Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Reviews: King, Nakamura, Smith, Stock, Swanston, Voss & Edwards

I've been away so apologies for the reduced number of reviews this week.

Here are 6 new reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today:
Lynn Harvey reviews Laurie R King's Pirate King, the eleventh in her Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes series;

Michelle Peckham reviews Fuminori Nakamura's The Thief, tr. Satoko Izumo and Stephen Coates;

Terry Halligan reviews Mackenzie Smith's debut novel Who Pays the Piper;

I review Jon Stock's Dirty Little Secret the conclusion of the trilogy about MI6 agent Daniel Marchant;

Rich Westwood reviews The King's Spy by Andrew Swanston, the first in the Thomas Hill trilogy set during the English Civil War

and Susan White reviews Killing Cupid by Louise Voss & Mark Edwards.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

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

Montalbano's Wings of the Sphinx

Last night's episode of Inspector Montalbano, was The Wings of the Sphinx, based on the book, the eleventh in Camilleri's series.

It's available to watch online for two months and is repeated on Wednesday at 00:45.

The naked body of a young woman is discovered on a beach near Vigata. The girl was shot in the face, her identity is unknown and the only clue police have to go on is a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. Montalbano sets to work trying to establish the girl's identity and investigates possible links between the murder victim and a local charity with connections to the Church. Meanwhile, his relationship with Livia continues to suffer as a result of his poor work/life balance.

Friday, September 21, 2012

On Holiday

The blog's going quiet for a few days as I take a week off in Norfolk. (This photo of my destination was taken in July when there was sun, rather than September when there'll probably be rain!)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Killing 3 - coming soon

The Telegraph has a review of The Killing III here concluding with:
If season two of The Killing, with its highly militaristic storyline, slightly lacked the emotional heart of the Birk Larsen family in season one, then season three is a return to this series' best form. British audiences are in for a genuinely rare treat when it comes to BBC Four in November.
The return date being mentioned on twitter is 17 November.

Tartan Noir on Open Book

Here's another podcast I missed until recently, where Dreda Say Mitchell interviews Allan Guthrie and Denise Mina and goes round Aberdeen with Stuart MacBride. Download it or listen to it at the Open Book website.

26 August 2012
"Dreda Say Mitchell presents a special Open Book programme on Tartan Noir, exploring the appeal of the Scottish crime novel. Glasgow based author Denise Mina joins Edinburgh writer and publisher Allan Guthrie to discuss the importance of place in this increasingly popular genre, while Stuart MacBride, writer of the DS Logan McRae books, takes us on a tour of his inspirational Aberdeen setting."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Dirty Little Secret by Jon Stock

Dirty Little Secret by Jon Stock, July 2012, 434 pages, Blue Door, ISBN: 0007300751

Dirty Little Secret is the conclusion to the Daniel Marchant/Legoland trilogy after Dead Spy Running
and Games Traitors Play and takes place shortly after the dramatic conclusion to Games Traitors Play.

Salim Dhar, the world's most wanted terrorist and Daniel Marchant's half-brother is in the UK. Daniel and his girlfriend - CIA agent Lakshmi - are safe at an MI6 training centre in Gosport. The CIA think both are traitors.

What no-one but Dhar, Daniel and Daniel's boss, Marcus Fielding, know is that Dhar is prepared to work for MI6. He will help keep Britain safe in return for his freedom.

When Dhar allows himself to be captured, his fee for working for MI6 is that he is allowed to escape from the Americans when he is taken to one of their detention facilities, Bagram in Afghanistan.

With Daniel wanted by the CIA, he has to go on the run and calling on friends for favours he crosses Europe and beyond eluding both the Americans and the Russians while fulfilling his side of the agreement. Meanwhile back at home Fielding is ousted by his deputy Denton whom Marchant believes is working for the Russians...

All the chasing and subterfuge is leading to a memorable terrorist attack, approved by Dhar, one the world will not forget. Will Daniel play along or is it a step too far?

Though I've now read all three, I read the previous two on audio book and I could still hear Paul Panting's superb narration in my head. It appears he wasn't available to record Dirty Little Secret
so I decided to switch to the print book rather than get used to another narrator at this late stage.

I raced through Dirty Little Secret with its exciting story and the constantly changing point of view and short chapters (124 chapters in 434 pages) with the irresistible temptation to read just one more chapter. I've really enjoyed this trilogy, and I do hope Jon Stock writes more. This spy series, unlike Stella Rimington's books, has sanctified torture and corruption at the highest levels and does not put the 'powers that be' in a very good light!

There are several references to the events in the earlier books and sufficient explanations for those who've not read the previous two but I would recommend reading them in order to avoid the inevitable spoilers that crop up in Dirty Little Secret.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

August Heat is next for Montalbano

The next episode in this second run of Inspector Montalbano, at 9pm on 22 September, is August Flame, based on August Heat, the tenth in Camilleri's series (and one of my favourite books).

Inspector Montalbano discovers the existence of a secret underground dwelling beneath Mimi's family home and finds a trunk containing the dead body of a young woman who had disappeared six years earlier. As he begins his investigation, Montalbano makes the acquaintance of the victim's alluring twin sister.

Publishing Deal News - R S Pateman

Orion have stumped up 6 figures for a two-book deal with debut author R S Pateman:
THE SECOND LIFE OF AMY ARCHER is a dark, high-concept psychological thriller about Beth, a woman whose ten-year-old daughter Amy disappeared without a trace ten years ago. When a young woman turns up on her doorstep on the tenth anniversary of the disappearance claiming she knows what happened to Amy, Beth is introduced to a little girl who is the uncanny double of her missing daughter. But this can't be Amy, she hasn't aged a day... and yet she knows things that only Amy would remember; the name of her favourite toy, the place where she scratched her initials, what Beth likes for breakfast. Now Beth is forced to question everything she has ever believed in, and push her faith and her sanity to the limits, if she is to find out the truth about what happened to Amy.

THE SECOND LIFE OF AMY ARCHER will be published in June 2013 in hardback, trade paperback and ebook. International offering has already begun.
Read the whole press release at booktrade.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Scottish Crime Book of the Year - Winner

Hot off twitter, the news is that the winner of the first Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime Book of the Year is...Charles Cumming for A Foreign Country.

The other nominees were:

Will Jordan – Redemption
Denise Mina – Gods & Beasts

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New Reviews: McDermid, McGilloway, Masters, Meyer, Moffat, Rimington, Sherez, Williams, Winspear

Here are 9 new reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today:
Maxine Clarke reviews Val McDermid's The Vanishing Point, a standalone with a couple of brief cameos from an earlier book;

Lynn Harvey reviews the paperback release of Brian McGilloway's Little Girl Lost which she is pleased to see is the first in a new series;

Lizzie Hayes reviews Priscilla Masters's Smoke Alarm, the fourth in the Martha Gunn, Coroner, series;

Earlier this week Michelle Peckham reviewed Deon Meyer's Dead Before Dying tr Madeleine van Biljon and we also interviewed the author;

Amanda Gillies reviews G J Moffat's Protection, the fourth in this series which has takn a different (and more appealing to Amanda) direction;

Geoff Jones reviews the paperback release of Stella Rimington's Rip Tide;

Terry Halligan reviews Stav Sherez's A Dark Redemption which is the first in a new police series;

Terry also reviews Andrew Williams's The Poison Tide set in the First World War

and Susan White reviews Jacqueline Winspear's eighth Maisie Dobbs book, A Lesson in Secrets now out in paperback and a series Susan calls "a real treat".
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

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

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Interview: Deon Meyer

Today sees the UK publication of Deon Meyer's 7 Days, the latest in the (Captain) Benny Griessel series. Deon's previous two books, Trackers and Thirteen Hours were both shortlisted for the CWA's International Dagger.

I'm very chuffed that Mr Meyer has answered some questions for Euro Crime:

At the recent Harrogate Crime Writing Festval (HCWF), Jo Nesbo was asked what question would he ask his favourite authors and he replied: "Why do you write?". So that's my first question: Why do you write?

Good question. And there is no simple answer, because the reasons have changed over the years. I started writing because the urge and need to do it (I’ve had it since my early teens) became overpowering, because it was the only thing I’ve ever been reasonably good at,  because I wanted to somehow say ‘I’m here’, and, to be honest, back then, I also hoped being a writer would get me laid (it didn’t).

Nowadays, I still write because of the never-ending urge, but also because I love being read, and I have a deep appreciation and gratitude for my agent and all the publishers who have invested so much in me. But most of all, I now write because sometimes, it is a real joy.

You were asked by Barry Forshaw at HCWF whether you had a favourite character and you said it would be like trying to name a favourite child but do you think your readers have a favourite character - are you always being asked when's the new Benny/Mat/Lemmer - and if so why do you think that character is more popular?

Yes, that’s the question most readers ask. I’m fascinated and delighted by the fact that readers all have their different favourites. But I honestly don’t know why a specific character is more popular. (I can only hope that it is because I try to make them as human as possible.)

I love the fact that your books are linked by a "family" of characters eg with the main character in one book making a cameo in another - how did this come about? Was it planned or did it just develop? 

It definitely wasn’t planned. As a matter of fact, I initially made a firm decision never to write a series (fat lot of good that did me), but I never anticipated how you grow attached to characters. It is one of the most weird and wonderful things about being an author (and the reason, methinks, why most fiction writers are a little bit bonkers):

When writing a book, we get to spend eight or ten or twelve hours every day, month after month, with characters who don’t exist. And during this mysterious process, they slowly turn into real flesh-and-blood people. Perhaps because the subconscious can’t distinguish between actual and fictitious individuals when you live and breathe their thoughts, triumphs and tragedies so intensely, for so long.

For me, they become like very good friends, or family members. After I’ve finished a book, I keep thinking about them, miss them, and (here is the barmy part) worry about them.

That’s why they keep coming back.

You act as an ambassador for your country (South Africa) when you're on tour - and I think you may be unique in this - have you considered getting into politics? 

Because politicians are so good at fiction? Good grief, no! It is a privilege to be an informal ambassador for my wonderful country (mainly because there are so many misperceptions about South Africa out there), but I think I would make a lousy politician – I see too many sides of an argument …

Do you think your books are so popular in the UK because they provide a perspective on life in South Africa, or is is "just" because they are excellent thrillers?

I have absolutely no idea.

How different are your books in their original Afrikaans compared with their English translations? (You mentioned at HCWF that extra explanations were added to the American edition.)

Thanks to my brilliant translator Laura Seegers, the only small difference is a few additional bits of information when needed to clarify matters for the international audience. And, of course, the glossary at the back of the book. And because Americans are slightly less familiar with South Africa, we added a few extra paragraphs in some of the US editions.

Do you have anything to do with the translation process, eg discussions with the translator?

I am very much involved with the translation process. Once Laura has done her excellent work, Isobel Dixon (my agent) and I read carefully, and we often have long e-mail arguments about single words. Of course, Laura usually wins…

Is there any author to whom you are regularly compared in blurbs, etc? If so, is this annoying?

I’ve been greatly honoured by comparisons with John le Carré, Henning Mankell and Stieg Larsson. It’s never been annoying, always thrilling.

You mentioned at HCWF that Val McDermid was one of your heroes. Which other authors do you read? (A certain Michael Connelly makes an appearance in 13 Hours...) 

This is one of the most difficult questions to answer, because I read and enjoy everything - from J.M. Coetzee to William Gibson, with everything in between.

Growing up, I cut my thriller and crime teeth on the great masters: John D. MacDonald, Ed McBain, John le Carré, Frederick Forsyth, Ted Allbeury, Robert B. Parker ... And I still admire them all.

Current authors I love to read and have huge respect and admiration for are Michael Connelly, Robert Harris, Ian Rankin, Dennis Lehane, Lee Child, Michael Ridpath, John Sandford, Val McDermid, George P. Pelecanos, Douglas Kennedy, Mark Bowden, C.J. Box, Anthony Beavor, Harlan Coben, David Morrell, Jeffrey Deaver, Ken Follett, to name but a few.

I can't get enough of Stephen Pinker, love biographies and travel writing, read at least one newspaper every day, one news magazine every week, three motorcycle magazines every month ...

Which (other) South African authors should we be reading?

South African literature – and our crime fiction in particular – is blossoming. Chris Karsten, Mike Nicol, Margie Orford, Karin Brynard, Andrew Brown, Sifiso Mzobe, Peter Church, Wessel Ebersohn, H.J. Golokai, Joanne Hichens, Jassie Mackenzie, Malla Nunn, Diale Tlholwe … The list keeps growing.

And finally...are you planning to write a book based on weeks, months, years, after 13 Hours and 7 Days!

Nope. Enough is enough.

Many thanks to Deon Meyer and Hodder for arranging the interview.

More information about Deon Meyer and his books including photos of some of the locations can be found on Follow him on twitter: @MeyerDeon


Dead Before Dying
Dead at Daybreak
Heart of the Hunter
Devil's Peak
Blood Safari
Thirteen Hours
7 Days

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer

I'll be posting an interview with Deon Meyer tomorrow to coincide with the UK publication of 7 Days. Euro Crime will be also reviewing some of his earlier titles which have just been reissued. Today's review of Dead Before Dying, Deon Meyer's first book, is by Michelle Peckham.

Dead Before Dying by Deon Meyer, tr. Madeleine van Biljon , August 2012, 432 pages, Hodder Paperbacks, ISBN: 1444730711

Captain Mat Joubert, Murder and Robbery detective, is still going through the grieving process after the murder of his wife, Lara. He is overweight, drinks and smokes too much, and does no exercise. Colonel Bart de Wit, the new commanding officer is determined to change things, and one of the things he expects is for everyone to invest in their own physical and mental health. He tells Mat to "shape up or ship out". He schedules him for a medical and mental examination, and Mat has to start exercising, dieting, and facing up to his loss. Meanwhile Mat has the infatuation of his neighbour's teenage daughter to contend with. And then, there are the crimes he has to solve: the bank robber with an unusual approach, and the serial killer.

While part of the novel is, of course, about solving the crimes, there is a huge focus on the main character, Mat. And it’s the recounting of Mat’s own story as well as the detective work needed to catch the robber and murderer that make this book stand out. As Mat becomes engaged with finding the perpetrators behind the robber and the serial murders, the novel also recounts his recovery process, his complex and supportive interactions with other members of the detective squad, his gradual adjustment to his new boss, the coverage of his investigation by the media, his developing relationship with his new psychiatrist and his attempts to get fit and lose weight. Conversations with the psychiatrist help him start to come to terms with his wife's death, and these act as an important vehicle to describe whom Lara was, what happened to her and why Mat feels responsible. As the psychiatrist happens to be a woman, inevitably Mat also starts to find himself attracted to her. While again, perhaps this is also part of his recovery process, it also becomes an important part of the story.

Then, on a lighter note, there are the occasional descriptions of Mat’s diet, which almost read like a male version of Bridget Jones's diary ("dinner was 60 grams of skinless chicken 60 millilitres of (fat free) gravy, 125 millilitres of mixed vegetables, and as much boiled (tasteless) cauliflower as he liked…and after than, one full flavoured Winston, one tot of whisky."). And thrown into the mix is the background setting of South Africa, which adds to the interest and novelty of the story.

I really enjoyed Dead Before Dying. I liked the complexity of the main character, the interactions between the detectives, and their dogged determination to find both the robber and the serial murderer. Good detective work helps discover who the bank robber is. The discovery of the identity of the serial murderer is more challenging, and it's only as connections are slowly drawn between the victims, that it starts to become clear who the murderer is, and what their motivation might be. A sad, tense denouement ends the book, with an unexpected twist. I'd highly recommend this book. I've enjoyed all the Deon Meyer books I've read so far, and this one is no exception.

Michelle Peckham

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Inspector Montalbano: the case of the two titles

The next episode in this second run of Inspector Montalbano, at 9pm on 15 September, is the Game of Three Cards, which is not based on any of the books in Andrea Camilleri's series but may be based on a Camilleri short story. The other title for it is Find the Lady.

The death of a local construction tycoon Girolamo Cascio leads Montalbano back to the murder of Cascio's leading competitor, Giacomo Alletto, who was shot and killed two decades earlier, a crime pinned on the man's business partner, Rocco Pennisi who was sent to jail. Lead as ever by his infallible gut feeling, Montalbano unearths a twenty-year-old conspiracy...

Romanzo Criminale returning to Sky Arts

The second series of Romanzo Criminale begins on Sky Arts 1 on 18 September at 9pm.

If you can't wait or don't have Sky Arts then you can buy the second series on DVD already, with English subtitles. (It appears that the DVD of series 1 does not have English subtitles.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Killing Handbook

The Bookseller has just reported that Orion are publishing a guidebook to The Killing, written by Emma Kennedy and called The Killing Handbook, on 15 November 2012.

"The tongue-in-cheek guide, written by actress and writer Emma Kennedy, will feature everything diehards and newcomers need to penetrate the world of Nordic noir, including instructions for knitting the famous jumper worn by protagonist Sarah Lund.

The book has been given a seal of approval from Lund herself, with the actress who portrays the tireless detective, Sofie Gråbøl, writing its foreword."

Read the whole article here.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

New Reviews: Connolly & Burke, Craig, Fowler, Harris, Kinnings, McGowan, Meyer, Robertson, Sinclair

Here are 9 new reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today:
Rich Westwood reviews Books to Die For edited by John Connolly and Declan Burke, a collection of 120 essays from well-known authors about the books they love;

Geoff Jones reviews James Craig's third DI Carlyle book, Buckingham Palace Blues;

Mark Bailey reviews Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May and The Invisible Code, the tenth (and possibly last?) in the series;

Terry Halligan reviews Tessa Harris's debut novel, The Anatomist's Apprentice set in 1780 and introducing Dr Thomas Silkstone;

Lynn Harvey reviews Max Kinnings' Baptism the first in a series featuring blind hostage negotiator Ed Mallory, and set in the London Underground;

Susan White reviews Claire McGowan's The Fall, now out in paperback;

Maxine Clarke reviews Deon Meyer's [fabulous] 7 Days, tr. K L Seegers which sees the return of Benny Griessel. Check the blog later this week for an interview with Deon Meyer;

Amanda Gillies reviews Imogen Robertson's Island of Bones the third in the Gabriel Crowther and Harriet Westerman series, out in paperback, and also set in the 1780s

and JF reviews John Gordon Sinclair's debut Seventy Times Seven.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

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

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Front Row Does Harrogate 2012

I'm a bit behind the times with these. Radio 4's Front Row have issued two podcasts recently about the last Harrogate Crime Writing Festival including an edited down reproduction of the infamous ebooks panel. You can hear Stephen Leather's comments but not all of the audience reaction. (The original session was an hour.)
E-book debate special 29 AUG 12

Thu, 30 Aug 12

29 mins

Mark Lawson chairs a debate on whether e-books and digital distribution represent a terminal threat or a new chance for authors, traditional publishers, agents and bookshops, in a session recorded at the Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

plus this one which I've not listened to yet:

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival Special 24 AUG 2012

Fri, 24 Aug 12

29 mins

Mark Lawson reports from the annual Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate, with guests including Harlan Coben, Ann Cleeves and John Connolly.

Listen or download both podcasts from the Front Row website.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Death in Breslau - Cover Opinions

This week's selection for "cover opinions" is the US and UK covers for Marek Krajewski's Death in Breslau, tr. Danusia Stok which has just had its US release by Melville House (the UK's by Quercus was in 2008).

So what are your thoughts on the US (LHS) and UK (RHS) covers? Which (of these striking covers) would entice you to pick the book up if you were not familiar with the books of Marek Krajewski?

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

Read the Euro Crime reviews by me and Norman of Death in Breslau.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Lilyhammer on BBC4 next week

We've had most of the dramas I mentioned in my post earlier this year about translated/sub-titled dramas and next up is Lilyhammer which starts on the 11th at 10pm on BBC4:

Drama series in which New York Mafia boss Frank Tagliano testifies against his associates and is relocated with a brand new identity to Lillehammer in Norway, where 'cultural differences' soon become apparent. His first attempts to settle in include bribing a government official, romancing a fellow newcomer and hunting a wolf which has been harrassing local wildlife.

Inspector Montalbano - Patience of the Spider is next

The next episode in this second run of Inspector Montalbano, at 9pm on 8 September, is Patience of the Spider, based on the book, the eighth in Camilleri's series.

Inspector Montalbano is puzzled by the kidnapping of Susanna Mistretta, a young woman whose once-wealthy family has fallen on hard times. When the kidnappers contact the family to demand a ransom, the responsibility of coming up with the money falls on an estranged relative. But something in the case just doesn't add up.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

New Reviews: Child, Churton, French, Juul, Nickson, Rimington, Ryan, Slan, Thorpe

Here are 9 new reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today:
JF reviews Lee Child's seventeenth Jack Reacher adventure: A Wanted Man;

Terry Halligan reviews Alex Churton's debut, The Babylon Gene;

Michelle Peckham reviews Tana French's Broken Harbour, the fourth in the Dublin Murder Squad series;

Maxine Clarke reviews Pia Juul's The Murder of Halland tr. Martin Aitken;

Geoff Jones reviews the fourth in the historical Richard Nottingham series by Chris Nickson: Come the Fear;

Susan White reviews Stella Rimington's The Geneva Trap, the seventh in the Liz Carlyle series;

Amanda Gillies reviews William Ryan's The Bloody Meadow the second in the Korolev series set in 1930s Russia;

I review the first in the Jane Eyre Chronicles by Joanna Campbell Slan, Death of a Schoolgirl

and Lynn Harvey reviews Adam Thorpe's Flight.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

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

Saturday, September 01, 2012

OT: It's Caturday Again

Sorry it's a bit blurry. Can you spot the "live" one?