Friday, March 23, 2018

Review: The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson tr. Victoria Cribb

The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson translated by Victoria Cribb, March 2018, 336 pages, Michael Joseph, ISBN: 0718187245

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

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir is a short time away from retirement. One of the few women on the detective team, she feels she has worked hard, and is one of the best detectives, dedicating her life to the force. And yet she feels isolated and undervalued. Not looking forward to her retirement, suddenly she is called into her bosses' office to be told that she can leave now, taking her last couple of months as 'leave', and at the very least she has to leave within two weeks, as a new young hotshot male detective is arriving and needs her office.

All her cases have been re-assigned and there is nothing left for her to do. In shock, Hulda asks for something to occupy her time for a few more days until she has to leave, and is allowed to choose a cold case. She chooses a case of a Russian girl, a 27 year-old called Elena, found dead on some rocks near the beach a few miles away. Her death has been dismissed as probably an accident or suicide. She was a girl no-one really seemed to care about. A mere asylum seeker. Moreover, the investigation into her death was handled by one of her colleagues, Alexander, someone she thinks does sloppy work. A last chance perhaps to show her skills as a good detective, before her inevitable lonely retirement.

As the investigation unfolds, two different stories are told side-by-side. One is the story of a single mother and her attempts to bring up her young daughter, someone we quickly realise is Hulda. This works well to provide some lovely background insight into Hulda's character. The other story, which starts later on in the book, relates to Elena and her disappearance. There is also Hulda’s burgeoning relationship with Petur, a friend from the walking club. Both Hulda and Petur lost their partners some time ago, and Peter is clearly interested in developing his relationship with Hulda, and in finding out more about her.

Hulda's character, the way in which she responds to her shock at her enforced early retirement and the subsequent choices she makes, drive this story. She could just relax, spend time with her friend Petur and simply stop and start to enjoy her retirement. Or, she could carry on with her one last case: a decision that will have a critical consequence for Hulda. This is a fascinating story, touched with an underlying sadness that skilfully unveils Hulda’s life as she carries out her last investigation.

Michelle Peckham, March 2018

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Review: Holy Ceremony by Harri Nykanen tr. Kristian London

Holy Ceremony by Harri Nykanen translated by Kristian London, March 2018, 268 pages, Bitter Lemon Press, ISBN: 1908524898

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

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

April 2010, Helsinki.
In a spacious apartment in the city’s Töölö district, the body of a naked woman is sprawled on a leather sofa. Her back is covered in writing, quasi religious with bible references and the symbol of a cross inside an arch. Detective Ariel Kafka of the Helsinki Violent Crimes Unit throws his arms in front of his face in an involuntary response to both the writing and a sense of being trapped, then he attempts to distract his surprised colleague Oksanen with a question about the owner of the flat. Scanning the bookshelves for a bible, Kafka finds one. The written reference, Matthew 10:28 has been underlined.
Kafka waits for the medical examiner and as he does so he gets a sense of the apartment as being an elderly person’s home. It reminds him of visiting his aunt’s deathbed all those years ago, a scene which fed his childhood nightmares alongside a scene from “Fiddler on the Roof”. Oksanen returns from talking to the neighbours. The current resident, Reijo Laurén, had inherited the flat three years ago.
The medical examiner’s reaction to the corpse is surprising. It is one he has already examined, the previous day in fact – a suicide and not yet written on. It must have been stolen from the morgue. But the examiner is more interested in the why than the how. He suggests to Kafka that the anonymous tip off about the body is a prelude to something more. Kafka is inclined to agree. A member of Ariel’s team calls in the results of her research into Laurén: one-time musician convicted of narcotics possession, divorced with one child, a restraining order, a year in a psychiatric hospital and employed at a funeral home; Laurén is also a likely candidate for being the dead woman’s unstable boyfriend according to her sister.
The examiner moves the body, revealing an envelope addressed to Kafka. It contains a yellowed newspaper clipping dated 2008, an article about the body of a man found in a Kouvola septic tank. There is also a note written in apocalyptic language which states, amongst other things, that this is not the end of the writer’s work. It is signed “The Adorner of the Sacred Vault”.
Kafka returns to HQ for an update on the dead man in the septic tank. A detective who was on the team investigating the Kouvola case tells him that they ran into dead ends everywhere. They suspected a case of “thieves falling out” and the body had been badly beaten and burned. Kafka asks if there had been anything odd about it. Yes, the symbol of an arch and cross had been inscribed on the dead man’s back.
With this, Kafka gets the go ahead on the stolen body investigation but with absolutely no press involvement. So next day when the case is headline news, he calls the reporter responsible for the story who says he also had an anonymous tip off. Someone is keen to publicise their cause. Kafka and the medical examiner go down to the morgue where the dead woman’s body has been returned. “Here’s our little runaway,” announces the examiner as he pulls out one of the steel drawers. It’s empty again.

HOLY CEREMONY is the third of Harri Nykänen’s books featuring Detective Ariel Kafka to be translated into English (so far five books in all have been published in his native Finland). A well-known crime journalist before turning to fiction, Nykänen’s series of Kafka police procedurals always move at a brisk and steady pace and in HOLY CEREMONY the police team uncover more details of Laurén’s past which includes membership of a religious group, the Brotherhood of the Sacred Vault, at his childhood boarding school and a darker involvement with the school staff. Kafka’s life gets complicated when security records at the morgue implicate the medical examiner himself in the theft of the corpse. The detective and his team race to find Laurén before more people die. But they do.

I like Nykänen’s engaging, mildly eccentric protagonist Ariel Kafka: one of Finland’s two Jewish policemen albeit “a religiously non-observant 40-something bachelor”. I found this book slightly less satisfying than the previous NIGHTS OF AWE and BEHIND GOD’S BACK. Perhaps it is the final grand explanatory reveal (I admit to a preference for a crime novel that “shows” rather than “tells” – which his other books do). But Agatha Christie is no mean example to follow, so I bicker. A great twist of emphasis emerges and the story remains an engaging, conspiratorial mystery, reading well in Kristian London’s translation.

Lynn Harvey, March 2018

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Review: The Brides' Club Murder by P R Ellis

The Brides' Club Murder by P R Ellis, March 2017, 278 pages, ellifont, Ebook

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

The Brides’ Club is a group of transvestites who like to dress as brides and live out their fantasy of being a bride for a day at an annual weekend retreat which culminates in the Butterfly Ball. This year the event is being held at the Ashmore Lodge and is made extra special by the inclusion of a real wedding between two of its members, with the other brides acting as bridesmaids.

However this happy event is put into jeopardy by the discovery of the body of one of the members of the club. DS Tom Shepherd is called to the scene and feels that he must close the hotel but is persuaded by the organisers to let the event carry on while the investigation is being carried out. His boss, DCI Sloane, suggests that someone should be sent in undercover and who better than their former colleague, now known as Jasmine Frame and renowned for her investigatory skills. She is now working as a private investigator and is undertaking gender re-assignment and nothing will persuade Sloane that Jasmine has no knowledge of the world of transvestites. As far as he is concerned she is the ideal candidate for the undercover work. It is left up to Tom to persuade Jasmine to help out the police.

This is the third novel to feature Jasmine Frame, a woman born into a man’s body, who has started the long process of gender reassignment. She is slowly re-building her life and forming new relationships. The books tackle the difficult subject of being transgender with sympathy and honesty.

Susan White, March 2018

Thursday, March 01, 2018

New Releases - March 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in March 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). March and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.
• Beck, Peter - Damnation
• Bell, Natasha - Exhibit Alexandra
• Bouchard, Roxanne - We Were the Salt of the Sea
• Brook, Rhidian - The Killing of Butterfly Joe
• Brown, Eric - Murder Takes a Turn #5 Donald Langham, Crime Writer, London, 1955
• Chapman, Jean - Deadly Odds #5 John Cannon, Ex-Met Officer, Fens
• Chapman, Julia - Date with Mystery #3 The Dales Detective Series
• Cole, Daniel - Hangman #2 Fawkes and Baxter
• Davies, Michelle - False Witness #3 DC Maggie Neville, Family Liaison Officer
• de Hahn, Tracee - A Well-Timed Murder #2 Swiss-American police officer Agnes Luthi
• Driscoll, Teresa - The Friend
• Dyer, Ashley - Splinter in the Blood #1 Sergeant Ruth Lake and DCI Greg Carver
• England, Caroline - My Husband's Lies
• Escobar, Melba - House of Beauty
• Fowler, Christopher - Bryant & May - Hall of Mirrors #15 Inspectors Bryant and May, London
• George, Elizabeth - The Punishment She Deserves #20 Inspector Thomas Lynley & Sergeant Barbara Havers (and colleagues)
• Goddard, Robert - Panic Room
• Gordon, Alexia - Killing in C Sharp #3 Gethsemane Brown, Ireland
• Gray, Alex - Only the Dead Can Tell #15 DCI Lorimer & psychologist Solomon Brightman, Glasgow
• Hamilton, Karen - The Perfect Girlfriend
• Hammer, Lotte and Soren - The Night Ferry #5 Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen and his team from the Murder Squad in Copenhagen
• Hannah, Mari - The Lost #1 Stone and Oliver
• Harrison, Cora - Death of a Novice #5 Reverend Mother Aquinas, Cork, 1920s
• Harvey, Samantha - The Western Wind
• Hilary, Sarah - Come and Find Me #5 DI Marnie Rome
• Huber, Anna Lee - A Brush with Shadow #6 Lady Darby, Scotland, 1830s
• Indridason, Arnaldur - The Shadow Killer #2 Konrád, a former detective
• Johnson, Matt - End Game #3 Robert Finlay
• Jonasson, Ragnar - The Darkness #1 Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdotti
• Keane, Jessie - Fearless
• Knox, Joseph - The Smiling Man #2 Detective Aidan Waits, Manchester
• Kristjansson, Snorri - Kin #1 Helga Finnsdottir
• Lehtolainen, Leena - The Nightingale Murder #9 Detective Maria Kallio, Helsinki
• Mackintosh, Clare - Let Me Lie
• Marsh, Ngaio - Money in the Morgue (completed by Stella Duffy) #33 Inspector Roderick Alleyn
• McTiernan, Dervla - The Ruin
• Medina, Kate - Two Little Girls #3 Dr Jessie Flynn, Psychologist
• Merritt, Stephanie - While You Sleep
• Mitchell, Caroline - Silent Victim
• Morris, R N - The Red Hand of Fury #4 Silas Quinn, police detective
• Naughton, Sarah J - The Other Couple
• Nickson, Chris - The Tin God #6 Detective Inspector Tom Harper, Leeds Police, 1890s
• Nykanen, Harri - Holy Ceremony #4 Ariel Kafka, inspector in the Violent Crime Unit of the Helsinki police
• Paris, B A - Bring Me Back
• Parsons, Tony - Girl On Fire #5 Detective Max Wolfe of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, London
• Penrose, Andrea - Murder at Half Moon Gate #2 Wrexford & Sloane
• Quincy, D M - Murder in Bloomsbury
• Rowley, Emma - Where the Missing Go
• Russell, Leigh - Class Murder #10 DI Geraldine Steel
• Silver, Mitch - The Bookworm
• Sinclair, Rob - Sleeper 13
• Steen, Jane - Lady Helena Investigates (ebook only) #1 Scott-De Quincy Mysteries
• Stratmann, Linda - Murder at the Bayswater Bicycle Club #8 Frances Doughty, London, 1880
• Taylor, C L - The Fear
• Todd, Charles - The Gatekeeper #20 Insp Rutledge
• Trow, M J - Queen's Progress #9 Christopher Marlowe
• Unsworth, Cathi - That Old Black Magic
• Wagner, David P - Funeral in Montova #5 Rick Montoya Italian Mysteries
• Watkins, Roz - The Devil's Dice #1 DI Meg Dalton, Derbyshire
• Wilson, Andrew - A Different Kind of Evil #2 Agatha Christie
• Wilson, Edward - South Atlantic Requiem #6 Catesby
• Winspear, Jacqueline - To Die But Once #14 Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, 1930s London

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Sad Loss

I was very shocked and distressed to hear the news yesterday that the blogging community has lost established reviewer, Bernadette from Reactions to Reading who has died unexpectedly. Like many of the FriendFeed gang that we were members of we corresponded periodically and I loved reading her reviews - no flim flam with Bernadette, you knew her opinion of a book. She was a champion of women writers, Australian writers and especially Australian women crime writers, and bricks and mortar bookshops. She was a good friend of Maxine who we lost five years ago and I think they had a lot in common. Both loved trying out the newest technology and when FriendFeed closed, Bernadette helped set up the Facebook replacement group even though she loathed Facebook herself.

Margot Kinberg has written a lovely tribute to her friend which I hope you will read and do check out Reactions to Reading and perhaps discover some new to you authors to try.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review: The Shout by Stephen Leather

The Shout by Stephen Leather, January 2018, 416 pages, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN: 1473671787

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

Vicky Lewis is a force to be reckoned with: not yet thirty and already crew manager in the London Fire Brigade, she's destined for great things.

But when she enters a burning building to save a man's life and leaves it with catastrophic injuries, all that changes. She's shunted over to the Fire Investigation Unit, where she's forced to team up with cantankerous veteran Des Farmer, a.k.a. the Grouch.

When Vicky stumbles across the Grouch's off-the-books investigation into the fiery deaths of a series of young, blonde women, she decides to join him in his search for the truth.

The answer is close - perhaps too close. Vicky's already been burnt once, and now she's playing with fire.

THE SHOUT was a very exciting read and I can fully appreciate the claim that Stephen Leather is the single most requested author by inmates of HM Prisons who want to borrow books from the library trolley in order to better pass their time to be served.

Stephen Leather is from a journalistic background and meticulously researches the background to all his books and it is very reassuring, reading facts and background details to his stories and knowing that they must be authentic.

I thought that this was a real dynamite of a story and easily one of the best that he has ever written. His keen journalistic attention to detail kept me gripped to the edge of my seat right up to the last page. As this is a stand-alone thriller it was really exciting to read something away from his two main series ie the Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd one and the Jack Nightingale supernatural one. I found the book extremely enjoyable and would certainly recommend it.

All in all, though this is quite a long book, the author likes to write as if he was the driver of an express train and the pages just flew by; I was so gripped by the tense and exciting plot to find the killer of all these innocent blonde women. The extraordinary and completely unpredictable ending to this outstanding story was so incredibly imaginative, that I cannot wait to see what the next book by this very versatile and prolific author will be.

Incidentally, something that I found particularly interesting is the author's fascination with my name ’Halligan’. In his book ROUGH JUSTICE an alias that the protagonist Dan ‘Spider’ Shepherd uses is ‘Terry Halligan’ and in this book THE SHOUT he mentions a tool that fireman use which is a “Halligan Bar” several times...

Terry Halligan, February 2018.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review: The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths, February 2018, 368 pages, Hardback, Quercus, ISBN: 1784296635

Reviewed by Mark Bailey.
(Read more of Mark's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

THE DARK ANGEL is the tenth in the Ruth Galloway Mystery series by Elly Griffiths – this time Ruth Galloway has a change of scene but even then she still finds a murder to investigate.

Dr Ruth Galloway returns home from Clough and Cassandra's wedding to find a message on her answerphone from an Italian former boyfriend and fellow archaeologist Dr Angelo Morelli, asking for her help. He has discovered a group of bones in a tiny hilltop village near Rome but does not know what to make of them – they might be Roman but there are anomalies. Ruth has not had a proper holiday in years and decides that even a working holiday to Italy is welcome.

Ruth and daughter Kate, together with friend Shona and her son Louis, travel to Castello degli Angeli. Here she finds a baffling Roman mystery and a dark secret involving the War years and the Resistance. She is soon joined by Harry Nelson - concerned about Ruth and Kate when he learns of an earthquake - and Cathbad. But by then the ancient bones have sparked a modern murder and Ruth must discover what secrets there are in Castello degli Angeli that someone would kill to protect.

I am a big fan of the Ruth Galloway novels and though I do feel that they are best enjoyed in sequence, you can probably pick up most of the background needed to enjoy each novel as you go along - probably more so here as there is a lot of scene setting in early chapters. There is the usual excellent characterisation that one expects in Elly Griffiths’ books – believable, flawed but ultimately likeable ongoing main protagonists: Ruth Galloway, Harry Nelson and Judy amongst the adults with Kate coming to the fore. There is the usual twisty plot here that engages the reader and this particular novel benefits, I think, from the change in milieu from East Anglia to Italy.

As I have stated about previous Ruth Galloway mysteries - if you do have a liking for modern cosies with perhaps a little hint of grit then I would strongly recommend this to you.

My major niggle would be that it is a bit convenient for Nelson to turn up, but even more so with Cathbad – yes there is a reason, but them both leaping on a plane at short notice is a bit of a stretch.

Mark Bailey, February 2018

Sunday, February 18, 2018

US Cozy Review: Cat About Town by Cate Conte

Welcome to another entry in my irregular feature: US cozy review.

Cat About Town by Cate Conte, September 2017, Minotaur Books ISBN: 1250072069

Cat About Town
is the first in the 'Cat Cafe' series by Cate Conte, aka Liz Mugavero, and is set on a fictional island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Maddie James returns to Daybreak Island for her gran's funeral and her concern for her grand-dad keeps her staying longer than expected, leaving her successful San Francisco juice bar in the hands of her business partner. Maddie's new and constant companion is an adorable ginger male cat, a stray who chose Maddie and allowed himself to be put on a lead.

A head honcho in the town wants Maddie's grandad's property for redevelopment and has been threatening and slandering to get his way. When he is murdered - his body found by Maddie's cat no less - Maddie's grand-dad becomes a prime suspect despite being the retired police chief. Of course, Maddie takes it upon herself to investigate.

As well as a doting cat, Maddie has two men asking her out, one a newcomer to the island and the other a school sweetheart. Plus someone is leaving her newspaper clippings about cat cafes... How can she leave the island with all this going on?

I really enjoyed this opening book and it kept drawing me back to it. I liked that Maddie was actively investigating. And I have a ginger cat myself!

I look forward to when the cat cafe opens it doors in book two, Purrder She Wrote, which is released in July.

Karen Meek, February 2018.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Review: The Whitstable Pearl by Julie Wassmer

The Whitstable Pearl by Julie Wassmer, October 2015, 320 pages, Constable, ISBN: 1472118995

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

As might be expected from the title, this book is set in the seaside town of Whitstable, famous for its oysters, and for the rather strange constructions just visible out at sea, called the Maunsell Forts. These were built during the Second World War, and used to provide anti-aircraft fire. The heroine of the novel is Pearl Nolan. She runs a popular seafood restaurant in Whitstable, 'The Whitstable Pearl', with her somewhat eccentric mother, Dolly, but she would rather be a detective. Still only thirty-nine-years-old, she has a grown-up son Charlie at university a short distance away, and is now trying to start up her own private detective agency.

The book revolves around Pearl’s first proper case. A Mr Stroud contacts her and asks her to track down a local oyster fisherman called Vinnie Rowe. Stroud apparently lent Vinnie some money to help him lay down some new oyster beds, and is now looking for a return on his investment. But Vinnie is nowhere to be found. Pearl agrees to help, and in this case it should be easy, as Vinnie is an old friend. When he doesn't respond to her call either, she decides to go out and see if he is on his boat ‘The Native’ which she can see out at sea. And that’s when she finds his dead body, tied to the anchor rope in the water.

The police start to investigate, and it is DCI Mike McGuire from Canterbury who is in charge. Recently transferred from London, for his own personal and rather tragic reasons, he is starting to regret it. But the murder sparks his interest, as does Pearl herself. And then, when Mr Stroud also goes missing and is then found dead - once again, Pearl finds the body - Pearl finds herself in the middle of a mystery. One she is keen to solve herself.

THE WHISTABLE PEARL is a strange mixture of a book, which almost seems to be a murder mystery set in the middle of a tourist brochure for Whitstable. Alongside Pearl, her family and DCI McGuire’s search for the murderer, lie abundant descriptions of Whitstable, the people and the culture, with a bit of oyster politics thrown in for good measure. Pearl is a thwarted police detective and keen to help McGuire help solve his case, with her helpful local knowledge and personal connection an asset. And McGuire develops into an inevitable love interest. Having had a glorious holiday in Seasalter myself, and enjoyed the Whitstable oysters, I appreciated the setting. Pearl is a likeable if somewhat clichéd character, and the story is well paced, with some twists and turns along the way. I suppose I would have liked a bit less of the tourist brochure though, and a bit more character development. At one point Pearl tells McGuire ‘Clues to a crime are like ingredients for a meal, don’t you think? Put them together in the right way, and the result can be very satisfying’. An apt comment! I wouldn’t give this book a Michelin star, but it was a satisfying outing.

Michelle Peckham, February 2018

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Review: Picture of Innocence by Bill Kitson

Picture of Innocence by Bill Kitson, November 2017, 196 pages, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN: 1979492905

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

While visiting Madrid on a stag weekend, DI Mike Nash foils an attack on a young Spanish landscape painter. He returns home, puzzled by the fact there seems to be no motive behind the assault – unless it is connected to the recent murder of the girl’s father. After surviving two further attempts on her life the artist flees to England where she seeks shelter with Nash. As he attempts to uncover the truth behind the attacks and her mysterious past, Nash confronts a web of evil that is more potent now than in previous years – and as he unravels the mystery he is faced with a crime more sinister and horrible than he has ever encountered before.

Mike and his son Daniel get very close to the Spanish girl and bring her to stay at their isolated home in the North Yorkshire moors but unknown to them evil forces have them under surveillance and Mike and his son and the girl have several exciting adventures before the dramatic conclusion.

This book appears to be relatively short but don’t be deceived as Bill Kitson can pack more into a few pages than lesser writers can do in a few hundred.

As in previous books of his that I have reviewed namely DEPTH OF DESPAIR (2009), BACK-SLASH (2011), IDENTITY CRISIS (2012) and BURIED IN THE PAST (2014), once you start a Bill Kitson book they are extremely difficult to put down and I had great difficulty in closing this one also, until I reached the very exciting conclusion.

The author has published eight previous stories in the DI Mike Nash series but I understand he also writes historical fiction and lighter stories set in Greece under the pen-name 'William Gordon'. He has also many other books to his name, so you know that he brings a lot of experience to his writing. I will certainly look out for them in the future.

If you want to read a book that you should not read on public transport as you will be so absorbed that you will likely miss your stop then buy this one. I understand that he will be publishing another book in the Mike Nash series in the Spring and I look forward to reading it.

Very strongly recommended.

Terry Halligan, February 2018.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Quick Reads 2018

The 2018 Quick Reads have recently been published. These are £1 as a paperback or 99p in e-format.

Quoting from the Reading Agency's website about the Quick Reads scheme:
One in six adults of working age in the UK find reading difficult and may never pick up a book. People's reasons for not reading are varied: some people say they find books intimidating, that they struggle to find the time or that books are difficult or boring.

Quick Reads sets out [ ] to show that books and reading can be for everyone. Each year we commission big name authors to write short books that are specifically designed to be easy to read. They are the same as mainstream books in most respects but are simply shorter and easier to tackle for adults who are less confident in their reading skills.

This year's selection includes books from three crime writers: Mark Billingham, Tammy Cohen and Vaseem Khan, and I'm currently reading the latter's Inspector Chopra & the Million-Dollar Motor Car.

Descriptions from the Reading Agency's website.

Cut Off by Mark Billingham (Little, Brown): A punchy, taut urban thriller about that moment we all fear: losing our phone! For Louise, losing hers in a local café takes a sinister turn.

Clean Break by Tammy Cohen (Transworld): A dark and twisty portrait of a marriage coming to its bitter end, from the mistress of domestic noir. Can Kate rid herself of her jealous husband before it's too late?

Inspector Chopra & the Million-Dollar Motor Car by Vaseem Khan (Hodder & Stoughton): An enchanting Baby Ganesh Agency novella from the bestselling Khan set in the bustling back-streets of Mumbai. Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick have two days to solve the mystery of a missing - and very costly - car for its gangster owner, or there'll be a heavy price to pay.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Review: The Greek Wall by Nicolas Verdan tr. W Donald Wilson

The Greek Wall by Nicolas Verdan translated by W Donald Wilson, January 2018, 240 pages, Bitter Lemon Press, ISBN: 1908524855

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

Prologue: It is moonless and dark. A pink neon sign, “Eros”, marks the brothel where the colonel has chosen to meet him. He parks, wondering if here, as well as meeting the colonel, he might be able to put the ghost of his lover to rest. But it is so dark that he cannot even find the building’s entrance. Blundering around he is tripped by, of all things, a line of washing. He stumbles back up onto his feet as a yard light goes on and he sees a young woman approaching. As she gets closer to him, he notices her blank stare. He also realises that she is hefting an axe upon her shoulder. He shouts out, “No! No!” as the axe falls.

Athens, December 2010: Agent Evangelos stands in front of his favourite jazz bar at two in the morning and wonders just what a severed head looks like. The case is his, according to the phone call, so he must leave Athens for the Thrace border – the Evros delta, the Schengen area. Evangelos had said into the phone: “A dead body? So what? They fish dead bodies out of the Evros all the time. Why us?” But it isn’t exactly a dead body. It’s just the head. And not that of a migrant, It’s a Westerner’s head – in Frontex patrolled border country. The job must go to Athens, to the National Intelligence Service.

Evangelos is tired. He is always tired these days. Three years off retirement but with the national debt crisis … what were the chances for his pension? Now he will be facing meetings, reports, dealing with the Turkish authorities, with Frontex. How do you deal with Frontex? They’re headquartered in Warsaw. Evangelos thinks this severed head bodes no good for him. He will be squeezed into a tight place. Told to keep a lid on it. So he heads not to his own home but to the empty house of his dead parents to rest before the flight to Thrace tomorrow afternoon. As he stretches out on the sofa his phone buzzes. His daughter’s child has been born, a girl. Evangelos is a grandfather.

Evangelos stops off to visit the newborn on the way to the airport. He knows that his old colleague and driver will not say anything about the unofficial stop. But today Evangelos cannot help recalling other drivers, silent ones; other meetings, meetings where he was as good as told to ignore the implications of a wealthy businessman, a powerful political donor with past links to the Communist bloc. Put a lid on it Evangelos. And this morning’s meeting? Go there, identify the dead man and … put a lid on it. The border is a problem. But Greece will be building a wall, a barbed wire fence, and then Europe will shut up about Greece’s “inability” to secure its borders. A nurse interrupts Evangelos and his preoccupations. The baby brings a smile to his face...

Set in 2010, THE GREEK WALL bursts into dramatic action in the marshy Evros river country of Greece’s north-eastern border with Turkey. It’s a landscape already patrolled by the European Union Frontex forces despite migration not yet having reached the crisis point that draws the eyes of the outside world. A gruesome murder outside a squalid brothel is the fuse which lights up a mess of corruption, sex-trafficking and politics. And the politics of money cannot be far away: 2010 is crisis time for Greece’s national debt and its struggle with “the Troika” of the European Commission, European Central Bank and the IMF.

Verdan draws on his own journalistic knowledge in lifting the lid off the corrupted stew-pot of contemporary events as seen through the eyes of both Evangelos, a weary intelligence officer, and Nikos, a German-Greek businessman looking to seal an important business deal. Verdan’s observant, fresh, descriptive powers paint the setting of contemporary Greece and its people vividly. If I have any doubts about the story it is in the detailed exploration of the relationship between Nikos and Christine which seems to distract almost from the direct thread of the plot. But as I have remarked before I am a bit of a hard-boiled girl. The plot definitely contains a strong punch of mystery and suspense and its hints of an ambiguous past for Evangelos also gives strong potential for more stories to come. If you like the flavour of contemporary politics in your crime reading (as I do), you will find at THE GREEK WALL a meeting of Europe and Greece seen through Greek eyes, a vantage point I haven’t come across before in a crime thriller. I’d certainly like to read more.

Swiss-Greek journalist and novelist Nicolas Verdan divides his time between Switzerland and Greece. His novels, of which THE GREEK WALL is the first to be published in English, have received awards in both France and Switzerland.

W. Donald Wilson is a Canadian translator several of whose translations have been published by Bitter Lemon Press.

Lynn Harvey, February 2018

Thursday, February 01, 2018

New Releases - February 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in February 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). February and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything do please leave a comment.
• Balen, Noel & Barrot, Vanessa - Minced, Marinated, and Murdered #1 Gourmet Crimes
• Beaton, M C - Death of an Honest Man #34 PC Hamish Macbeth, Lochdubh, Scotland
• Benedictus, Leo - Consent
• Binns, Stewart - Betrayal
• Blaedel, Sara - The Undertaker's Daughter #1 Ilka Nichols Jensen
• Bowen, Rhys - The Tuscan Child
• Bradley, Alan - The Grave's a Fine and Private Place: #9 Eleven year old Flavia de Luce, 1950s England
• Buckley, Fiona - The Reluctant Assassin #16 Ursula Blanchard, an Elizabethan lady
• Callaghan, Helen - Everything Is Lies
• Colize, Paul - Back Up
• Craig, James - This is Where I Say Goodbye #12 Inspector John Carlyle
• Cummins, Fiona - The Collector #2 DS Fitzroy
• Dalbuono, Nadia - The Extremist #4 Detective Leone Scamarcio, Rome
• Dams, Jeanne M - Crisis at the Cathedral #20 Dorothy Martin
• David, Saul - The Prince and the Whitechapel Murders #3 George 'Zulu' Hart
• Elliott, Lexie - The French Girl
• Ellis, Kate - The Mechanical Devil #22 Wesley Peterson (policeman) and Neil Watson (archaeologist), Tradmouth, Devon
• Enger, Thomas - Killed #5 Henning Juul, Reporter, Oslo
• Finch, Charles - The Woman in the Water #1 Charles Lenox (prequel)
• Griffiths, Elly - The Dark Angel #10 Dr Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist and DCI Harry Nelson
• Herron, Mick - London Rules #5 Slough House
• Howard, Catherine Ryan - The Liar's Girl
• Hunter, Maddy - Say No Moor #11 Emily Andrews
• Kelly, Jim - The Great Darkness #1 Nighthawk series, Cambridge, 1939
• Khan, Vaseem - Inspector Chopra and the Million-Dollar Motor Car #1 A Baby Ganesh Agency short story (Quick Reads)
• Lackberg, Camilla - The Girl in the Woods #10 Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck, Fjallbacka
• Marrs, John - The One
• Masterton, Graham - Dead Men Whistling #9 Detective Superintendent Katie Maguire, Ireland
• Mendoza, Elmer - Name of the Dog #3 Detective Edgar "Lefty" Mendieta
• O'Connor, Carlene - Murder in an Irish Churchyard #3 Siobhan O'Sullivan, Kilbane, County Cork
• Ould, Chris - The Fire Pit #3 Detective Hjalti Hentze and DI Jan Reyna, Faroe Islands
• Quincy, D M - Murder in Bloomsbury
• Saadawi, Ahmed - Frankenstein in Bagdad
• Saylor, Steven - The Throne of Caesar #13 Gordanius the Finder
• Tallis, Frank - Mephisto Waltz #7 Dr Max Liebermann, 1900s Vienna
• Turton, Stuart - The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
• Yokoyama, Hideo - Seventeen
• Young, David - A Darker State #3 Oberleutnant Karin Müller

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Review: Deadly Dance by Hilary Bonner

Deadly Dance by Hilary Bonner, August 2017, 256 pages, Severn House Publishers Ltd, ISBN: 0727887343

Reviewed by Geoff Jones.

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

Bristol, Avon. DI David Vogel is called to the discovery of a young teenage girl's murdered body, found in the red light district. The fourteen-year-old - Melanie Cooke was dressed to appear older and had been reported missing by her mother, who thought she was staying at a friend's home. Vogel who has a daughter of a similar age is keen that they waste no time in catching the murderer. Together with his immediate team - DS John Willis and DC Dawn Saslow they interview the mother Sarah Fisher and her husband, Melanie's step-father, and also Melanie's father who has also remarried. Vogel reports as part of Avon and Somerset Major Crime Investigation team to DCI Reg Hemmings.

Sally Pearson, the friend that Melanie was supposed to be staying with, must know something but is not saying much. Vogel and his team find few clues but eventually two more murders provide some surprising answers. Throughout the investigation we hear from  three separate characters:

Saul - wants to get married but is wary of women and has problems.
Leo - a gay man but reluctant to let friends and work colleagues know his secret. He regularly visits London's gay scene and is particularly attracted to one man.
Al – a paedophile. He takes risks watching children at play.

The author has written several police procedural books and this one is well crafted. I was unsure of the style of Vogel referring to his team by their surnames and his boss also referring to him as Vogel. To me this didn't ring true, however this is a minor criticism. I would definitely recommend this book and will certainly read more from this author, an ex- journalist who lives in Somerset.

Geoff Jones, January 2018

Sunday, January 28, 2018

International Dagger Speculation (2018)

It's time to consider the titles eligible for the 2018 CWA International Dagger.

Here's the list of translated crime novels published between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018 ie the period of eligibility. There's 109* so far.

*as usual this total includes titles published by AmazonCrossing. I am not sure if these count as UK publications for the CWA Dagger however I imagine people interested in this list will also be interested in these books. 

In addition to the list I have set up a Good Reads widget on the right-hand side of the blog. This allows the covers to be visible. You can subscribe to this list through RSS.

In the list below I've also included the country of birth and gender of the author(s) plus the translator's name and the publisher.


The breakdown by gender is 73 Male, 35 Female, 2 Male & Female teams.
Authors are from 22 countries. The most represented country is Sweden (25) followed by France (12), Norway (11) and Finland (10).
70 translators (including pairs of translators) brought you these titles, with 21 individuals having translated more than one, with Neil Smith and Marlaine Delargy having translated 5 each.

NB. The CWA website has the list of official submissions

I usually list these by month but as it's already 2018, I've put 2017's titles in one list and only 2018's by month:

April 2017 - December 2017

Jussi Adler-Olsen - The Scarred Woman (Denmark, M) (tr. William Frost, Quercus)
Boris Akunin - All The World's A Stage (Russia, M) (tr. Andrew Bromfield, W&N)
Tove Alsterdal - The Forgotten Dead (Sweden, F) (tr. Tiina Nunnally, HarperCollins)
Emma Angstrom - The Man In The Wall (Sweden, F) (tr. Dominic Hinde, Bloodhound Books)
Asa Avdic - The Dying Game (Sweden, F) (tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles, HarperCollins)

Laurent Binet - The 7th Function of Language (France, M) (tr. Sam Taylor, Harvill Secker)
Samuel Bjork - The Owl Always Hunts at Night (Norway, M) (tr. Charlotte Barslund, Doubleday)
Michel Bussi - Don't Let Go (France, M) (tr. Sam Taylor, W&N)

Andrea Camilleri - A Nest of Vipers (Italy, M) (tr. Stephen Sartarelli, Mantle)
Christoffer Carlsson - Master, Liar, Traitor, Friend (Sweden, M) (tr. Michael Gallagher, Scribe)
Donato Carrisi - The Girl in the Fog (Italy, M) (tr. Howard Curtis, Abacus)

Arne Dahl - Watching You (Sweden, M) (tr. Neil Smith, Harvill Secker)
K O Dahl - Faithless (Norway, M) (tr. Don Bartlett, Orenda Books)
Torkil Damhaug - Certain Signs that You are Dead (Norway, M) (tr. Robert Ferguson, Headline)
Luca D'Andrea - The Mountain (Italy, M) (tr. Howard Curtis, MacLehose Press)
Frederic Dard - The King of Fools (France, M) (tr. Lousie Rogers Lalaurie, Pushkin Vertigo)
Polina Dashkova - Madness Treads Lightly (Russia, F) (tr. Marian Schwartz, AmazonCrossing)
Giancarlo De Cataldo & Carlo Bonini - Suburra (Italy, M & M) (tr. Antony Shugaar, Europa Editions)
Maurizio De Giovanni - Glass Souls (Italy, M) (tr. Antony Shugaar, Europa Editions)
Anders de la Motte - The Silenced (apa Ultimatum)) (Sweden, M) (tr. Neil Smith, HarperCollins)

Ramon Diaz Eterovic - Dark Echoes of the Past (Chile, M) (tr. Patrick Blaine, AmazonCrossing)

Agnete Friis - What My Body Remembers (Denmark, F) (tr. Lindy Falk Van Rooyen, Soho Press)

Santiago Gamboa - Return to the Dark Valley (Colombia, M) (tr. Howard Curtis, Europa Editions)
Pascal Garnier - Low Heights (France, M) (tr. Melanie Florence, Gallic Books)
Laurent Gaude - Hell's Gate (France, M) (tr. Emily Boyce & Jane Aitken, Gallic Books)
Philippe Georget - Crimes of Winter (France, M) (tr.Steven Randall, Europa Editions)
Malin Persson Giolito - Quicksand (Sweden, F) (tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles, Simon & Schuster)
Johana Gustawsson - Block 46 (France, F) (tr. Maxim Jakubowski, Orenda Books)
Amir Gutfreund - Last Bullet Calls It (Israel, M) (tr. Yardenne Greenspan & Evan Fallenberg,  AmazonCrossing)

Karo Hamalainen - Cruel is the Night (Finland, M) (tr. Owen Witesman, Soho Press)
Abdelilah Hamdouchi - Bled Dry (Morocco, M) (tr. Benjamin Smith, Hoopoe)
Lotte and Soren Hammer - The Lake (Denmark F & M) (tr. Charlotte Barslund, Bloomsbury)
Nir Hezroni - Three Envelopes (Israel, M) (tr. Steven Cohen, Point Blank)
Elina Hirvonen - When Time Runs Out (Finland, F) (tr. Hildi Hawkins, Zaffre)
Hjorth-Rosenfeldt - The Silent Girl (Sweden, M & M) (tr. Marlaine Delargy, Century)
Peter Hoeg - The Susan Effect (Denmark, M) (tr. Martin Aitken, Harvill Secker)
Martin Holmen - Down for the Count (Sweden, M) (tr. Henning Koch, Pushkin Vertigo)
Anne Holt - Offline (apa Odd Numbers) (Norway, F) (tr. Anne Bruce, Corvus)
Anne Holt - In Dust and Ashes (Norway, F) (tr. Anne Bruce, Corvus)
Tetsuya Honda - Soul Cage (Japan, M) (tr. Giles Murray, Titan Books)

Arnaldur Indridason - The Shadow District (Iceland, M) (tr. Victoria Cribb, Harvill Secker)

Ragnar Jonasson - Whiteout (Iceland, M) (tr. Quentin Bates, Orenda Books)

Volker Kutscher - The Silent Death (Germany, M) (tr. Niall Sellar, Sandstone)

David Lagercrantz - The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye (Millennium V) (Sweden, M) (tr. George Goulding,  MacLehose Press)
Nicola Lagioia - Ferocity (Italy, M) (tr. Antony Shugaar, Europa Editions)
Hans Olav Lahlum - The Anthill Murders (Norway, M) (tr. Kari Dickson, Mantle)
Jens Lapidus - Stockholm Delete (Sweden, M) (tr. Alice Menzies, Corvus)
Herve Le Corre - After the War (France, M) (tr. Sam Taylor, MacLehose Press)
Leena Lehtolainen - Below the Surface (Finland, F) (tr. Owen Witesman, AmazonCrossing)
Leena Lehtolainen - Before I Go (Finland, F) (tr. Owen Witesman, AmazonCrossing)
Pierre Lemaitre - Three Days and a Life (France, M) (tr. Frank Wynne, MacLehose Press)
Minna Lindgren - The Lavender Ladies Detective Agency: Escape from Sunset Grove (Finland, F) (tr. Kristian London, Pan)
Jordi Llobregat - The Secret of Vesalius (Spain, M) (tr. Thomas Bunstead, Riverrun)

Henning Mankell - After the Fire (Sweden, M) (tr. Marlaine Delargy, Harvill Secker)
Deon Meyer - Fever (South Africa, M) (tr. K L Seegers, Hodder)
Jon Michelet - The Frozen Woman (Norway, M) (tr. Don Bartlett, Oldcastle Books)
Kanae Minato - Penance (Japan, F) (tr. Philip Gabriel, Mulholland Books)
Quentin Mouron - Three Drops of Blood and A Cloud of Cocaine (Switzerland, M) (tr. W Donald Wilson, Bitter Lemon Press)

Kristine Naess - Only Human (Norway, F) (tr. Sean Kinsella, Harvill Secker)
Fuminori Nakamura - The Boy in the Earth (Japan, M) (tr. Allison Markin Powell, Soho Press)
Jo Nesbo - The Thirst (Norway, M) (tr. Neil Smith, Harvill Secker)
Hakan Nesser - The Darkest Day (Sweden, M) (tr. Sarah Death, Mantle)

Kristina Ohlsson - Buried Lies (Sweden, F) (tr. Neil Smith, Simon & Schuster)
Sofi Oksanen - Norma (Finland, F) (tr. Owen F Witesman, Atlantic Books)
Fredrik T Olsson - Acts of Vanishing (tr. Sweden, M) (tr. Michael Gallagher, Sphere)

Leonardo Padura - Heretics (Cuba, M) (tr. Anna Kushner, Bitter Lemon Press)
Andreas Pfluger - In the Dark (Germany, M) (tr. Shaun Whiteside, Head of Zeus)

Marc Raabe - The Shock (Germany, M) (tr. Caroline Waight, Manilla (Bonnier))
Karolina Ramqvist - The White City (Sweden, F) (tr. Saskia Vogel, Grove Press UK)
Dolores Redondo - Offering to the Storm (Spain, F) (tr. Nick Caistor & Lorenza Garcia, HarperCollins)
Roslund-Hellstrom - Three Minutes (Sweden, M & M) (tr. Elizabeth Clark Wessel, Quercus)
Jean-Christophe Rufin - Checkpoint (France, M) (tr. Alison Anderson, Europa Editions)

Emelie Schepp - Marked For Revenge (Sweden, F) (tr. Suzanne Martin Cheadle, HQ)
Lilja Sigurdardottir - Snare (Iceland, F)  (tr. Quentin Bates, Orenda Books)
Gunnar Staalesen - Wolves in the Dark (Norway, M) (tr. Don Bartlett, Orenda Books)
Viveca Sten Guiltless - (Sweden, F) (tr. Marlaine Delargy, AmazonCrossing)
Viveca Sten - Tonight You're Dead (Sweden, F) (tr. Marlaine Delargy, AmazonCrossing)

Lone Theils - Fatal Crossing (Denmark, F) (tr. Charlotte Barslund, Arcadia Books)
Antti Tuomainen - The Man Who Died (Finland, M) (tr. David Hackston, Orenda Books)
Helene Tursten - Protected by the Shadows (Sweden, F) (tr. Marlaine Delargy, Soho Press)

Jussi Valtonen - They Know Not What They Do (Finland, M) (tr. Kristian London, Oneworld)
Fred Vargas - The Accordionist (France, F) (tr. Sian Reynolds, Harvill Secker)
Elena Varvello - Can you hear me? (Italy, F) (tr. Alex Valente, Two Roads)

Inger Wolf - Under a Black Sky (Denmark, F) (tr. Mark Kline, People's Press)
Inger Wolf - Dark September (Denmark, F) (tr. Mark Kline, People's Press)

January 2018

Stefan Ahnhem - Eighteen Below (Sweden, M) (tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles, Head of Zeus)
Oliver Bottini - Zen and the Art of Murder (Germany, M) (tr. Jamie Bulloch, MacLehose Press)
Andrea Camilleri - The Pyramid of Mud (Italy, M) (tr. Stephen Sartarelli, Mantle)
Mario Giordano - Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord (Germany, M) (tr. John Brownjohn, John Murray)
Mons Kallentoft - Earth Storm (Sweden, M) (tr. Neil Smith, Hodder)
Dirk Kurbjuweit - Fear (Germany, M) (tr. Imogen Taylor, Orion)
Sabri Luatah - Savages: The Wedding (France, M) (tr. Gavin Bowd, Corsair)
Leila Slimani - Lullaby (apa The Perfect Nanny) (Morocco, F)(tr. Sam Taylor, Faber & Faber)
Anton Svensson - Made In Sweden Part 2: The Sons (Sweden, M & M) (tr. Hildred Crill, Sphere)
Nicolas Verdan - The Greek Wall (Switzerland, M) (tr. W. Donald Wilson, Bitter Lemon Press)

February 2018

Paul Colize - Back Up (Belgium, M) (tr. Louise Lalaurie, Point Blank)
Thomas Enger - Killed (Norway, M) (tr. Kari Dickson, Orenda Books)
Camilla Lackberg - The Girl in the Woods (Sweden, F) (tr. Tiina Nunnally, HarperCollins)
Elmer Mendoza - Name of the Dog (Mexico, M) (tr. Mark Fried, MacLehose Press)
Ahmed Saadawi - Frankenstein in Bagdad (Iraq, M) (tr. Jonathan Wright, Oneworld)
Hideo Yokoyama - Seventeen (Japan, M) (tr. Louise Heal Kawai, riverrun)

March 2018

Peter Beck - Damnation (Switzerland, M) (tr. Jamie Bulloch, Point Blank)
Roxanne Bouchard - We Were the Salt of the Sea (Canada, F) (tr. David Warriner, Orenda Books)
Melba Escobar - House of Beauty (Colombia, F) (tr. Elizabeth Bryer, Fourth Estate)
Lotte and Soren Hammer - The Night Ferry (Denmark, F & M) (tr. Charlotte Barslund, Bloomsbury)
Arnaldur Indridason - The Shadow Killer (Iceland, M) (tr. Victoria Cribb, Harvill Secker)
Ragnar Jonasson - The Darkness (Iceland, M) (tr. Victoria Cribb, Penguin)
Leena Lehtolainen - The Nightingale Murder (Finland, F) (tr. Owen F Witesman, AmazonCrossing)
Harri Nykanen - Holy Ceremony (Finland) M (tr. Kristian London, Bitter Lemon Press)
Yrsa Sigurdardottir - The Reckoning (Iceland, F) (tr. Victoria Cribb, Hodder & Stoughton) (Moved to May 2018)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Award News: Petrona Award 2018 - the books

The closing date for the Petrona Award 2018 was 31 December 2017 and we received all but one of those on the eligibles list. And this is what the reading looks like....(plus 3 ebook entries).

The judging panel will be meeting on 12 April to decide the shortlist. Which titles will make it?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2017 - Ewa

The final entry in this series of Euro Crime reviewers' favourite British/European/translated reads of 2017 is from Ewa Sherman:

Ewa Sherman's favourite reads of 2017
Top 5 of 2017

The following Scandi books had a huge impact on me in various ways, and are simply unforgettable. In alphabetical order by title:

The Crow Girl by Erik Axl Sund (tr. Neil Smith): dark, disturbing, unpleasant – and completely addictive as the authors examine the damage caused by abuse and how people attempt to deal with it through vengeance, revenge, or developing personality disorders.

The Dying Detective by Leif G W Persson (tr. Neil Smith): inquisitive, intelligent and emotionally mature, just like the main protagonist Lars Martin Johansson, obsessed with finding the truth of a forgotten cold case. A masterpiece from the celebrated criminologist.

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (tr. Victoria Cribb) full of hidden love, trademark dark humour and desire to understand the chilling impacts on those connected to a Children’s Home, while imagination runs riot, finding ways to extinguish people’s lives.

The Mine
by Antti Tuomainen (tr. David Hackston) brings together environmental issues, snow and secrets, and complex relationship between family and crime, and delivers exquisite gems like ‘We don’t think rationally about the things we love’.

Snare by Lilja Sigurðardóttir (tr. Quentin Bates): a sparkling firework of a novel, tightly-plotted, fast-paced and cracking with tension. And dangerously fun as the trapped heroine survives on a cocktail of cocaine smuggling and love for her young son.

Huge thanks to the translators who continue to bring these incredible books to the English-speaking world. Without their skill, talent, hard work and magic with words the reading spectrum wouldn’t have been so exciting.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2017 - Mark

The penultimate entry in this series of Euro Crime reviewers' favourite British/European/translated reads of 2017 is from Mark Bailey:

Mark Bailey's favourite reads of 2017
Top 5 reads of 2017

In alphabetical order by author:

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards (Non-fiction)
I was raised on golden age crime fiction (I have a school report from when I was aged 11 telling my parents off for allowing me to read such age-inappropriate material). Here Martin Edwards explores the evolution of the crime genre during the first half of the twentieth century through acknowledged masterpieces and some lesser known works.

The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway 9) by Elly Griffiths
In the underground tunnels beneath Norwich boiled human bones have been found by Dr Ruth Galloway. The finding that they are relatively recent and not a medieval curiosity means DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.
DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper with the only lead being the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might just be a figure of speech, but the discovery of the bones and the rumours that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers give cause for concern.
As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. Another woman goes missing and the police are under pressure to find her. The dark secrets of “The Underground” seems to be the key – can Ruth and Nelson uncover its secrets before it claims another victim?
I am a big fan of the Ruth Galloway novels but I do feel that they are best enjoyed in sequence but you can probably pick up most of the background needed to enjoy the novel as you go along.
As usual there is the excellent characterisation that one expects in Elly Griffiths’ books that gives you believable albeit flawed but ultimately likeable ongoing main protagonists (Ruth Galloway, Harry Nelson & Judy especially in this one although Kate is coming to the fore). There is also the usual sufficiently twisty plot to keep you engaged whilst giving you a chance to solve the mystery before the protagonists do and there is a well-researched backdrop to hang the story on.
As I have stated about previous Ruth Galloway mysteries- if you do have a liking for modern cozies with perhaps a little hint of grit then I would strongly recommend this to you.

Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly
(Sean Duffy 6) by Adrian McKinty
Detective Inspector Sean Duffy is on holiday in the Donegal Gaeltacht with his girlfriend and baby daughter. He is called back to Carrickfergus where a man has been shot in the back in the Sunnylands Estate with an arrow. Uncovering who has done it takes Duffy down a dangerous road leading to a lonely clearing where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave. Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs and with his relationship with his girlfriend on the rocks, Duffy needs all of his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece.
Once again, this a very assured police procedural with multiple serious themes (the peace process is still in the background along with the ongoing war (both in Ireland and elsewhere – the Gibraltar shootings provide a spark to more rioting)), economic regeneration (or the lack thereof in Carrickfergus) is in the middle and another cover up in the foreground) and great writing which is strongly literate but still keeps you engaged and turning the page.

A Rising Man (Sam Wyndham 1) by Abir Mukherjee (2016 publication)
Captain Sam Wyndham, formerly of Scotland Yard, is newly arrived in Calcutta seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War. He has just arrived when he is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj. A senior British official has been murdered, and the note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.
This is a well-researched book with Calcutta and India beautifully described. The dominant factor for me is relationship between Sam and his Indian Sergeant (who is preparing for an orderly transfer of rule by acquiring the requisite skills of a detective). This is both a very good historical novel and a very good thriller and the next in the series is on my to-be-read pile.

The Hidden (Monika Paniatowski 12) by Sally Spencer
The prologue has the daughters of PC Michael Knightly finding the body of a woman in the grounds of a local country house – he recognises her as DCI Monika Paniatowski.
Her team believe that the girl found dead in the woods is the victim of a ritual killing by a secret society in the heart of Whitebridge but without Paniatowski to back them up they are forced to treat it as a domestic. Therefore Meadows, Crane and Beresford operate by themselves – cutting corners, ignoring procedure, and running the risk that their careers could be brought to an abrupt and dramatic end.
Monika knows who the killer is and also knows that he is stalking her daughter Louisa but there is nothing she can do about it as she is one of the killer’s victims too and is lying in a coma – hearing everything, but unable to move or speak!
This is a good solid police procedural which is well researched and plotted and you are kept engaged as the plot twists and turns. The absence of Paniatowski is an issue but the other characters make up for it especially DS Kate Meadows and Louisa Paniatowski. I would recommend it to fans of police procedurals in general but especially those set in Britain.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2017 - Lynn

Today it's Euro Crime reviewer Lynn's turn to reveal her favourite British/European/translated reads of 2017:

Lynn Harvey's favourite reads of 2017
2017 Top Five
In no particular order I give you my favourite Euro Crime reads of 2017, although I think one or two may have been published earlier.

Donna Leon – Earthly Remains (2017 Heinemann)
Donna Leon was one of my favourite early introductions to "European Crime" and I have always enjoyed her novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police and his wife Paola. In EARTHLY REMAINS Guido has reached crunch point with the system. Burnt out, he is ordered to rest and takes advantage of the chance of some isolation and reading on an island in the Lagoon. But Brunetti is Brunetti and sooner or later there is a death which he feels drawn to investigate. I really enjoyed this novel, its laguna setting and its insight into Brunetti's own past.
Donna Leon still has magic for me.

Frédéric Dard – Crush (2016 Pushkin Vertigo) Translated by Daniel Seton
I have never read Frédéric Dard before. A prolific French crime writer, friend of Simenon, he died in 2000. CRUSH is set in a grim industrial town in Northern France in the 1950s. It tells the story of 17 year old Louise who is fascinated by a wealthy American couple, the Roolands, with their glossy American car and totally alien lifestyle. Her fascination becomes obsession and the novel takes a dark route. A concise but gripping thriller, I read this in one sitting.

Leif GW Persson - The Dying Detective (2017 Black Swan) Translated by Neil Smith
Retired Chief of Police Lars Martin Johansson is in hospital recovering from a stroke when a chance encounter alerts him to a fact concerning an old investigation into the rape and murder of a child. The case's statute of limitations has expired. Nevertheless Johansson becomes determined to solve it. My first Leif Persson crime novel, I shall have to go retrospective.

Kati Hiekkapelto - The Exiled (2017 Orenda) Translated by David Hackston
Hiekkapelto's third "Anna Fekete" crime novel is set in Anna's home village in Northern Serbia rather than Finland. She is on holiday revisiting friends and family when she becomes a victim of a bag-snatch. The incident draws her deeper into an investigation of a death and then deeper into her own past.
I do my travelling in my crime reading and this was a captivating new landscape to explore.

Parker Bilal - Dark Water (2017 Bloomsbury)
I am a Parker Bilal fan, faithfully following the investigations of his Sudanese private eye, Makana, in his adopted country of Egypt. But this time Makana is drawn into an unfamiliar world of espionage as he is persuaded by a mysterious Englishman to escort an Iraqi scientist to safety from his hiding place in Istanbul. It's a case that once again brings Makana into contact with his own painful past.

And a sixth book for luck! And because this has become my "go to" Nordic Noir for Christmas and, yes, it is possible to re-read it and still be spellbound.

Johan Theorin - The Darkest Room (2010 Black Swan) Translated by Marlaine Delargy
Theorin's second novel in his Öland Quartet, Öland being an island off the Swedish coast large enough for its own community and towns but these days primarily home to vacationers and the elderly. Set in a bitterly cold mid-winter, this crime novel tells the stories of Katrine and Joakim who have come with their children to make a new home and renovate an isolated house near two lighthouses on the island's northern coast. Their plans are shattered by a death. What follows is a wonderful Christmas blend of snow, crime and creepiness. I had to add it to this list.

Happy New Year, best wishes and good reading for 2018.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

US Cozy Review: Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend

Welcome to another entry in my irregular feature: US cozy review.

Though it's not obvious from the cover this is set in a very cold and snowy January...

Tempest in the Tea Leaves by Kari Lee Townsend, August 2011, Berkley Prime Crime ISBN: 0425242757

Tempest in the Tea Leaves introduces Sunny Meadows who hails from a wealthy but domineering family who don't believe in her psychic abilities. She buys a reputedly haunted house in Divinity, New York State where she sets up her fortune-telling business. Her first client, however, the head librarian is much troubled and when Sunny reads her tea leaves she foresees the librarian's death.

Sunny gives the librarian some of her calming home-grown tea leaves to take away but after the librarian's departure she begins to worry. About an hour later she calls the police and she meets the ruggedly handsome Detective Mitch Stone for the first time.

When the librarian is found poisoned by Sunny's tea leaves, Sunny becomes the number one suspect. In a remarkable twist though, the Mayor, who wants a speedy conclusion to the case, insists that Sunny partners Mitch in investigating the case to clear her name.

Much banter and awkward scrapes ensue as each tries to outdo the other whilst denying their obvious attraction to each other.

Sunny's house comes with an inhabitant – an eerie white cat who can be seen and touched but who doesn't eat or drink and appears and disappears at will. And proves himself very useful at times.

I enjoyed this book. I liked the sparky relationship between the two leads though some of it is a bit juvenile and some of Sunny's actions were downright dangerous. I did, though, guess correctly whodunnit nearer the end.

My only real nit-pick is that the cause of death as determined by the coroner is different to that given by the murderer and if the murderer is correct then Sunny would never have been much of a suspect in the first place.

Overall though, this was a light read in a new series to which I looked forward to returning. I have books two and three already, and there is a fourth plus a short story available on ebook.

Karen Meek, January 2018.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Audio Book News: Mistress of the Just Land

For fans of the Inspector McLevy radio series, there is now a (currently) two-book series featuring Mistress Jean Brash: Mistress of the Just Land (2016) and The Lost Daughter (2017) written by David Ashton.

Mistress of the Just Land, is currently 99p on kindle but the bonus is that the add-on Audible narration is only £2.99 and is narrated by "Jean Brash" herself, Siobhan Redmond.

Jean Brash, who first appeared in BBC Radio 4's Inspector McLevy mysteries, is a formidable woman in her prime. Once a child of the streets, she is now Mistress of the Just Land, the best bawdy-hoose in Edinburgh and her pride and joy. But a murder in her establishment could wreck everything.

New Year's Day - and through the misty streets of Victorian Edinburgh an elegant, female figure walks the cobblestones - with a certain vengeful purpose. Jean Brash, the Mistress of the Just Land, brings her cool intelligence to solving a murder, a murder that took place in her own bawdy-hoose.

A prominent judge, strangled and left dangling, could bring her whole life to ruin and she didn't haul herself off the streets, up through low dirty houses of pleasure and violent vicious men - to let that come to pass. The search for the killers will take Jean back into her own dark past as she uncovers a web of political and sexual corruption in the high reaches of the Edinburgh establishment.

A young boy's death long ago is demanding justice but, as the body count increases, she has little time before a certain Inspector James McLevy comes sniffing round like a wolf on the prowl.

Jean may be on the side of natural justice but is she on the side of the law? Or will the law bring her down?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2017 - Laura

Today it's Euro Crime reviewer Laura's turn to reveal her favourite British/European/translated reads of 2017:

Laura Root's favourite reads of 2017 (in no particular order)
The Dry by Jane Harper.
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent.
A Traitor in the Family by Nicholas Searle.
The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson
The Pledge by Friedrich Durrenmatt translated by Joel Agee (Pushkin Vertigo edition)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Radio News: Angstrom on Radio 4

Starting tonight at 6.30pm on Radio 4, four-parter Angstrom, a spoof of Scandinavian crime stories...

A comedic Scandinavian detective yarn starring Matthew Holness, written by Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris.

Knut Angström is a brooding, alcoholic, maverick Swedish detective from the tough streets of Oslo. Following the death of his wife, he is posted to the Njalsland peninsula where he becomes embroiled in a labyrinthine murder (or possibly not-murder) case which bears an eerie similarity to the Askeladden killings - a case from his distant past.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2017 - Terry

Today it's Euro Crime's historical crime fiction expert Terry's turn to reveal his favourite British/European/translated reads of 2017:

Terry Halligan's favourite reads of 2017

The Paris Spy (Maggie Hope Mystery) by Susan Elia MacNeal

Thrilling mystery uncovering intrigue in 1942 Paris.

The Body In The Ice by A J MacKenzie

Gripping historical mystery set in 1796 Romney Marsh.

The Outcasts Of Time by Ian Mortimer

From the grip of the Black Death of 1300 through to 1942 with time travel jumps every 99 years.

Shadow Play by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

The body of smartly dressed businessman turns up in a dirty car workshop. DI Bill Slider investigates...

The Last Hours by Minette Walters

1348, the Black Death turns up in Dorset but is avoided in a particular estate...

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Releases - January 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in January 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). January and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything do please leave a comment.
• Adams, Jane - Fakes and Lies #12 Naomi Blake, blind ex-police officer
• Ahnhem, Stefan - Eighteen Below #3 Fabian Risk
• Archer, Ursula P - Strangers (with Arno Strobel)
• Armstrong, Ross - Head Case
• Bailey, R J - Nobody Gets Hurt #2 Sam Wylde, Close Protection Officer
• Blaedel, Sara - The Stolen Angel #6 Detective Inspector Louise Rick
• Blaedel, Sara - The Running Girl #5 Detective Inspector Louise Rick
• Bottini, Oliver - Zen and the Art of Murder #1 The Black Forest Investigations
• Broadribb, Steph - Deep Blue Trouble #2 Lori Anderson
• Bruce, Alison - I Did It for Us
• Camilleri, Andrea - The Pyramid of Mud #22 Inspector Montalbano, Sicily, Italy
• Carver, CJ - Know Me Now #3 Dan Forrester
• Chambers, Kimberley - Life of Crime
• Charlton, Karen - Plague Pits & River Bones #4 Detective Lavender and Constable Woods
• Clements, Rory - Nucleus #2 Thomas Wilde, 1930s
• Croft, Elle - The Guilty Wife
• Dean, Will - Dark Pines #1 Tuva Moodyson, Sweden
• Deegan, James - Once A Pilgrim
• Dolan, Eva - This is How it Ends
• Fields, Helen - Perfect Death #3 DI Luc Callanach, Edinburgh
• Giordano, Mario - Auntie Poldi and the Fruits of the Lord #2 Auntie Poldi, Sicily
• Gray, Clio - Hidden Pasts #3 Scottish Mysteries
• Hawksley, Humphrey - Man on Ice
• Hilton, L S - Ultima #3 Maestra series
• Hingley, David - Traitor #3 Mercia Blakewood
• Holland, Jane - Forget Her Name
• Kallentoft, Mons - Zack (with Markus Lutteman)
• Kallentoft, Mons - Earth Storm #8 Superintendent Malin Fors, Linkoping
• Knight, Alanna - Murder Lies Waiting #9 Rose McQuinn, Lady Investigator, late 19thC, Scotland
• Koch, Emily - If I Die Before I Wake
• Kurbjuweit, Dirk - Fear
• Mark, David - Scorched Earth #7 Detective Sergeant McAvoy of Humberside CID
• May, Peter - I'll Keep You Safe
• O'Donovan, Gerard - The Long Silence #1 Tom Collins, 1920s Hollywood
• Oswald, James - The Gathering Dark #8 Detective Inspector McLean, Edinburgh
• Owen, Nikki - The Girl Who Ran #3 Project trilogy
• Peacock, Caro - The Killing Site #9 Liberty Lane, Victorian Era
• Raybourn, Deanna - A Treacherous Curse #3 Veronica Speedwell, adventuress and butterfly hunter, Victorian London
• Rhodes, Kate - Hell Bay #1 DI Ben Kitto
• Robertson, Craig - The Photographer #6 DS Rachel Narey, Glasgow
• Rowland, Laura Joh - A Mortal Likeness #2 Miss Sarah Bain, Victorian Era
• Sargeant, Rachel - The Perfect Neighbours
• Seymour, EV - Final Target #2 Josh Thane
• Seymour, Gerald - A Damned Serious Business
• Siger, Jeffrey - An Aegean April #9 Former Athens police chief Andreas Kaldis & local police chief Tassos Stamatos, Mykonos
• Slimani, Leila - Lullaby
• Spain, Jo - The Confession
• Svensson, Anton - Made In Sweden Part 2: The Sons
• Templeton, Aline - Human Face #1 DI Kelso Strang
• Tudor, C J - The Chalk Man
• Vaughan, Sarah - Anatomy of a Scandal
• Verdan, Nicolas - The Greek Wall
• Wesolowski, Matt - Hydra
• Wilkinson, Kerry - Eye for an Eye #12 DS Jessica Daniel, Manchester
• Wood, Simon - Saving Grace #2 Fleetwood and Sheils
• Wright, M P - Restless Coffins #3 J T Ellington, Bristol, 1969
• Yates, Christopher J - Grist Mill Road