Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: Mrs Pargeter's Principle by Simon Brett

Mrs Pargeter's Principle by Simon Brett, April 2015, 192 pages, Creme de la Crime, ISBN: 1780290748

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

This is the seventh of the Mrs Melita Pargeter novels by Simon Brett and is published seventeen years after the last one, MRS PARGETER'S POINT OF HONOUR.

Mrs Melita Pargeter has always made it a point of principle that she should complete any of her late husband's unfinished business. Therefore, she finds herself attending the funeral of the rich and respected Sir Normington Winthrop not because she knows him personally but because he is one of the names in the little black book bequeathed to her by her husband, detailing all the people who ever worked for him with details of their particular skill sets. But what exactly was the connection between Mrs Pargeter's late husband and Sir Normington? The investigations of Mrs Pargeter and her associates draw her into a shady world of gun-runners, shifty politicians - and a kidnapped vicar.

I read this very quickly as I do for most Simon Brett books which I find an absolute joy to devour. There is a good solid plot here where you can usually work out what is going to happen but part of the fun of the Mrs Pargeter books is finding out how it happens. That, however, is just a small part of the enjoyment of a Mrs Pargeter book – the main part is the characters. The associates of the late Mr Pargeter (and now their children) are realistic up to a point but have a light comic twist – Mrs Melita Pargeter herself is a force of nature who has huge loyalty to her late husband’s memory although she might just suspect that not everything he did was entirely within the letter of the law.

If you like your crime novels with minimal violence and a hint of comedy then I would give the Mrs Pargeter novels a try.

Mark Bailey, April 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: The Mystery of Tunnel 51 by Alexander Wilson

The Mystery of Tunnel 51 by Alexander Wilson, April 2015, 350 pages, Allison & Busby, ISBN: 0749018054

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

Alexander Wilson's historical espionage thriller was an absolutely spellbinding book and once started I could not put down. The plot is very exciting and leaves you wanting to race to the end to discover what happens to the main characters.

British officer Major Elliot is carrying some top secret documents in a file under his shirt. It is necessary for him to carry these vital despatches to Delhi to pass onto the Indian Viceroy, the most senior British official in India under the British Raj which was the system of government in the country until 1947. He had been advised to travel by road with an escort, but ruled it out in favour of a motor rail car. He has already experienced one attempt on his life by Russian agents who hoped to seize the documents and is keen to get them to Delhi as soon as possible.

Accompanied by three companions, he boards the motor rail car at Summer Hill Station, Simla and they begin their journey to Kalka, the first stage of the journey to Delhi. The journey to Kalka, entails travelling through 102 separate tunnels, some are short, one or two quite long and all are numbered. The longest is number 51 and whilst travelling through it the one light bulb of illumination goes out and the carriage is instantly shrouded in darkness. When the light finally comes on, the travellers are  horrified to discover that Major Elliott is dead from a stab wound! The three companions, Sir Henry Muir, Private Secretary to the Viceroy, Captain Williams an army officer known to both Muir and Elliott,  and a police officer are the only other passengers in the car.

Sir Henry Muir journeys on to Delhi by road with the plans and passes them to the Viceroy. They are completely baffled as to how Elliott was murdered and determined that the assassin was after the plans but they had been recovered? They examine them and discover that they are blank sheets of parchment, so they have been stolen after all. Immediate orders are given to stop any Russian agents from leaving the country with the plans. They realise that the police do not have the expertise to solve the case and decide that an intelligence expert is required and the Viceroy of India decides that Sir Leonard Wallace, the Head of Intelligence in London is just the man for the job.

They cable Sir Leonard and he agrees to come, together with his top agent, in his aeroplane with two pilots and his manservant Batty and they make a rapid flight over. Sir Leonard and his agent Major William Brien have many exciting adventures together before the fascinating conclusion.

Alexander Wilson was a writer, soldier and a spy. In the Second World War, Wilson worked as an intelligence agent. A highly acclaimed author during the 1920s and 30s, Wilson's characters are based on his own fascinating and largely unknown career in the Secret Intelligence Service. This book was originally published for the first time in 1928 and Allison & Busby have decided to republish this book now as the first of nine books in the Wallace of the Secret Service series. He was a hugely popular and well-reviewed author of the Golden Age of mystery fiction. I was gripped all the way through and enjoyed the work tremendously. Well recommended.

Terry Halligan, April 2015.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Review: The Boy in the Shadows by Carl-Johan Vallgren tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles

The Boy in the Shadows by Carl-Johan Vallgren, tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (January 2015, Quercus, ISBN: 1784291293)

THE BOY IN THE SHADOWS is Swedish literary author Carl-Johan Vallgren's first crime novel and indeed looks to be the first part in a series.

The prologue set in 1970 describes the disappearance/kidnap of a seven-year-old boy at a crowded Stockholm train station when he is separated from his father and younger brother. The rest of the story is set forty years later.

Danny Katz is a former drug addict with a facility for languages and computer hacking which the military have put to good use. Now a civilian he is self-employed and receives some business help from his old military superior Julin. Katz is contacted by the beautiful Angela the wife of an old translator colleague, Joel, from the rich Klinsberg clan. Joel and Katz, though not friends, shared a dorm and Joel told his wife that Katz was the only person he could trust. When Joel goes missing, Angela contacts Katz and though he is not a PI he agrees to look into Joel's disappearance. Joel has recently received some clues that might uncover the mystery of his brother's kidnapping all those years ago...

Katz has some contacts and begins to trace Joel's last journey but it is not long before he finds himself having to disappear when he's suddenly framed for murder...

This first part of the book, about 100 pages, lured me into thinking we have a GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, cold case type mystery to solve however things strike off in much more of a thriller direction with Katz going underground and trying to turn the tables, on those framing him. In addition the narration switches between Katz and Eva, a friend from Katz's youth home days. They both had a rough start to life and have had some personal and professional successes but cannot shake off their inheritance. With its threads involving conspiracies, blackmail and voodoo it is a slightly fantastical tale but is none the less gripping for it and though it didn't go the way I perhaps wanted it to it was an involving read. The main characters are for me its strongest suit and I'm pleased that we may meet Katz and Eva again.

The (surprisingly) uncredited translation is by Rachel Willson-Broyles.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

New Reviews: Allen, Arlidge, Burke, Hilary, Horst, Lemaitre, Linskey, Quinn, Smith

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

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

New Reviews

Susan White reviews Hania Allen's Double Tap, the second book in the Von Valenti series [the first book, Jack in the Box is currently free for UK Kindle];

Terry Halligan reviews M J Arlidge's debut, Eeny Meeny which introduces DI Helen Grace;

Craig Sisterson reviews Declan Burke's The Lost and the Blind;

Michelle Peckham reviews Sarah Hilary's No Other Darkness, the second book in the DI Marnie Rome series;

Guest reviewer Bob Cornwell reviews Jorn Lier Horst's The Caveman tr. Anne Bruce;

Ewa Sherman reviews Camille tr. Frank Wynne, the final part in Pierre Lemaitre's trilogy;

Geoff Jones reviews Howard Linskey's No Name Lane, set in County Durham in the '90s;

Lynn Harvey reviews Anthony Quinn's sequel to the well-regarded Disappeared, Border Angels

and Amanda Gillies reviews Anna Smith's A Cold Killing, the latest in the Rosie Gilmour series.

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike Book 3 - Career of Evil

The title of the third book in Robert Galbraith's Cormoran Strike series has just been announced. From the author's website:

Career of Evil

The third Robert Galbraith crime novel, featuring private detective Cormoran Strike, will be published in autumn 2015 by Sphere.  Robert Galbraith’s previous two novels, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm, have both been international number 1 bestsellers.  More details to come soon, including publication date.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review: No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary, April 2015, 416 pages, Headline, ISBN: 1472207726

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

This is the second novel from Sarah Hilary, following on from her highly successful first novel featuring DI Marnie Rome, SOMEONE ELSE'S SKIN.

This time, Marnie is faced with the task of how two small boys met their death in a bunker. Mr Doyle discovers their bodies when digging at the end of his garden, to make a vegetable patch. He lives with his family in a newly built house, has two children, with a third on the way, and is fostering a difficult fourteen-year-old teenager called Clancy.

Who are the children? How did they end up in the bunker? DNA testing only shows familial DNA present in the bunker, and this doesn’t help to identify the children. How were the homes built, without anyone knowing about the bunkers? Or did the builders, Merrick Homes, know about them, and could they have something to do with the buried children? And who is Alison/Esther, an inmate at Lawton Down Prison, about to be released on license, a character that appears in interspersed chapters. She clearly bears a huge guilty conscience for something, even though she has already been punished, by being locked up in prison.

Marnie’s first task is to try to discover the children’s identity, as this may throw up some clues as to why they were left to die. Eventually, she and her team do work out who they are. Then comes the huge roller-coaster of clues, with twist and turns, as DI Rome and her team try to work out who is telling the truth, and who is lying, until eventually they work out the unhappy truth, partly revealed through a the climactic ending.

Once again, Sarah Hilary has managed to pull together a well plotted novel, and DI Marnie Rome makes for a tenacious detective.

Michelle Peckham, April 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review: A Cold Killing by Anna Smith

A Cold Killing by Anna Smith, March 2015, 432 pages, Quercus, ISBN: 184866429X

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

Another, long-awaited novel, featuring my favourite, feisty crime reporter, Rosie Gilmour. There seems to be no end to Anna Smith’s talents and she has produced yet another brilliant book that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go. This is her fifth book about Rosie’s fight to expose the truth in her Glasgow-based newspaper and it is even more attention grabbing than her earlier offerings. Smith is herself an award-winning journalist, and you wonder just how much of herself is written into her excellent character. There seems to be no end to the lengths that Rosie will go to for a good story and she frequently has to go into hiding – from the good guys as well as the bad – after her headlines hit the front page.

A COLD KILLING is no exception. Rosie has just come back from spending some time hiding in Bosnia, after being put on a hit list by some unpleasant characters that tried to kill her in her last outing. Almost as soon as her plane lands on UK soil, she finds herself up to her neck in another investigation. A retired academic is shot, in an apparent execution, while sitting in a cafe with a friend. Hot on the heels of a good story, Rosie soon discovers that the elderly gentleman is a lot more interesting than was initially thought. She also finds out that a mystery woman has been seen fleeing from the scene, close behind the men who carried out the shooting. Finding out the identity of the woman and the reason why she was in the café could possibly hand Rosie one of her best stories yet. The only trouble is that you get the feeling she might just be putting her life on the line in the process. Again.

I love to read novels that have strong female protagonists and Rose Gilmour is up there with the best of them. She is brave, independent, loves what she does and is prepared to do anything to get the stories out. Smith is also an excellent wordsmith and her stories are wonderfully crafted, as well as being exciting and gripping. I always enjoy books by this author and am already impatient to see what she will publish next!

Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, April 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Website Updates: April 2015

I've updated the main files on the Euro Crime website today. Euro Crime includes both British and other European crime fiction writers (that have been published in English); non-British/European born crime writers who are strongly associated with British/European crime fiction (eg. Donna Leon), and crime writers in translation from outside of Europe.

Just a couple of reminders regarding the New Releases page:

1. The main by month/by author pages refer to when a book is published (in English) anywhere in the world however the 'by category ie historical, translated etc' is specific to the UK eg Emily Brightwell's series which was published in the US in the 1990s (and on) is only now being published in the UK and so her books appear in the 2014 Historical list.

2. When a book is released "early" in ebook I am taking the publication date as to be when the print edition comes out (this is the rule we use for determining Petrona Award eligibility).

As always, if you spot something wrong or missing, please do let me know.

NB. The Petrona Award 2015 shortlist is here.

NB. Win tickets to CrimeFest - here

Here's a summary of the usual updates:

The Author Websites page now lists 1036 sites.

In Bibliographies there are now bibliographies for 2202 authors (11006 titles of which 2913 are reviewed).

I've added new bibliographies for: Cathy Ace, Bernhard Aichner, Roberto Ampuero, Saul Black, Jenny Blackhurst, Michel Bussi, Ian Caldwell, Steve Cavangh, Catherine Chanter, Jamie Doward, Cecilia Ekback, Isabelle Grey, Kate Hamer, Martin Holmen, Anna Jaquiery, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Renee Knight, J S Law, Clare Mackintosh, Elmer Mendoza, Lucy Ribchester, T R Richmond, S D Sykes, S K Tremayne and Ruth Ware.

I've updated the bibliographies (ie added new titles) for: Catherine Aird, M J Arlidge, Quentin Bates, Belinda Bauer, Nancy Bilyeau, Cara Black, Robin Blake, Britta Bolt, Cilla & Rolf Borjlind, Jorgen Brekke, Simon Brett, Neil Broadfoot, Christopher Brookmyre, Helen Cadbury, Susanna Calkins, Dorothy Cannell, James Carol, Tania Carver, Kate Charles, Lee Child, Anne Cleeland, Ann Cleeves, John Connolly, F G Cottam, Colin Cotterill, James Craig, Neil Cross, Arne Dahl, Lindsey Davis, Maurizio De Giovanni, Luca di Fulvio, David Dickinson, Margaret Duffy, Ruth Dugdall, Elizabeth J Duncan, Patrick Easter, Sam Eastland, Rampo Edogawa, Kate Ellis, Gordon Ferris, Helen FitzGerald, Christopher Fowler, Alastair Gunn, C S Harris, Tessa Harris, Mel Healy, Mick/M Herron, Sarah Hilary, Casey Hill, Hjorth-Rosenfeldt, Bruce Holsinger, Alex Howard, Paul Johnston, M R C Kasasian, Philip Kerr, Bill Kitson, Leena Lehtolainen, Howard Linskey, M L Longworth, Stuart/Stuart B MacBride, Torquil MacLeod, Michael J Malone, Scott Mariani, David Mark, Edward Marston, Colette McBeth, Patricia Melo, Paul Mendelson, Deon Meyer, Denise Mina, Miyuki Miyabe, Peter Murphy, Jo Nesbo, Nele Neuhaus, Chris Nickson, Martin O'Brien, Kristina Ohlsson, Tony Parsons, Ben Pastor, Karen Perry, Malcolm Pryce, Caro Ramsay, Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell, Mike Ripley, Priscilla Royal, Leigh Russell, Fay Sampson, Mark Sennen, William Shaw, Anna Smith, Vidar Sundstol, Dominique Sylvain, Paul Thomas, Lesley Thomson, Rebecca Tope, Nicola Upson, Martin Walker, Minette Walters, Louise Welsh, Timothy Williams and Emily Winslow.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: Eeny Meeny by M J Arlidge

Eeny Meeny by M J Arlidge, May 2014, 448 pages, Century, ISBN: 1405914874

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

This debut novel from M J Arlidge was absolutely astounding, one of the best stories that I have read so far this year and very likely to be included in my top five books of the year. The plot was very absorbing and I was truly gripped until the breathtaking conclusion.

A young couple awake, very disorientated, trapped and days without food or water. There is no escape. Instead there's a gun loaded with a single bullet and a mobile phone with charge enough only to deliver a short message: when one of you kills the other, the survivor will walk free.

Southampton Detective Inspector Helen Grace is assigned the case and has to interview Amy, the girl who killed her boyfriend Sam, in order to escape the hellish captivity of nearly two weeks. Amy is very thin, filthy dirty and feeling very subdued and guilty because she has killed. She says that she and Sam had been abducted by a woman who had drugged them. Helen accepts her story and soon there are other couples being kidnapped, starved and then given unacceptable choices.

How can Helen and her team track the perpetrator of these dreadful crimes?

This compulsively written police procedural races on to the exciting conclusion. The author, who is male, has worked in television for the last fifteen years specialising in high-end drama productions. For the last five years, Arlidge has produced a number of crime serials for ITV and is currently working on a major adaptation for BBC.

This absolutely sensational story introducing the damaged detective, DI Helen Grace to readers has been followed by two other stories, with the fourth, LIAR LIAR, due for publication in September 2015. So I have three other exciting stories to look forward to from this very gifted author. Extremely well recommended.

Terry Halligan, April 2015.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Series Revival: Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston is returning to Quint Dalrymple after a gap of 14 years with Heads or Hearts being published by Severn House this month.

Heads or Hearts is the sixth in the series with the first book, Body Politic, having been released in 1997. 

Publisher's blurb: Maverick ex-cop Quint Dalrymple returns to investigate a series of gruesome murders in a near-future independent Edinburgh. Independent Edinburgh, 2033. The Council of City Guardians has been forced to relax its grip on citizens and the borders are no longer secure. Then a human heart is found on a football pitch. Maverick investigator Quint Dalrymple is called in - but before he makes much progress, a citizen's headless body floats down a canal. Quint uncovers a link to the planned referendum over Edinburgh joining a reconstituted Scotland. But who is behind the killings and mutilations? Are the city's notorious gangs responsible, or does the solution lie with the rulers of Edinburgh and other former Scottish states? Quint must dig deep to save the Council from collapse, and to retain both his head and heart...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Review: The Caveman by Jørn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce

Today's review is courtesy of CrimeTime's Bob Cornwell who I hope can be persuaded to contribute again!

The Caveman by Jørn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (352 pages, February 2015, Sandstone Press Ltd, ISBN: 1910124044)

Back at work after his brief suspension from duty in THE HUNTING DOGS, Horst’s knockout 2013 Glass Key winner, Chief Inspector William Wisting leafs through the case file of Viggo Hansen, whose miraculously preserved body had been found, finally, in front of his TV set, an estimated four months dead. Disturbingly he had been a neighbour of Wisting’s, living just three houses away. A routine investigation has revealed no suspicious circumstances, and Wisting is first inclined to allow the report to be filed. Just then, Wisting’s computer beeps and another case calls. The file remains on the top of the filing tray.

But the death of Viggo Hansen proves to be of more immediate interest to Wisting’s daughter Line, an investigative journalist for VG, a prominent Norwegian tabloid. Christmas looms and her own fragmenting family is on her mind. Line would like to know just how the shrivelled body of Viggo Hansen remained undiscovered for four months, especially in a country deemed (in recent UN reports) as one of the best in which to live. UK readers may be reminded of Dreams of a Life, Carol Morley’s memorable 2011 documentary, reconstructing the life of Joyce Vincent, three years dead in a north London bedsit. Meanwhile Wisting’s own investigation develops quickly. A plastic folder found on a corpse discovered in a ‘pick your own Christmas tree’ plantation yields fingerprints identified as belonging to someone ‘Wanted by the FBI’. Ten Most Wanted? Yes. Serial Killer? Yes.

This is the eighth book featuring Wisting and his daughter, the fourth since Karen Meek and Maxine Clark alerted me to DREGS (UK, 2011), the first of Anne Bruce’s crisp English translations. Have no fear of entering the series at this late stage. Sandstone have provided, since CLOSED FOR WINTER (UK, 2013) the second title in English, a helpful two-page profile of series developments to date. And with Horst recently achieving his first review in the (UK) mainstream press, his time might have come.

That hint of serial killer, though some hearts might sink at this overworked development (they include mine), probably won’t do him any harm. Serial killers are, of course, rare in Nordic countries, but ex-policeman Horst, scrupulous in his regard for reality, simply imports the phenomenon (like Arne Dahl before him). At the same time of course, he relishes the opportunity to take his procedural expertise in a new direction. No spoilers here, by the way. I’m giving nothing away here that isn’t revealed in the first sixty pages. (I’ll leave the reader to uncover the chilling concept of the “caveman” for themselves.)

The two plot strands, of course, complement each other. The cracks in fragmenting modern societies are those in which society’s less desirable elements also live and operate. And, like HUNTING DOGS, those two strands combine to create a well-plotted and surprising narrative of uncommon urgency. Horst writes in pacy, dispassionate prose, the narrative like DOGS divided equally (and a trifle predictably in the middle section of the book) between Wisting’s investigation and that of his daughter. Wisting is observant, methodical, in total command of his team; Line is her father’s daughter, but this time seeking not only facts, but the emotional truth of the life she is investigating .

Some readers may be disappointed that whilst Line returns home to live with her father (more easily to explore the life of Hansen, his recent neighbour), the relationship between Line and her father, whilst instinctively protective, remains one of cool (though growing) mutual respect. In fact, consistent with the theme of the book, there is more than a hint that the rules that govern increasingly complex professional lives, may also serve to encourage the space between people.

It’s a thought-provoking book – and, as in the gripping climax, an exciting one, as the two investigations merge in a well-engineered and entirely unexpected way. Then, if you haven’t already, do go back and read THE HUNTING DOGS.

Bob Cornwell
April 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

New Reviews: Caldwell, Kerr, Leon, McDermid, Nesbo, Nickson, Shaw

Here are seven reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, three have appeared on the blog since last time, and four are completely new.

New competition - win a weekend pass to CrimeFest 2015.

A reminder that FriendFeed has now closed. Our crime and mystery group has a new home on Facebook - Petrona's Crime and Mystery Friends. It's a closed group but there are admins in all time zones so you won't have to wait long to be approved. Do join us - new members are very welcome!

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

New Reviews

Amanda Gillies reviews Ian Caldwell's The Fifth Gospel - one of the best books she has ever read;

Bernie Gunther is back in Philip Kerr's The Lady from Zagreb, reviewed here by Norman Price;

Michelle Peckham reviews the newest in the Brunetti series by Donna Leon, Falling in Love;

Susan White reviews Val McDermid's latest standalone, The Skeleton Road;

I review Jo Nesbo's Blood on Snow tr. Neil Smith which is about a hitman named Olav;

Lynn Harvey reviews Chris Nickson's Dark Briggate Blues which introduces enquiry agent Dan Markham, and is set  in Leeds in the 1950s

and Terry Halligan reviews William Shaw's A House of Knives, the second book in the 1960s Breen and Tozer trilogy.

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

Win: A Pass to CrimeFest 2015

CrimeFest have kindly donated 4 passes to the upcoming event in Bristol on 14-17 May 2015.
The winner will receive a pair of passes and two runners-up will receive a pass each.

Each pass includes admittance to all panels and interviews Thursday to Sunday, as well as a delegate goody bag and a programme, and is worth £175.

From the CrimeFest website:
First organised in June 2008, CRIMEFEST is a convention for people who like to read an occasional crime novel as well as for die-hard fanatics. It has not only become one of the biggest crime fiction events in Europe, but is also one of the most popular dates in the international crime fiction calendar. The annual convention was featured as one of ‘the best crime writing festivals around the world’ in the Guardian and one of ‘the 50 Best Festivals’ in The Independent. CRIMEFEST draws top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world and gives delegates the opportunity to celebrate the genre in a friendly, informal and inclusive atmosphere.
The Petrona Award 2015 winner will be announced at the Gala Dinner with Maj Sjöwall presenting the Trophy to the winning author or their representative.

As CrimeFest will be drawing the winners, all entries will be forwarded on to them. I've included a box in the form below for entrants to agree to this.

The competition will close on 23 April 2015 at 11.59pm.
There are no geographical restrictions on entrants.
Only 1 entry per person please.
All entries will be deleted once they have been forwarded to CrimeFest.

To enter the competition, please complete the form below.

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

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Review: Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo tr. Neil Smith

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo, tr. Neil Smith (April 2015, Harvill Secker, ISBN: 1846558603)

BLOOD ON SNOW, expertly translated by Neil Smith, is a shortish noir tale featuring Olav, a dyslexic hitman. Set in Oslo in 1977, Olav works for Hoffman, one of two powerful men, the other being the Fisherman, jostling to run the drugs trade. Olav has already killed several of the Fisherman's men and then he is given a special task by his boss – to kill his boss's wife. Once he claps eyes on her however, things are not going to go to plan for she is gorgeous and Olav is instantly smitten.

As usual with Nesbo, the plot mechanics are pitch perfect, where everything has a place and a later use – eg the whiskey bottle in PHANTOM. Olav, despite his career, is fairly likeable and is more intelligent than he might try to make you believe. Despite his reading handicap he has absorbed a lot of information from library books and yet is unable to drive a car without attracting attention from the police. Interspersed with the contemporary plot are details about Olav's childhood and also his killing career.

This is a brisk read with its snappy sentences and plentiful dialogue, and contains some black humour. It's also incredibly cinematic, with a great set piece in a crypt, and indeed the film rights have been bought by Warner Brothers. I'm intrigued as to what November's BLOOD ON SNOW 2: MIDNIGHT SUN will bring.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Josephine Tey: Fiction & Fact

The sixth book in Nicola Upson's series featuring Josephine Tey will be out in June. It's called London Rain and is published by Faber. This is one of my favourite series and I do have a slight preference for the books set, like this one, in London, such as An Expert in Murder and Two For Sorrow.

May, 1937, and London prepares to crown a new king.

Bestselling writer Josephine Tey is in town to oversee a BBC radio production of her play, Queen of Scots - but adultery, treachery and pent-up jealousies stalk the corridors of Broadcasting House.

At the height of the Coronation celebrations, Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose is called in to investigate the murder of one of the BBC's best-known broadcasters. A second victim - his mistress, and the play's leading actress - suggests that the motive lies close to home, but Josephine suspects that the killings are linked to a decade-old scandal.

With Archie's hands tied by politics, and his attention taken by another, seemingly unrelated death, it is left to Josephine to get to the truth. As her relationship with Marta Fox reaches a turning point, she is forced to confront at first-hand the deadly consequences of love, deceit and betrayal.

Rich in the atmosphere of coronation London and the early days of Broadcasting House, the sixth novel in Nicola Upson's 'Josephine Tey' series sets an audacious, deeply personal crime against the backdrop of one of the most momentous days in British history.

And I'm also really looking forward to November's Josephine Tey: A Life by Jennifer Morag Henderson, published by Sandstone Press:

Josephine Tey was the pen-name of Elizabeth MacKintosh (1896-1952). Born in Inverness, MacKintosh lived several 'lives': best known as Golden Age Crime Fiction writer 'Josephine Tey', she was also successful novelist and playwright 'Gordon Daviot'. Originally trained as a P.E. teacher, she returned home to keep house for her widowed father. Tey's novels include The Franchise Affair, Brat Farrar, and the unique Richard III mystery The Daughter of Time - once voted the best crime novel of all time. Her work was adapted for radio, TV and film, most notably by Alfred Hitchcock. Meanwhile, as 'Gordon Daviot', she wrote smash-hit play Richard of Bordeaux, making a star out of her leading man, John Gielgud. She worked with actors such as Laurence Olivier, and was friends with many of the stars of London's 1930s Theatreland. At one point, she had plays on simultaneously in the West End in London and on Broadway, and even wrote for Hollywood - all from her home in the north of Scotland. Romantic yet practical, Josephine Tey was a fascinating woman who led a life full of contrasts. Genuinely modest, the full scale of her achievements, and her significance to Scottish fiction, has not been recognised until now.

Monday, April 06, 2015

CrimeFest 2015 - Don't Miss It

As well as the Petrona Award presentation, look what else is going on at CrimeFest. I've been to every one, including the prototype which was Left Coast Crime, and I love it for its friendliness as well as its support of authors in translation. The hotel is swish, the staff super friendly and helpful and they will make pancakes for breakfast if you ask...

Here's the official press release for this year's event:

Lee Child, Maj Sjöwall, James Runcie and Sophie Hannah are among the top names set to speak at this year’s CrimeFest convention in Bristol, 14th-17th May. The UK’s biggest crime fiction convention will see over 400 authors, agents, publishers and crime fiction fans from across the globe descend on the city for a jam-packed four days, including over fifty curated panels and speaking events. The international Bristol-based event runs across four days at the Marriott Royal Hotel, and has been named as one of the best festivals in the world by The Guardian. The event has featured in The Independent’s ‘The 50 Best Festivals’ and is one of the most popular dates in the crime publishing calendar.

Lee Child, bestselling author of the Jack Reacher thrillers, will be in conversation with Maj Sjöwall, often considered the founder of Scandinavian crime fiction. Child described the opportunity to interview Sjöwall a ‘pleasure and privilege’. James Runcie, author of the Sydney Chambers mysteries, recently dramatised for ITV as Grantchester will be interviewed alongside Catherine Aird, the 2015 recipient of the British Crime Writers’ Association’s Diamond Dagger Award for excellence in crime writing. To celebrate 125 years of Agatha Christie, Sophie Hannah, author of recent Poirot novel The Monogram Murders and Mathew Prichard, Christie’s own grandson and Chairman of Agatha Christie Limited will be in conversation with John Curran.

Representing his CrimeFest co-hosts Myles Allfrey and Donna Moore, Adrian Muller said: ‘Every year we are told that the convention was the best one yet, which creates an enormous pressure to maintain the quality for the one to come. But a large part of CrimeFest’s success is due to the enthusiasm our delegates bring to the event. It is amazing how many of them sign up the preceding year without even knowing which authors will be attending. That kind of support is what keeps CrimeFest going.’

The convention also includes a Pitch an Agent strand, a literary agent speed-dating session where unpublished authors can present their ideas in a Dragon’s Den style session. Those wishing to pen their own crime novel can take part in a Crime Writing Day, which includes sessions with agents and editors, optional manuscript assessments and a workshop with bestselling crime writers M.R. Hall and William Ryan.

This year’s panels include ‘Crime Pays In Audio’ with Doctor Who companion Freema Agyeman representing narrators of audiobooks; explorations of sex in crime fiction and the Euro Noir phenomenon with Barry Forshaw; and, in association with the International Thriller Writers, Lee Child battles it out with Chris Ewan, Tom Harper, Zoë Sharp and Yrsa Sigurdardóttir to discover ‘Brains Or Brawn, Who Kicks Best Ass’.

For more information, to request a press pass or interview with a participating author or event organiser, please contact Becky Short at Midas PR on or call 020 7361 7860.