Thursday, January 12, 2017

Favourite Euro Crime Reads of 2016 - Ewa

Here are Ewa's favourite British/European/translated reads of 2016:
Ewa Sherman's favourite reads of 2016

Choosing my Top Five of 2016 wasn't easy, especially as I had a chance to read many amazing books. Also, I have some not-yet-read, but I already know that I’m in for a treat. So I’ve decided to concentrate on books coming from the five Scandinavian/Nordic countries. So here are my favourites.


The Vanished by Lotte and Søren Hammer (translated by Martin Aitken)
After a severe heart attack Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen returns to the Homicide Division in Copenhagen. Instantly he is at the scene of violent shooting at school where the victim appeared to have some connection to another deceased. As Simonsen investigates the suicide of a postman, he finds evidence pointing towards murder. He also discovers possible links to the case of a missing English girl who had disappeared in 1969 after her visit to Denmark, following an encounter with six Danish students of the Lonely Hearts Club. This leads to revaluating his past when he was in love with a left-wing flower-child, and deployed to provide the ‘crowd control’ during 1970’s demonstrations. In true Nordic Noir fashion this third book by the brother and sister duo brings disturbing themes, deft characterisation and social conscience.


The Wednesday Club by Kjell Westö (translated by Neil Smith)
The Wednesday Club was founded by the decent broad-minded lawyer Claes Thune and his five friends, and it became an exclusive gentlemen’s club. As the political situation in Europe escalates in 1938, its members’ lives are threatened. Thune, recently divorced and feeling lost, employs an efficient new secretary Mrs Matilda Wiik who tries to repress painful memories of her time as a prisoner in the starvation camp during the Finnish Civil War, twenty years earlier. One day she hears a voice of her former tormentor and rapist, the silent ‘Captain’, and this time she doesn’t want to be a powerless victim. Part historical novel, part crime mystery with elegant measured prose, sophisticated language, and a truly contemporary feel though the events are firmly based in the turbulent past, Westö’s work belongs in Thomas Mann’s league.


Why Did You Lie? by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir (translated by Victoria Cribb)
Three maintenance workers and a photographer arrive by helicopter to the tiny lighthouse on a remote ocean rock. Weather turns worse and tensions soar, and a recurring dream turns real: two dead, and a third person fighting for their life.
An ordinary family returns from a house-swap holiday in Florida to find their home in disarray and their American guests missing. Noi hears strange noises, sees flashes of light and finds notes with menacing messages. His wife seems calm.
Journalist Thröstur worked on the forgotten cases of child abuse but now he’s in coma after his failed suicide attempt. His wife Nina, a police officer, clears old documents at the station where she finds possible evidence that it might have been an attempted murder. This mixture of supernatural and factual is spellbinding.


Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett)
Three years after Varg Veum’s fiancé Karin’s death his personal and professional life lies in tatters. Luckily he gets a chance to help a grieving mother in search for answers as to what had happened to her missing small daughter Mette. Bergen’s PI was approached as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near. The girl vanished without a trace twenty-five-years earlier from a secure garden of five houses, a close-knit community of five families whose lives fell apart shortly after the event. The original thorough investigation was fruitless. The experience as a social worker in child services makes Veum use his intuition, sensitivity, determination and often barely legal methods to bring a glimmer of hope. This is another beautifully written, complex and emotionally-charged novel from the Norwegian Chandler.


The Dying Detective by Leif G W Persson (translated by Neil Smith)
Lars Martin Johansson, the retired Chief of the National Crime Police and the Swedish Security Service, has suffered a stroke, following a life of stress, work pressure, good food and fine wine. While recovering in a hospital he meets a neurologist who provides an important piece of information about an unsolved 1985 case just as the window for prosecution expired weeks earlier. The rape and murder of a young girl destroyed her parents who had arrived as political refugees from Iran. Respected for his extremely sharp mind Johansson becomes obsessed with finding the truth and enlists help of family members, two carers and old colleagues. Dark humour and perceptive observations punctuate this hugely intelligent and inquisitive novel from the renowned Scandinavian criminologist and psychological profiler.

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