Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Podcast News: Simon Mayo's Books of the Year

I used to download the podcasts for Simon Mayo's book group back when he was on Radio 5. I missed out on the Radio 2 book club,  which has now disappeared.

Simon Mayo and Matt Williams, have set up an independent podcast, called Simon Mayo's Books of the Year. It's been running for a few months and has included appearances from crime writers, Lynda La Plante, DB John and Manda Scott.

I'm enjoying it though I would like to see more women writers on the show, currently twice as many men have appeared.

You can download it via iTunes and I have been using the Acast app to listen to it on my android phone. Here's the Acast website listing all the episodes so far. The author interviews are every fortnight with a teaser episode in the gap. Also on twitter: @BooksOfTheYear.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Blog Tour: Review of The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward

I'm very pleased to have been invited onto the blog tour for Sarah Ward's latest book, The Shrouded Path. I've reviewed the previous three: In Bitter Chill,  A Deadly Thaw and A Patient Fury.

The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward (September 2018, Faber & Faber, ISBN: 0571332412)

THE SHROUDED PATH opens with a chilling premise. Six schoolgirls enter a railway tunnel but only five emerge. This event is witnessed by a younger girl and it haunts her for a lifetime.

Sixty years later, DC Connie Childs is looking into the unexpected death of a woman in her seventies. Her boss DI Sadler is on leave and whilst out walking in the nearby Peaks he meets a woman called Mina whose mother, also in her seventies, is currently dying in hospital of cancer.

Mina's mother has been agitated of late. She says she's seen “Valerie” but that she can't of as she killed her. Mina, understandably shocked by this revelation, promises to find Valerie and makes sure that she's well.

Sadler is called back to work when there is a suspicious death at the hospital and Mina sets off to find out about Valerie armed with an old photograph of five girls, her mother's school-friends.

Connie and Sadler's investigations draw closer over the book as they unearth a decades-old wrongdoing which is still reverberating in the present day. Tragedy ensues for innocent and guilty alike and the Bampton police team will be deeply affected.

From its atmospheric cover to the final page, THE SHROUDED PATH hooks the reader in and keeps them there. It sounds a deceptively simple premise however things are not what they seem and it is a knotted tale indeed. As with earlier books the narrative is told both by the professionals: Connie and Sadler, but also by a civilian, in this case Mina, a professional gardener with the excellent logo of 'The Land Girl'.

This is the fourth book in the quartet and it ends satisfactorily for the detectives we've enjoyed reading about but I do hope that they will return.

Karen Meek, September 2018. 

Saturday, September 01, 2018

New Releases - September 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in September 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). September 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.
• Adams, Jane - Kith and Kin #3 Detective Chief Inspector Henry Johnstone, 1928
• Arlidge, M J - Down to the Woods #8 Helen Grace, Southampton Police
• Benn, James R - Solemn Graves #13 Billy Boyle, WW2
• Bonner, Hilary - Wheel of Fire #2 DI David Vogel, Bristol
• Broadfoot, Neil - No Man's Land #1 Connor Fraser, Stirling
• Buchanan, Tracy - The Lost Sister
• Camilleri, Andrea - Death at Sea #2 Inspector Montalbano short stories
• Carlsson, Christoffer - The Thin Blue Line #4 Leo Junker, Police Officer
• Carofiglio, Gianrico - The Cold Summer #1 Maresciallo Pietro Fenogli, 1992
• Carrington, Sam - One Little Lie
• Cleeves, Ann - Wild Fire #8 Detective Jimmy Perez, Shetlands
• Conway, Aidan - A Cold Flame #2 Detective Michael Rossi, Rome
• Corbin, Julie - Her Watchful Eye
• De Cataldo, Giancarlo - The Night of Rome (written with Carlo Bonini)
• Diamond, Katerina - The Promise #4 DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles
• Duckworth, Charlotte - The Rival
• Edwards, Martin - Gallows Court #1 Jacob Flint, Journalist, 1930
• Ellis, J R - The Murder at Redmire Hall #3 Detective Chief Inspector Oldroyd, Yorkshire
• Eriksson, Caroline - The Watcher
• Forsyth, Frederick - The Fox
• Frances, Michelle - The Temp
• Francis, Dick - Crisis (by Felix Francis)
• Galbraith, Robert - Lethal White #4 Cormoran Strike
• Green, Cass - Don't You Cry
• Harrison, Cora - Murder at the Queen's Old Castle #6 Reverend Mother Aquinas, Cork, 1920s
• Haynes, Elizabeth - The Murder of Harriet Monckton
• Hazel, James - The Ash Doll #2 Charlie Priest, Lawyer
• Higashino, Keigo - Newcomer #8 Detective Kaga
• Hilton, Matt - Marked for Death #12 Joe Hunter
• Jansson, Susanne - The Forbidden Place
• Lemaitre, Pierre - Inhuman Resources
• Macmillan, Gilly - I Know You Know
• Maitland, Karen - A Gathering of Ghosts
• Malone, Michael J - After He Died
• McDermott, Andy - The Spear of Atlantis #14 Archaeologist Nina Wilde & ex-SAS bodyguard Eddie Chase
• Meyrick, Denzil - The Relentless Tide #6 DCI Daley
• Mitchell, Caroline - Truth and Lies #1 Detective Amy Winter
• Nickson, Chris - The Hanging Psalm #1 Simon Westow, Thief-taker, Regency Leeds
• Noreback, Elisabeth - Tell Me You're Mine
• Perry, Anne - Triple Jeopardy #2 Daniel Pitt, Barrister,1910
• Perry, S W - The Angel's Mark #1 Nicholas Shelby, Elizabethan Era
• Powell, E M - The Monastery Murders #2 Stanton and Barling
• Purcell, Laura - The Corset
• Raabe, Melanie - The Stranger Upstairs
• Redondo, Dolores - All This I Will Give to You
• Ridpath, Michael - The Wanderer #5 Magnus Jonson, homicide detective, Iceland
• Rimington, Stella - The Moscow Sleepers #10 Liz Carlyle, MI5 officer
• Ryan, Chris - Head Hunters #6 Danny Black
• Shaw, Alex - Cold Blood #1 Aidan Snow SAS
• Smith, Alexander McCall - The Colours of all the Cattle #19 Mma Ramotswe, PI, Botswana
• Southey, Roz - Scorcher
• Sten, Viveca - In the Heat of the Moment #5 Sandhamn Murders
• Tokarczuk, Olga - Drive your Plough over the Bones of the Dead
• Ward, Sarah - The Shrouded Path #4 DC Childs, Bampton, Derbyshire
• Weaver, Ashley - An Act of Villainy #5 Amory Ames
• Wood, Michael - The Hangman's Hold #4 DCI Matilda Darke

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Review: Zen and the Art of Murder by Oliver Bottini tr. Jamie Bulloch

Zen and the Art of Murder by Oliver Bottini translated by Jamie Bulloch, August 2018, 384 pages, MacLehose Press, ISBN: 0857057367

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

She leaped up. “I don’t booze, for Christ’s sake!” The sentence resonated in her head, just as the footsteps crunching in the snow had echoed the night before. I don’t booze.

Saturday morning, Liebau, Germany.
It’s snowing. Hollerer glances out of his kitchen window just as a shaven-headed monk, dressed only in dark robe and sandals, appears out of the driving snow and makes his way along the street. A vision sent by my wife, Hollerer thinks. Some time later he recalls that the monk had been bruised about the head – perhaps not a vision. He buttons his police uniform over his paunch, fetches his service weapon from the bedside table and sets out to find the monk. At the steps of the village church a crowd including the mayor are gathering around the young man sitting cross-legged and silent, his bowl in front of him. The villagers are unhappy and want him gone. No begging is allowed after all and he could be just a forerunner for other cult members to come. Hollerer buys food for the monk who, by gesture, insists on sharing it with him. For now, annoyed by the mayor’s insistence that he do something, Officer Hollerer retreats.

Saturday morning, Freiburg.
42-year-old Kripo detective Louise Boni wakes up to snow. She hates it. Everything bad that has happened to her has happened in the snow. Her boss rings to call her into work but she refuses. His next phone message threatens disciplinary action and Louise takes her time calling back. Something strange is happening in Liebau, no-one else is available so Louise must go and take a look. Too hungover to drive, she takes a taxi and by the time she arrives in Liebau the monk has left – with Officer Hollerer following him in a patrol car. A young patrolman, eager to display his own “rally-driver” skills, gives Louise a lift to where Hollerer is parked in a white wasteland watching a black dot moving slowly up a hill. Louise and Hollerer follow the monk on foot but soon the overweight policeman reaches his limit. Louise borrows his gun, continues alone and eventually catches up with the monk. They walk in silence and later, helped out by supplies of food and warm clothing ferried by Hollerer and the young patrolman, Louise and the monk enter the forest where they shelter for the night. She establishes that he is Japanese and can understand English but he remains largely silent. Louise, caught up in alcohol-fuelled thoughts and haunted by images of her dead brother, divorced husband and the man she killed, eventually sleeps – waking to the grey light of dawn and the sound of a man’s voice. The monk is wide-eyed with fear, gesturing for her to follow him. They hide until full daylight when the monk resumes his journey.

Louise hands over the task of following him to the day shift, Hollerer and a colleague from Freiburg. The young Liebau policeman drives her back to the Freiburg headquarters. The ensuing argument with her boss is fierce. Louise wants back-up, cars and a helicopter. He wants her on enforced sick leave, “rehab” and a planned return to a desk job. In fact he insists that calls for back-up and helicopters based on “the hallucinations of a piss-head and the wanderings of a half-naked foreigner” are out of the question. Louise returns to her desk and asks her new Liebau colleague to start compiling a list of the nearest Buddhist institutions. Her boss interrupts and orders her home: “You’re on sick leave”…

ZEN AND THE ART OF MURDER is the first novel in Bottini’s "Black Forest Investigation" series and won a Deutsche Krimi Preis when it was published in 2005. Full of psychology and a wry wit, this story deals in the dark matter of child trafficking and murder. Louise is shut out from the official investigation, but stubbornly continues to prise open the riddle surrounding the terrified monk and his pursuers. But not before another death in the snow has shattered her fragile state. In Louise Boni, Oliver Bottini has created a convincing anchor – a woman flailing around amidst the clink of empty bottles; keeping a desperate grip on her self and her career through gut instinct and persistence. In fact Louise’s interior life provides almost as much suspense as that of the hunt for the killers. Bottini’s well-written characters bring humanity to the events and the story reads smoothly in Jamie Bulloch’s translation. This edition includes a short story prequel which fills out the details of the previous case that still haunts Louise.

Greatly recommended, particularly for lovers of the uphill struggles of the lone detective. A classic Nordic Noir set in the snows of a German winter.

Lynn Harvey, August 2018

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Review: Turn a Blind Eye by Vicky Newham

I'm focussing my reading/reviewing this summer on debuts - including first crime novels from authors known for a different genre. Mostly British but I have also reviewed one from New Zealand. My fourth entry in this feature, is Vicky Newham's Turn a Blind Eye.

Turn a Blind Eye by Vicky Newham, April 2018, 368 pages, HQ, ISBN: 0008240671

I've been eagerly awaiting reading Vicky Newham's debut, having followed her progress via Facebook and in person at CrimeFest, and I'm pleased to report that it doesn't disappoint.

TURN A BLIND EYE introduces DI Maya Rahman, who is based in East London where she grew up after arriving from Bangladesh at a young age. The book opens with scenes in Bangladesh at the funeral of Maya and her sister's brother.

Returning to London, she is thrown into a murder case at the school she went to as a young girl. The headmistress has been killed and a cryptic message has been left. A message which indicates that there has been or will be more linked deaths.

Maya also has a new team member, a fast-tracked Australian, DS Dan Maguire, whose family is back in Australia. Chapters are told from the points of view of Maya and Dan with occasional chapters from the teacher who found the body.

TURN A BLIND EYE is a detailed and authentic feeling police procedural. The introduction of an outsider – Dan – gives Maya a natural opportunity to expand on the history, geography and background to the case and area that they're working in. Maya comes across as a serious, capable individual and there is a mystery in her childhood which could be resolved in one book or teased out over more. I'm looking forward to finding out which.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Review: Blue Night by Simone Buchholz tr. Rachel Ward

Blue Night by Simone Buchholz translated by Rachel Ward, February 2018, 276 pages, Orenda, ISBN: 1912374013

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

“Driving through the countryside alone is like eating sellotape.”

Public prosecutor Chastity Riley’s car coughs and dies somewhere near Mecklenburgh. Since she accused her boss of corruption and shot off a gangster’s family jewels with an unauthorised firearm, Chastity has been sidelined into witness protection – and protection is all she is allowed to do, no investigating. So this country-weekend thing has been an attempt to break the monotony. It hasn’t worked. Now she has to get back to Hamburg for a case and she really needs a lift. Faller, with his big, 1970s, mid-life crisis totem Pontiac, is the one she chooses (all of her other friends being asleep, driving-license free, or out of it). She calls Faller, takes her bag out of her car and sets off down the road in the direction of Hamburg. Later, in that city’s St Georg Hospital, she stares at her unconscious client. He is smashed up badly. Ribs, arms and legs broken and a missing index finger. She holds his huge paw of a hand until night-time then takes a taxi home. Klatsche is making cheese sandwiches to go with the beer. Lifesaver.

Summer of 1982:
Faller: “I still visit Minou’s grave. A girl from the red-light district who died because I wanted her.”
Riley: “Frankfurt glows gold, orange, pink. We ride bikes. I wear my Dad’s American Army shirts. I miss my Mum.”
Klatsche: “I haven’t been born yet.”
Joe: “Hey. Hamburg.”

Hamburg, present day:
Klatsche is out shopping, stocking up his bar “Blue Night”. Chastity returns to her flat to shower then on to forensics at Police Headquarters to examine her client’s clothes: a good made to measure suit, no label; British shirt, American shoes. Upstairs she visits her friend Calabretta who has been locked into himself since his girlfriend dumped him for a Swiss professor. But now, Chastity is thinking that the life is returning to his eyes. Next, to size up the place where her client was attacked. It must have been a gang, no way could it have been a one man job. That evening, whilst baby-sitting Calabretta at Carla and Rocco's cafe, an activity which involves a lot of booze, Calabretta remarks that he thinks Faller is up to something – maybe wanting to go after The Albanian again.

Faller: “Homicide Squad. I’m new here. A lot of death since coke hit the red-light district.”
Riley: “Why is everyone falling in love?”
Joe: “I mostly work in St Pauli, quick and quiet.”

Hamburg, present day:
The hospital calls Chastity at 5.30 am, the patient is awake. Chastity however is very hungover. The police guard outside her client’s room nods her through when she presents her pass. Her client stares at her. Chastity thinks he was more charming unconscious. When he does speak, his accent is Austrian. He says his name is Joe...

BLUE NIGHT is the first of prize-winning crime writer Simone Buchholz’ “Chastity Riley” series to be published in the UK. Its lively, true-feeling translation by Rachel Ward allows this tale of bars, beers and the nightlife of St Pauli in Hamburg to read well at a brisk pace. Chastity is the daughter of an American serviceman stationed in Germany, brought up by him after her mother left them. By the time of this book she is only just hanging on to her job as a public prosecutor after having exposed some inconvenient truths in the department. She is bored, persona non grata and barred from investigating. But she is also surrounded by a network of friends with equally chequered backgrounds to buoy her up – hence the bars, cafes and beers. It goes without saying that when landed with the job of “protecting” a badly beaten giant of an Austrian who is giving nothing away, Chastity cannot resist some of that forbidden investigating. Who attacked him and why? The investigation takes her to a new contact in the old East, in Leipzig, and a glimpse of the devastation caused by the latest cheap, virulent drug heading in Hamburg's direction.

Buchholz quickly establishes her characters and their individual voices: the ex-jailbird bar owner, a broken hearted cop, an ex-cop with a vengeful eye set on the local crime boss (now “retired” and untouchable) who killed his girlfriend years ago, and an injured Austrian stoic with a missing finger. But it goes without saying that the predominant voice in the story is that of unorthodox, street-savvy and very likeable Chastity. Written with a sense of place, a fresh voice, and a fast pace.

Absolutely recommended.

Lynn Harvey, August 2018

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Foreign Bodies: Zygmunt Miloszewski's A Grain of Truth on Radio 4

The latest endeavour in Mark Lawson's Foreign Bodies series on Radio 4, is a two part adaptation (by Lawson) of Polish crime writer Zygmunt Miloszewski's A Grain of Truth (tr. Antonia Lloyd-Jones).

The first part is avalable now to stream or download, and the second is on later today (at 3pm).
The Blood Painting
Foreign Bodies, Grain of Truth Episode 1 of 2

Taut crime thriller by leading Polish writer, Zygmunt Miloszewski, dramatised for radio by Mark Lawson. War time intrigue and modern politics mesh in a murder mystery.

The complexities and frustrations of the modern Polish legal system are the setting for this bestselling crime novel, featuring long suffering State Prosecutor Szacki who finds himself trapped in a limbo land of half-truths and secrets from post-Communist Poland. Will he prove himself to be a redoubtable seeker of the truth or will he compromise?

Episode 1: The Blood Painting
Szacki is finding small town Poland a little dull but a bizarre murder case soon throws him back into action. The crime scene is littered with grotesque clues suggesting that the murder is mirroring an infamous Jewish blood libel, drawing on historical anti-Semitism.