Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson tr. Quentin Bates

Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson, tr. Quentin Bates (June 2015, 300 pages, Orenda Books, ISBN: 1910633038)

If Arnaldur is the King and Yrsa the Queen of Icelandic crime fiction then Ragnar is surely the Crown Prince...more please!

SNOWBLIND is the first in the Ari Thor series set in Siglufjordur, a small fjord town on the north coast of Iceland. Ari Thor has dropped out of studying first philosophy and then theology but has just completed his police training in Reykjavik. It's 2008 and jobs are scarce so when he is offered a post in Siglufjordur he accepts without discussing it with his girlfriend Kristin.

Ari Thor moves to Siglufjordur, alone in the winter and is soon wondering what he's done. A townie and an outsider in a small place where everyone knows everyone else and there's no crime to speak of. And then the snow starts.

As well as Ari Thor's progression from Reykjavik to Siglufjordur, the narrative, via several points of view, includes the background to a number of the residents of Siglufjordur, most of whom are in the Dramatic Society.

Tragedy strikes the Dramatic Society with the death of one its main members. Ari Thor thinks it wasn't an accident but his boss, Tomas, disagrees and doesn't want to attract lurid stories from the press. A second incident however, leads to Tomas thinking that maybe Ari Thor was correct and that they have a murderer in their midst.

SNOWBLIND is a traditional crime novel with a confined set of suspects - trapped in Siglufjordur by the metres of snow that have fallen – all of whom have secrets. Most of the characters have suffered a loss of family, including Ari Thor, or have had a bleak childhood. Ari Thor does have the makings of a good detective though he appears rather naive and a bit clueless with regards to his girlfriend however is there more to his move to Siglufjordur than just getting a job? The setting of Siglufjordur adds a new dimension with the weather impacting so greatly on the inhabitants and makes a refreshing change from Reykjavik.

I raced through this very enjoyable debut from Ragnar Jonasson and I look forward to catching up with Ari Thor and his colleagues' lives in NIGHTBLIND.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Review: Devil of Delphi by Jeffrey Siger

Devil of Delphi by Jeffrey Siger, October 2015, 276 pages, Poisoned Pen Press, ISBN: 1464204322

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

Delphi once stood at the centre of the world, a mountainous, verdant home to the gods, where kings and warriors journeyed to hear its Oracle speak. The Oracle embodied the decree of the gods―or at least the word of Apollo. To disobey risked…everything.

Young Athenian Kharon chooses modern Delphi to rebuild his life among its rolling hills and endless olive groves. But his dark past is too celebrated, and his assassin’s skills so in demand, that his fate does not rest entirely in his own hands. Greece is being flooded with bomba, counterfeits of the most celebrated alcoholic beverages and wine brands. The legitimate annual trillion-dollar world market is in peril. So, too, are consumers―someone is not just counterfeiting booze, but adulterating it, often with poisonous substances. Who is masterminding this immensely lucrative conspiracy?

Kharon learns who when the ruthless criminal gives him no choice but to serve her. Her decrees are as absolute as the Oracle’s, and as fearsomely punished. Kharon agrees, but dictates his own payoff. And his own methods, which allow his targets some choice in the outcomes.

When Kharon unexpectedly shoots a member of one of Greece’s richest, most feared families, he draws Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis into the eye of a political and media firestorm threatening to bring down Greece’s government.

This is the seventh novel by this very gifted author about DCI Andreas Kaldis and his team of Athenian detectives and the book is as well crafted as ever; we are not only reading about Andreas Kaldis, but his wife and four-year-old son, and his team of detectives and their individual characteristics, much in the same tradition as the late Ed McBain describes the detectives of his 87th Precinct series.

The author has a light touch and there is a lot of very wry humour in his books to offset the often very dark violence. Siger, spends some time each year in Greece and also time in his other home in the US and is able to comment on the political and economic troubles that have faced Greek society over recent years and reveals some of the creative ways the Greeks have of avoiding personal taxation!

The case is investigated by checking out many different lines of enquiry before reaching the exciting conclusion. There are many twists and turns and assorted red herrings before the end of the story. Of all of the books that he has written, this one, I believe, was the author's best; with so many changes of direction in the fast paced but highly imaginative and tightly plotted story, one could not guess what would happen next.

Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis is an exciting, intriguing and well drawn creation and we learn a little bit more about him from book to book. The books are all very gripping and whilst they are very evocative of the rustic tourist landscape of Greece, they are also extremely readable examples of the best international police procedurals, similar perhaps to those of authors such as Donna Leon and Joseph Wambaugh. I look forward to reading his next one.

Highly recommended.

Terry Halligan, November 2015.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

TV News: the return of The Doctor Blake Mysteries

Series 3 of The Doctor Blake Mysteries, starring Craig McLachlan, returns to BBC One next Monday at 2.15pm.

The first in the eight episode run is King of the Lake.

A champion rower is thrown into the lake in celebration and never comes up again. Called in to investigate the cause of drowning, Dr Lucien Blake soon suspects foul play.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Review: City of Strangers by Louise Millar

City of Strangers by Louise Millar, October 2015, 400 pages, Macmillan, ISBN: 144728111X

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

This superbly crafted thriller takes its inspiration from the subject of identity. It centres on the fact that everyone who knows Lucian Grabole, a man who was found dead in an Edinburgh flat, describes him differently to the reporter who is trying to find out about him. Other issues of identity also arise. First, Grace Scott, the reporter and central protagonist, is struggling to find herself professionally, after being with her first love for years and always putting his needs before her own. Then there is her new husband, Mac, who thinks Grace is somebody that she very obviously is not and seems to be struggling with a concept of marriage that is at odds with the person he is married to. Both characters are very likeable, decent people but at times their relationship makes you want to scream at them in frustration.

Interwoven with Grace’s journey of discovery, is another story that is also about people who are searching for answers. Crime reporter Sula McGregor and her new assistant Ewan, are following up on the discovery of a body found stuck down a well shaft on an Edinburgh hillside. Initially unknown, the body is later identified as a missing hill-walker but things get even more confusing when a second body is also found in the well. Sula and Ewan uncover a nasty plot of lies and deceit and nothing is as it first seems.

Ewan knows Grace from their time at college together and it is he who encourages her to pursue her story and realise her dreams with something big. Her search sends her to Amsterdam, Paris and Copenhagen before taking her back to Edinburgh, where she started. What she finds is a totally unexpected, but wonderfully complex, nightmare that will give the reader chills.

Louise Millar is a first-rate author who started her career as a journalist with several well-known magazines, including being senior editor at Marie-Claire. CITY OF STRANGERS is her fourth book and is a page-turning stunner.

Highly recommended.

Amanda Gillies, November 2015.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Review Roundup: Abbott, Baylis, Belfoure, Griffiths, Indridason, Jordan, Lagercrantz, Lang, Lironi, MacLeod, Pembrey, Spencer, Thomas

Here are thirteen reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, all have appeared on the blog since last time.

You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page and follow on Twitter, @eurocrime.

New Reviews

Terry Halligan reviews Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott;

Lynn Harvey reviews M H Baylis's Black Day at the Bosphorus Cafe;

Amanda Gillies reviews The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure;

Michelle Peckham reviews The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths, set in Norfolk;

Michelle also reviews Arnaldur Indridason's Oblivion tr. Victoria Cribb;

Amanda also reviews Black List by Will Jordan;

Laura Root reviews David Lagercrantz's Fall of Man in Wilmslow tr. George Goulding;

Rich Westwood reviews J A Lang's Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle, set in the Cotswolds;

Amanda also reviews Oh Marina Girl by Graham Lironi;

Ewa Sherman reviews Murder in Malmo by Torquil MacLeod;

Ewa also reviews Daniel Pembrey's The Harbour Master (books 1 - 3), set in Amsterdam;

Terry also reviews Sally Spencer's Supping with the Devil

as well as Ugly Bus by Mike Thomas.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

TV News: The Coroner on BBC One

Starting on Monday 16 November at 2.15pm on BBC One is the first of ten episodes of The Coroner, starring Claire Goose and filmed in Devon and Cornwall. The first five of the ten episodes, in a DVR intensive way, will be shown daily Monday to Friday. It's not clear yet if the next five will follow the following week.

As coroner, Jane Kennedy’s job is to investigate sudden or unexplained deaths in a beautiful English coastal community. With a new and intriguing case to investigate in each episode, starting with the discovery of a body, Jane finds herself having to work with her old flame Davey Higgins, who is now the local detective sergeant. The Coroner combines mystery and potential danger with the warm, lighthearted tone of Jane’s relationships with her colleagues, family and the local community. While Jane is talented and tenacious in seeking justice for the dead, her personal life is a bit more haphazard.

The first episode is called First Love:

When a teenager is found dead at the foot of a tower, Detective Sergeant Davey Higgins believes it was a tragic suicide, but Coroner Jane Kennedy thinks there is more to the case than meets the eye.

Update: here's a statement from M R Hall:

The BBC daytime drama entitled, ‘The Coroner’, which is airing from 16 November 2015, has not been made with the permission or authorisation of M R Hall or his publishers. Any similarities between M R Hall’s original work and the BBC drama, are, according to the BBC, coincidental. The BBC was placed on notice of a number of potential similarities in early 2015 prior to filming. The BBC has been invited to change the name of its production but has declined to do so.

The screen rights to M R Hall’s books are held by a North American company which is currently developing a series based on them.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Review: Ugly Bus by Mike Thomas

Ugly Bus by Mike Thomas, March 2015, 336 pages, Windmill Books, ISBN: 0099559234

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

It's Boxing Day and in Cardiff there is to be a big football match between Cardiff and Swansea and the police expect trouble between the rival groups of fans and those with militant tendencies, so vans of officers are sent in anticipation of violence.

This story is about the officers on one particular bus or TSG (territorial support group) vehicle. There are a lot of acronyms and police jargon used in this book such as MOP for member of the public but a handy glossary is available in the back explaining it all. The officers involved include newbie Police Sergeant Martin Finch who gets a lot of aggravation and flack from the more experienced but less senior officers, Andrew Mills, David Murphy, Alan Redding and lastly but not least Vincent Vinyard. It becomes apparent that each officer has at least one major character defect but this only comes out gradually to Martin as the shift progresses. There is a lot of repartee and general good natured humour between the men.

The shift on the van have a maxim "What happens on the van stays on the van" and there is a lot of petty skulduggery and theft done by the van occupants and there is a detailed character background about all the hangups and problems of the people on board.
The book covers the complete shift from about 2pm when they start and are initially given a pep talk by a senior officer, to them preparing their food to carry with them for their meal break and general preparation of their kit and stowage on the vehicle. Then we get the progress of their shift as it carries on until about 3am.

There is a preface to the story in which terribly distraught and inebriated girl staggers into a police station to report a rape and this is further dealt with in the final chapter.

I haven't read the author's previous book and consequently the rhythm of this book and the general drift took me by surprise with the completely unexpected ending to this story.

The author was a serving police officer for over twenty years and took inspiration for his two books from those years, but he now lives in Portugal. His first novel POCKET NOTEBOOK was longlisted for the Wales Book Of The Year Award.

I was greatly surprised with this book, the coarse language between the various officers is perhaps typical of groups of men on their own but the amount of criminality carried out by these people really surprised me but I was absolutely really blown away by the completely unexpected ending to the story. A very arresting story. Recommended.

Terry Halligan, November 2015.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Review: Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason tr. Victoria Cribb

Oblivion by Arnaldur Indridason translated by Victoria Cribb, July 2015, 352 pages, Harvill Secker, ISBN: 1846559790

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

A woman, swimming in a lagoon for her psoriasis, stumbles across a body, starting off a new investigation for Erlendur and his boss Marion Briem. The pathologist confirms although the body seemed, on a first look, to have been severely beaten, in fact the pattern of broken bones suggested that he must have fallen from a great height probably onto a smooth hard surface. But where, and how?
The man was about thirty, no real identifying features, and no one seems to have reported him missing. His clothes all seem to have come from the USA – cowboy boots, jeans, and so on. Bought on a visit? Is he a genuine American? Or, is there some connection with the American military zone on Midnesheidi, where around five or six thousand Americans, including their families, live. A reference to the controversial military base, which was sited in Iceland between 1951 and 2005, after the government made a deal with the Americans concerning Military protection.

After about three days, the man’s sister eventually realizes that the body could be that of her brother’s and then she identifies him. Finally, the investigation can start properly, or can it? The problem is that Kristvin, the murdered man, was an air mechanic, who has some sort of connection with the naval air base at Keflavík. The Icelandair premises where he worked are located inside the military zone. In fact, shortly after he is identified, his car is discovered on the base, with its tyres slashed. Simple enough to perhaps think that he may have met his death there, but the police have no jurisdiction in the military zone, which is controlled by the US Navy. Complicated negotiations with the Americans are needed to allow the Icelandic police to follow up their investigations actually on the naval air base itself.

Meanwhile, Erlendur is pursuing his own investigation in the background, into the disappearance of an eighteen-year-old girl, Dagbjört, as she walked to school past the old barracks where Camp Knox used to be in the Second World War. An old investigation, where many who were around at the time are either dead, or old. And a disappearance that prey’s on Erlendur’s mind, as a man obsessed with the disappeared, many of whom have never been found.

A common theme on the uneasy relationship between the US military and the native Icelanders, clearly highly controversial at the time, wends its way throughout these two main threads of the story. Erlendur is still a junior detective as these latter novels from Indriḋason have returned to the earlier days in this detective’s career. However, he still displays the same knack of uncovering secrets, and seeing beyond the lies and half-truths that people choose to tell him, to get to the truth. And he doggedly obtains small parts of the jigsaw from different people, to piece together the secrets of (in this case) Kristvin’s life and how he met his death. Mixed in is an interesting relationship between Erlendur and Sergeant Caroline Murphy from the US military police, initially mistrustful, but then developing into something more complex as the two investigators decide to work together. Although I sometimes miss the more morose older version of Erlendur, I enjoy these books with the younger Erlendur, and this latest outing, with its insightful reflections on the US-Icelandic relationship is highly recommended.

Michelle Peckham, November 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Review: The Harbour Master: The Collected Edition (Books 1-3) by Daniel Pembrey

The Harbour Master: The Collected Edition (Books 1-3) by Daniel Pembrey, November 2014, 384 pages, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN: 1497384052

Reviewed by Ewa Sherman.

Two key characters in THE HARBOUR MASTER are equally important: Henk van der Pol and Amsterdam. They cannot exist without each other.

Having spent years in the military and living abroad Henk is a maverick cop on the verge of retirement, the owner of a typical houseboat, strongly believing that ‘we Dutch remain at heart a seafaring people’. He is happy with his personal life, still attracted to his wife Pernilla, a newspaper features writer, and slightly anxious about daughter Nadia, a headstrong media student. In the professional sense Henk is growing disillusioned with the budget-and-target driven management at the police station where he’s stationed. Also, it seems that politics and connections take priority over decent policing and clearing the streets of criminals. And as Henk and the city are one, the work and private lives merge constantly into one, too.

When on a cold morning Henk finds a woman’s body in Amsterdam Harbour, he’s told by his boss to back off. The photos he took on his mobile vanish. But the weathered detective isn’t going to give up. He follows gut feelings and tenuous clues: a tattoo seen on the dead body, leading him into the Red Light District and then the den of a vicious Hungarian pimp. His involvement threatens his family life. Henk must decide who his real friends are, especially as his own investigation creates more problems with his superiors, though his own small team of Stefan and Liesbeth duly deal with orders and suggestions.

In the second part Henk investigates a mysterious case involving diamonds and a Ghanaian diplomat, fine art and drugs. He travels to Rotterdam and Brussels, visits places that are out of limits, questions a glamorous art insurer and a head of a notorious bike gang. There is a high class prostitute viciously beaten by a client. And a murder of a Norwegian diplomat which takes Henk to Oslo in the third book. The finale also sees Henk working outside of the official investigation into the kidnapping of a powerful Dutch politician Rem Lottman who might (or not) be his friend. The situation mirrors the kidnapping of Freddy Heineken in 1983 and Henk cut his professional teeth on that case.

Daniel Pembrey is a master of concise stylish writing. It demonstrates not only his craftsmanship and discipline but also an intelligent ability to convey mood and atmosphere of the setting and urgency of Henk’s actions within the clearly defined framework of a novella. This vivid and mesmerising portrait of the city is not for the faint-hearted. However, murky, dangerous and illegal Amsterdam is very appealing as Pembrey weaves tiny pearls of history and geography into the tightly constructed stories.

Putting three books together makes perfect sense: it allows the reader to immerse in Henk’s life while he manoeuvres through the maze of political options, criminal underworld and old friends. He is a good player yet feels threatened by all the changes… So Henk van der Pol tries to remember his own motto: Things evolve. And they will keep evolving in further instalments of the Harbour Master series.

Ewa Sherman, November 2015

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review: Black List by Will Jordan

Black List by Will Jordan, August 2015, 374 pages, Canelo, Ebook

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

BLACK LIST is the fourth book in Jordan’s Ryan Drake series and is every bit as excellent as his earlier offerings. The tension that is evident in the earlier books is still there, if not more so, and it is a captivating read, right from the very first page. BLACK LIST has been produced by a different publisher to Jordan’s previous Drake books and this is the first one to be available just in e-format. To be honest, I am not a great fan of ebooks, but BLACK LIST is so engrossing that the format wasn’t an issue and I loved it anyway.

The story begins with Alex, a gifted computer expert and failed hacker, standing on the top of a building in Istanbul, dangling a pen-drive over the edge and then, after pondering how crazy his life has become and realizing he has nothing to lose, stepping over it himself.

We then go back to ten days earlier and are filled in on what exactly brought our hero to this point in his life. Alex Yates is down on his luck. Newly released from prison after serving a sentence for being a hacker, he is forbidden from even going near a computer and works in retail. Life sucks. Then his old friend and partner in crime Arran Sinclair gets in touch and says he needs his help with something sensitive. Alex refuses and walks away but a few days later an envelope drops through his door, containing nothing but a pen drive. Worried now, Alex becomes even more concerned when his friend goes missing, presumed dead, and heads to an internet café to look at the contents of the drive. This is when his problems really begin. With armed operatives closing in on the café, Alex is phoned by a mysterious woman with a foreign accent who tells him to run. And so he does…

Will Jordan is a gifted story-teller and his plots keep your imagination running in overdrive. Jordan’s interest in military history and background in IT are very evident in his latest work. His details are authentic and add to the story without becoming overpowering. If you haven’t tried any of this Ryan Drake series yet, then I suggest that you do so. They are a quick read – due to them being so captivating – and are guaranteed to keep you up late because you can’t put them down.

Highly recommended.

Amanda Gillies, November 2015.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Review: Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by J A Lang

Chef Maurice and a Spot of Truffle by J A Lang, April 2015, 240 pages, Purple Panda Press, ISBN: 191067902X

Reviewed by Rich Westwood.
(Read more of Rich's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Chef Maurice is the proprietor of Le Cochon Rouge, Beakley, a renowned restaurant nestled in the heart of the Cotswolds.

As A SPOT OF TRUFFLE opens, Maurice is panicking about a missing supplier. Ollie Meadows, the local forager, has disappeared with no forwarding address. Maurice needs his precious champignons for the night's menu, so he breaks in to Ollie's cottage and retrieves his latest finds - a variety of mushrooms including an unexpected trove of expensive truffles.

Maurice's keen chef's nose picks up the earth notes of the English countryside and concludes the truffles are local. Are the nearby Farnley Woods growing on top of a fungal goldmine?

Luckily, Maurice knows how to find out. He visits the local animal sanctuary and comes away with a new pet, miniature pig Hamilton. Hamilton's first hunt in Farnley Woods (for various reasons disguised as a baby) turns up zero truffles, but does locate one dead forager.

Then when Hamilton is stolen, Maurice realises that the police won't pour all of their available resources (PC Lucy Gavistone) into locating his pig until the murder of Ollie Meadows has been solved. With visions of a vanishing truffle menu, he channels his not inconsiderable energies into finding the killer, with a flagrant disregard for propriety or procedure.

The comic timing is excellent, there are some good set-pieces (Maurice interrupting a police interrogation by shouting through a grille is very funny, as is his three-course stake-out menu), and some almost Pratchett-esque one-liners...Alf had “moved to Bleakley from the hamlet of Little Goving, population six. Life in the big village was currently exceeding all his expectations”. And here's Ollie's nosy neighbour: “I could hear them shouting through the walls. Terrible the way sound travels through these walls. Had to turn the telly right down, I did.”

Chef Maurice, monomaniacal about his work, never short of a pastry, and with a tenacious French accent, has the makings of a comic crime classic. Much recommended for fans of Simon Brett or M C Beaton.

Rich Westwood, November 2015

Friday, November 06, 2015

Review: Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott

Stranger Child by Rachel Abbott, May 2015, 372 pages, Black Dot Publishing Ltd, ISBN: 0957652240

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

Rachel Abbott's books were all originally published on Amazon Kindle to great success and she sold more books using this medium than any other author. I have just had the pleasure of reading her fourth novel.

Caroline Joseph is driving back to her home with her six-year-old daughter in the child seat at the back of the vehicle when her mobile rings and then shortly after, she sees a car blocking the road. She tries to avoid it but cannot and the car overturns and crashes. The crash regrettably kills Caroline but the daughter, Natasha, mysteriously disappears.

Six years later, David Joseph, the grief-stricken husband of Caroline has since happily remarried to Emma Jacobs and they have a very young baby son, Ollie, and are very contented together. Then one day a stranger walks into their lives and it tilts their world on it's axis as she claims to be Natasha who disappeared after that accident all that time ago. Where has she been during the last six years? Who has been holding her and why hasn't she contacted her Dad to reassure him? Why doesn't she want the police to be contacted? Secretly, Emma contacts her old friend, DCI Tom Douglas, for help...

The extremely well thought out plot of this book carries on from this very promising start but it would be remiss of me to give any more details except to say that some of the characters that are featured in her previous three books also appear in this one.

I found this book, which is both a psychological thriller and also a police procedural incredibly well plotted, I just could not guess what would happen next and the characters are all so well described which made the book very exciting and atmospheric. This is the first of her four books that I have read and I hope to have a look at the others in due course.

The author, who divides her time between the Channel Islands and Italy, used to run an interactive media company with her husband, developing software for the education market, before selling it and eventually retiring in 2005 aged fifty-three. She settled into retirement quite happily until one day when she was snowed in and there wasn't anything else she could think of doing and she had an idea for a book and spent several months writing and editing it. After writing, unsuccessfully, to a number of book agents she decided to publish on-line in 2011 and ONLY THE INNOCENT, her debut crime novel was the result and it became the Kindle number one in November 2011. She went on to become the fourteenth best-selling author on Kindle.

So if you want to read a book that once started you'll find almost impossible to put down then don't delay getting this one.

Extremely well recommended.

Terry Halligan, November 2015.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

New Releases - November 2015

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published this month (November). Further months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page.
• Aaronovitch, Ben - The Hanging Tree #6 Rivers of London
• Adams, Jane A - Murderous Mind #11 Naomi Blake, blind ex-police officer
• Anthology - The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper Stories (ed. Maxim Jakubowski)
• Beckett, Simon - Where There's Smoke
• Blackmore, Alex - Killing Eva #2 Eva Scott
• Bowen, Rhys - Away in a Manger #15 Molly Murphy, PI, 1900s New York
• Brett, Simon - The Killing in the Cafe #17 Carole and Jude, Fethering, Southern coast of England
• Carrisi, Donato - The Hunter of the Dark
• Carter, Maureen - Next of Kin #5 DI Sarah Quinn, Birmingham
• Damhaug, Torkil - Death By Water (ebook only) #2 Oslo Crime Files (paperback out in May 16)
• de Jager, Anja - A Cold Death in Amsterdam #1 Lotte Meerman, a Cold Case Detective, Amsterdam
• Dunn, Matthew - The Spy House #5 Will Cochrane, Super-spy
• Eco, Umberto - Numero Zero
• Fowler, Christopher - Bryant & May - London's Glory Short Stories
• Fyfield, Frances - A Painted Smile #3 Di Porteous
• Gregson, J M - Backhand Smash #19 DI Peach, Lancashire
• Griffiths, Elly - Smoke and Mirrors #2 Stephens and Mephisto
• Hannah, Mari - The Silent Room
• Hargla, Indrek - Apothecary Melchior and the Mystery of St Olaf's
• Harrison, Cora - A Fatal Inheritance #13 Mara, Judge, Tudor Ireland
• Hilton, Matt - Blood Tracks #1 Grey and Villere, Louisiana
• Hurley, Graham - The Order of Things #4 DS Jimmy Suttle
• Lemaitre, Pierre - The Great Swindle
• Lloyd, Catherine - Death Comes To Kurland Hall #3 Kurland St. Mary Mysteries
• McCoy, A P - Narrowing the Field #2 Duncan Claymore, Jockey
• Mosbahi, Hassouna - A Tunisian Tale
• Nesbo, Jo - Midnight Sun #2 Blood on Snow
• Nickson, Chris - Skin Like Silver #3 Detective Inspector Tom Harper, Leeds Police, 1890s
• Quinn, Anthony - Silence #3 Celcius Daly, Police Inspector, Northern Ireland
• Rankin, Ian - Even Dogs in the Wild #20 Rebus
• Rhea, Nicholas - Constable on Trial
• Russell, Leigh - Blood Axe #3 DS Ian Peterson
• Turnbull, Peter - In Vino Veritas #5 Detective Inspector Harry Vicary, London
• Weaver, Ashley - Death Wears a Mask #2 Amory Ames
• Weeks, Lee - Cold Justice #4 DC Ebony Willis, London
• Wood, Tom - The Darkest Day #5 Victor, Assassin

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Review: Black Day at the Bosphorus Cafe by M H Baylis

Black Day at the Bosphorus Cafe by M H Baylis, June 2015, 320 pages, Old Street Publishing, ISBN: 1910400173

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

The walkway ended in a dark stairwell. You could go up, to higher levels of the “city”, or down, towards the street, in both cases accompanied by piss and gang graffiti and the mounting fear of encountering someone less scared than yourself.

North London: the seedy part of Wood Green Shopping City.
Rex Tracey, a journalist with the local paper s: Haringey, is following the tag end of the new Labour candidate's meet-and-greet when it happens – the burning girl tumbling from the top floor, colours that will stay with him for months. During the following commotion Rex looks up and catches sight of something near the safety rail. The flash of a face? The mortally injured girl wears a Kurdish PKK T-shirt. A protest? Later, after her body has been shrouded in coats and hastily gathered coverings, Rex is touched by a brooch in the shape of a peacock near her hand. Rex and his photographer colleague Terry try for a few words with the Labour candidate but her posse is defensive. The pair move off, Terry taking a few discrete photos of the scene. They plan to go to the pub but that's an idea interrupted by a phone call from the local planning officer with whom Rex had an appointment about installing windows on the top floor of his garage-conversion home.
Rex is starting to feel the shock of witnessing the girl's death but he takes time to ring a couple of paragraphs through to his editor before hurrying home. The planning officer is waiting by his obviously new BMW, customised plate, and all. What follows is not a good result for Rex. He has entered the nightmare world of Catch-22 regulations. Whilst giving Rex a lift to his next meeting, the planning officer tells him to get some advice. Of course this will be costly says the man, keeping a blank face whilst he points out that Rex has his phone numbers. In his shocked state it takes a while for Rex to figure out that the planning officer had been asking for a bung.
At Turnpike Lane Station Rex finds his next interviewee, a Greek doctor working with the local Cypriot community. And a very attractive doctor she is too. At this point the shock catches up with Rex. He lurches towards collapse and, over a cup of strong tea in the nearby Bosphorus Café, Dr Helena Georgiadis of the “UN War Crimes Unpronounceable Acronym” carries out a desensitisation exercise by making Rex follow her moving finger with his eyes whilst recounting what he saw of the girl's death. It takes several goes before Rex realises that something has settled within him. In the middle of their discussions about the doctor's work with the local Cypriot community and the “Disappeared” of the 1963 and 1974 Cyprus conflicts, the police enter the café. They quietly ask its owner to accompany them into the kitchen and shortly afterwards Rex hears the man's anguished howl. A weeping waitress comes out of the kitchen and asks everyone to leave. It's then that Rex remembers the café owner's pretty daughter – and the peacock brooch she always wore....

In this dramatic beginning of BLACK DAY AT THE BOSPHORUS CAFÉ, the third M.H. Baylis “Rex Tracey Murder Mystery”, nineteen-year-old law student and budding political activist Mina Küçüktürk dies, burning and falling to the floor of Wood Green Shopping City. Everyone assumes that her death is a suicide protest. But after realising that he has known the girl for years, Rex considers the possibility that she did not take her own life. With his beloved “Harringay and Tottenham” undergoing rapid changes under its new council leadership, there is an equally rapid pace of change for hard-pressed journalist Rex, a man held together by painkillers and lager. He has to contend with his paper's new, temporary editor, the imminent transfer of his invalid wife away from the local convent to her sister’s home in Paris and the effect on his libido of one Dr Helena Georgiadis.

M.H. Baylis has wryly described himself as inventing the “urban cosy”. I am not one for polite tales of murder and mayhem set in the English shires but the Rex Tracey series in which Baylis opens up the enclaves and communities of North London and delicately displays their structures and complications against a backdrop of murder and corruption, is just the ticket for a stay-at-home, would-be globe-trotting crime fan. THE TOTTENHAM OUTRAGE, his previous book, was set amongst the Hasidic Jewish community of Stamford Hill. BLACK DAY AT THE BOSPHORUS CAFÉ explores the cafés, shops and factories of the Borough's Kurdish–Turkish community. Skilful, vivid writing and a complex, involving plot set amongst the intersecting worlds of Kurdish identity, war crimes, honour killings and split communities has Rex battling to unravel the motives for a murder (or two) whilst enduring his own increasing emotional chaos. Plenty to read about, plenty to think about and plenty to enjoy.

Lynn Harvey, November 2015.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Review: Murder in Malmö by Torquil MacLeod

Murder in Malmö by Torquil MacLeod, July 2015, 322 pages, McNidder & Grace Crime, ISBN: 0857161148

Reviewed by Ewa Sherman.

Tommy Ekman, the charismatic head of an advertising agency, is found dead in his shower. With no tangible evidence the suspicion falls first on his employees, and then on his wife Kristina, daughter of the powerful and rich industrialist Dag Wollstad. Tommy’s death has been caused by inhaling gas, similar to what was used in Nazi gas chambers. The discovery is shocking and completely incomprehensible. Soon another prominent Malmö businessman is found murdered, and the investigating team stumbles in the dark, trying to dig into the backgrounds of victims and to connect conflicting motives. A third murder follows…

At the same time a gunman is targeting immigrants in Malmö, shooting to spread the fear, and then shooting to kill. No traces are left but the message is clear and disturbing. The ghost of the King Gustav Adolf, famous for leading Sweden to military supremacy in the seventeenth century, seems to be lurking in background…

However, Inspector Anita Sundström is not allowed to be involved in either of these investigations. Returning to work after her disastrous error of professional judgement (set out in a first novel MEET ME IN MALMO) she is side-lined and sent to track a stolen modern piece of art. That case is more to please the well-connected Commissioner Dahlbeck rather than to seriously find the painting. Anita’s previous protégé is sent to Stockholm so she is teamed with Hakim, a young conscientious but hot headed policeman of Iraqi origin. She feels equally annoyed and motherly towards Hakim but has no say within the boundaries set by her antagonistic boss Chief Inspector Moberg and her colleague and nemesis Inspector Karl Westmark, a particularly unpleasant person, lusting after any attractive woman he sees and chasing after people who could further his career. He would become a caricature; however, MacLeod’s skilful characterisation builds up tension where it is needed and moves the story forward.

I confess I want Inspector Anita Sundström to be my friend. She messes up, kills the wrong man, falls in love with the killer and cannot move on. She’s big on self-pity. Occasionally she disobeys orders. But she definitely wants to do her job to the best of her abilities, and although reluctantly, she can admit that misogynist opportunist Westmark is actually an excellent cop. Only a clever author can create a believable protagonist, flawed and honest.

Fast paced, with a strong plot and full of references to the history of Sweden and geography of Skåne, where Malmö is located, the second novel by Torquil MacLeod is very visual, with a very rich sense of location. Anita Sundström’s stories would make a great TV dramas. I would also recommend it to the fans of the much darker Kurt Wallander’s series: Ystad is not that far from Malmö. Read, compare and enjoy.

Ewa Sherman, November 2015

Monday, November 02, 2015

Review: Oh Marina Girl by Graham Lironi

Oh Marina Girl by Graham Lironi, April 2015, 176 pages, Saraband, ISBN: 1908643919

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

This quirky novel is simply brilliant. Several of the reviews on its back cover say that it is a cult classic in the making and they are not wrong. OH MARINA GIRL is the third novel by Graham Lironi, who is a former journalist and based in Glasgow. He is described as a “bad boy of Scottish fiction’ and is definitely a name to look out for.

OH MARINA GIRL is the narrated memoir of a spaceman – the nameless letters editor of a newspaper, who has had the same job for many years and follows the same routine every day. One morning he is dragged out of his usual pattern by a letter that states “Intolerance will not be tolerated” and threatens to kill a hostage – who had written to the newspaper criticizing a recently published book review and whose views had been printed the day before. The letter goes on to say that unless it is published, unedited, on the front page of the next day’s paper, the hostage will be executed. It also adds that failure to do this will mean that he, the letters editor, will also meet with an unpleasant end.

Our narrator ponders upon what he should do next and tells us a bit about himself and his family history at the same time. He decides to give the letter to his boss, who calls a board meeting and is far from happy, then try and discover the identity of the mysterious letter writer himself. He spends a great deal of time either in the library, talking with people whose names are, weirdly, all anagrams of each other, or meeting with a private detective who seems to be following him but wants to help him as well. It is all beautifully written and impossible to guess what is going to happen next.

I love Lironi’s way with words. He had me captivated and curious right from the start. This wonderful book is very short and a quick read but its impact stays with you for a long time after you finish it. It doesn’t feel like a short, quick read at all. If you like cult classics and books that make you think “eh?”, then you are going to love this one – especially the ending!

Extremely Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, November 2015.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Some 1922 Titles (for Past Offences)

The latest monthly challenge over at Past Offences is to read a book in November, published in 1922. Here are 4(!) British/European crime titles to choose from, first published in English in 1922, pulled from my database:
Agatha Christie - The Secret Adversary
Freeman Wills Crofts - The Pit Prop Syndicate
A A Milne - The Red House Mystery
E R Punshon - The Bittermeads Mystery