Thursday, December 31, 2015

Some 1950 Titles (for Past Offences)

The latest monthly challenge over at Past Offences is to read a book in January, published in 1950. Here are some British/European crime titles to choose from, first published in English in 1950, pulled from my database:
Margery Allingham - Mr Campion and Others (NB. the revised edition)
Joanna Cannan - Murder Included (apa Poisonous Relations & The Taste of Murder)
Agatha Christie - Three Blind Mice and Other Stories
Agatha Christie - A Murder Is Announced
Carter Dickson - Night at the Mocking Widow
Elbur Ford - Poison in Pimlico
Elbur Ford - Flesh and the Devil
Richard Hull - A Matter of Nerves
Georges Simenon - The Heart of a Man
Georges Simenon - The Burial of Monsieur Bouvet
Georges Simenon - Madame Maigret's Own Case (apa Madame Maigret's Friend)
Josephine Tey - To Love and Be Wise
Patricia Wentworth - The Ivory dagger
Patricia Wentworth - The Brading Collection (apa Mr. Brading´s Collection)
Patricia Wentworth - Through the Wall

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (4)

The next entry in the Euro Crime reviewer's Favourite Discoveries of 2015 is both a book and a DVD, recommended by Amanda Gillies.

Amanda Gillies's Favourite Discovery of 2015

The Pianist. Co-produced and directed by Roman Polanski (2002) and written by Wladyslaw Szpilman (1946 in Polish and 1998 in English)

I both saw the movie and read the Kindle version of the book in the same weekend. The experience completely blew me away, so this has to be my New Discovery recommendation to you for 2015. Not fiction, but most definitely crime, true crime, “The Pianist” tells the story of one man’s battle to survive in war-torn Warsaw in Word War II. Young Jewish man, Wladyslaw Szpilman is a talented pianist who manages to escape from the German deportations of Jews to extermination camps. He survives life in the Warsaw ghetto and goes into hiding when the ghetto is destroyed. Time after time his talent as a musician saves him from certain death and when his hiding place is accidentally discovered he must give the performance of a lifetime to keep his life.

I loved the way the film was shot and the way the sheer horrors that thepeople experienced were portrayed. Over and over I was sure that Szpilman’s luck would run out and was exhausted at the end. I was also delighted to see that the film stuck very closely to the book and missed nothing out. Polanksi produced a masterpiece of a film and it is a shame that Szpilman died before the film was released. This, of course, gives away the fact that he survives the war but this is no secret as he goes on in later life to become a famous and accomplished musician.

Very Highly Recommended – but a box of tissues is necessary!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (3)

The next entry in the Euro Crime reviewer's Favourite Discoveries of 2015 is a new publisher, recommended by Rich Westwood.

Rich Westwood's Favourite Discovery of 2015

My discovery of the year is the publisher Dean Street Press, one of the small number of independent publishers resurrecting classic crime fiction for a new generation equipped with e-readers.

They came to my attention early in the year with two novels by George Sanders. George Sanders was a Hollywood star from the 1930s onwards, appearing in Hitchcock’s Rebecca, a number of films playing the Saint and the Falcon, and as the voice of Shere Khan. He wrote (or more probably just put his name to) two very enjoyable and very different novels. CRIME ON MY HANDS is narrated by a fictionalised 'George Sanders' and is a screwball mystery played out on the set of a western in Northern California. STRANGER AT HOME is a far more serious affair with a degenerate LA high-life setting reminiscent of Raymond Chandler.

Dean Street Press followed the Sanders novels with two by Ianthe Jerrold, a virtually forgotten Golden Age mystery writer. THE STUDIO CRIME, published in 1929, begins with the murder of an art dealer in St John's Wood. The irresistibly named John Christmas plays the part of amateur sleuth. His friendly rivalry with Scotland Yard bears comparison with his Golden Age peers, but in a nice variation on the trope, his friends are sceptical and unwilling to subscribe to his great amateur detective lifestyle.

DEAD MAN'S QUARRY, first published in 1930, could well be my favourite reissue of the year. It opens with a group of young people (and one parent) on a cycling holiday in a polite and ordered countryside, where the consistency of boiled eggs is the main topic of conversation. As events unfold, we meet suspicious locals, mysterious strangers, ginger beer bought at cottages, and that old staple the remote shepherd's hut. And there is a full supporting cast of rustics (who all add something to the story): a philosophically philandering footman, a poetic shepherd, and a grumpy pub landlord. All great fun.

After Jerrold, Dean Street Press has moved on to the somewhat fuller back catalogues of E R Punshon (fifteen titles), Annie Haynes (seven titles), and Harriet Rutland (three titles).

It's great to see these authors given a chance to reach new audiences so long after their heyday, and I hope to see many more new discoveries next year.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Christmas 2015

This lovely picture is taken from the Cramar Cat Rescue 2016 calendar available to buy in person or by post. Donations of cat food etc also very welcome. We got our much beloved Nancy from them just over a year ago.

We're having a few technical problems chez Euro Crime resulting from a broken hard disk - so the favourite discoveries posts will continue next week all being well (and restored...).

Merry Christmas to all and of course a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (2)

The next entry in the Euro Crime reviewer's Favourite Discoveries of 2015 is a TV series/DVD, recommended by Lynn Harvey.

Lynn Harvey's Favourite Discovery of 2015

My favourite discovery of 2015 was Brit-crime television serial “RIVER”.

I confess that I don't watch many Brit-crime series on the telly so let me make my apologies now to die-hard fans of the genre. However this six-parter (BBC One and Netflix) which was created and written by Abi Morgan (The Hour, Suffragette) was a breath of strange fresh air that hooked me from the start.

Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard plays John River, a London police detective who carries on convincing conversations with voices in his head and sees dead people. Shocked by losing his long-term police partner (Nicola Walker), River bemuses his new partner (Adeel Akhtar) as they strike out in pursuit of a killer. The search takes River through the streets of contemporary London, rattling many shocked passers-by in the process, and what develops is a layered twister of a crime plot. Skarsgard is both powerful and subtle. In fact the entire cast is seriously good, including Eddie Marsan as the malevolent Thomas Cream, a Victorian serial killer who stalks through River's brain whenever he is at his most vulnerable.

“RIVER” is a great ensemble piece whose plot, photography, compassion and performances make up a persuasive and moving whole. True, I lost my partner's viewing-company after a couple of episodes but flashback scenes and "hallucinations" are a stretch too far for his plot-following capabilities – and he was plainly puzzled by the concept of a Swede being a detective in the British police. However, as you can see, none of this was a problem for me. I ate it all up. I loved it all: performances, plot, writing – and I was not alone amongst my acquaintances in being moved by the events uncovered and the ending.

Can or will such an ensemble piece come back for a second series? Much as I loved it, I have my doubts. So I recommend that you catch “RIVER” in any way you can. Well I would, wouldn't I.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2015 (I)

As per usual I have asked my fellow Euro Crime reviewers to come up with their favourite crime fiction discovery of the past year - be it book, film or tv series.

The first entry comes from Mark Bailey.

Mark Bailey's Favourite Discovery of 2015

My favourite discovery of 2015 was the DVDs of the French television series Les Petits Meurtres D'Agatha Christie (Agatha Christie's Little Murders) – I started out with the Region 1 box set put out by Acorn and got hooked in by the second series featuring Commissaire Laurence Swan (played by Samuel Labarthe), Alice Avril – a journalist (Blandine Bellavoir) and Swan's secretary Marlène (Élodie Frenck) who investigate crimes in the Nord-Pas-De-Calais in the 1950s.

The films (just over 90 minutes each) are a twist on Agatha Christie with basic plots intact but are very loose adaptations with a little more in the way of humour, gore and emotional relationship that one is used to with the British adaptations. They also travel a lot more over the canon – the 2015 films were Mademoiselle MacGinty Est Morte (Mrs McGinty's Dead), Un meurtre est-il facile? (Murder is Easy), Murder Party (A Murder is Announced) and Pension Vanilos (Hickory Dickory Dock) .

The addiction is such now that I am buying the DVDs from France when they are released and have the 2015 releases lined up for over Christmas to practice my rusty French on (there are no English language subtitles for the latest ones and indeed most of them – only 7 to date are available with English language subtitles of the 22 in the series and the 4 part ‘pilot’ Petits meurtres en famille (based on Hercule Poirot's Christmas)).

Why do I like them so much – because they are fun; they play with the conventions of Agatha Christie, have good characterisation and have characters that do develop as the series goes on (especially Marlène).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cited on Sausage Hall & The Ghosts of Altona

I'll soon be posting the Euro Crime review team's favourite discoveries of 2015, and their favourite reads of 2015 will appear in early 2016. In the meantime here are a couple of recent quotes from reviews that have made it onto the back of the (next) book.

1. Rich Westwood on Christina James's Sausage Hall:

2. Ewa Sherman on Craig Russell's The Ghosts of Altona:

Monday, December 14, 2015

Reviews - Double Downing

Here are two reviews by Terry (read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here) of David Downing's most recent book, One Man's Flag, and an early book in his "Station" series, Silesian Station:

One Man's Flag by David Downing, November 2015, 384 pages, Soho Crime, ISBN: 1616952709

Jack McColl, a spy for His Majesty’s Secret Service, is stationed in India, charged with defending the Empire against Bengali terrorists and their German allies. Belgium, he finds, is not the only country seeking to expel an invader.

In England, meanwhile, suffragette journalist Caitlin Hanley begins the business of rebuilding her life after the execution of her brother—an IRA sympathizer whose terrorist plot was foiled by Caitlin’s own ex-lover, the very same Jack McColl. The war is changing everything and giving fresh impulse to those causes—feminism, socialism and Irish independence—which she as a journalist has long supported.

The threat of a Rising in Dublin alarms McColl’s bosses as much as it dazzles Caitlin. If another Irish plot brings them back together, will it be as enemies or lovers?

I read, for review, the previous novel JACK OF SPIES which introduced Jack McColl to readers as a salesman of high end motor cars and also in the employ of a forerunner to MI6. This new book continues the adventures of the previous one but further along in time so that the First World War has definitely begun and for instance McColl's brother Jeb, is presently fighting from a trench in France. The book maybe read as one-off story, as the author gives full historical explanations but I found it very helpful to understanding and appreciating this current book, to have read the previous one.

The narrative of the story is seen through the eyes of Jack and alternatively Caitlin, which works very well. The author has done extensive period and geographical research and the very evocative atmosphere of 1914 India, Belgium, England and Ireland is reproduced very well for this reason.

I very much enjoyed reading his earlier Second World War books, which all had "Station..." in the title and now I'm equally enjoying the author's present books series about the earlier War and I hope that he writes many more.

Extremely well recommended.

Silesian Station  by David Downing, January 2011, 320 pages, Old Street Publishing, ISBN: 1906964599

This unbelievably good book comes hot on the heels of his ZOO STATION, featuring John Russell a British journalist living in Nazi Germany. After just reading a few pages you can imagine the jack boots on the cobblestones and feel the oppressive regulation of life lived under a dictatorship.

In early Summer, 1939, John Russell has returned from a long holiday in the USA accompanied by his son Paul who is aged twelve. Whilst in the States he manages to secure US citizenship and an American passport which makes it unlikely that he would be arrested back home in Berlin if, as he believes, Britain goes to war with Nazi Germany but that the US remains neutral. However, to obtain the American passport he had to promise to send intelligence reports to American Intelligence and he also has a new job working for the San Francisco Tribune newspaper as their Central and East European correspondent.

The Gestapo are very impressed by John Russell's ability to act as a double agent for them against the USSR. John has to accept their orders to provide fake intelligence to a Soviet Embassy. The Gestapo imprisoned John's German girlfriend for a few days in very harsh conditions to persuade him to co-operate with them. He also advises the USSR that the Nazi intelligence he is supplying them is dud but urges them to set up an urgent escape route for him and his girlfriend if they should need to leave Berlin in a rush.

Miriam is a German Silesian Jewish farm girl aged seventeen who has been irritated a lot by local young Nazi thugs and her parents are fearful for her safety and believe she would be better off in a large metropolis such as Berlin as they have a cousin there who will look after her and get her a job. So she travels to Berlin by train, a journey of eight hours or so. In the meantime the man who was supposed to meet her at the Berlin Train Terminal is killed and so a complete stranger asks her if he can help her but she subsequently disappears.

Her parents telephone a few days later but cannot get any information about her from other friends and relations in Berlin and eventually John Russell is asked to help by a mutual friend. John has in the past used an elderly private detective to do research for him on various projects and he uses him to search for the Jewish girl. Unfortunately, the German Police do not want her found? Why? The reasons and answers form the basis of a very exciting story which is mixed with a day to day history of what life was like living in "the cage" for a British Journalist living in Nazi Germany.

David Downing shows his hero, Russell, is a decent practical man working as a journalist, with a reasonable relationship with his son, girlfriend and ex-wife. There is some humour as well which relieves the tension and perhaps indicates that the Germans were not dissimilar to the British in many aspects of daily life.

I enjoyed SILESIAN STATION immensely and look forward to reading the next book in the series, STETTIN STATION.

Read another review of SILESIAN STATION.

Terry Halligan, December 2015.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Review: Silence by Anthony J Quinn

Silence by Anthony J Quinn, November 2015, 320 pages, Head of Zeus, ISBN: 1784971235

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

The motorway cut through a narrow valley, and Daly crossed a bridge. He glanced through his side window, and saw the old country below, felt its dark gravity, its mesh of forgotten roads, its interlocking parishes of grief and murder.

South Armagh, 1974.
During the rain's onslaught the group of policemen in waterproof overalls continue their task at the river's edge: a rhythmical plunging of their prisoner into the waters, hauling him out, interrogating, pressing him back down. Finally a gun is placed against the half-drowned man's neck. Then its muzzle is brought round to face him and the trigger is pulled. Click, no bullet. They drag him out of the water, dump him on the mud, and retreat to their Land Rover. After a pause they drive away. Shaken, cold and confused, the young man staggers through a thorn thicket towards the road when a voice tells him how lucky he has been that day. A man steps forward from the trees and introduces himself as a recruiting agent for a special intelligence unit. Explaining that “we must all choose carefully the gangs we join”, he offers the young man money, training, and protection for the his parents in these difficult times.

February, 2013.
The call comes whilst Inspector Celcius Daly is preparing for bed. A fatal car crash on the new motorway. Daly arrives to find the familiar sight of police tape and flash-lights. Figures walk to and fro amongst the heavy digging equipment as a police officer explains that they were called out by reports of diggers being vandalised. They found the diversion signs and traffic cones rearranged, leading towards a drop of some thirty feet, so they set up a cordon and were replacing the cones when an elderly driver, Father Aloysius Walsh, drew up. For some reason he took fright and drove off again at high speed. He followed the misplaced cones and was killed when his car went over the edge into the bushes below.
Daly walks through the watching police and down the thorny slope to the crashed car. He notes that there are no skid marks on the road, no attempt to brake on the part of the elderly priest. He studies the body, fascinated by the ragged bundle of rosary beads and holy charms in the priest's dead hand which speak to Daly's own Catholic upbringing. He looks up at this point and spots a man who turns to face the light of his torch, Detective Irwin of Special Branch, a man always hovering at the edge of his investigations. Stopping for petrol on his way home down the rural lanes, Daly asks if there is a holy well in the area. The garage man's answer is hostile but Celcius Daly is used to it, born and raised a rural Catholic, now part of the “modern, integrated” Police Force of Northern Ireland, hostility is something he knows about …

SILENCE is Anthony J Quinn's third “Celcius Daly” novel and his protagonist, Daly, is that familiar, necessary figure for readers of crime fiction – the “loner” detective. Celcius Daly is a divorced, rural-born detective who has returned to live in his childhood home, an isolated, lakeside cottage. He is a man still unsure of his place in the modern Police Service of Northern Ireland. The central crime of Quinn's previous novel, BORDER ANGELS, was the very contemporary one of sex-trafficking but the manipulated, violent past of Quinn's border country is never far away in his fiction and with SILENCE we return to that ground. A car crash kills an elderly priest from a Belfast abbey and the priest's obsessional research into a series of callous sectarian murders during the Troubles reopens the tragedy of Daly's own childhood – the death of his mother and his father's profound silence about it. Fascinated by a painstaking map with its tangled lines of killings and dates which he finds in the priest's study, Daly is drawn to investigate Father Walsh's death and is led back into a world inhabited by old spies, old spy masters, old hatreds and old crimes.

In SILENCE Quinn acknowledges his fellow Northern Irish writer Stuart Neville's THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST (THE TWELVE (UK)) during a passage of conversation, between Daly and an old informer, about differing responses to the ghosts that haunt a violent past. Quinn's crime writing, well-plotted and threaded with suspense, looks to those same ghosts and while he does not provide Neville's blood-pulsing rides towards thrilling conclusions, Quinn does give us speculations and meditations upon life in that see-saw world. The atmosphere of SILENCE is inseparable from Quinn's rural landscape, filled with forgotten thickets, fields, waterways and ruined cottages. It is a landscape which affords Quinn a retrospective of the equally muddy events of the past from a present still peopled by its ageing protagonists and ghosts. Be prepared for the rain, the mud and the loneliness of Daly as he sits by his peat fire clutching a little black hen. Be prepared for the ever present waters of Lough Neagh and a way of life that is fast disappearing but above all read SILENCE, a grand continuation of Quinn's “Celcius Daly” series.

Lynn Harvey, December 2015

Monday, December 07, 2015

New Releases - December 2015

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in December. Further months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything do please leave a comment.
• Bannister, Jo - Desperate Measures
• Bjork, Samuel - I'm Travelling Alone #1 Holger Munch & Mia Kruger, Oslo Police
• Damhaug, Torkil - Fireraiser (ebook only) #3 Oslo Crime Files
• de la Motte, Anders - MemoRandom
• Dehouck, Bram - Sleepless Summer
• Friedman, Daniel - Riot Most Uncouth: A Lord Byron Mystery
• Grant, Andrew - False Positive
• Jonasson, Ragnar - Nightblind #2 Ari Thor, Policeman
• Lehtolainen, Leena - Death Spiral #5 Detective Maria Kallio, Helsinki
• McCrery, Nigel - The Thirteenth Coffin #4 DCI Mark Lapslie, synaesthesia sufferer
• Nesser, Hakan - The Summer of Kim Novak
• Rickman, Phil - Friends of the Dusk #13 Rev. Merrily Watkins, Ledwardine, Herefordshire
• Thompson, James - Helsinki Dead #5 Inspector Kari Vaara, Finland
• Tursten, Helene - The Treacherous Net #8 Inspector Huss, Gothenburg
• Tyler, L C - A Masterpiece of Corruption #2 John Grey, lawyer, 1657

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Review Roundup: Carson, Dahl, Jonasson, Kestin, Millar, Siger

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

You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page and follow on Twitter, @eurocrime.

New Reviews

Amanda Gillies reviews Clare Carson's debut, Orkney Twilight;

Lynn Harvey reviews Arne Dahl's To the Top of the Mountain tr. Alice Menzies;

I review Ragnar Jonasson's Snowblind tr. Quentin Bates the first in his Dark Iceland series;

Michelle Peckham reviews The Lie by Hesh Kestin;

Amanda also reviews Louise Millar's City of Strangers

and Terry Halligan reviews Jeffrey Siger's Devil of Delphi.

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

Friday, December 04, 2015

Review: The Lie by Hesh Kestin

The Lie by Hesh Kestin, October 2014, 256 pages, Scribe Publications, ISBN: 192224774X

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

The book begins with a short prologue, describing an event forty-five years ago in which two women, one Jewish and one Arabian in hospital, have both just given birth to a child; the Arabian to a girl, her seventh, and the Jewish woman to a boy. This sets the scene for the big ‘lie’ that follows on later in the book, but the whole story is about lies and subterfuge. First, Edward Al-Masri, a professor at McGill University and famous author, is about to travel back to Israel, where he was born and lived as an Arab in Israel for many years. He is taking with him a suitcase packed with money in a hidden compartment. This is deliberate act, with inevitable consequences when this is discovered on his arrival. Second, Dahlia Barr, forty-four-years-old and a well-known human rights lawyer is summoned to see the head of Israeli security, Zarman Arrad. He wants her to work for him, to assess suspects and decide when stronger means of interrogation might be allowable. She is married (but about to be divorced) with two sons, one of whom, Ari, is currently doing his national service in the paratroops. And then disaster strikes. Terrorists kidnap Ari on the border of Israel and Lebanon, and hold him hostage. Somehow there are connections between Edward and Dahlia, which feed into the developing story, and Edward becomes key to the release of Ari.

THE LIE is an enjoyable short book, which has real insight into the issues of Arabs and Jews in Israel and surrounding countries, their behaviour towards each other, and the inevitable consequences of their actions. The first part of the book was particularly strong, with characters well described and a real feel for the local culture. The latter part of the book was slightly less believable, as the real consequences of the big lie start to unfold. But overall I liked this book a great deal and recommend it.

Michelle Peckham, December 2015

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Review: To the Top of the Mountain by Arne Dahl tr. Alice Menzies

To the Top of the Mountain by Arne Dahl, tr. Alice Menzies (June 2015, Vintage, ISBN: 0099587572)

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

“Should we check, then?” asked Paul Hjelm. “If all this is just a figment of our imagination, two frustrated CID officers who aren't happy with it being just a pub brawl?”

Stockholm, Midsummer – Paul Hjelm and Kerstin Holm of the city's Violent Crimes Division are interviewing witnesses about the killing of a football fan during a bar-fight between rival supporters. Their young witness is quiet to the point of being uncooperative, claims to have had his back to the fight and to have been reading a book the whole time. All right, he had turned round now and then and he had heard the crack and had seen the blood streaming from the guy's head. When there had been a rush for the exit, before the doormen blocked it, the killer had been one of the first to get out, alongside the other Hammarby fans. Most of a group by the door got out as well.
Kerstin and Paul have only recently been reunited as work colleagues after the beak up of their old unit. Its members had been dispersed to various squads and their boss Hultin “retired”. After Kerstin takes the witness off to the police artist in an attempt to get a picture of the guy who slammed a beer glass onto another's head, the pair catch up on news before resuming their meticulous interviews of a bar-load of witnesses.

A man is released from Kumla prison on a fine summer morning and walks towards a waiting van. He checks his wallet and a small device that looks like a calculator. Glancing between the prison and the van, he presses a button on the device and smiles as he climbs into the van which speeds away before the sound of the explosion can reach it. Ex-A-Unit colleagues Arto Södersteft and Viggo Norlander, currently on loan to Kumla's regional CID, are called in to investigate the prison blast. The explosion has spread most of Lordon Vukotic's body around the walls of his cell. He had been a member of drug dealer Rajko Nedic's circle but lately Vukotic had become a model prisoner, training to be a business lawyer, perhaps Rajko's business lawyer. Norlander, a new father with baby-sick on his shoulder, is half asleep. It surprises the waiting investigating team to see him suddenly take efficient and energetic command. But Norlander is determined to get the case cracked. It's almost Midsummer's Eve and he means to celebrate it with his new daughter.

Just one or two old colleagues to reunite. The giant, one-time “Mr Sweden”, Gunnar Nyberg, is now part of the National CID's “Paedophile Hunters” team. He spends his days in front of a computer screen watching some of the most dreadful things he has ever seen – but just now he is bumping into ex-colleague Paul Hjelm at a café near headquarters.
With an explosion and gun fight on an industrial estate claiming the lives of several drug dealers and far-right extremists, Jorge Chavez, another ex-A-Unit man enters the picture. Investigative threads from all of these cases start to intersect. It seems as though the original A-Unit is about to be reassembled…

Arne Dahl's TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN presents a sprawling spider of crime. Murder, drugs, neo-Nazi terrorism and paedophile rings intersect to reunite the old Intercrime Unit. Even boss Hultin is dragged out of retirement to head the team again. The exciting, involving plot builds suspense to the end: an examination of love and hate through crime fiction, all facets, both ends of the scale – lovers and ex-lovers, family and children, colleagues and teams, nationalism, racism and a lot of things in between. I enjoyed the previous book BAD BLOOD. This one has a different translator in Alice Menzies and there seems to be a slightly more disjointed feel to the narrative – but this may be true to Dahl’s writing. Although TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN became part of Series One of the Swedish Arne Dahl television series, don't be deterred from reading the book if you watched the series. Dahl's writing is a wry, richly charactered experience and well worth exploring in its own right.

Lynn Harvey, England
December 2015

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Review: Orkney Twilight by Clare Carson

Orkney Twilight by Clare Carson, September 2015, 352 pages, Head of Zeus, ISBN: 1784080969

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

This lovely book is Carson’s first novel and is exquisitely written. It is a poignant tale of the relationship between a father and daughter and focuses on a holiday they take together in Orkney; a place that had been a firm favourite many years ago. Carson herself spent many childhood holidays with her own father in Orkney and her memories are vivid in the telling of this tale.

Jim is an undercover policeman and Sam, his daughter, is convinced that he is up to something. After his disgraceful performance at her birthday party, where he showed up late and drunk then proceeded to embarrass her in front of her friends, she is determined to find out just what this ‘something’ is. When he starts to talk about retiring from the police and finishing his degree Sam’s suspicions grow and she goes to Orkney with him to see if she can catch him and work out what is going on. As she trails around Orkney, remembering things from her past and her relationship with her dad, Sam discovers that the truth is a dangerous thing and is soon far more involved in Jim’s secrets than she had originally planned.

This book has clearly been penned by someone who is loaded with talent and is a name to watch out for. Based on Carson’s own childhood, the descriptions of midsummer Orkney are beautiful and bring the story to life in a very personal way. The relationship between Jim and Sam is very sad – put under strain by his career and need for secrecy and made very evident by the way she not once calls Jim “Dad”. All the way through it is not possible to guess at what the end of this book with be. When it comes it leaves you shocked and cold; making you reassess your relationships with your own family members and hoping that none of them harbour dark secrets that you know nothing about. I am definitely impressed by Clare Carson and will be following her progress with interest.

Highly recommended.

Amanda Gillies, December 2015.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Some 1941 Titles (for Past Offences)

The latest monthly challenge over at Past Offences is to read a book in December, published in 1941. Here are some British/European crime titles to choose from, first published in English in 1941, pulled from my database:
Margery Allingham - Traitor's Purse (apa The Sabotage Murder Mystery)
Dorothy Bowers - Fear and Miss Betony
Christianna Brand - Heads You Lose
Joanna Cannan - Death at the Dog
Agatha Christie - Evil Under the Sun
Agatha Christie - N or M?
Manning Coles - They Tell No Tales
Patrick Hamilton - Hangover Square
Georgette Heyer - Envious Casca (apa A Christmas Party)
Ngaio Marsh - Death and the Dancing Footman
Ngaio Marsh - Death of a Peer, published in 1940 in the US, but published as Surfeit of Lampreys in 1941 in the UK (I believe).
Georges Simenon - Black Rain
Georges Simenon - Justice
Georges Simenon - The Outlaw
Georges Simenon - Strange Inheritance
Georges Simenon - The Country Doctor
Beryl Symons - Magnet for Murder
Patricia Wentworth - Danger Point (apa In the Balance)
Patricia Wentworth - Unlawful Occasions (apa Weekend with Death)