Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Millennium 4 : The Girl in the Spider's Web

Released on 27 August 2015, part four of Stieg Larsson's Millennium series: The Girl in the Spider's Web written by David Lagercrantz:

More in The Guardian.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Review: The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell

The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell, March 2015, 448 pages, Simon & Schuster UK, ISBN: 1471111024

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

To put it simply, this is one of the best books that I have ever read. I loved it and was so sad when I came to the end. So exquisitely well-written that I took a week to read it, THE FIFTH GOSPEL is well worth the ten years that it took to research and write. So richly full of detail that the characters start to feel like friends almost immediately and so easy to get caught up in that at times it had me weeping.

The story is about two brothers, Simon and Alex. Both men are Catholic priests and live in the Vatican. Alex is a Greek Catholic and has a small son, while Simon is a Roman Catholic and destined for high places. The story begins with a phone call. Simon, who is currently stationed overseas, is coming home but phones Alex needing his help. Hearing the panic in his brother’s voice, Alex dashes out to his aid and discovers him crouching over the dead body of Ugo; their friend and the curator/designer of a mysterious exhibition that is due to open in the next couple of days. Ugo has been shot. The police are called and an investigation begins but it is no ordinary investigation. Simon is arrested, under suspicion of the murder of his friend, but the trial is set to take place in a Catholic court in the Vatican, not a court of Law. The system is very different and Alex, frustrated at what he sees and frantic for justice to be served – both for his brother and his friend - starts to take matters into his own hands.

Ugo’s planned exhibition is a controversial one and it is obvious that someone has killed him because of his discoveries in the course of preparing his work. He has spent a couple of years researching the origins and authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, in an attempt to explain where it really came from and whether or not it was the fake that carbon-dating had shown it to be. During the course of his research, Ugo had found an ancient manuscript, called the Diatessaron, or Fifth Gospel. It is a mix together of all four other Gospels, in an attempt to make sense of the discrepancies between them. Ugo works hard at unravelling the truth behind the Shroud and scours the Diatessaron for clues. What he finds has the potential to rock the very foundation of the Catholic church. And someone clearly wants him silenced before he tells the world his news.

Alex is pushed to his limits trying to find the evidence he needs. Gutted that his friend is dead and determined to prove that his brother is innocent, he has to push aside his own breaking heart and get to the truth before it is too late. Then he discovers that he too has become one of the hunted.

If you love religious crime fiction and cherish well-written prose as much as I do then you are going to adore this book. It deserves to be at least as successful as Caldwell’s earlier work. I will be watching its progress with great interest.

Extremely Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, March 2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Petrona Award 2015 - the Shortlist

As you may know, I met up recently with the Petrona Award judges to discuss the 2015 Petrona Award and I can now reveal which titles are on the shortlist.

From the press release:

Quality crime fiction from across Scandinavia is shortlisted for the 2015 Petrona Award

Six high-quality crime novels from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden have made the shortlist for the 2015 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, which is announced today.

They are:
THE HUMMINGBIRD by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Arcadia Books; Finland)

THE HUNTING DOGS by Jørn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press; Norway)

REYKJAVIK NIGHTS by Arnaldur Indriðason tr. Victoria Cribb (Harvill Secker; Iceland)

THE HUMAN FLIES by Hans Olav Lahlum tr. Kari Dickson (Mantle; Norway)

FALLING FREELY, AS IF IN A DREAM by Leif G W Persson tr. Paul Norlen (Doubleday; Sweden)

THE SILENCE OF THE SEA by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir tr. Victoria Cribb (Hodder & Stoughton; Iceland)

The winning title will be announced at the annual international crime fiction event CrimeFest, held in Bristol 14-17 May 2015. The award will be presented by the Godmother of modern Scandinavian crime fiction, Maj Sjöwall, co-author with Per Wahlöö of the Martin Beck series.

The award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.

Leading Scandinavian crime fiction expert Barry Forshaw said “The Petrona Award goes from strength to strength, with both winners and shortlisted authors representing the very finest in the Nordic Noir genre; I’m pleased to be involved.”

More information about the judges and the judges' comments on why these books were chosen can be found on the Petrona Award website.

The judges (& me) after arriving at the shortlist:

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid

The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid, March 2015, 464 pages, Sphere, ISBN: 0751551287

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

In an old abandoned building in Edinburgh, a surveyor struggles with his fear of heights to check the state of the roof. He is horrified when he finds the skeleton of a man hidden in a turret at one of the corners. The small Cold Case specialist unit is called in to investigate. When the death is found to be the result of a gunshot eight years previously, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie and her assistant DC Jason Murray, must first identity the body before starting to get to grips with finding the murderer.

Meanwhile in Oxford, Professor Maggie Blake is reluctantly celebrating her fiftieth birthday. She has a long and successful career in the subject of Geopolitics, particularly of the countries of the former Yugoslavia but her personal relationships leave a lot to desire after the love of her life, Dimitar Petrovic, walked out of her life without a backward glance.

Some lawyers who are working for the International Criminal Tribunal to bring war criminals from the former Yugolavia to trial have been tasked with finding the individual who is killing the very people they are working to bring to justice. Their search leads them to Edinburgh and to Karen and Jason's investigations. Meanwhile the police evidence leads Karen and Jason's search to Oxford, Maggie and the missing Dimitar.

Running through the book are the horrific events in the conflicts leading up to the break up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s including the siege and almost destruction of Dubrovnik. When reading this, I could not help but think of the similar events happening in the world today, the atrocities, destruction and deaths.

THE SKELETON ROAD is a very sad book but a good read as always offered by this author. This is a stand-alone book rather than a continuation of a series.

Susan White, March 2015

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reviews: Alaux & Balen, Bauer, Bilal, Fowler, Hannah, Judd, Shepherd, Todd, Whitney

Here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, four have appeared on the blog since last time, and five are completely new.

Please welcome new reviewer Ewa Sherman who makes her debut today.

A reminder that FriendFeed is being withdrawn on 9 April, so our crime and mystery group has new home on Facebook - Petrona's Crime and Mystery Friends. It's a closed group but there are admins in all time zones so you won't have to wait long to be approved. Do join us - new members are very welcome!

NB. You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page.

New Reviews

Laura Root reviews Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen's Deadly Tasting tr. Sally Pane the fourth in their cozy Winemaker series;

Michelle Peckham reviews Belinda Bauer's The Shut Eye;

Lynn Harvey reviews Parker Bilal's The Burning Gates, the fourth in his Makana series set in Egypt;

Mark Bailey reviews Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May - The Burning Man, the twelfth in this series which features London's Peculiar Crimes Unit;

Amanda Gillies reviews Mari Hannah's Killing for Keeps the fifth in the Detective Chief Inspector Kate Daniels series;

Ewa Sherman reviews Alan Judd's Inside Enemy which is the fourth in the Charles Thoroughgood series;

Terry Halligan reviews Lynn Shepherd's The Pierced Heart, the fourth in the Charles Maddox series;

Terry also reviews Charles Todd's A Fine Summer's Day a prequel in the Inspector Rutledge series

and Susan White reviews Rebecca Whitney's debut, The Liar's Chair.

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer

The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer, March 2015, 304 pages, Bantam Press, ISBN: 0593072871

Reviewed by Michelle Peckham.
(Read more of Michelle's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Detective Chief Inspector John Marvel is on his way home to Debbie, when he spots a woman on a ledge, about to jump off onto the rails in front of a train. He tells her a small white lie, that the trains are now longer running as it's after 8pm, and saves her life. The woman is Anna Buck, married to the car mechanic, James Buck, and they both live next door to the garage where he works. Sadly, outside their house, in the cement of the garage forecourt are five small footsteps preserved in cement, the footsteps of her missing four year old boy, Daniel. Anna is badly affected by his disappearance, cleaning the flat with bleach on a daily basis, and looking after a baby that is just a doll. But then she finds a flyer for a meeting in a church featuring the TV psychic, Richard Latham, and she takes the first steps to change, by leaving her house properly for the first time. She goes to the meeting to see what Latham can tell her, because she knows Daniel is not dead. Can she afford to pay him for a consultation? Can he help her find Daniel?

As a foil perhaps to this sadness, the superintendent takes Marvel off his current case (finding a missing girl called Edie) and tells him to find out what has happened to his wife's dog Mitzi (a poodle). Sandra, the wife, is also using Latham to try to find out where Mitzi is, but is refused help. At the meeting, Anna and Sandra connect and Anna takes a photo of Sandra and the poodle away with her. But in a surprising development, Anna has an odd reaction to the photograph, and suddenly has a vision that she can't interpret. Is she getting visions like Richard Latham? Like a 'shut eye'? Could she help to find the dog? What do the visions mean?

A quirky, intriguing story, set in the year 2000, but with the feel of 50 years earlier, particularly in the character of John Marvel, a brilliant but idiosyncratic detective. Anna is a fragile, yet strong-minded character, and the story is focused on her determination and obsession with finding her lost child. Bauer very cleverly builds up the tension precisely and carefully, drawing on our sympathy and engagement with the two main characters. And despite its gentleness, the story slows builds to a dramatic conclusion, as the stories of the lost children (and dogs) are played out. I very much enjoyed this book, and thoroughly recommend it.

Michelle Peckham, March 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pushkin's Vertigo Imprint

From Shelf Awareness, news of Pushkin Press's International Crime Imprint, Vertigo:
In September, in the U.K. and North America, Pushkin Press is launching Pushkin Vertigo, an imprint that will feature crime classics from around the world by international masters from the 1920s to the 1970s. The authors are well known in their original countries, and some have been translated into English previously. The company noted the popularity of international crime on TV and in books and said its Pushkin Vertigo titles have been "carefully selected by Pushkin's editors to feed the needs of those addicted to crime literature--the 'binge' readers."

Pushkin Vertigo is releasing six titles this year:

Vertigo by Boileau-Narcejac, the pen name of Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (the book was the basis for Hitchcock's movie--and the name of the new imprint)
She Who Was No More by Boileau-Narcejac
The Disappearance of Signora Giulia by Piero Chiara
The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada
Master of the Day of Judgment by Leo Perutz
I Was Jack Mortimer by Alexander Lernet-Holenia

Another 14 titles will be published next year.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Petrona Award - Update

The Petrona Award judges' meeting on Friday went very well, here is a picture of the team, post decisions: Sarah, Barry, myself and Kat (clockwise).

The press release announcing the six books on the shortlist will be available in a few days, stay tuned.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Two Petrona-related news items

Several years ago, Maxine (aka Petrona), set up a crime and mystery group on FriendFeed which has nearly 300 subscribers and is a chatty place for commenting on blog posts and is my first port of call in the morning. Sadly, though it's been on the cards for a while, FriendFeed will be withdrawn on 9 April. Thanks to Bernadette, we have a new home on Facebook - Petrona's Crime and Mystery Friends. It's a closed group but there are admins in all time zones so you won't have to wait long to be approved. Do join us - new members are very welcome!

Secondly, The Petrona Award judges and myself are meeting tomorrow to decide the shortlist for this year's award. All I can tell you at the moment is that it's going to be difficult to pick the shortlist and that they will all come from this list.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Review: Killing for Keeps by Mari Hannah

Killing for Keeps by Mari Hannah, December 2014, 400 pages, Macmillan, ISBN: 144724611X

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

KILLING FOR KEEPS is the latest book by Mari Hannah and features her wonderful female DCI, Kate Daniels. True to form, Hannah does not disappoint and the opening pages of the book introduce you to the story in such a gruesomely shocking way that they have you, drawn in and captivated, right from the start. Some books take a while to warm up but this one is the complete opposite and punches you in the face right away. You have no choice but to carry on reading. Awesome! This is the second of Hannah’s books that I have read and this one is even better than the first.

In brief, the book opens with two grisly murders. The lifeless bodies of two brothers, or what remains of them, are found with various parts missing – one on the road under a van and the other on a hospital trolley - and DCI Daniels is called in to serve justice. Luck is not on her side. Although she quickly discovers the identity of the two men, the case quickly stagnates and she is pushed to her limit in order to get things moving again. Chasing her prime suspects takes her from her Tyneside home turf up to Glasgow and even out to Spain and at times both she and her readers feel as if the case will end up being left unsolved. With more lives at stake and the body count increasing, Kate must dig deep in order to save her own life as well as her career, and bring the guilty party home.

KILLING FOR KEEPS is a must-read if you like your crime fiction unpredictable and nasty but also enjoy good, solid characters that don’t back away when things start to get difficult. DCI Kate Daniels is one of those tough nuts that will hang on to something until the bitter end. I have my fingers crossed that her love life works out soon and can’t wait for her next case!

Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, March 2015

Friday, March 06, 2015

Review: The Liar's Chair by Rebecca Whitney

The Liar's Chair by Rebecca Whitney, January 2015, 224 pages, Mantle, ISBN: 1447265815

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

A woman driving carelessly home from a meeting with her lover is enjoying the power of her car and revelling in its speed as she pushes herself and the car to its limits when she loses control. She is horrified when she finds that she has knocked down and killed a tramp well known in the area. She hurriedly drags the body into hiding and continues home to the luxurious house she shares with her husband.

Rachel Teller appears to have everything: a prosperous business, a loving husband and a fabulous home. However, appearances can be deceptive and David Teller is an over bearing bully and has a passion for making money, controlling everyone, including every facet of Rachel's life and also has a secret drug habit.

Rachel attempts to clean herself and hide all evidence of the accident from her husband but he discovers her and she has to tell him everything. He is furious and when she wakes the next morning she finds no trace of anything untoward, and is instructed to forget it and to carry on as usual. However, Rachel's conscience will not let her forget and her life starts to unravel.

This is an uncomfortable story of a marriage that has a thin veneer of sophistication but hides a great deal of unhappiness. As Rachel falls apart and she faces up to the consequences of the death she has caused, her memories of an emotionally abusive childhood are brought back to her mind. Her fantasies of a new life with her lover, Will, move further and further away as she struggles with her need for the comfort Will offers her and her concerns about David's actions if he discovers her relationship.

This ia a powerful and fast moving story set around Brighton. A debut novel that is written with assurance, dealing with powerful themes, including violence in marriage.

Recommended as a good read.

Susan White, March 2015

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Review: The Burning Gates by Parker Bilal

The Burning Gates by Parker Bilal, February 2015, 384 pages, Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN: 1408841088

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

… he now regarded Makana with what looked like deep suspicion.
“You have a reputation for getting yourself into trouble.”
“I'm honoured to have any kind of reputation at all,” said Makana before making his excuses.

Sand, a burning truck, a group of blindfolded figures, roped together, staggering through a dust storm. An American soldier is rescued by Wild Bill Hickok and a Viking god who promise him safety just outside Fallujah.

Cairo, September 2004.
Makana, exiled Sudanese Police inspector turned private investigator, is crossing the river at sunset to meet his old friend Ali at the villa of the art dealer Kasabian. Tonight there will be a private view for Kasabian's latest show which includes a couple of Ali's paintings and Ali has also recommended Makana for some discreet enquiry work. Inside Kasabian's elegant home the guests circulate – fellow dealers, artists, clients, and the high and the mighty. In his office Kasabian explains to Makana that a New York art dealer has asked him for help in locating a rare Expressionist painting once thought lost during the Nazi's purge and pilfering of “decadent art”. There are rumours that the painting – alongside similar others – has re-appeared, looted from a private collection during Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in the first Gulf War. The painting is thought to be in the possession of an Iraqi colonel currently on the run from the Americans and perhaps here in Egypt. Makana's job is to locate this Iraqi colonel for Kasabian. Nothing more, Kasabian will do the rest.

After the reception Makana and Ali share a meal in a favourite café. Makana takes on the modern world by buying a mobile phone – and one for Ali too, who says he will fix Makana's ageing car, offending Sindbad, Makana's taxi-driver “chauffeur”, in the process. Ali asks about the rumour that Makana's long lost daughter is alive. But the reminder of the loss of his wife and daughter during the flight from Sudan spurs Makana to leave and take a solitary walk home. On the way he calls into a particular bar where, as he thought, he finds Marwan. Ex-State Security, Marwan has been demoted to CSF policeman – the Riot Squad – and Makana asks him to see what he can find out about the mysterious Iraqi colonel.

Next day Makana continues to put out feelers – an estate agent, an immigration officer at the airport – before visiting his journalist friends Sami and Raina Barakat. With Sami having become a “voice of dissent”, the couple work from the offices of a media collective. Together they discuss the Iraq situation. Sami gives Makana information on the missing Iraqi colonel who is depicted in the Americans' infamous “deck of cards”, the most wanted of Saddam’s inner circle. The colonel is a war criminal, associated with torture and death squads. The new mobile phone rings. It is Marwan, “We need to talk”...

Parker Bilal is the pseudonym of writer Jamal Mahjoub, born in London, brought up in Khartoum and now living in Barcelona. His retrospective crime series following Cairo-based private investigator Makana, a Sudanese exile, begins with THE GOLDEN SCALES set in 1998. (In an interview Mahjoub has said that he hopes to take the series up to the Arab Spring and the overthrow of Mubarak).

This fourth novel THE BURNING GATES is set in 2004, eighteen months after America launched its invasion of Saddam’s Iraq. In it we get an Arab/Egyptian perspective on the Iraq war, frequently relayed through the wry conversations of everyday Cairo street life. Bilal's writing is vivid and he excels at creating individualised characters. Some reappear throughout the series but there are also tiny cameos such as the bewildered and bewildering elderly witness, a poet, who says he saw a bolt of lightning, a yellow bird, or rather – a yellow motorbike. With each book we get to know Makana better. Not necessarily the details of his past, for his is a shrewd, observant character given to brief ironic remarks. But we do get a sense of his life as an outsider “from The South”, and as a political exile whose strange mix of caution and impulse makes for much of the suspense of the novels. Marked by the loss of his wife and daughter during their attempted escape from Sudan, Makana is frequently hooked by encounters that trigger his guilt and grief. In THE BURNING GATES this involves a young Sudanese woman who works as a hostess-prostitute in a nightclub, part of this novel's world of stolen art, art dealers, shady deals and corruption which soon opens out onto a vista of murder, brutality, duplicity, war crime and mercenaries.

Don't miss out on THE BURNING GATES, nor for that matter the earlier books in this wonderful series.

Lynn Harvey, March 2015.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

New Reviews: Cutler, Holt, Jordan, Kernick, Khan, Oswald

Here are six reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, three have appeared on the blog since last time, and three are completely new.

NB. You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page.

New Reviews

Geoff Jones reviews Judith Cutler's Green and Pleasant Land which is the sixth in the Fran Harman series and is set in the Midlands;

I review Anne Holt's Death of the Demon tr. Anne Bruce third book in the Hanne Wilhelmsen series;

Amanda Gillies reviews Will Jordan's Betrayal, the third in the Ryan Drake series;

Terry Halligan reviews The Final Minute by Simon Kernick, his latest thriller and which features regular protagonist, Tina Boyd;

Michelle Peckham reviews The Unquiet Dead, the impressive debut novel by Ausma Zehanat Khan

and Terry also reviews James Oswald's Prayer for the Dead the newest in the Inspector McLean series and the first to be released first in hardback.

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