who truly believes he is superior to the people around him, including his wife and child who unwittingly help him maintain the farce being a decent, family man. He laughs at the police, as they think they are getting closer to catching him, and greatly enjoys leading them a merry dance across London.

If you like your crime fiction dark and twisted, and sometimes a little too twisted to be completely comfortable, then this book is most definitely for you!

Extremely highly recommended.

Amanda Gillies, August 2013.

Read another Euro Crime review of Cold Killing.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New Titles from Orion - July - December 2013

Taken from the Orion catalogue, here are all their new crime titles for July to December 2013 (just those relevant to Euro Crime). (I haven't been able to include the translators' names as they are not listed on the catalogue or amazon yet.):


Gone in Seconds by A J Cross (paperback)
When the skeleton of a young woman is found near a West Midlands motorway, evidence suggests that it is that of teenager Molly James, who went missing five years ago.

Forensic psychologist Dr Kate Hanson and the Unsolved Crime Unit are called in to re-investigate Molly's case. The deeper they dig the dirtier the clues get, and when a second set of remains is unearthed Kate suspects they're looking for a Repeater: a killer who will adapt, grow and not stop until they are caught.

Will Dr Hanson manage to unravel the tangle of clues that the killer has left behind before he has a chance to take another innocent victim?

Red Winter by Dan Smith
It is 1920, central Russia. The Red Terror tightens its hold. Kolya has deserted his Red Army unit and returns home to bury his brother and reunite with his wife and sons. But he finds the village silent and empty. The men have been massacred in the forest. The women and children have disappeared.

In this remote, rural Russian community the folk tales mothers tell their children by candlelight take on powerful significance and the terrifying legend of Koschei, The Deathless One, begins to feel very real. Kolya sets out on a journey through dense, haunting forests and across vast plains as bitter winter sets in, in the desperate hope he will find his wife and two boys, and find them alive. But there are very dark things in Kolya's past. And, as he strives to find his family, there's someone or something on his trail...

The Red Road
by Denise Mina
31st August 1997

Rose Wilson is fourteen, but looks sixteen. Pimped out by her 'boyfriend' and let down by a person she thought she loved, she has seen more of the darkness in life than someone twice her age. On the night of Princess Diana's death - a night everyone will remember - Rose snaps and commits two terrible crimes. Her life seems effectively over. But then a defence lawyer takes pity and sets out to do what he can to save her, regardless of the consequences.


DI Alex Morrow is a witness in the case of Michael Brown - a vicious, nasty arms dealer, more brutal and damaged than most of the criminals she meets. During the trial, while he is held in custody, Brown's fingerprints are found at the scene of a murder in the Red Road flats. It was impossible that he could have been there and it's a mystery that Morrow just can't let go.

Meanwhile, a privileged Scottish lawyer sits in a castle on Mull, waiting for an assassin to kill him. He has sold out his own father, something that will bring the wrath of the powerful down upon him.

The Second Life of Amy Archer by R S Pateman
A dark, high-concept psychological suspense thriller for fans of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S.J. Watson and Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL.

Ten years ago she disappeared without a she's back.

On 31st December 1999, ten-year-old Amy Archer went missing from her local playground. Her body was never found and the lives of her parents, Beth and Brian, were torn apart.

On the tenth anniversary of the disappearance, Beth is alone, still struggling with the enormity of her grief and the horror of not knowing the fate of her only child. But the fear and confusion have only just begun, and Beth's world is turned upside down when a stranger knocks on her door, claiming to know what happened to Amy.

Beth is introduced to a little girl who is the uncanny double of her missing daughter, who knows things that only Amy would remember; the name of her favourite toy, the place where she scratched her initials, what Beth likes for breakfast. But this can't be Amy, she hasn't aged a day...

Now Beth is forced to question everything she has ever believed in, and push her faith and her sanity to the limits, if she is to find out the truth about what happened to Amy.

THE SECOND LIFE OF AMY ARCHER is a taut, chilling debut novel from an exciting new voice in British psychological suspense.


City of Devils by Diana Bretherick
The brightest mind meets the darkest killer


When James Murray, a young Scottish doctor fascinated by the workings of the criminal mind, travels to the vibrant city of Turin, it is to study with Cesare Lombroso, the world-renowned criminologist. But just hours after his introduction to the unconventional Lombroso, the discovery of a horrifically mutilated body in the nearby Piazza Statuto, and a note that appears to implicate the celebrated criminologist himself, changes everything.

With the help of his fellow apprentice, Ottolenghi; Tullio, a local investigator; and Lombroso's beautiful but enigmatic housekeeper, Sofia; Murray must put his learning to the test and endeavour to understand the mind of a truly evil serial killer if he is to stop the rapidly escalating bloodbath and clear the name of his mentor. Have Lombroso's many enemies attempted to frame him? Are the notes an accusation or a challenge? And will Lombroso's own influential theories about criminal behaviour help to catch a cunning and ruthless killer?

Meet the world's first criminologist in this compelling, fast-paced historical thriller.

The Siege by Arturo Perez-Reverte
Cádiz, 1811. Spain is battling for independence while America is doing the same. But in the streets of the most liberal city in Europe other battles are taking place. A serial killer is on the loose, flaying young women to death. Each of these murders takes place near the site where a French bomb has just fallen. It is the job of policeman Rogelio Tizon to find the murderer and avoid public scandal in a city already posied on the brink.

Cádiz is a complex chessboard on which an unseen hand - a ruthless assassin, artillery fire, the direction of the wind, the calculation of probabilities - moves the pieces that will decide the fate of its protagonists: a corrupt and brutal policeman, the female heir to important shipping company; an unscrupulous corsair captain; a taxidermist who is also a spy, a hardened soldier, and an eccentric French artilleryman.

With all the intrigue and romance of his bestsellers, THE DUMAS CLUB and THE FLANDERS PANEL, THE SIEGE is the story of a city and a people who will never be the same again.


Art of Deception by A J Cross
The New Year brings a gruesome new discovery for forensic psychologist Dr Kate Hanson and Birmingham's Unsolved Crimes Unit. A mummified body is found beneath the floorboards of a deserted lake house in Woodgate Country Park. The dead man was art student Nathan Troy, who disappeared 20 years ago, but evidence at the scene suggests the killer has been keeping an eye on his long-dead victim.

As Kate begins to dig further into Nathan's past, she discovers a series of potentially toxic relationships. Why do his house mates refuse to talk about that time or their friendship with Nathan? And what was his connection to the beautiful and apparently promiscuous daughter of his professor?

When the disappearance of a local teenager confirms that Nathan's killer is back, Kate and the team must work fast to untangle a web of lies and unmask a murderer who has lain dormant for 20 years.

A chilling discovery, a young life in mortal danger, and a series of dark secrets that have been hidden for decades, ART OF DECEPTION is the thrilling new crime novel from professional forensic psychologist A.J. Cross.

The Watcher by Charlotte Link
Carla Roberts lives alone in the top of a highrise building in Hackney, frightened by the sound of the lift stopping and opening on her floor, with nobody getting out. Days later, she's found brutally murdered.

Meanwhile, Samson Segal, an unemployed thirty-something has taken to spying on his neighbours, particularly beautiful and successful Gillian Ward. When Gillian's daughter comes home to an empty, locked house, Samson takes her in but finds himself venting his anger in his diary when his good Samaritan actions go unappreciated, unaware that his suspicious sister-in-law cracked his password long ago...

When Gillian's husband is then murdered in his own home, Samson comes under intense scrutiny but the only man making any progress in the case shouldn't be working on it. Yet he's the only one who believes Samson is innocent...

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

The novel Carlos Ruiz Zafón wrote just before THE SHADOW OF THE WIND.

'Fifteen years on, the remembrance of that day has returned to me. I have seen that boy wandering through the mist of the railway station, and the name of Marina has flared up again like a fresh wound. We all have a secret buried under lock and key in the attic of our soul. This is mine...'

In May 1980, 15-year-old Oscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts...

His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Oscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.

When Oscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.


Taking the Fall by A P McCoy
Duncan Claymore could have it all. He's one of the country's up and coming young jockeys and this season his sights are set on getting right to the top. He has the talent and the tenacity, but he also has his demons, and it's these that threaten to overthrow his burning ambition.

Duncan was taught everything he knows by his father, Charlie, a former trainer whose career and reputation were destroyed when a series of bitter rivalries got out of hand. It ruined him and Charlie hasn't been able to set foot on a racecourse since.

Now, with his father's health rapidly declining, Duncan is desperate to beat the best and at the same time take down the men responsible for Charlie's ruin. But can he do both or must he choose between his family and his future?

Dark, gripping and compulsive, TAKING THE FALL is the first thriller from champion jockey, A.P. McCoy.


Touching Distance by Graham Hurley
Three unrelated, random killings. Or something much, much worse? Graham Hurely's new crime thriller unleashes a serial killer; combining Hurley's talent for ultra-realistic, character driven police-procedurals with a plot powered by an explosive ticking clock and kicking his books into a new realm of tension and fear.

Jimmy Suttle has barely got his feet under the desk at his new job. Having flown in the face of his superiors on his first big case he now finds himself trying to track down a random, hugely skilled killer before another innocent dies and before the media tear the force apart.

Full of a sense of place, sensitive to the deep rooted agonies of a policeman alone and facing disaster, and close to, and with a chilling understanding of the motivations of the killer this is a bravura piece of crime fiction that will secure Hurley's reputation and win new readers.

Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
Rebus is back on the force, albeit with a demotion and a chip on his shoulder. A 30-year-old case is being reopened, and Rebus's team from back then is suspected of foul play. With Malcolm Fox as the investigating officer are the past and present about to collide in a shocking and murderous fashion? And does Rebus have anything to hide?

His colleagues back then called themselves 'the Saints', and swore a bond on something called 'the Shadow Bible'. But times have changed and the crimes of the past may not stay hidden much longer, especially with a referendum on Scottish independence just around the corner.

Who are the saints and who the sinners? And can the one ever become the other?

February 2014

You Will Never Find Me by Robert Wilson
Charlie Boxer messed up his family life. First the army, then the police, then high-stakes kidnap and recovery, his ex-wife and daughter learnt to live without him as his work took him places no man can come back from unscarred.

Trying to rebuild a relationship with Amy, his teenage daughter, hasn't been easy. But Charlie only realises just how wrong things have gone when he finds her empty room and a note: You will never find me.

Having spent years working to track down kidnap victims, Charlie knows that sometimes, the missing don't want to be found. And he knows the hell it brings for families - the vanished are neither dead or alive, but simply gone. Worse still, Charlie Boxer knows how quickly a life can fall apart once you're living under the radar.

For Charlie, danger has finally come to his front door and to crack the hardest case he's ever worked, it's time to face up to the true meaning of the sins of the father.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: The Sentinel by Mark Oldfield

The Sentinel by Mark Oldfield, April 2013, 592 pages, Head of Zeus, ISBN: 1908800674

Reviewed by Lynn Harvey.
(Read more of Lynn's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

With no time to read the diary from start to finish, she turned to the last page, examining the final entry dated Thursday, 22 January 1953, a scrawled, cryptic sentence: "I am me and my circumstances". She recognised the phrase from school: it was Ortega y Gasset. A literary quotation from a secret policeman?

Las Penas Mine, 2009
Guardia forensic scientist Ana Maria Galindez drives through the baking heat and the arid, rocky landscape towards another civil war grave, a bricked-up mine containing fifteen corpses now a heap of intermingled bones. She is introduced to the former manager and to a Professor of Contemporary History who had found a reference to the grave in the diary of a Comandante Guzman. The mine closed in 1953 and the mining company went out of business in the 1970s. This is not a Civil War grave after all, realises Galindez. The killings took place afterwards, during the Franco regime. In the Professor's opinion the killers would not have worried about matters of law – because they were the law.

Madrid, January, 1953
Comandante Guzman oversees the operation to trap the fugitive. The operation is a success. Guzman kills the man in an alleyway by way of a satisfactory conclusion. Back at Special Brigade headquarters, he is visited by General Valverde. A group of Dominicans are interfering with the General's pharmaceutical dealings and naturally, being part of an American Trade mission, they are off-limits. Nevertheless, although this is a diplomatically delicate matter, Valverde trusts that Guzman can find out what the Dominicans are up to. He trusts that the package on the table will help motivate Guzman. Later Guzman opens the package and hides the fortune in American dollars that it contains in his office hidey-hole. At his home there is another secret hiding place, from this one he takes his file on General Valverde and settles down to read it. But not before he has checked the street below and caught a glimpse of a lighted cigarette in a doorway; no surprise to Guzman to know that he is being watched.

THE SENTINEL is the first part of Mark Oldfield's "Vengeance of Memory" trilogy and is set in Spain, a country that the writer and criminologist is passionate about. Oldfield has said that it was the views and experiences of the Spanish people he talked to, their opinions and witnessing to the opposing virtues and cruelties of Franco's regime that determined his subject matter. What is unusual is Oldfield's decision to make his key protagonist the "bad guy" – Comandante Guzman, a violent, volatile yet calculating agent in Franco's secret police. Oldfield tells Guzman's story from the perspective of his rise to Franco's notice during the Civil War, his subsequent career during a harsh Madrid winter of 1953, and in present day Madrid – the divergent views of his role as uncovered by an ambitious, opinionated professor and the investigations of Ana Maria Galindez of the Guardia Civil.

THE SENTINEL is a suspenseful, detailed thriller made all the more mysterious by the presence throughout of the watchers – known as “The Sentinels”. Set in a "dog eat dog" world where no one is who they appear to be, it is an accomplished feat of timespan construction, and a big book with believable characters. But such is its scale, I experienced it as almost relentlessly bleak and dark by the time I reached its end. Another much shorter and crime-focussed book, recently published and referring back to the experiences of the Spanish Civil War and Franco's regime, is the THE ANARCHIST DETECTIVE by Jason Webster. Both writers depict a country and culture that they love and have lived in. Both do it well. It is a question of literary “architecture” as to whose book you may prefer. For those who love to get their teeth into a big trilogy, in this case one which encompasses the dark heart of Spanish twentieth century politics and social history, Mark Oldfield's THE SENTINEL will provide a large meaty bite.

Lynn Harvey, August 2013.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Copycat Cover for Saturday

Liza Marklund's next book, available in English courtesy of Neil Smith, has been retitled The Long Shadow (formally A Place in the Sun) and is published in September.
The girl in the field looked familiar...

Friday, August 09, 2013

Review: His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal

His Majesty's Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal, June 2013, 352 pages, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, ISBN: 0345536738

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Young Maggie Hope, fresh from her training with the Special Operations Executive in England and on the personal recommendation of Winston Churchill no less, is parachuted into Germany in 1941 to initially pass some radio valves to help a resistance group, then she is to go to Berlin and plant a radio bug in the offices of Clara Hess, a high ranking Nazi who just happens to be the mother that Maggie thought was dead.

But at the time this is all occurring, Clara's other daughter Elise, who works as a nurse in a hospital in Berlin is horrified to discover that some of the more sicklier patients are supposedly being transferred to another hospital, but in fact are being sent to death camps for euthanasia. Elise has a friend who is married to a Jewish doctor and she is very fearful that he will be arrested and sent off to an extermination camp.

The author is an American and the book is I suppose intended for mainly US readers. It is extremely readable, well plotted and researched and follows on from Maggie Hope's adventures in a previous book with the young Princess Elizabeth and her sister, in Windsor Castle.

The subject matter is pretty grim but these things did happen. HIS MAJESTY'S HOPE is very gripping and I quite enjoyed it; this is the first time that I've read any of her books and she has written two previous novels with the Maggie Hope character. The book is self contained and full explanations are given when reference is made to the previous adventures.

Terry Halligan, August 2013.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Review: Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand

Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand, June 2013, 352 pages, C & R Crime, ISBN: 1472102797

Reviewed by Lynn Harvey.
(Read more of Lynn's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Cass Neary knows she is a mess-up; growing up a loner, the only child of a widowed father, she always saw things differently from others – or rather she saw different things. She took to photography and left to study photojournalism in New York but instead she plunged into the city's 70s punk music scene. In a haze of pills and booze, she lived in the clubs photographing the kids as they took drugs, sex, sleep – overdoses. Still in her teens, she made a series of photos recreating paintings by Munch, Sickert, and Waterhouse. She called the series “Dead Girls” and it got her a gallery show, then a book, and she became a sensation. But she blew it with drugs, drunken interviews, insults and inappropriate come-ons. By her early twenties she had lost it and a bloody rape on a vacant lot in the Bowery put paid to her youth and promise. She surrendered. Cass spent the next twenty years in a miasma of alcohol and drugs, with a dead-end job and her photography limited to the occasional slot in a group show and the odd photo sold to the Soho Weekly News. Now, in her late forties, a dealer friend offers her a job; an interview with reclusive photography legend, Aphrodite Kamestos who is now in her seventies and living on a remote island off the Maine coast. This is Cass Neary's idol, the woman whose art changed her life. Cass says yes. Wearing her standard outfit of leather jacket, designer jeans and steel-tipped cowboy boots, with her only luggage – a satchel containing two photography books by Kamestos, a battered Konica camera, some film and a bag of crystal meth – Cass sets off in a rented car for the sub-zero temperatures of a Maine winter. She arrives that night, too late for the arranged boat out to the island. At the only motel in town she is greeted by a fifteen year old Goth receptionist and a lot of “Have You Seen...” flyers for missing cats and one for a guy called Martin Graves. Over the next few days Cass Neary enters the artist's remote world in all its hostility and menacing beauty. And with her own intuitions and compulsions she opens up the secrets it contains.

Elizabeth Hand is an American writer living in Maine and London. She has been writing and publishing fiction since the late 1980s. Much of her work is in the sci-fi and fantasy genre, including film novelisations and young adult fantasy, and she has two Nebula Awards to her name. She has said that GENERATION LOSS “... began as a fantasy novel and ended up as a psychological thriller.” This explains a structure that is a little uneven with an apparently paranormal incident at the start, in Cass's youth, which somehow fails to resonate. But by the time Cass gets to the end of her journey in Maine I had become totally absorbed in the “psychological thriller” aspect. It is a book about beauty, loss, death and murder but its riveting feature is the central character of Cass Neary; someone I should have disliked in so many ways – but I didn't. I know Stieg Larsson's GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is a tired “front cover sticker” comparison but imagine his creation “Lisbeth Salander” twenty years older and without benefit of aims or redemption; wired, amoral, impulsive and detached from relationship. You start to get a picture of Cass Neary. Whereas bad girl “heroines” such as Larsson's “Lisbeth” and Carol O'Connell's detective “Kathy Mallory” funnel their outsiderness and obsessions into digital genius, Cass Neary remains defiantly analogue. She refuses to work with a digital camera; her own obsession and brilliance lying in an intuitive and detailed understanding of the photographer's eye and technique. Perhaps this a first in forensic detection skills.

I enjoyed GENERATION LOSS very much. It is dark, atmospheric and genuinely thrilling. UK publishers Constable & Robinson are due to bring out Hand's second Cass Neary book AVAILABLE DARK later this month and I certainly look forward to it.

Lynn Harvey, August 2013.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

New Titles from Faber - July - December 2013

Taken from the Faber catalogue, here are all their new crime titles for July to December 2013 (just those relevant to Euro Crime):

July 2013

Kate Griffin - Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders (#1 Kitty Peck, Victorian London)

August 2013

Chris Ewan - Dead Line
Nicola Upson - The Death of Lucy Kyte (#5 Josephine Tey, real-life crime writer)

September 2013

Helen Fitzgerald - The Cry
Liam McIlvanney - Where the Dead Men Go (#2 Gerry Conway, Reporter, Glasgow)

October 2013

Adam Creed - Kill and Tell (#5 Detective Inspector Wagstaffe, London)
Peter Leonard - Back from the Dead (paperback) (#2 Harry Levin)
Eoin MacNamee - Blue is the Night (#3 Blue Trilogy)

November 2013

Doug Johnstone - Gone Again (paperback)
Andrew Martin - Night Train to Jamalpur (#9 Jim Stringer, Train Fireman)

December 2013

Stav Sherez - Eleven Days (paperback) (#2 DI Jack Carrigan and DS Geneva Miller, London)

Monday, August 05, 2013

Review: Traitor's Field by Robert Wilton

Traitor's Field by Robert Wilton, August 2013, 480 pages, Corvus, ISBN: 1848878400

Reviewed by Rich Westwood.
(Read more of Rich's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

From the opening scene, in which a man searches bodies on a battlefield and imaginatively recreates what has happened blow by blow, it's obvious this is a very good book.

For years I have been recommending Iain Pears' AN INSTANCE OF THE FINGERPOST as my favourite historical mystery. TRAITOR'S FIELD is my new favourite. It's literate, learned without forcing the reader to sit through pages of the author's research, complex, and indefinably authentic.

The book's events take place in Britain in the years between 1648 and 1651. It's a tumultuous period, from the final sputterings of the civil war in England and the execution of King Charles I, through the false dawns of Royalist hopes in Ireland and Scotland, to the ignominious escape into exile of Charles II.

It's the story of two intelligence men working on opposite sides of the conflict: the Royalist Sir Mortimer Shay and the Parliamentarian John Thurloe.

Shay is depicted as a semi-mythic figure criss-crossing the country stirring up his network of Royalist sympathisers but rarely coming out of the shadows. When he does emerge, he is a solid-as-a-rock veteran with 30 years' experience of battle across Europe.

By contrast, Thurloe is green, a lawyer rising through the ranks of Oliver Cromwell's fledgling intelligence service, painfully aware that he is playing catch-up, but not sure who against.

Both men become obsessed with uncovering the truth about the killing of the Leveller ringleader Colonel Thomas Rainsborough during what, on the face of it, was a botched attempt at a kidnapping.

Wilton's prose is dense and he is adept at conveying atmosphere - from a besieged town to a run-down prison to a remote country house. He excels at fight scenes:

Then the nightmare: the earth shuddering and the heads screaming and the drowsy clusters of men dragging themselves awake and somehow up, and staggering and clutching for shoulders and weapons and clarity and the nightmare is on them. The nightmare is Cromwell, vast leather-and-metal men on rampaging horses, exploding dark out of the night, monstrous grey-brown shadows and a madness of noise.

You have to meet TRAITOR'S FIELD halfway. It's not always obvious what's going on or who's doing what to whom, but it is well worth the effort. Shay and Thurloe are worthy predecessors to John le Carré's Smiley and Karla.

Rich Westwood, August 2013

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Euro Crime is now on Facebook

I have been meaning to set up a page on Facebook for Euro Crime for ages and a work-related Facebook project has pushed me into finally doing it. I will be putting a link from the Euro Crime blog posts on to the Facebook page (as I do with twitter) so it'll be another way of keeping up to date.

The url is
(Please come and "like" it.)

This is how Foxy's passing the day as it's pouring down outside:

Friday, August 02, 2013

Review: The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard, July 2013, 416 pages, Bantam Press, ISBN: 0593069730

Reviewed by Geoff Jones.
(Read more of Geoff's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

This is the twenty-fourth mystery/thriller book by this popular author, this time set in France and England in 1919. The First World War has come to an end. In Paris there is a Peace conference involving the USA, UK, France and Italy. The Japanese are co-opted occasionally.

James Maxted (Max) was a fighter pilot in the Royal Flying Corp. He is the second son of Sir Henry, owner of Gresscombe Place a stately home in Surrey. Max is friendly with his chief mechanic from the war – Sam Twentyman and together they hope to run a flying school on some of the Maxted land. He learns from his mother that his father has died. Sir Henry was an adviser to the British contingent in Paris. Max and his elder brother Ashley (there is no love lost between brothers and Ashley’s wife Lydia is usually fuelling their arguments), travel to Paris. Apparently their father died in suspicious circumstances and was involved with a Madame Corinne Dombreux, who is a widow of a man believed to be a traitor to his country.

Max believes his father was killed and despite angering Ashley, refuses to return home with their father’s body and begins to investigate. Along the way he meets some colourful characters: Travis Ireton (an American fixer) and his associate the powerfully built Morahan; Appleby from the British secret service; Baltazar Riberio, a Brazilian diplomat, and a good friend of his father; Kuroda from the Japanese embassy who befriended Sir Henry when he was in Japan; Lionel Brigham, a British delegate and ex-lover of Max’s mother who believes he is Max’s natural father and Nadia Bukayeva the sultry niece of a Turkish bookshop owner.

Max is aware of a German agent – Felix Lemmer who also knew his father, he is also aware that the Japanese have employed an agent to kill Lemmer, but who is he working for? Who is the mysterious Arab boy known as Le Singe who seems to walk into locked rooms at will!?

Although this book is complete it is actually part one as there will be a sequel, quite a novel departure for the author. THE WAYS OF THE WORLD is well up to the author's high standard. Very much recommended.

Geoff Jones, August 2013

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Review: The Namesake by Conor Fitzgerald

The Namesake by Conor Fitzgerald, August 2013, 368 pages, Bloomsbury Paperbacks, ISBN: 1408831562

Reviewed by Lynn Harvey.
(Read more of Lynn's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Arconti still did not reply. Instead, he slid silently out of his chair and fell face first into the scattered files and folders on the floor. Blume leapt up, rushed around, and flicked the magistrate over as if saving him from drowning in a pool of papers. The magistrate's face was grey, his body stiff and unresponsive.

Dead, just like that. Another dead Matteo Arconti. Two in one morning. A sudden urge to laugh welled up in him, but when it broke his lips, it was as an angry shout.

Milan: the magistrate and his police team watch the CCTV footage of a fourteen-year-old girl, a journalist's daughter, getting into a car – seemingly of her own will. The car drives off. The girl has now been missing since yesterday. The magistrate warns his team that it will not end well. Elsewhere in Milan an accountant is on his way to his office at an insurance company. As he throws his briefcase onto the back seat of his car he hears the sound of a van reversing at high speed towards him. The doors open. He is brutally overpowered and forced into the van, a bag thrust over his head, his wrists bound with plastic tape. His journey will last about an hour and a half and it will end with his death.

Rome: the next day. On the street named after two magistrates murdered by the Cosa Nostra in 1992, the accountant's body is dumped near the courthouse. Commissioner Alec Blume of the Rome police visits the site. He has been discussing the case of a doctor's supposed suicide with its investigating magistrate, Matteo Arconti. It is a case that appears to be linked to the powerful but secretive Calabrian mafia, the Ndrangheta. Now Blume is standing over the body of another Matteo Arconti, a Milanese accountant. Blume wonders if the Ndrangheta is sending a message and finding out precisely who sent it will take Blume on a bizarre and dangerous journey into the heart of Calabria.

THE NAMESAKE is Conor Fitzgerald's third book to feature Police Commissioner Alec Blume; the previous two being the THE DOGS OF ROME and THE FATAL TOUCH. Irish writer Fitzgerald has lived in Italy for over twenty years and I wonder if this is what has led him to choose a foreign-born resident as his lead character of the American-born Rome detective, Blume. The plot of THE NAMESAKE focusses on the Calabrian mafia or Ndrangheta. In an interview with writer Declan Burke, the author describes the Ndrangheta as: "… the most powerful mafia in Europe, not just Italy … They completely control the European cocaine trade … they have a GDP the size of Slovenia." This secretive society has been the subject of other crime novels such as Michele Giuttari's A DEATH IN CALABRIA. But the Giuttari novel is more of a straightforward police procedural. Being procedural does not appear to be Blume's forte and in THE NAMESAKE Fitzgerald provides a more intimate view of Calabrian life and its relationship to the Ndrangheta with its tight-lipped, allusive culture, strict hierarchies and codes of honour. These convolutions, of themselves, add to the mystery and suspense of Fitzgerald's book.

I admit to a bad start with THE NAMESAKE. It has a standard “crime novel” beginning in which the initial chapters are set in separate locations, describe separate incidents and involve different characters; but add to this a parade of administrative acronyms (although there is a helpful appendix at the end of the book ready to put it all in place); the fact that I had not read any of the Blume series before – and I lost my grip. My difficulty getting into the book may simply have lain in the contrast between Fitzgerald's style and that of the book that I had just finished reading. In all I decided that I had wrong-footed myself and gave it another go. My reward was a richer and warmer experience and one that would certainly encourage me to read more of the series. Fitzgerald's writing is shot through with a subtle humour which brought about a growing feeling of warmth towards the wilfully awkward and human Blume – whom I had initially dismissed as cold and misanthropic. The story's pace accelerates to an absorbing conclusion in a plot that ricochets between Milan, Rome and Calabria; whilst the vitality of Fitzgerald's characters accompanies a darker tone of dispassionate fatal events. Ultimately this book is a rewarding, thoughtful read. When asked in an interview what three words best describe his writing, Fitzgerald answered “Place, character, mortality.” I cannot sum up the core qualities of THE NAMESAKE any better.

Lynn Harvey, August 2013.