Friday, December 30, 2011

For the Camilleri fan in your life...

I've just been trawling amazon to see what Montalbano delights are in store. As well as the UK edition of The Potter's Field in May 2012, also listed are the US editions of The Age of Doubt (May 2012) and Hunting Season (Jan 2013).

In addition McFarland are publishing a companion guide, Andrea Camilleri: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Lucia Rinaldi, in July 2012:

Publisher's Blurb: This is the first comprehensive reference work in English dedicated to the writing of world-famous Italian mystery writer Andrea Camilleri. It includes entries on plots, characters, dates, literary motifs, and themes from the bestselling author’s detective stories and television crime dramas, with special attention to the serialized policeman Inspector Salvo Montalbano, Camilleri’s most famous character. It also equips the reader with background information on Camilleri’s life and career and provides a guide into the writings of reviewers and critics.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas & a Big Thank You

Happy Christmas to the much appreciated readers of this blog and its sister Euro Crime website. Plus a big thank you to the Euro Crime review team, which has increased this year, and the publishers who send out the review books. As ever, I'm very grateful to those who've commented on the blog and sent comments, information and Christmas cards directly to me. I wish you all the best for 2012.

Is it Christmas yet?

Coming soon: more favourite discoveries of 2011; an article by Leigh Russell on her new book, Death Bed, which is available on Kindle now - 6 months ahead of its print release; the Euro Crime reviewers favourite reads of 2011; a new competition or two, and included in the next set of reviews, reviews of the latest books by Elly Griffiths and Stuart Neville.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favourite Discoveries 2011 (8)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2011 comes from Michelle Peckham who has chosen a Scandinavian crime tv series, though not The Killing. The series is based on the books by Gunnar Staalesen - and I wrote up a recent interview between him and his translator Don Bartlett: from Norway to Norfolk.

Michelle Peckham's Favourite Discovery of 2011

Missing both the dramatisations of Wallander and The Killing on BBC4, and feeling rather bereft, I ordered a 3 DVD set featuring Varg Veum from Amazon (Bitter Flowers / Sleeping Beauty / Yours Until Death). The series is based on the books by Gunnar Staalesen, of which I'd read Yours Until Death, and enjoyed. Unfortunately, not all the books are available in English, so the DVDs were actually a chance to discover more.

Varg Veum is a private investigator, based in Bergen, a 30ish rakish character, divorced, and attractive. He seems to have a knack for taking on cases that prove difficult, and always seem to bring him into contact with the police. The Norway setting adds to the interest, and these DVDs certainly made up for the lack of Scandinavian crime fiction on BBC4. Thoroughly recommended!

(This set is available in R1 and R2 - the R1 cover is on the right.)

Read Michelle's Euro Crime reviews here.

The titles by Gunnar Staalesen which have been translated into English - not many yet alas - are listed and reviewed here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Favourite Discoveries 2011 (7)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2011 comes from Terry Halligan who chooses his favourite book of 2011.

Terry Halligan's Favourite Discovery of 2011

The Warsaw Anagrams by Richard Zimler (Paperback: 336 pages (Feb. 2011) Publisher: Corsair ISBN: 1849013697)

It is the bitterly cold Autumn of 1940 and Erik Cohen, an elderly retired psychiatrist, is forced to move into an area within Warsaw that the Germans have created, to locate all the 400,000 Jews of that city. Erik is obliged to live with his niece and his beloved nine year old nephew, Adam, in a tiny flat. One, extremely cold day, Adam goes missing and after searching all over the place and questioning all their contacts, finally, the next day his body is found naked and entangled in the barbed wire fence that surrounds the ghetto. The boy's leg has been hacked off and a tiny piece of string has been left in his mouth.

Erik and niece are obviously, very upset about all of this and even more so, when a young girl's body is located also with one of her hands missing. Erik and his close friend Izzy start to look into all the possible clues associated with this, as both men feel that as Jews their lives are very limited and they need to ensure that all the children living in the ghetto are as safe from death as possible. It was a truly depressing time, the Germans having made an island where they control who goes in and out and what food and everything else goes in and out. This island is encircled with barbed wire and the only access points are guarded night and day by their armed soldiers. The inhabitants of the ghetto have to sell off all their possessions gradually, to buy food to live, as they get no income otherwise and as they do not know individually how long they will live, they have to go without and suffer the resulting hunger. As they cannot get any coal, even if they could afford it, as all possible supplies are cornered by the Germans to help the war effort, in this bleak Winter it is bitterly cold and they are having to burn furniture, or anything flammable in their fires to keep out the cold. But of course there is only a finite amount of furniture.

Erik discovers that the two dead children were members of a choir, he suspects that adult members of the same group could be involved in the deaths and then it becomes apparent that the girl who was killed was expecting a baby, the father of whom, was a gentile (a non Jew) living outside the ghetto. Erik wants to check that out more and needs to leave the ghetto to do so, which is very difficult and the preparations he makes are explained in detail. He needs to get fake papers forged by a criminal he knows, as he will have to go through a German check point. He decides to take Izzy along with him, which presents other difficulties. So as it goes on the two main characters have many adventures until at last the murderer is discovered and dealt with, but it doesn't end in a nice way.

I found this a deeply moving book. It deals with the Second World War but with an aspect of it that is not discussed too often, and the author has researched his subject extremely thoroughly and his characters live with much deprivation in the ghetto. I consider this book the best and most moving one that I've read for some time and I was deeply affected by it. This is the seventh book written by this author who indicates in a dedication at the beginning that many of his grand-uncles, aunts and cousins perished in the ghettos and camps of Poland during the War. A truly wonderful book, which I will not forget.

Read more of Terry's reviews here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Favourite Discoveries 2011 (6)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2011 comes from Amanda Gillies who chooses a film from a few years ago and which stars Rufus "Zen" Sewell.

Amanda Gillies's Favourite Discovery of 2011

My best discovery this year is definitely the movie Dark City, a futuristic fantasy about, unsurprisingly, a city that is kept in perpetual darkness and the people living there who don’t seem to release they never see the sun. It focuses on John Murdoch (played by Rufus Sewell) who wakes up in the bath to discover that he has no memory and can’t understand why the police are after him. To make matters worse, his beloved wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly) no longer recognizes him.

John sets out to get to the bottom of the strange goings-on and his discoveries will make your blood run cold. He is horrified when the clock strikes midnight and everyone, except him, falls asleep exactly where they are. Things get even worse when he meets the terrifying, black-clad, white-faced "strangers" and their weird side-kick, Dr. Schreber.

The film was written and directed by Alex Proyas, also known for I, Robot and The Crow, and came out in 1998. It is a clever mix of crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy. I absolutely loved the movie and was delightfully creeped out and fascinated for its entire 2.5 hours. The idea of a city being controlled, directed, and changed round the way this one is, really caught my imagination. It also has an amazing ending and left me exhausted. Loads of "Tingle Factor" and, essentially, the right level of "Yuk" to keep the viewer happy.

I can’t believe it took me so long to find Dark City and must have been one of the very few who hadn’t seen it!

Read more of Amanda's reviews, both crime and teenage/YA fiction.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Favourite Discoveries 2011 (5)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2011 comes from Geoff Jones who chooses an American/Irish author who made quite a splash with her debut in 2007 and it went on to win the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award for Best First Novel.

Geoff Jones's Favourite Discovery of 2011

In 2011 I discovered this exciting writer. Her first novel In the Woods made its debut in 2007 to apparently much acclaim (I must have been preoccupied with something else!). She followed this up a year later with the equally well received The Likeness. Her third book, published in 2010, is the one that made me notice this great talent – Faithful Place.

Born in the USA but of Irish parentage, she has lived in Ireland and Italy as well as America. She now lives in Dublin and is married with a daughter. She writes very well about Ireland which is a place I don't know but she describes it so well I feel as if I’ve been there. Her characters are very believable and she has a unique method that a minor character in one book becomes the lead in a subsequent one – very clever.

If I had been asked several years ago who my favourite authors were, very few women would have figured in the top 10. Not sure why – I suppose I felt that only men could write grisly murder mysteries? How wrong could I be!! Today Lynda La Plante, Karen Campbell, Denise Mina and Val McDermid feature prominently. I can now add Tana French to the growing list.

Her fourth book, Broken Harbour, is out in June 2012.

You can read reviews of Tana French's first three books here.

Geoff's reviews can be read here.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Reviews: Ellis, Eriksson, Fowler, Higashino, Lambert, Williams

As promised, a final set of reviews for 2011. More reviews will appear early in the New Year. Do please read the Euro Crime reviewers Favourite Discoveries of 2011 which I'll continue to post next week.

Here are this week's reviews:
Michelle Peckham reviews Joy Ellis's follow-up to Mask Wars, Shadowbreaker (which is set in my beloved Fens) and Michelle praises it highly;

Lynn Harvey reviews the recent UK release of Kjell Eriksson's The Princess of Burundi, tr. Ebba Segerberg the earliest of the "Ann Lindell" series available in English from an author Lynn likens to Henning Mankell (and for once the snowy cover is warranted);

Mark Bailey reviews the most recent of Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series: Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood;

I review the much talked-about The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, tr. Alexander O Smith & Elye J Alexander;

Maxine Clarke begins her review of Charles Lambert's Any Human Face (set in a Rome) by saying that it is "an excellent, well-written novel of suspense"

and Terry Halligan is impressed with Andrew Williams's To Kill a Tsar.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here and new titles by Geraint Anderson, Richard Blake, Julia Crouch, Steven Dunne, James Forrester, Ann Granger, Grebe & Traff, Quintin Jardine, Michael Jecks, Alan Judd, Tom Knox, Lynda La Plante, Matt Lynn, The Medieval Murderers, G J Moffat, Kate Rhodes, Craig Robertson, Imogen Robertson, Jacqui Rose, Bob Shepherd, Simon Spurrier, Jason Steel and Jon Stock have been added to these pages this week.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Favourite Discoveries 2011 (4)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2011 comes from Rich Westwood who chooses a French author, probably not as well known as Fred Vargas but who shares some of her writing DNA.

Rich Westwood's Favourite Discovery of 2011

My discovery of 2011 is the Provençal crime fiction of Pierre Magnan.

I'm a sucker for an illustrated cover, and the breezy artwork by Nadine James is what first brought Pierre Magnan to my attention in my local library. However, the comedy of the books is darker than the covers might suggest.

The investigator Commissaire Laviolette is an interesting figure, but for me it is the secondary characters who make these books sing. Magnan offers up crusty collection of eccentrics, thoroughly doused in red wine, reeking of Gitaines and strange local cheeses, all closeted in cramped little Provençal communities and dealing with boredom and poverty any way they can: gossip, superstition, ancient feuds, modern rivalries, mushroom-hunting, obsession and, of course, murder.

A truffle-hunting pig proves a useful ally for the Commissaire in Death in the Truffle Wood, ultimately a story of culture clash between hippies and locals (it was written in the 70s). The book has some great snow-bound scenes which really rack up the tension and show an (for me) unexpectedly harsh side of Provence.

The Messengers of Death
has a strong flavour of John Dickson Carr, opening with a retired village postman digging his own grave and features a fancy-dress murderer wielding an antique bayonet.

I’ve only managed to find these two titles in the Laviolette series in English, but if you like Fred Vargas (in particular if you enjoyed the cryptic scenes with the Normandy hunters in This Night's Foul Work), I'd definitely recommend seeking them out.

You can read Rich's Euro Crime reviews here (by searching for his name).

Discover which of Pierre Magnan's books are available in English (with reviews), here. (Death in the Truffle Wood and The Messengers of Death were both translated by Patrica Clancy and are still in print having been published 2006/7.)

Pierre Magnan's website is here (in French).

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Favourite Discoveries 2011 (3)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2011 comes from Lynn Harvey who blogs at Little Grey Doll as well as reviewing for Euro Crime. She has chosen a tv series and an author.

Lynn Harvey's Favourite Discoveries of 2011

It goes without saying that a Scandi-Noir fan like I thinks first of The Killing (original Danish version), because I was indeed hooked and transfixed by it, as was almost everybody. If I could, I would mention the other Scandi-series that had me glued to my telly chair this year: BBC4's showing of that most excellent Icelandic comedy of dysfunction, The Night Shift. But it has to be said that apart from petty pilfering and the violent onslaughts that the increasingly unhinged shift manager inflicts upon staff and customers alike, The Night Shift isn't really a crime story.

So it is with some surprise that I find that my most joyous crime-reading discovery of 2011 is set all the way over in South East Asia with the slightly off the wall crime novels of Colin Cotterill.

I reviewed Killed at the Whim of a Hat for Euro Crime. This is Cotterill's first outing with a new heroine, the woman journalist Jimm Juree, and is set in Thailand. But never having read any of Colin Cotterill's books before and in order to do my homework, I read one of his books set in Laos and featuring pathologist and reluctant shaman, Dr Siri Paiboun. The book that I chose was Curse of the Pogo Stick; foreign setting, social observation, a sense of the absurd, dark reality, black humour, and a helping of the paranormal - just my cup of tea. Although the title does make me wince a little, I love an imagination that can provide the visions of long-suffering shaman Dr Siri Paiboun's regular bruisings at the hands of a pair of tough guy skeletons in the Other Realm. Perhaps it is because I am also a fan of comics and graphic novels that this kind of visual imagination - Colin Cotterill is also a cartoonist - appeals to me. The book also describes the darker reality of life for a minority cultural group amidst the state and politics of 1970s Laos - so not all laughs then. Cotterill's writing is a truly happy discovery for me. So thank you, Euro Crime.

The Killing Series 1 & 2 will be available as a combined box-set from 19 December on R2 DVD, just in time for Christmas, or as individual series box-sets.

You can read Lynn's Euro Crime reviews here by searching for her name.

Colin Cotterill's books with reviews are listed here on the Euro Crime website.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Favourite Discoveries 2011 (2)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2011 comes from Norman Price who blogs and reviews at Crime Scraps as well as at Euro Crime. Norman's choice is a tv series which I have been faithfully recording but have not yet watched.

Norman Price's Favourite Discovery of 2011

Braquo is a French crime series, showing on FX the channel that introduced The Wire to British TV. It is very exciting while raising the moral question of how far should the police go to solve crimes. Should they use the violent methods of the crooks they are attempting to catch, and should their loyalties be to their fellow cops or the law?

The four person squad at the centre of the series is a disparate group lead by Eddy, a grizzled veteran living on a houseboat on the Seine. Then there is Walter, a bald gambling addict whose wife is a chronic alcoholic unable to look after their children. Theo, a young violent coke addict who has a way with women. And Roxanne, who manages to look extremely sexy while alternating between a bad hair day, and a very bad hair day.

The squad are supported by their ex-boss and his crew, and opposed by nasty Internal Affairs cops, who are trying to catch them at the various crimes they are forced to commit to solve their numerous problems. When the cops are trying their hand at murder, robbery, drug dealing, kidnapping and blackmail you know that you are probably watching something French.

Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea but I am enjoying every episode.

Braquo will be available on R2 DVD just in time for Valentine's Day (6 February) at around £30.

You can read Norman's Euro Crime reviews here.

Discover French crime writers available in English, here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Favourite Discoveries 2011 (I)

As is customary here at Euro Crime towers I have asked my fellow reviewers to come up with their top 5 reads of 2011 - these will be collated and announced in January. As a bonus question, I asked them what their favourite crime fiction discovery of 2011 - be it book, film or tv series - has been. Mark Bailey kicks us off with his choice, one which I have also read thanks to Europa Editions which published these 2006-2008.

Mark Bailey's Favourite Discovery of 2011

Absolutely the best thing that I have read this year is Carlo Lucarelli's De Luca trilogy (Carte Blanche (Carta Bianca), The Damned Season (L'estate Torbida) and Via delle Oche ) – small delicately shaped morsels (the longest is 160 pages and all three together are shorter than your typical doorstop novel).

In the last days and aftermath of World War II Italy, the world of Commissario de Luca, a fundamentally good man driven by a desire for justice who is (and has been) forced by circumstance to work for people with evil in the hearts is, to my mind, one of the great creations of modern crime fiction. I have the award winning TV movie adaptions on my to-be-watched list for Christmas and can’t wait.

Reviews of the first two parts of the trilogy can be found on the Euro Crime website's bibliography page.

You can read Mark's reviews for Euro Crime here by searching for his name.

A link to the DVD on amazon for more information.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Another First (Fossum)

It's rumoured that Jo Nesbo's first Harry Hole book, The Bat Man will be out in 2012 but there's no official confirmation yet. But, Karin Fossum's first Inspector Sejer is finally getting an English translation. In the Darkness, translated by James Anderson will be published on 19 July 2012, ten years after book two, Don't Look Back, was first published in English to much acclaim. The tenth in the Sejer series (and currently the last entry) was published this year in English, but English readers can hope that the missing seventh book also gets translated in due course (and we can find out where the psychiatrist girlfriend went perhaps?).
(Euro Crime bibliography is here)

The blurb from amazon:

Eva is walking by the river one afternoon when a body floats to the surface of the icy water. She tells her daughter to wait patiently while she calls the police, but when she reaches the phone box Eva dials another number altogether.

The dead man, Egil, has been missing for months, and it doesn't take long for Inspector Sejer and his team to establish that he was the victim of very violent killer. But the trail has gone cold. It's as puzzling as another unsolved case on Sejer's desk: the murder of a prostitute who was found dead just before Egil went missing.

While Sejer is trying to piece together the fragments of a seemingly impossible case, Eva gets a phone call late one night. A stranger speaks and then swiftly hangs up. Eva looks out into the darkness and listens. All is quiet.

Gripping and thought-provoking, In the Darkness is Karin Fossum's first novel featuring the iconic Inspector Sejer.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Reviews: Cain, Cleeves, Cregan, Eriksson, Lewis, Morris, Pearson, Roslund-Hellstrom, Zouroudi

The final set of reviews for 2011 will be uploaded next weekend. There are 9 new reviews this week (to make up for missing last week). Look out for some forthcoming blog posts from the Euro Crime review team on their new discoveries this year.

Here are this week's new reviews:
Terry Halligan reviews the fifth (and best so far he thinks) in Tom Cain's Carver series - Carver;

Lynn Harvey reviews her first but the fourth "Vera" book in Ann Cleeves's (now televised) series - Silent Voices which is now out in paperback;

Laura Root reviews the second of Sean Cregan's Newport set series, The Razor Gate which is an example of "futurist noir writing";

I review the latest title that has been made available in English in Kjell Eriksson's Ann Lindell series, The Hand That Trembles, tr. Ebba Segerberg;

Susan White reviews the second in Jonathan Lewis's DCI Bale and dog-handler Kate Baker series, Into Dust;

Geoff Jones reviews the fourth (and last I believe) of R N Morris's Porfiry Petrovich series, The Cleansing Flames;

Lynn Harvey also reviews the fourth in another series, Murder Club by Mark Pearson which features DI Jack Delaney and is set in London;

Maxine Clarke reviews Roslund-Hellstrom's Cell 8, tr. Kari Dickson

and Amanda Gillies reviews Anne Zouroudi's The Whispers of Nemesis, the fifth in the Hermes Diaktoros series.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here and new titles by George Arion, James Becker, Nancy Bilyeau, Ken Bruen, Paul Grossman, Oliver Harris, James Henry, Antonio Hill, Hjorth-Rosenfeldt, Bogdan Hrib, Camilla Lackberg, Andy McDermott, Roger/R N Morris, Leif GW Persson, Sarah Pinborough, Oana Stoica-Mujea, Roland Vernon, Jason Webster, Kate Williams and Juli Zeh have been added to these pages this week.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

OT: It's Blurry Cat-urday

Not the best pictures in the world - Foxy is just too fast for the camera (!). He's sussed how to get out but hasn't got the leverage to move the handle.

I took the second and third photos after I'd walked into the lounge to see him on his back, motionless, legs pointing out. He'd moved a bit before I got back with my camera/phone...

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Metro's Crime Fiction Gift Ideas

In yesterday's Metro there was a books two-page spread and it included some gift ideas for "crime enthusiasts". It's quite a good list - though if you are already an enthusiast you perhaps may have read several of them - and very euro-centric. I can't find it on their website so here are their choices with links to Euro Crime reviews (with the exception of the last one):

Henning Mankell - The Troubled Man (tr. Laurie Thompson)

Jo Nesbo - The Leopard (tr. Don Bartlett)

Thomas Enger - Burned (tr. Charlotte Barslund)

Jason Webster - Or the Bull Kills You

Fred Vargas - An Uncertain Place (tr. Sian Reynolds)

S J Watson - Before I Go to Sleep

Tom Franklin - Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (reviewed by Maxine at Petrona)

Birmingham's Big City Read

Birmingham's Big City Read was launched last night:

"The idea of the Big City Read is to celebrate libraries, books and reading. Through the Big City Read Birmingham Libraries would like to encourage readers to try something new, to read and share their reading experience with other readers. We would like as many people as possible in Birmingham to read the same book, post reviews and pass it on. Our Big City Read book is Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson."

The book in question won the CWA John Creasey/New Blood Dagger 2011 and is reviewed on Euro Crime by Lizzie Hayes.

Pop along to your local Birmingham library and pick up a copy. It can be reviewed via email (details on the website listed below) or on the review sheet included with the book. (NB. limited stocks of the book are available.)

More details are on the Big City Read website.

Before I Go to Sleep is released in paperback on 5 January 2012.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Stranger Beware: Title Change Alert

It seems that the mass market paperback release of Camilla Lackberg's The Gallows Bird on 15 March 2012 will be titled The Stranger. NB This title precedes The Hidden Child in the series (listed and reviewed here). Published on the same day will be The Drowning.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

A New Sam Ryan (Silent Witness) ebook

I've been catching up with the library's collection of Bookseller magazines and I'd missed hearing about this. BOX Fiction are providing ebooks in ten instalments. The first part is free then subsequent parts, released weekly, are 69p each or you can buy the whole lot for £5.99.

This new venture kicks off with Nigel McCrery reprising his Sam Ryan creation in Titan. The first 5 parts are now available to buy and a second series is planned for 2012. Pilots have been commissioned from other authors.

Find out more at BOX Fiction.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Crime Writers contribute to Imagined Lives

A new exhibition opens at the National Portrait Gallery this week called Imagined Lives, the accompanying book has been available for a couple of weeks. The authors involved in this imagining of lives for unknown portrait subjects include crime writers John Banville (aka Benjamin Black), Alexander McCall Smith and Minette Walters as well as non-crime writers Tracy Chevalier, Julian "Downton Abbey" Fellowes, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Singleton and Joanna Trollope.

You can read an extract from False Mary (which is the cover on the book below) written by Alexander McCall Smith on the NPG website.

Eight internationally acclaimed authors have invented imaginary biographies and character sketches based on fourteen unidentified portraits. Who are these men and women, why were they painted, and why do they now find themselves in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery? With fictional letters, diaries, mini-biographies and memoirs, Imagined Lives creates vivid stories about these unknown sitters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

OT: Spell it as you Say it?

Taking the usual walk to town I spotted another offending window display:

However if you say Accessories in the local accent it does approximate to Accessroies. Super Hero's what though, I wonder?

I wonder if the sign writer is also responsible for Chloe's Consessions as the shops are only two doors apart:

Friday, December 02, 2011

8 Minute trailer for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

An extended trailer has been released for the US remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo which is to be released in the UK on 26 December.

The Return of Harry Hole

The Vintage podcast, for Day 1 of Advent has a short extract from Jo Nesbo's Phantom, read by the author, and which is to be published in March. It describes the return of someone who has been away for 3 years in a warmer climate and who sees how how Oslo is different and yet the same. From the publisher's blurb below I assume the man is Harry Hole...

Oslo Opera House=>

Listen here or download via iTunes.

Summer. A boy, Gusto, is lying on the floor of an Oslo apartment. He is bleeding and will soon die. He is trying to make sense of what has happened. In order to place his life and death in some kind of context he begins to tell his story. Outside, the church bells chime.

Autumn. Former Police Detective Harry Hole returns to Oslo after three years abroad. He seeks out his former boss at Police Headquarters to request permission to investigate a homicide. But the case is already closed; a young junkie, Gusto, was in all likelihood shot by a pal in a conflict over drugs. Harry is granted permission to visit the accused boy in prison. There, he meets himself and his own history. It’s the start of a solitary investigation of the most impossible case in Harry Hole’s life. And while Harry is searching, Gusto continues his story.

A man walks the dark streets of night-time Oslo. The streets are his and he has always been there. He is a phantom.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Romanian Crime Fiction

Profusion International Creative Consultancy is introducing some Romanian crime fiction titles to an English-speaking audience:
In 2011 Profusion initiates a brand new publishing venture featuring a series of Romanian crime fiction, along with a shocking true crime story. These books are different. They are thrilling, and they also illuminate the reality of a secret Romania, once behind the Iron Curtain, now a vital European partner.

Behind the tumult of the new, lies a past of intrigue, terror and pitch black comedy. The Profusion Crime Series outlines the map and blazes a trail through this hidden history.
1. Kill the General by Bogdan Hrib, tr. Ramona Mitrica, Mike Phillips, and Mihai Risnoveanu was published last week in paperback and on Kindle (quite cheaply for 1 month):

Bogdan Hrib's KILL THE GENERAL is an explosive thriller - and not just because it talks about Chernobyl and a bloody revolution.

“Stelian Munteanu, lover, killer and Bucharest boy, is a hero who tells us more than we ever imagined about our times. Stelian, a book editor with a sideline in international police work, has to kill a man, a general whose book he’s just published. Will he pull the trigger? Kill the General is an exciting and suspenseful thriller. It is also a complex and detailed character study of an individual - a roller coaster ride through the transitions which have taken place over the last decades in Romanian history.” (Mike Phillips)

“It’s early. The city is sleeping. I cannot pull the trigger. The time is flying. If I don’t make a decision now... I have no guarantee that the general will still be here the following night. I should get this job done and get the hell out of here!”

2. Attack in the Library by George Arion, tr. Ramona Mitrica, Mike Phillips, and Mihai Risnoveanu was published on 15 November and is also currently available at a reduced price on Kindle.

“GEORGE ARION's Attack in the Library is one of the classic narratives of Romanian popular fiction. Written during the dictatorship of the 1980s, it weaves a gripping narrative out of the bars, the housing estates and restaurants of Bucharest. Arion's characters queue for food, cope with power blackouts, sweat in the heat and struggle with the privileges and influence of the elites.“ (Mike Phillips)

“Andrei Mladin, living Romanian journalist! Still living, I should say.”

“Exactly in the chapter indicated by the voice, there were fifty 100-lei banknotes. I felt the embrace of sheer panic. Right then the telephone rang again: ‘Mladin! Have you found the money?’ All I heard after that was the sound of the phone hanging up.”

3. Anatomical Clues
by Oana Stoica-Mujea, tr. Ramona Mitrica, Mike Phillips, and Mihai Risnoveanu will be published on 20 December.

“Iolanda Stireanu is a brilliant criminal investigator. She is also crippled by mental instability and the fact that she can’t leave her flat.

Anatomical Clues is a gripping, grotesque exploration of damaged psychologies - a tale, which, like Iolanda, will creep into your head and stay there.” (Mike Phillips)

“The eyes had been plucked and laid carefully on the living room table, in between two withered roses. Everything was in perfect order, and it was just these eyes which didn’t fit with the rest of the picture. On the other hand, they were not strikingly out of place. There was, however, no sign of the body to which they must have belonged.”

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Ellis Peters Historical Award - Winner

Thanks again to to Crime Scraps, I hear that the Ellis Peters Historical Award has been won by Andrew Martin for The Somme Stations. Also shortlisted were (with links to reviews on Euro Crime):

Rory Clements Prince (John Murray)
Sam Eastland The Red Coffin (Faber & Faber)
Gordon Ferris The Hanging Shed (Corvus)
RN Morris The Cleansing Flames (Faber & Faber)
Imogen Robertson Island of Bones (Headline)

The judging panel said of The Somme Stations: “Martin’s novels featuring railway detective Jim Stringer reveal their treasures in subtle fashion with a winning synthesis of period atmosphere, intriguing plotting and a passion for steam railways.”

Read more about each book on the CWA website.

From next year this award will again be a CWA Dagger award:
"The CWA has also announced some changes to the award, effective from 2012. The Ellis Peters award will once again become a CWA Dagger and submission dates will gradually move to correspond with the other CWA awards. Already entries are being accepted from UK publishers via the specialised Daggers website for publishers.

The changes are in line with the CWA’s commitment to increase the profile of their non-TV Dagger awards. It’s planned that the Ellis Peters and the other Dagger awards will be presented as part of a new awards ceremony in summer 2012. The new rules are being finalised and will be published shortly on the Daggers website.

OT: New York in the Snow (Cover Theme)

I saw a big advert for Carmen Reid's new book at the Tube station last week and I thought the cover looked awfully similar (from memory) to an older book by Tricia Ashley. What do you think?

NB. It appears that there is a slight crime aspect to The Jewels of Manhattan.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Maj Sjowall wins the Big Caliber Prize of Honour

I've received the news via an email that Maj Sjowall has won the Big Caliber Prize of Honour at the International Festival of Crime Fiction, in Wroclaw (Poland).

The previous winners of this award are: Joanna Chmielewska, Boris Akunin, Aleksandra Marinina, Jeffery Deaver, Leonid Jozefowicz, Tatiana Poles, Marek Krajewski and Jo Nesbo.

Maj Sjowall together with Per Wahloo wrote the classic Martin Beck series which is reviewed here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

From Norway to Norfolk: Staalesen & Bartlett

On the 18th, Petrona and I trundled off to the British Library for the Crime Across the Continent study day. The last session of the day, included:
Gunnar Staalesen and Don Bartlett (courtesy of the Royal Norwegian Embassy), From Norway to Norfolk; author and translator in conversation.
Here're my notes from the session. They are a bit illegible at times so I apologise for any errors in transcription.

GS writes PI novels in the classic style. When he was 11/12 he read his first grown-up book, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Sjowall and Wahloo were a watershed between the old and new crime writing. Reading US authors made it possible for a young, left-wing, Norwegian writer to write detective stories. Two great plotters were Agatha Christie and Ross MacDonald. Ibsen was a good Norwegian writer.

[GS's lead character is called Varg Veum] Varg = wolf, Veum = Sanctuary/holy place, outlaw in norse. Veum is an ordinary family name, Varg not so much in use!

He wrote two police-procedurals (like Sjowall and Wahloo) before starting the Varg Veum series (which are hugely successful in Norway; his birthday is celebrated and there is a statue in Bergen where they are set). He's currently writing no. 16.

He didn't choose a social worker profession for VV so he could write social criticism but rather he wanted a character who would want to get to the bottom of something and would protect the "losers", the "weak".

Modern Scandinavian crime writers are on the left side of politics.

He doesn't feel there is a Norwegian crime style but there is a Scandinavian. However nature is more apparent in Norwegian crime novels as the cities are very small eg Bergen is surrounded by mountains. Norway is the most egalitarian county in Scandinavia as there is no nobility; oil has changed society.

He knows exactly when VV's birthday is - 15/10/42 - which is celebrated every year in Bergen. The current book is set in Spring 2002. He wants to get to 20 books in the series. Takes a year to write but three to six years for the ideas to become useable. He mostly knows the end of the book before beginning it.

DB says that GS's books are a translator's heaven: short, linear, a wonderful central character and full of humour.

The point was raised about the fact that DB is the third translator to work on GS's books and how did he tackle that? He looked at the earlier books for technical things like names and ranks to keep a consistency over the series.

DB was asked how he coped with dialect used by the minor characters. The high risk approach of translating dialect is using a recognisable English or American dialect eg Brooklyn in the Camilleri books. DB favours the low risk approach by just thinking how they might speak in English.

DB visited Bergen before translating The Consorts of Death and walked around street by street so he knew exactly where certain events took place.

DB limits himself to 4 translations a year. This year he did 2 Jo Nesbos and will be doing another 2 in 2012.

GS said he had no influence on the Varg Veum tv series. Big changes were made to his stories eg in one episode all that was left of the original was half of the title, however it was good pay for half a title!

Cold Hearts
, number 15 in the series is to be published next February by Arcadia and follows on from The Consorts of Death, both translated by Don Bartlett. I'm really looking forward to it.

Reviews and Gunnar Staalesen's bibliography (of titles in English) can be found on the Euro Crime website.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Reviews: Black, Campbell, Krajewski, Neville, Sjowall & Wahloo, Thomas

Here are this week's new reviews:
Mark Bailey reviews Truth Lies Bleeding the first in a new series by Scottish author, Tony Black;

Staying in Scotland, Amanda Gillies reviews Karen Campbell's Shadowplay and summarises her many words of praises in the phrase: "it rocks!";

Marek Krajewski's Mock series is a bit like Marmite, several of the Euro Crime review team have enjoyed it a lot, but Michelle Peckham had the opposite response when she read the latest, Phantoms of Breslau, tr. Danusia Stok, now out in paperback with a new look (though the older cover style may give the potential reader a better idea of the content! eg The End of the World in Breslau);

Lynn Harvey reviews Stuart Neville's Collusion now out in paperback and is the sequel to 'The Twelve';

Maxine Clarke reviews the tenth and final entry in the Martin Beck series by Sjowall and Wahloo The Terrorists, tr. Joan Tate which is as fresh as it was 36 years ago

and Terry Halligan reviews David Thomas's (aka Tom Cain) Blood Relative.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here and new titles by Benjamin Black, Susanna Jones, M J McGrath, Hakan Nesser and Felix Palma have been added to these pages this week.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Marilyn & Watching the Detectives

What connects, Brother Cadfael, Foyle ('s War), (my dear) Inspector Japp and Wallander?

I've mentioned before that the UK has an apparently tiny pool of actors and you will spot four familiar faces who have played detectives on the tv, in My Week With Marilyn.

My Week With Marilyn covers the time when Marilyn was filming The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier at Pinewood studios and is based on the diary/memoir of Colin Clark, a young man who became friendly with Marilyn for a short while.

Of the four "detectives", Kenneth Branagh (Wallander) has the largest role as Laurence Olivier, Philip Jackson (Japp) is playing an ex-policeman, Michael Kitchen (Foyle) is something to do with showbiz and Derek Jacobi (Cadfael) works at Windsor Castle.

Lots of other familiar British actors abound including: Judi Dench, Dominic Cooper, Dougray Scott (unrecognisable as Arthur Miller) and Emma Watson.

I enjoyed the film and it makes me want to watch The Prince and the Showgirl which I've never seen and read the original books that this film was based on.

A Death in Summer - Cover Opinions

This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US and UK covers for Benjamin Black's A Death in Summer, the fourth in his Quirke series, which is set in 1950s Dublin.

The US editions are on the left, the hardback edition is out now, and the trade paperback (below) will be out in March; the UK edition (on the right) is also already available.

So what are your thoughts on the US (LHS, below), and UK (RHS) covers? Which would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with the books of Benjamin Black?

If you have read it, how well do the covers match the story?

NB. Elergy for April was given the same cover opinions treatment last year.

Blurb: When newspaper magnate Richard Jewell is found dead at his country estate, clutching a shotgun in his lifeless hands, few see his demise as cause for sorrow. But before long Doctor Quirke and Inspector Hackett realise that, rather than the suspected suicide, ‘Diamond Dick’ has in fact been murdered.

Jewell had made many enemies over the years and suspicion soon falls on one of his biggest rivals. But as Quirke and his assistant Sinclair get to know Jewell's beautiful, enigmatic wife Françoise d’Aubigny, and his fragile sister Dannie, as well as those who work for the family, it gradually becomes clear that all is not as it seems.

As Quirke’s investigations return him to the notorious orphanage of St Christopher’s, where he once resided, events begin to take a much darker turn. Quirke finds himself reunited with an old enemy and Sinclair receives sinister threats. But what have the shadowy benefactors of St Christopher’s to do with it all?

Against the backdrop of 1950s Dublin, Benjamin Black conjures another atmospheric, beguiling mystery.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

DVDs for your Wish-List

Despite being top of the charts for a while due to its success in Ireland, The Guard was only on for a week in my area and I was unable to get to a showing. However the DVD is released on 16 January 2012.

Blurb: The Guard is a critically acclaimed Irish black-comedy, where Sergeant Gerry Boyle (Brendan Gleeson, In Bruges) a small-town cop with a rather unorthodox approach to his police work must join forces with straitlaced FBI agent Wendell Everett (Don Cheadle, Ocean's Eleven trilogy) to take on an international cocaine-smuggling ring.

Fed up with watching the same two Inspector Montalbano episodes on BBC4? Then here's some good news. 5 March 2012 sees the release of the first collection (R2) containing:

"The Snack Thief, The Voice of The Violin, The Shape of Water, The Mystery of The Terracota Dog. In Italian with English Subtitles"

TV News: Nemesis

The BBC have announced a new 8-part spy drama, Nemesis, starring Melissa George as a "complex and mysterious Bourne style female spy unlike anyone we've seen on TV before" (by the by, a role she sort of played in Alias):

Nemesis is an original eight-part suspense thriller set in the world of international espionage.

At the heart of the drama is Sam played by Melissa George (The Slap, In Treatment), a highly skilled operative for an elite private intelligence firm who survives an attempt on her life that may have been orchestrated by members of her own team. Once she returns to the firm, she performs her secretive duties without knowing who to trust and who wants her dead.

Adam Rayner (Hawthorne, Mistresses) plays Sam’s colleague at the firm and love interest. The dedicated and complex members of the firm operate in the shadows, must often confront life and death situations on secret missions and are sometimes unaware of who or what they are fighting for.

Filming has started and will take place on location in Scotland, London and Morocco.

Read the whole press release here.