Sunday, June 29, 2014

New Reviews: Ceder, Dunn, Frank, Johnston, Kasasian, Kelly, Kernick, Mogford, Radmann

Here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, two have appeared on the blog over the last three weeks and seven are completely new.

The competition closes tonight at 11.59pm: win an iBook of Invisible by Christine Poulson (no geographical restrictions).

NB. You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page.

New Reviews

Lynn Harvey reviews Camilla Ceder's Babylon tr. Marlaine Delargy, the sequel to Frozen Moment, set in Gothenburg;

Amanda Gillies reviews Slingshot by Matthew Dunn, the third in his "Spycatcher" series;

Geoff Jones reviews Matthew Frank's debut novel, If I Should Die which introduces ex-Army turned trainee police officer Joe Stark;

Terry Halligan reviews Paul Johnston's The White Sea, the seventh in the Greece-based Alex Mavros series;

I review The Curse of the House of Foskett by M R C Kasasian, the sequel to the excellent The Mangle Street Murders;

Michelle Peckham reviews Erin Kelly's The Ties That Bind;

Terry also reviews Simon Kernick's Stay Alive which is now out in paperback;

Rich Westwood reviews Thomas Mogford's Hollow Mountain, the latest in the Spike Sanguinetti series based on and around Gibraltar

and Lynn also reviews The Crack by Christopher Radmann set in 1970s South Africa.

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.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Introducing Eliza Doolittle - Sleuth

Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins make their detecting debut in November in Wouldn't it Be Deadly by D E Ireland, published by St Martin's Press:

Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins make an incomparable pair of sleuths in the start of a delightful new series.

Following her successful appearance at an Embassy Ball--where Eliza Doolittle won Professor Henry Higgins' bet that he could pass off a Cockney flower girl as a duchess--Eliza becomes an assistant to his chief rival Emil Nepommuck. After Nepommuck publicly takes credit for transforming Eliza into a lady, an enraged Higgins submits proof to a London newspaper that Nepommuck is a fraud. When Nepommuck is found with a dagger in his back, Henry Higgins becomes Scotland Yard's prime suspect. However, Eliza learns that most of Nepommuck's pupils had a reason to murder their blackmailing teacher. As another suspect turns up dead and evidence goes missing, Eliza and Higgins realize the only way to clear the Professor's name is to discover which of Nepommuck's many enemies is the real killer. When all the suspects attend a performance of" Hamlet" at Drury Lane, Eliza and Higgins don their theatre best and race to upstage a murderer.

Also from the blurb on amazon: "D.E. IRELAND is a writing team of two Michigan authors who met as undergraduates in an anthropology class and have remained friends ever since. Both are married to computer geeks, and each has one beautiful and brilliant daughter. Lifelong book lovers and history buffs, they have authored several novels on their own".

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Borgen - the radio play

Radio Four broadcast Borgen: Outside the Castle back in December 2013 and for those of us who (ahem) missed it, it will be released on audiobook in September 2014:
A thrilling BBC Radio full-cast spin-off from the Danish TV series, starring Tim Pigott-Smith.

Hans Gammelgaard, Private Secretary in the Danish Ministry of the Environment, is seeking approval for the controlled use of genetically modified crops by Danish farmers. However, unseen enemies seem prepared to go to any lengths in pursuit of their own agenda.

When Hans is sacked, he and his grandson Nick join forces with cynical journalist Jan Gleerup to find out who has been pushing commercial interests in the GMO debate in Borgen. A series of threatening phone calls means time is running out. Hans begins to fear not only for the political situation, but also for his family.

Adapted from the original Danish version, this radio drama is set against the backdrop of the first Borgen television series, which followed the unlikely emergence of Birgitte Nyborg as the country's new Prime Minister. At the centre of the drama is the Danish parliament, nicknamed Borgen - 'the castle'. While the TV drama focuses on the politicians, the radio drama is set in the world of the civil service.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Review: Slingshot by Matthew Dunn

Slingshot by Matthew Dunn, March 2014, 416 pages, Orion, ISBN: 1409144003

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

This book grows on you, so if you don’t think it is your thing when you start to read, give it time and you won't regret it. The story starts off slow but then picks up pace until at the end it is at fever pitch. As a result, it took me far longer to read SLINGSHOT than it deserved but by half-way it had me hooked. Well written and by a former MI6 spy officer, SLINGSHOT is a classic spy thriller, full of authenticity and with the perfect balance between scene description and action. There is also an extremely useful glossary at the back of the book that not only gives the full meaning of specific terms and acronyms but also explains a little bit about them.

A Russian defector has a deadly secret, drawn up by top-level Russian and US army generals twenty years ago, and wants to tell the world what he knows. The secret is so dangerous that the paper the man carries, as well as the man himself, is wanted by just about everyone – MI6, CIA not to mention a Russian spy team, SVR. Cochrane is heading up an MI6/CIA team and they are well positioned to intercept the defector. However, he and his secret are stolen from under their noses just as he gets within their grasp. Cochrane becomes involved in a deadly game of hide-and-seek as he attempts to track down the defector and his kidnappers before the secret falls into the wrong hands.

If you like highly charged, well written and authentic spy fiction then you are going to love this book! SLINGSHOT is the third in a series that features the highly skilled master spy Will Cochraine. If, like me, this is your first look at a book by this author, then it is probably going to be well worth you reading his earlier books as well!

Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, June 2014.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The New C J Sansom book - Lamentation

C J Sansom's sixth book in the Matthew Shardlake series, Lamentation, is published 23 October 2014. It's been a four year wait since Heartstone.

And now the cover and the blurb have been revealed:

Summer, 1546.

King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors are engaged in a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government of Henry’s successor, eight-year-old Prince Edward. As heretics are hunted across London, and the radical Protestant Anne Askew is burned at the stake, the Catholic party focus their attack on Henry’s sixth wife, Matthew Shardlake’s old mentor, Queen Catherine Parr.

Shardlake, still haunted by events aboard the warship Mary Rose the year before, is working on the Cotterstoke Will case, a savage dispute between rival siblings. Then, unexpectedly, he is summoned to Whitehall Palace and asked for help by his old patron, the now beleaguered and desperate Queen.

For Catherine Parr has a secret. She has written a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, so radically Protestant that if it came to the King’s attention it could bring both her and her sympathizers crashing down. But, although the book was kept secret and hidden inside a locked chest in the Queen’s private chamber, it has – inexplicably – vanished. Only one page has been found, clutched in the hand of a murdered London printer.

Shardlake’s investigations take him on a trail that begins among the backstreet printshops of London but leads him and Jack Barak into the dark and labyrinthine world of the politics of the royal court; a world he had sworn never to enter again. Loyalty to the Queen will drive him into a swirl of intrigue inside Whitehall Palace, where Catholic enemies and Protestant friends can be equally dangerous, and the political opportunists, who will follow the wind wherever it blows, more dangerous than either. 

The theft of Queen Catherine’s book proves to be connected to the terrible death of Anne Askew, while his involvement with the Cotterstoke litigants threatens to bring Shardlake himself to the stake.

Watch the promo video on YouTube.

Friday, June 20, 2014

No More Exhibit A

Sad news from Angry Robot:
As you will be aware, Angry Robot Books has a history of innovation and we continue to go from strength to strength. We’re constantly trying out new concepts and new ideas, and we continue to publish popular and award-winning books. Our YA imprint Strange Chemistry and our crime/mystery imprint Exhibit A have – due mainly to market saturation – unfortunately been unable to carve out their own niches with as much success.

We have therefore made the difficult decision to discontinue Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A, effective immediately, and no further titles will be published from these two imprints.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: The Crack by Christopher Radmann

The Crack by Christopher Radmann, May 2014, 352 pages, Oneworld Publications, ISBN: 1780745281

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

Stick 'em up, said Pieter with the curt, hostile enthusiasm of a young boy. Stick 'em up, Mommy. I said stick 'em up.
It was a filthy imperative in such a small, cherubic mouth.

East Rand, South Africa, 1976
It is a hot New Year's Day when Janet first sees the crack in the swimming pool. She is sitting in the shade of the willow whilst her three children play in the pool's cool water – too soon after lunch and eight year old Pieter vomits at the poolside. Going over to him, she spots the crack running along the bottom of the pool. No one has said anything, neither the children, nor Solomon the garden boy. As she bends forward trying to see through the water's dazzle she realises that she is being watched. It will be their neighbour “Desperate” Doug, peering through the branches pretending to prune the border shrubs. Janet concentrates looking at the crack in the pool, leans out further – falls in. Silly Mommy. Upstairs her policeman husband, Hektor-Jan, is asleep. He will be starting his new plain-clothes job this evening, the night-shift. So he sleeps, gun under the pillow, knife hidden. The children wake him up with rough and tumble, hide and seek and bickering. It will soon be Pieter's birthday, he wants a dog, a puppy to replace old Jock who was found dead – just before Christmas. In the late afternoon Janet cooks “breakfast” for Hektor-Jan. The kids want “breakfast” too. As Janet turns from the busy table she finds Pieter standing with his father's gun in his hand. Her life stands still. And everyone else laughs, the daily ritual of frightening Mommy. She patrols the garden, finds herself standing by the pool staring at the crack. Meanwhile Hektor-Jan gets into the car, takes a pull from the hidden bottle and sets off for the new job. His hands on the wheel are trembling...

In THE CRACK Christopher Radmann returns to his native South Africa. This time to apartheid era, East Rand and the suburban, white-owned villas of Benoni. In the year of the Soweto uprising and the Sharpeville Massacre, Janet, an Anglo-South African housewife, is living with her husband and three children in the house where she grew up. Her cold, egotistical mother has succumbed to “Old-Timers Disease” and is in a care home. Her father has moved out of the family home in order to leave it to Janet and her family. The household runs smoothly thanks to Alice, the black maid, and the garden is maintained by Solomon the garden boy. The New Year heralds promise for them all. Janet is pregnant with their fourth child and Hektor-Jan, an Afrikaner raised on a remote smallholding with his tough brothers, guns and dogs, is starting a new job as an “interrogator” with the Benoni-Boksburg Riot Squad. A new year, a new start, a new life. Until Janet finds the crack in the pool, a crack which mysteriously widens, filling her with dread. And Hektor-Jan's new job calls forth from him a dreadful skill whilst their manipulative neighbour begins to play Iago to his Othello.

With his second novel Christopher Radmann continues to explore themes of damage, consequences and our own propensity for violence. I don't know if Radmann views himself as writing crime fiction, probably not, although his début novel (HELD UP) revolved around a car-jacking and its far-reaching repercussions. Yet within his work there are no detectives pursuing criminals, nor police procedures to be undergone. Nevertheless THE CRACK reads as a psychological thriller in which Radmann displays a singular talent for creating disquieting portraits of personal disintegration. Janet's punning thought connections, smeared metaphors and her growing obsession with the widening crack build a portrait of a fragile, anxious personality. But hers is not the only dissolution. Her husband finds a terrible gift within his new job and Radmann creates and plays superbly with dread as the story nears its horrific and bloody conclusion. My one quibble with Radmann's writing is with the dominance of a kind of “wrought” emotional symbolism which for me makes the final moments of THE CRACK ambiguous. But perhaps that is a question of preferences. The depiction of Janet's crumbling psyche is a feat of skilful empathic writing in this very dark book which offers no solutions but does give us the certainty that Radmann is capable of writing a truly psychological thriller.

Lynn Harvey, June 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

DVD Release: Happy Valley

I'm so glad that Mrs Peabody persuaded me to watch Happy Valley. I downloaded it via iPlayer and watched it over a week. Possibly not the best material to watch on the train - I was either shielding my screen because of the violence or holding back tears.

If you didn't watch it, it's out on DVD today.

Watch it for the fabulous performance from Sarah Lancashire.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

TV News: More Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

I've received an email from Sisters in Crime Australia with the great news that a third series of the Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries has been commissioned. It begins shooting in October so may be a while before it gets UK-side. Essie Davis and Nathan Page return as Phryne Fisher and Jack Robinson.

More information is on the Sisters in Crime website.

The first two series are available on R2 DVD.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

New Reviews: Brett, Camilleri, Connor, Griffiths, James, Robertson, Russell, Webster, Zeh

Here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, four have appeared on the blog over the last couple of weeks and five are completely new.

Plus a new competition - win an iBook of Invisible by Christine Poulson (no geographical restrictions).

NB. You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page.

New Reviews

Mark Bailey reviews the new Charles Paris mystery from Simon Brett, The Cinderella Killer;

I review the Judges anthology, which contains stories by Andrea Camilleri, Carlo Lucarelli and Giancarlo De Cataldo (tr. Joseph Farrell, Alan Thawley and Eileen Horne);

Amanda Gillies reviews The Caravaggio Conspiracy by Alex Connor;

Michelle Peckham reviews the latest in Elly Griffiths's Norfolk-based Ruth Galloway series, The Outcast Dead;

Geoff Jones reviews Want You Dead, the tenth in Peter James's Roy Grace series;

Terry Halligan reviews Craig Robertson's The Last Refuge, set in the Faroe Islands;

Amanda also reviews Fatal Act by Leigh Russell, the latest in her DI Geraldine Steel series;

Lynn Harvey reviews Jason Webster's Blood Med, set in Valencia

and Laura Root reviews Juli Zeh's Decompression tr. John Cullen which is set in Lanzarote.

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.

Win: Invisible by Christine Poulson

I very much enjoyed Christine Poulson's Cassandra James series and I'm pleased to report that Christine has a new book out, a standalone, called Invisible.

Sometimes it's better not to know...
Lisa has a secret lover. Once a month she escapes from caring alone for her son, who has cerebral palsy, and meets Jay, just for the weekend, free from all responsibilities. It’s perfect - until the day when Jay doesn't show up, and everything she thought she knew about him turns out to be a lie.

For Jay it was perfect, too. Five years ago he fled witness protection after his wife and son were murdered and began a new life. But he shouldn't have let himself fall in love with Lisa, because now the villains are onto him and he must disappear again.

is available a print and ebook and the publisher, Accent Press, has kindly given Euro Crime 5 copies of the iBook version to give away.

5 winners will receive a voucher code from Accent Press that they can exchange for the iBook. This does mean that I will have to send the winners' details to Accent Press, and I've included a box in the form below for entrants to agree to.

The competition will close on 29 June at 11.59pm.
There are no geographical restrictions on entrants.
Only 1 entry per person please.
All entries will be deleted once the winners' details have been forwarded to Accent Press.

To enter the competition, please complete the form below.

Keep up to date with Euro Crime by liking the Facebook page.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Review: Blood Med by Jason Webster

Blood Med by Jason Webster, June 2014, 368 pages, Chatto & Windus, ISBN: 0701186917

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

Police Headquarters, Valencia, Spain.
The television in the Murder Squad room is tuned to the news of the King's health crisis. This is the worst of times for Spain: unprecedented economic chaos, the country close to bankruptcy and the King close to death. If he dies the country could tear itself apart. Maldonado, the squad's new chief, calls detectives Camara and Torres into his office. He introduces them to CI Laura Martin, head and sole member of the Sexual Violence squad. There is no love lost between Camara and Chief Maldonado, nor for that matter is there any love lost between the chief and the entire squad. But now, after some months with no suspicious deaths, there are two to look into. Torres will investigate what looks like the attempted suicide of a bank worker; the man is as near dead as possible so they might as well get a head start on the case. Meanwhile Camara and Martin will take the brutal killing of a young American woman, her death called in by her young husband. Maldonado calls Camara back for a private word and wastes no time giving him the message that the powers that be are looking to get rid of one of the team. Back in his old job in Valencia after several months of extended leave, Camara immediately gets Maldonado's drift. But he is also distracted by trying to work out if the Rolex on his boss's wrist is genuine or fake.
At the young couple's apartment door, Camara can smell the blood. Forensics are still processing the scene. In the living room a coffee table is covered with newspapers and magazines and a book about blogging lies on the sofa. But the young woman's body is in the dining room – where the floor is awash with blood. The girl lies face down, her skull a bloodied mess from the five shots fired into it, her pants bunched up under her dress. Laura Martin asks where the husband is – and is on the move before the answer is out. She is sure of the culprit. She has seen it all before...

BLOOD MED is the fourth in Jason Webster's series featuring Valencia's motor-bike riding, anarchist detective Max Camara. It sees Camara back at work in Valencia's police headquarters and living with his journalist girlfriend Alicia (now out of a job) and his elderly grandfather, Hilario. The book pitches us into a Spain in political and social chaos: rising unemployment, the consequent homelessness of people failing to make mortgage repayments or pay their rents, banks blamed and hated. Corruption further divides and disillusions a society which is splitting – polarised between rich and poor, left and right, regional separatism. It is a scenario now familiar to us, not just with Spain but also with contemporary Greece. Some crime fiction readers don't want the political stuff, but I like the insight that Webster brings into the consequences of economic breakdown on the lives of ordinary people. His writing is vivid and on occasion moving. Whilst the centre of the plot is a thrilling crime story (unconvinced with the young wife's violent death that “the husband did it”, Camara pursues other motives for her killing) Webster also lodges Camara firmly in the centre of his life. We have crimes to be solved but we also have Camara's relationships and life outside of his detective work, for instance his involvement with an anarchist refuge for immigrants and the homeless down in the tunnels of the new metro (another failed project, unfinished due to the financial collapse of the region). The result is punchy and rich – an absorbing crime thriller, full of suspense and excitement.

I enjoyed THE ANARCHIST DETECTIVE, his previous book in the series and BLOOD MED continues its high standard. Jason Webster has lived in Spain for many years and just as much of Nordic Noir takes note of society and social change in its crime writing so does Webster – but the flavour and the history is distinctly Spanish. I hope to backtrack to earlier books in the Camara series but meanwhile I thoroughly recommend BLOOD MED.

Read another review of BLOOD MED.

Lynn Harvey, June 2014

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Review: The Cinderella Killer by Simon Brett

The Cinderella Killer by Simon Brett, May 2014, 192 pages, Creme de la Crime, ISBN: 1780290640

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

This is the nineteenth of the Charles Paris novels by Simon Brett and is published only just over a year after the last one, A DECENT INTERVAL so hopefully we will get these more regularly now – please!

Charles Paris is shockingly in reasonably long-term paid work albeit as one of the Brokers men in a performance of Cinderella in Eastbourne where he is so far down the bill he is amazed that he makes it on to the poster at all.

The big name of the show, as Baron Hardup, is a faded American sit-com star, Kenny Polizzi, who knows nothing of pantomime and is here almost entirely for the money although escaping his soon-to-be ex-wife proved an added incentive. She arrives in the country, Kenny goes off the wagon and soon he is found by Charles underneath the pier – no longer so full of life - having been shot.

As usual I read this very quickly as I do for most Simon Brett books. Personally I feel that both the murder aspect and the comedy aspect are much better handled in this one than in A DECENT INTERVAL. On the murder aspect, the killer is not that obvious although when revealed it does make total sense and in the comedy aspect, there are some great one-liners (the chapter sub-titles are also very funny if you know the traditions and running gags of Panto).

The best news for those of us who like Charles is there is a hint of sunlight in his relationship with his wife Frances. I am now just waiting to see what the next Simon Brett is to pre-order but will re-read some earlier Charles Paris stories in the meantime.

Mark Bailey, June 2014