Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: The Devil's Dice by Roz Watkins

I'm focussing my reading/reviewing this summer on debuts - including first crime novels from authors known for a different genre. Mostly British but I hope to throw in the occasional US or NZ author. I'm starting with Roz Watkins' very accomplished debut, The Devil's Dice:

The Devil's Dice by Roz Watkins, March 2018, 368 pages, HQ, ISBN: 0008214611

THE DEVIL'S DICE introduces DI Meg Dalton who has moved back to Derbyshire from Manchester after some personal issues.

Meg is called out to the discovery of a body in a small, reputedly haunted cave. The body is that of a local, male, patent lawyer and it looks like poison is the killer. Investigations into the deceased reveal that his personality had changed over the last few months and so suicide can't be ruled out.

Meg and her sergeant, Jai, proceed to investigate further, interviewing relatives and work colleagues. Meg has trauma in her past and the nature of this is slowly revealed over the book. Her mum is a carer for Meg's bed-ridden gran and this is an added pressure when Meg is busy on a murder case.

THE DEVIL'S DICE, a debut, is an absorbing book full of many layers - both the mystery side of it, bringing in local legends and the landscape, and Meg's personal life both as a child and current. It builds to not one but two dramatic set pieces

I very much enjoyed this book. I really liked Meg, she is humorous and likeable, with a diet of choccy biscuits and a cat called Hamlet. Her sidekick seems quite fond of her too... The plot is unusual and not one that could be easily guessed. It's a real page-turner with Meg getting into regular, serious scrapes though she is not one of those energiser bunny types and it takes its toll. And of course there is a well evoked Derbyshire setting which includes real places such as Matlock, alongside a fictional town.

The sequel, DEAD MAN'S DAUGHTER, is out next April and I'm really looking forward to it.

It's not overt but I checked with the author and I have been able to add Meg to my short list of vegetarian sleuths.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: Heavenfield by L J Ross

Heavenfield by L J Ross, August 2016, 264 pages, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN: 1530652685

Reviewed by Susan White.
(Read more of Susan's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

An isolated church in Northumberland and a man faces up to his death with a gun in his face. Later a group of pilgrims to the church, Heavenfield, are shocked to find a man kneeling over a body. The man is DCI Ryan, currently suspended from duty while investigations are undertaken into an operation that his superior, Detective Superintendent Gregson, thinks put other officers' lives in danger.

Ryan is acquainted with the dead man - Dr Mark Burrows - who was also a surrogate father to Ryan’s girlfriend, Anna. Gregson would be delighted if Ryan were found to be guilty of the murder and tasks Ryan’s friends and colleagues with the task of interviewing him as a suspect. McKenzie and Phillips are uncomfortable with the situation they have been forced into and soon find no cause to suspect Ryan. They increasingly suspect the mysterious group of influential people – The Circle – to be involved. The group has previously been implicated with dubious ritual practices but is very secretive and its membership are not known to those outside the group.

Gregson increasingly comes under suspicion for some of his dubious command decisions and then his wife goes missing.

The wide, beautiful countryside of Northumberland is really well portrayed. The writing capturing the lonely distances between towns and villages and the isolation that can develop in such a situation

This is the third book in the series featuring DCI Ryan and although the story in this book is a continuation of the previous two novels to a degree, it does work as a stand-alone. It requires a very competent writer to balance the narrative needs of a new reader to their work with that of those who have read the previous books and I feel that L J Ross carries it off. A good example of self publishing and it has encouraged me to look out for more of the author's work.

Susan White, July 2018

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Review: Baby Blue by Pol Koutsakis tr. Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife

Baby Blue by Pol Koutsakis translated by Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife, June 2018, 292 pages, Bitter Lemon Press, ISBN: 190852491X

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

We always let down those we love most. And we always take the gamble that they’ll understand.

A spring night in Athens:
When a friend rings Stratos Gazis asking for his help, Stratos is surprised. After all it’s Stratos who usually calls him, not the other way round. Stratos immediately sets out into the Athenian traffic despite longing to see his current and childhood love Maria as they had arranged. At six foot three and 220 pounds Gazis draws attention and as he dislikes drawing anyone’s attention his route is carefully planned. Stratos is a “caretaker”; he takes care of people with a gun. But he doesn’t think of himself as a hit man. He does his research and if he considers the target doesn’t deserve to die then he won’t take the job. That’s his deal. He’s the best and he can afford rules.

Angelino is the old friend from the streets, an information dealer, who has asked for Stratos’ help and tonight Stratos finds himself a world away from the decrepit square Angelino used to live on with his ancient dog Hector. Stratos is buzzed into a graffiti-less neoclassical building past security guards and into a spacious sitting room filled with twenty guests at least. Angelino is hosting an investors evening. All of the guests are entranced by a young girl performing incredible feats of conjuring and magic. This is Emma; prodigiously talented, beautiful – and blind. Emma is the investment in question. To be precise, her bid to take part in the Magic Olympics. Winner takes Vegas and New York. And it is also Emma who is asking for help. She tells Stratos that when she was little she was rescued from an orphanage by a journalist. He brought her up and she regarded him as her father. They ended up living on the streets after he left his job. Three years ago he was murdered – tortured and shot. It was Emma who found his body. Now she wants Stratos to find her father’s murderer. She wants revenge.

It’s after midnight when Stratos hurries back to Maria. He spots a familiar car parked on his street. It belongs to another old friend, his closest, Kostas Dragas known as Drag, a famous homicide cop with the Athens police. Not the usual companion for a “caretaker” but again … it goes back to tough childhoods. Drag wants to discuss his latest case with Stratos: a series of killings. All of the victims had been spotlighted by a local TV station; named, shamed and identified as paedophiles. All were tortured and shot in the same distinctive manner and it looks professional. Drag agrees that it’s not Stratos. Still, he wants his view on the killings. In return Drag requests the coroner’s report on Emma’s father. But when the report comes back Stratos is struck by its details. The body of Emma’s so-called father bore all the same hallmarks as those of the dead paedophiles...

Pol Koutsakis is a Greek writer and playwrite and BABY BLUE is his second crime novel narrated by the character Stratos Gazis. (The first is ATHENIAN BLUES.) In this story Stratos takes on a convoluted, action-filled hunt for both the killer of Emma’s protector and the Avenger, a serial killer of paedophiles. He also juggles with his feelings for Maria; his knowledge of the danger that his chosen role brings her. The novel slices through modern day Athens from bottom to top; from the decay and corruption of modern Athenian poverty to the luxury and power of those who still “have”. According to writer Pol Koutsakis this is what fuelled him to create the ambiguous character of Stratos, a hard-bitten hero who straddles a grey area of morality. I do wonder if ambiguity of character is allowed to stretch to the women in Stratos’ world; they do seem to be either saints or sinners in his eyes. But I'm being rather tough. This is the world of Noir films that Stratos loves and frequently quotes. And in his noir world Stratos is much more Robert Mitchum than Bogart; tall, strong, menacing, he is effective, he does the job. I just miss a touch of Chandler wit to soften the bullet, if you pardon my phrase.

Modern Athens noir. Tough and unforgiving.

Lynn Harvey, July 2018

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Review: The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz, April 2018, 400 pages, Arrow, ISBN: 1784757233

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

I read this book for review purposes but now that I've finished it it is very difficult to describe it as it is unlike anything that I've read ever before. The author, Anthony Horowitz, is famous for writing the 'Alex Rider' books and also for the marvellous scripts and executive production of the highly recommended Foyle's War TV series, but writing a one-off murder mystery, that masquerades as a non-fiction, true story is a very different kettle of fish.

The plot is extremely unusual: an extremely wealthy woman arranges her own funeral and then some hours later, she is murdered! Did she know she was destined to die? Who killed her and why? An unemployed former detective decides to investigate her death and as he is short of money he decides to write a book about the investigation and asks the author Anthony Horowitz to do the actual writing as he has successfully written books before. The former detective, who is named Hawthorne, and Horowitz frequently argue over the investigation, but when they aren't talking about the enquiry into the woman's death and the possible perpetrators, Horowitz talks about his own writing career and his success with the Foyle's War and 'Alex Rider' books. As this book is told in the first person from the point of view of Anthony Horowitz I found this extensive discussion of the writing experience very interesting.

The actual details of the murder mystery were a bit light but what we got instead was the Anthony Horowitz writing experience which I found very entertaining but this may not be what other readers may want and I appreciate this. Perhaps a more usual plot structure with more details of the crime and investigation and then a satisfactory conclusion would be preferred, rather than these perhaps irrelevant descriptions of the author's previous books.

On the whole I was very impressed with the book because it was so unusual with this mixture of the fiction of the plot and Anthony Horowitz's real writing career. I enjoy writers talking about themselves and the problems they have, as well as reading good crime fiction and I therefore recommend this book.

Terry Halligan, July 2018.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Review: A Long Way Down by Ken McCoy

A Long Way Down by Ken McCoy, July 2017, 240 pages, Severn House Publishers Ltd, ISBN: 0727887300

Reviewed by Geoff Jones.

(Read more of Geoff's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Leeds, West Yorkshire, March 2014. Charlie Santiago, a successful businessman, plunges to his death from his high, office window. There has been signs of a struggle but the police investigating can find nothing, so the case is consigned to the Cold Case Unit.

The following March, journalist James Boswell is meeting a woman in a run-down hotel. Besides the woman there is a man who surprises James and kills him. His widow, angry that the police investigation suggests he was murdered by a prostitute, contacts Detective Inspector Septimus Black having been advised by Sep's girlfriend Winnie O'Toole that he is the best man to approach.

Sep is working for the Cold Case Unit and persuades his boss Detective Superintendent Jane Hawkins that he should investigate. Sep finds that Boswell was investigating Charlie Santiago's death. Sep visits the hotel where Boswell was murdered and interviews the receptionist, but then she too is murdered. Then there are several attempts on Sep's life, the last one nearly killing him and leaving him in a wheelchair. He believes that the attacks have been carried out on the orders of Carl Redman who was an associate of Santiago.

Sep and Winnie plan to disappear out of harm's way. Sep's colleague DS Fiona Burnside is a great help, but Sep is aware his old enemy DCI Robin Wood is up to something. Can Sep keep safe? Can he find out who killed Santiago and Boswell? Will he ever marry Winnie?

This is the second book in this series. The author also has four books in the Sam Carew series. I've read several and you can always rely on plenty of action and an enjoyable read. Recommended.

Geoff Jones, July 2018

Sunday, July 01, 2018

New Releases - July 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in July 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). July and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.
• Anthology - Bodies from the Library
• Amphlett, Rachel - Gone to Ground #6 Detective Kay Hunter
• Ani, Friedrich - The Nameless Day #1 Jakob Franck
• Ashley, Jennifer - Scandal Above Stairs #2 Kat Holloway, Victorian Era
• Atherton, Nancy - Aunt Dimity and the King's Ransom #23 Aunt Dimity
• Begbie, Hannah - Mother
• Brabazon, James - The Break Line #1 Max McLean
• Carpenter, Elisabeth - 11 Missed Calls
• Carter, Ali - A Brush with Death
• Chirovici, E O - Bad Blood
• Dahl, Alex - The Boy at the Door
• Daly, Paula - Open Your Eyes
• Delaney, J P - Believe Me
• Dunn, Carola - The Corpse at the Crystal Palace #23 Daisy Dalrymple, Journalist, 1920s
• Elliot, Laura - Guilty
• Elsberg, Marc - Zero
• French, Nicci - Day of the Dead #8 Frieda Klein, Psychotherapist
• Gibney, Patricia - The Missing Ones #1 Detective Lottie Parker
• Granger, Ann - An Unfinished Murder #6 Inspector Jess Campbell & Superintendent Ian Carter, Cotswolds
• Hall, Lisa - The Party
• Harper, Elodie - The Death Knock
• Hay, L V - Do No Harm
• Henaff, Sophie - Stick Together #2 Anne Capestan
• Henry, James - Yellowhammer #2 DI Nick Lowry, Essex, 1983
• Hill, Suzette A - The Cambridge Plot #4 Rosy Gilchrist
• Huang, Christopher - A Gentleman's Murder
• Hunter, Cara - In The Dark #2 DI Adam Fawley, Oxford
• Jakeman, Jo - Sticks and Stones (apa The Exes' Revenge)
• Janes, Diane - The Poisoned Chalice Murder #2 Frances Black and Tom Dod, 1929
• Jenkins, Michael - The Failsafe Query
• Jewell, Lisa - Watching You
• Karjel, Robert - After the Monsoon #2 Ernst Grip
• Kasasian, M R C - Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire #1 Inspector Betty Church, 1939, Sackwater, Suffolk
• Kernick, Simon - Dead Man's Gift #1 Short Stories
• Laws, Peter - Unleashed #2 Professor Matt Hunter
• Leather, Stephen - Tall Order #15 Dan Shepherd, SAS trooper turned undercover cop
• MacKay, Asia - Killing It
• MacLean, S G - Destroying Angel #3 Damian Seeker, agent of the Lord Protector, 1654
• Martin, Andrew - The Martian Girl
• Martin, Faith - A Fatal Obsession #1 Ryder & Loveday, Oxford, 1960s
• Mazzola, Anna - The Story Keeper
• Miloszewski, Zygmunt - Priceless
• Morton, Mandy - Magical Mystery Paws #6 The No. 2 Feline Detective Agency
• Nadel, Barbara - Displaced #6 PI Lee Arnold and his assistant, Mumtaz Hakim. East End London
• Obregon, Nicolas - Sins As Scarlet #2 Inspector Iwata
• Perks, Heidi - Now You See Her
• Rayne, Sarah - Song of the Damned #3 Phineas Fox
• Redmond, Heather - A Tale of Two Murders #1 Charles Dickens
• Reynolds, Amanda - Lying to You
• Reynolds, Rod - Cold Desert Sky #3 Charlie Yates, Reporter, USA
• Rhys, Rachel - Fatal Inheritance
• Robinson, Peter - Careless Love #25 Insp. Alan Banks, Yorkshire
• Rose, Jacqui - Toxic
• Stanley, Michael - Dead of Night
• Steadman, Catherine - Something in the Water
• Stein, Jesper - Unrest #1 Axel Steen
• Tangen, Geir - Requiem
• Tija, M J - A Necessary Murder #2 Heloise Chancey, Victorian London
• Tope, Rebecca - Crisis in the Cotswolds #16 Thea Osborne, House Sitter, Cotswolds
• Tremayne, Peter - Bloodmoon #27 Sister Fidelma
• Wood, Tom - Kill For Me #8 Victor, Assassin

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: The Memory of Evil by Roberto Costantini tr. N S Thompson

The Memory of Evil by Roberto Costantini translated by N S Thompson, March 2016, 480 pages, riverrun, ISBN: 0857389408

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

2011, Zawiya, Libya.
Men awaiting execution are noosed to a row of poplar trees leading to the village’s burnt-out, shot-out school. The Berbers, or Amazighs, have been amongst the first to rebel against Gaddafi earlier in the year and now this Amazigh village has been captured by his troops. An armoured SUV draws up and an Arab man in his 60s gets out: civilian dress, dark glasses, part of his ear missing. In the dust of the hot desert wind, this man calls the tune for both Gaddafi’s troops and their white mercenary leader as he dictates the ingredients for a vile and cruel massacre that spares not a man, woman or child in Zawiya.

1962, Tripoli, Libya.
As the desert wind blows sand into the villa courtyard four boys, two Arab and two Italian, solemnly cut their wrists and share an oath of blood brotherhood. Sand and blood. For ever.

2011, Rome, Italy.
Commissario Michele Balistreri walks through early morning Rome, exercising his painful knee before spending the rest of the day, as he prefers, indoors. First an espresso in his favourite bar. The radio spills out the latest on the war in Libya and in particular a brutal massacre at Zawiya. Balistreri leaves and heads for the office. He doesn’t want to hear any more about that war. He wants the darkness of his office.

2011, Tripoli, Libya.
Linda Nardi stretches out on her hotel bed in the quiet of sunset before the night brings the roar of NATO jets. She remembers her closeness with Michele Balistreri five years ago. They had talked, ate, spent time together, without so much as a kiss but it had ended badly. She knows that she should be getting on with the job of reporting this war, the massacre – but what she really wants is to return to her orphans and hospitals in Central Africa. In the morning she will be boarding a plane to Nairobi but for now …
In the hotel bar she bumps into a Lebanese acquaintance from Nairobi. What brings him here? “War is manna from heaven to businessmen”, he says. She asks about the hospital contract in Nairobi. Yes, he won the construction contract: Kenyan accounting, Italian rules. But the investors are Swiss? Nothing is ever really Swiss. He goes on to hint at profitable dealings for a certain bank, God’s Bank, in the Vatican state.
Just then Linda notices a beautiful Western woman surrounded by an obviously Libyan Secret Service group crossing the bar. They are followed by an Arab in his 60s, deeply lined face, part of an ear missing. The Lebanese businessman pales.
Is that a business competitor? No. Have you heard what happened in Zawiya, Miss Nardi? They say that man was behind the death of General Younis … Suddenly her acquaintance remembers something he must attend to. Sick of both Libya and the war, Linda returns to her thoughts of Nairobi.

THE MEMORY OF EVIL is Roberto Costantini's final part of his Commissario Balistreri trilogy. By 2011 (the primary setting of THE MEMORY OF EVIL) bad boy Michele Balistreri, sworn childhood blood-brother of Ahmed, Karim and Nico in 1960s Libya is reaching the end of his career as Head of Rome's Murder Squad. He is a man well-versed on both sides of the criminal fence, in his 60s, exhausted, in ill health and approaching retirement. Although the story begins with journalist Linda Nardi’s investigation of corruption in Nairobi and the death of a beautiful young woman and her two year-old daughter on board a cruise ship off Elba, these crimes are counter played by Balistreri’s increasing obsession with the past, in particular the riddle of his mother’s death in Tripoli of 1969. Supposedly a suicide, Michele is convinced she was murdered. But which of the people he knew and loved back then had killed her?

My sense of Roberto Costantini's trilogy is that it is a work in its own right. So I have to ask if it is a problem not to have read its previous novels. Costantini keeps events clear and apparent in the timeline so the problem is unlikely to be that of missing important elements in the narrative. But as THE MEMORY OF EVIL’s narrative heat rises, its chapters come short and fast, referring back and forth between 2011 and 1960s Libya as seen through the eyes of different characters. This focusses and builds tension but it’s possible that the staccato changes may confuse a reader new to the trilogy.

Above all THE MEMORY OF EVIL is crime fiction. It encompasses violence and unlikeable characters doing unspeakable things, investigative journalism and police procedural, plot twists and suspense, skilful writing and translation. But I do recommend this “saga” of an influential Italian family and its circle set against the backdrop of events in twentieth century North Africa and Italy during the rise and fall of Gaddafi. These are times, places and points of view not often caught in crime fiction and Costantini’s writing of this story is authoritative.

Lynn Harvey, June 2018.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Awards News: McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2018 - Longlist announced

From the press release, news of the longlist for McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2018. The winner is announced at Bloody Scotland which takes place in Stirling between 21 and 23 September.

Two years ago the Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award was renamed the McIlvanney Prize in memory of William McIlvanney who established the tradition of Scottish detective fiction. This year his son, Liam McIlvanney, has made the longlist for the 2018 McIlvanney Prize.

The complete longlist, revealed today, has been chosen by an independent panel of readers:

Lin Anderson, Follow the Dead (Macmillan)
Chris Brookmyre, Places in the Darkness (Little, Brown)
Mason Cross, Presumed Dead (Orion)
Charles Cumming, The Man Between (Harper Collins)
Oscar De Muriel, The Loch of the Dead (Michael Joseph)
Helen Fields, Perfect Death (Harper Collins)
Alison James, Now She’s Gone (Bookouture)
Liam McIlvanney, The Quaker (Harper Collins)
James Oswald, No Time to Cry (Headline)
Caro Ramsay, The Suffering of Strangers (Severn House)
Andrew Reid, The Hunter (Headline)
Craig Robertson, The Photographer (Simon & Schuster)

It features an intriguing mix of previous winners, established crime writing luminaries, some emerging talent and a debut. The award recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes a prize of £1,000 and nationwide promotion in Waterstones.

The judges for the next round will be chaired by Craig Sisterson and include comedian and crime fiction fan, Susan Calman who like Craig is joining the panel for a second year and crime reviewer, Alison Flood.

The finalists will be revealed at the beginning of September and the winner kept under wraps until the ceremony itself which this year will take place at the Church of the Holy Rude in Stirling and followed by a torchlight procession – led by the winner accompanied by Denise Mina and Val McDermid – to their first event at the Albert Halls.

Both the opening ceremony and the torchlight procession are open to the public but tickets are selling fast and capacity is less than at the castle last year so people are urged to book them now.

Review: Running Scared by Bill Kitson

Running Scared by Bill Kitson, June 2018, 228 pages, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, ISBN: 719042292

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

With DI Mike Nash away on compassionate leave, DS Clara Mironova and the Helmsdale team are faced with a sudden and dramatic increase in crime. Minor offences ranging from theft, shoplifting, and poaching, pale into significance when a violent turf war breaks out between rival gangs of drugs suppliers. Within weeks the detectives have to cope with three murders, including the shooting of a police officer. As they struggle to investigate the killings, a batch of deliberately contaminated heroin hits the streets, resulting in the deaths of three addicts and causing panic in the media. The breathless speed of events puts the entire region on high alert. The detectives must capture the drug barons, break up their supply networks, solve the murders – and thwart the criminal mastermind before he can realize his ultimate ambition.

The plot of the book encompasses many different threads from murders, drug selling, animal theft to international migrant problems and it makes the very tight plot of the book twist and turn almost from paragraph to paragraph. But when all's said and done this book is a police procedural and part of the very charm of the story is the interaction of the various colourful detectives that we have learnt to know and appreciate in previous stories. Readers will need to concentrate to really enjoy the story but it is not always serious, there are incidents of wry humour to lift from the pathos of the sadder elements of the story.

As in previous books of his that I have reviewed, once you start a Bill Kitson book it is extremely difficult to put down and I had great trouble in closing this one also, until I reached the very exciting conclusion. The book may seem fairly compact but this author seems to put more storylines into 228 pages than many other rival authors can do in 400.

The author has published ten previous books in the DI Mike Nash series and five books in the Eden House Mystery series. I understand he also writes historical fiction and lighter romantic stories set in Greece under the pen-name 'William Gordon' and he has written six books in that series also. I will certainly look out for the Eden House Mysteries in the future. If you want to read a book that once started you won't want to put down then buy this one.

Very highly recommended.

Terry Halligan, June 2018.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: Bad Sister by Sam Carrington

Bad Sister by Sam Carrington, December 2017, 368 pages, Avon, ISBN: 0008200211

Reviewed by Susan White.
(Read more of Susan's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

Connie Summers is a psychologist who has recently set-up a private practice after many years working with disturbed prisoners. She is now relishing the chance to work with victims of crime rather than the perpetrators and also has clients who have been relocated under the witness protection programme. One of these clients is Steph, a difficult young woman with a child who has escaped a violent relationship with a drug dealer after giving evidence against him. However as Connie struggles to get her to talk, she realises that Steph is frightened of more than just her ex-boyfriend and his associates. There are other people in her past from whom she is hiding.

When a body is found dumped outside the prison gates, DI Lindsay Wade and DS Charlie Hack find that it is Eric Hargreaves who had absconded from jail. He had been jailed for rape, only to be awarded early parole on the advice of several experts including Connie, only to rape again.

There is a third thread to the story running through the book of a young boy accused of setting fire to a house and causing the death of his father and step-mother. This at times, seems to have no connection with anything else in the story and the reader is left to speculate as to which main character the boy is linked with.

BAD SISTER is a good read, confusing at times as different characters' stories are narrated with the links to each, only being resolved at the end. The story centres on the theme of events in the past affecting the present and how they can never be totally forgotten or escaped. One of the issues for me was that I never really engaged with the characters – they were a bit too unbelievable for me. This is the author's second novel with a third to be published later in 2018.

Susan White, June 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Website Updates: June 2018

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.*

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).

*I've also added the breakdowns for 2019: ie published in the UK in 2019 (ALL, Anthology, First Novel, Historical, Translated) - NB the Anthology one is currently blank.

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

Here's a summary of the usual updates:

The Author Websites page now lists 1077 sites.

In Bibliographies there are now bibliographies for 2610 authors (13113 titles of which 3077 are reviewed).

I've added new bibliographies for: Lisa Alber, Amer Anwar, Jennifer Ashley, Noel Balen, Noel & Vanessa Barrot, Peter Beck, Leo Benedictus, Lina Bengtsdotter, Roxanne Bouchard, Harry Brett, Steph Broadribb, JL Butler, Graeme Cameron, Ali Carter, Stevyn Colgan, Paul Colize, Aidan Conway, C J Cooke, Pino Corrias, M W Craven, Alex Dahl, Robert Daws, Tracee de Hahn, Will Dean, Emma Dibdin, Ashley Dyer, Rachel Edwards, Lexie Elliott, Melba Escobar, John Fairfax, Rebecca Fleet, Amanda Flower, Nicola Ford, Dianne Freeman, Jorge Galan, Frank Goldammer, Leonard Goldberg, Lisa Hall, Karen Hamilton, Zhou Haohui, Emma Healey, Sophie Henaff, L S Hilton, David Hingley, Susanne Jansson, You-Jeong Jeong, Lisa Jewell, D B John, Philip Gwynne Jones, Olivia Kiernan, Snorri Kristjansson, Phoebe Locke, Sabri Luatah, Rachel Lynch, Niki Mackay, Iain Maitland, Max Manning, Stephanie Marland, Agustin Martinez, Chris McGeorge, Dervla McTiernan, Stephanie Merritt, Elizabeth Mundy, Vicki Newham, Elisabeth Noreback, Clare O'Donohue, Lloyd Otis, B A Paris, Raj Persaud, E M Powell, Alex Reeve, Emma Rowley, Ahmed Saadawi, Michelle Sacks, Robert Scragg, Renata Serelyte, Susan C Shea, Leila Slimani, Catherine Steadman, Jane Steen, Jesper Stein, Soren Sveistrup, Emma Tallon, Geir Tangen, Hildur Sif Thorarensen, Lynne Truss, Elena Varvello, Julie Wassmer, Roz Watkins and Dylan Young. .

I've updated the bibliographies (ie added new titles) for: Jane Adams, Jussi Adler-Olsen, Stefan Ahnhem, Ursula P Archer, Ross Armstrong, Jean-Luc Bannalec, Jo Bannister, Belinda Bauer, Simon Beaufort, Mark Billingham, Cara Black, Tony Black, Sam Blake, Stephen Booth, Rhys Bowen, Gyles Brandreth, Simon Brett, Eric Brown, Alison Bruce, Fiona Buckley, Michel Bussi, Helen Callaghan, Andrea Camilleri, Christoffer Carlsson, Gianrico Carofiglio, James Carol, CJ Carver, Steve Cavanagh, Kimberley Chambers, Jean Chapman, Julia Chapman, Karen Charlton, Lee Child, Alys Clare, Rosie Claverton, Barbara Cleverly, Tammy Cohen, Daniel Cole, Tana Collins, John Connolly, Jane Corry, James Craig, Mason Cross, Charles Cumming, Fiona Cummins, Judith Cutler, Arne Dahl, Kjell Ola Dahl, Nadia Dalbuono, Saul David, Michelle Davies, Oscar de Muriel, Lara Dearman, Victor del Arbol, J P Delaney, A A Dhand, P C/Paul Doherty, Margaret Duffy, Ruth Dugdall, Elizabeth J Duncan, Carola Dunn, Martin Edwards, Jim Eldridge, Kate Ellis, P R Ellis, Marc Elsberg, Caroline Eriksson, Geraldine Evans, Helen Fields, Judith Flanders, Karin Fossum, Christopher Fowler, Tana French, Frank Gardner, Phyllis Gobbell, Ann Granger, Alex Gray, Clio Gray, Isabelle Grey, Elly Griffiths, Jack Grimwood, Johana Gustawsson, Lotte and Soren Hammer, Nell Hampton, Mari Hannah, Sophie Hannah, C S Harris, Tessa Harris, Cora Harrison, E V Harte, John Harvey, Veronica Heley, Mandasue Heller, Mark Hill, Susan Hill, Suzette A Hill, Anthony Horowitz, Jorn Lier Horst, Anna Lee Huber, Cara Hunter, Graham Hurley, Graham Ison, David Jackson, Peter James, Jessica Jarlvi, Matt Johnson, Doug Johnstone, Mons Kallentoft, Robert Karjel, M R C Kasasian, Jessie Keane, Lesley Kelly, Jim Kelly, Christobel Kent, Philip Kerr, Laurie R King, Bill Kitson, Alanna Knight, Volker Kutscher, Peter Laws, John Lawton, Stephen Leather, Leena Lehtolainen, Pierre Lemaitre, Donna Leon, Minna Lindgren, Howard Linskey, M L Longworth, Stuart MacBride, A J MacKenzie, Clare Mackintosh, G M Malliet, Scott Mariani, Ngaio Marsh, Laura Marshall, Edward Marston, Peter May, Anna Mazzola, Val McDermid, Liam McIlvanney, Catriona McPherson, Elmer Mendoza, Derek B Miller, Bernard Minier, Caroline Mitchell, Roger/R N Morris, Rebecca Muddiman, Barbara Nadel, Hakan Nesser, Chris Nickson, Liz Nugent, Carlene O'Connor, Gerard O'Donovan, Kristina Ohlsson, Chris Ould, Nikki Owen, Tony Parsons, Caro Peacock, Andrea Penrose, Anne Perry, Karen Perry, Sarah Pinborough, Oliver Potzsch, Laura Purcell, Melanie Raabe, Khurrum Rahman, Caro Ramsay, Ian Rankin, Jaime Raven, Deanna Raybourn, Dolores Redondo, Amanda Reynolds, Rachel Rhys, Matthew Richardson, Michael Ridpath, Mark Roberts, Craig Robertson, Michael Robotham, Laura Joh Rowland, Leigh Russell, C J Sansom, Ian Sansom, Manda Scott, Holly Seddon, EV Seymour, Gerald Seymour, Jackson Sharp, Zoe Sharp, Paige Shelton, Jeffrey Siger, Lilja Sigurdardottir, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Chris Simms, Anna Smith, Martin Cruz Smith, Gunnar Staalesen, Cath Staincliffe, Katherine Stansfield, Viveca Sten, Jon Stenhugg, Linda Stratmann, Karen Lee Street, Martin Suter, Frank Tallis, Abbie Taylor, Andrew Taylor, C L Taylor, Aline Templeton, David/D B Thorne, Robert Thorogood, Rebecca Tope, M J Trow, Antti Tuomainen, Helene Tursten, Cathi Unsworth, David P Wagner, Martyn Waites, Martin Walker, Sarah Ward, S J Watson, Tim Weaver, Matt Wesolowski, Jeri Westerson, Kerry Wilkinson, Andrew Wilson, Edward Wilson, Inger Wolf, Simon Wood, Christopher J Yates and David Young

Friday, June 15, 2018

Review: The Body in the Boat by A J Mackenzie

This will be available in paperback in November 2018.

The Body in the Boat by A J Mackenzie, April 2018, 400 pages, Zaffre, Ebook

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

1796. Across the still, dark English Channel come the smugglers. But tonight they carry an unusual cargo: a coffin. Several miles inland, a respected banker holds a birthday party for his wife. Within days, one of the guests is found shot dead.

What links this apparently senseless killing to the smugglers lurking in the mists? Why has the local bank been buying and hoarding gold? And who was in the mysterious coffin?

Reverend Hardcastle and Mrs Chaytor find themselves drawn into the worlds of high finance and organised crime in this dramatic and dark Georgian mystery. With its unique cast of characters and captivating amateur sleuths, The Body in the Boat is a twisting tale that vividly brings to life eighteenth-century Kent and draws readers into its pages.

The expertly researched story is told by a Canadian husband and wife writing partnership and follows on from their previous stories in this series which I have read and enjoyed and which began with The BODY ON THE DOORSTEP. We learnt that in the eighteenth century many ordinary people were prodigious drinkers of alcohol and the Reverend Hardcastle was known to get through a huge amount (by modern standards of port and brandy) and fortunately a lot was supplied to him as free gifts from smugglers, keen that he as a magistrate as well as a clergyman should show a blind eye to their nefarious activities.

England is still at war with France, which feeds the atmosphere of fear and paranoia and brings with it fears that invasion is likely and that there are spies lurking every where.

For readers of the two earlier stories, you will be reassured that the Reverend Hardcastle seems, however, to have cut back on the volume of alcohol he gets through which in the first book seemed absolutely astounding. Apparently, now that he is a magistrate he has to set an example and also keep a clear head for when he is asked to act in his official capacity. However, at times of stress he seems to still enjoy a few glasses of port! He also however still seems to be at war with his housekeeper.

I was very impressed by the quality of the research and the historical detail of this well plotted and highly atmospheric story. The characters are all richly drawn and full of period detail. The rich plot kept me guessing until the final page and I look forward to reading further stories by these really very gifted authors. Most strongly recommended.

A.J. MacKenzie is the pseudonym of Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel, a collaborative Anglo-Canadian husband-and-wife duo. Between them they have written more than twenty non-fiction and academic titles, with specialisms including management, medieval economic history and medieval warfare.

Terry Halligan, June 2018.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Review: The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon

The Temptation of Forgiveness by Donna Leon, April 2018, 300 pages, Hardback, William Heinemann, ISBN: 1785151959

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

November, Venice
Commissario Guido Brunetti is taking the vaporetto to a morning appointment with his superior, Vice-Questore Patta, at police headquarters. A wall of fog suddenly envelopes the canal, blocking all sight of other traffic. It disperses as suddenly as it appeared and as they emerge into sunlight Brunetti doubts what he has experienced.

Brunetti is equally amazed to receive Patta’s uncharacteristic apologies for a delay. Returning to his own office, he contemplates the thick file on his desk. It is stuffed with car-related crimes, amongst them the latest scam concerning the illegal acquisition of licenses, test results, etc. It is such an ingenious scam that it earns Brunetti's respect and he is considering the file’s fate when he is called back to the Vice-Questore’s presence. Does Brunetti know anything about a leak to the media concerning a suspect brought in for questioning? Scarpa, Patta’s assistant, was given this information by one of his informants. Brunetti shrugs off the matter and manages to score against the ever unpleasant Scarpa by discounting the informant. As he leaves he finds a member of his own team in Patta’s outer office, staring at a computer screen and deep in discussion with Patta’s secretary, Signorina Elettra. Her computer skills are extensive, almost all pervasive – but the information she acquires is now of such service to Brunetti’s investigations that he discounts any uneasiness he might feel over her methods in favour of admiration for her magical skills.

In his office, a woman – one of his wife’s academic colleagues – is waiting for him. It takes all of Brunetti's time and patience to clarify the reason for her visit. Finally she admits that she thinks her son is using drugs. Is this a crime? Her husband says it is impossible that their son who attends a prestigious private school is using drugs. But surely Brunetti can do something? Arrest whoever is selling the drugs? Brunetti explains the legal process of questioning her children and their schoolfriends and the woman realises the social ramifications of her complaint. Leave it, she weeps. Swayed by her tears, Brunetti promises to try and find out more.

About a week later, he is woken in the night by his colleague Claudia Griffoni. A man has been found unconscious, lying at the base of a bridge. He may have been attacked or he may fallen and hit his head on the railing. There are marks on his wrist, the imprints of fingernails. Whichever it is, it looks bad for him. After visiting the possible crime scene, Brunetti arrives at the hospital. Only then does he realise the identity of the victim. It is the husband of his wife’s colleague, the woman who was worried about her son.

Brunetti and colleague Claudia Griffoni investigate what happened to the unconscious man and as they do so they uncover a new turn to the investigation, one that will require all of the pair’s consummate play-acting to unravel a tissue of motives and deception.

THE TEMPTATION OF FORGIVENESS is Donna Leon’s twenty-seventh Commissario Brunetti crime novel. To me Leon remains fresh and thoughtful in this gargantuan series which has seen Brunetti and his family and colleagues age and change just as the city they call their own – Venice – changes and ages. And this novel, rather than being a tale filled with fast action and chases, thunder and lightning, is as formally composed as a piece of chamber music. The investigation of the puzzle of a man found unconscious beneath a Venetian bridge turns into an intimate study of ethics, a study of scams and nuances. It left me with the satisfaction of a mystery unravelled, the experience of eating a beautifully made cannoli and drinking a pleasant glass of wine together with a close observation of human nature and, as ever with Brunetti, food for thought.

Lynn Harvey, June 2018

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Crime Fiction of the Isles of Scilly

Here's another entry in my (occasional but hoping to become more frequent) crime fiction by county series. Though the Isles of Scilly form part of the ceremonial county of Cornwall they have a separate local authority which has the status of a county council (source:Wikipedia).

I have recently purchased Hell Bay, which looks to be the first in an excellent new series by Kate Rhodes, and I was intrigued to see what else was set in the Isles of Scilly. Not much it seems! I welcome any additions to my short-list.

[Official blurbs are in italics.]

Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes (Jan. 2018) is set on Bryher.

DI Ben Kitto needs a second chance. After ten years working for the murder squad in London, a traumatic event has left him grief-stricken. He’s tried to resign from his job, but his boss has persuaded him to take three months to reconsider.

Ben plans to work in his uncle Ray’s boatyard, on the tiny Scilly island of Bryher where he was born, hoping to mend his shattered nerves. His plans go awry when the body of sixteen year old Laura Trescothick is found on the beach at Hell Bay. Her attacker must still be on the island because no ferries have sailed during a two-day storm.

Everyone on the island is under suspicion. Dark secrets are about to resurface. And the murderer could strike again at any time.

The sequel to Hell Bay, Ruin Beach, is out in hardback in January 2019* and looks to be set on Tresco. (*Amazon are listing the kindle version as available on 14 June 2018.)

DI Ben Kitto has become the Scilly Islands’ Deputy Chief of Police. As the island’s lazy summer takes hold, he finds himself missing the excitement of the murder squad in London. But when a body is found anchored to the rocks of a nearby cave, it appears he’s spoken too soon. The island of Tresco, and the deep and murky waters that surround it, hold a dark secret. One that someone seems desperate to uncover . . .

Robert Goddard's Name to a Face, published in 2007 is partially set on the Isles of Scilly.

A sequence of extraordinary events over the past 300 years. A chain of intrigue, deceit, greed and murder.

The loss of H.M.S. Association with all hands in 1707.

An admiralty clerk's secret mission thirty years after.

A fatal accident during a dive to the wreck in 1996.

An expatriate's reluctant return home ten years later. The simple task he has come to accomplish, shown to be anything but. A woman he recognises but cannot identify.

A conspiracy of circumstances that is about to unravel his life. And with it, the past.

And much, much earlier, the Isles of Scilly get their first fictional murder in Andrew Garve's The Riddle of Samson (1954). Samson, (Wikipedia again), is the largest uninhabited island of the Isles of Scilly.

(Cover shown is a 1978 US paperback edition.)

If a man spends a night on an uninhabited island with another man's beautiful wife, the husband is not apt to be pleased about it. Especially when the husband is notoriously jealous and considerably older than his wife ...

There is a non-fiction book: The Life of a Scilly Sergeant by Colin Taylor (2016) which might also be of interest.

Meet Sergeant Colin Taylor, he has been a valuable member of the police force for over 20 years, 5 of which have been spent policing the ‘quiet’ Isles of Scilly, a group of islands off the southwestern tip of the Cornish peninsula.

Colin has made it his purpose to keep the streets of Scilly free from drunk anchor thieves, Balance Board riders and other culprits, mostly drunken, intent on breaking the law. This book is the first hand account of how he did it.

Coupled with his increasingly popular ‘Isle of Scilly Police Force’ Facebook page, this book charts the day to day trials and tribulations of a small-island police officer, told in a perfectly humorous and affectionate way.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Review: You Were Gone by Tim Weaver

You Were Gone by Tim Weaver, April 2018, 496 pages, Michael Joseph, ISBN: 0718189000

Reviewed by Geoff Jones.

(Read more of Geoff's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

David Raker had been visiting his newly discovered daughter Annabel, and her family, in South Devon. The telephone call from Charing Cross police station was made by Detective Sergeant Catherine Field. Raker was told that his wife was at the station and had been badly injured and told them that he had done it.

Raker is devastated, he buried his wife eight years ago. Derryn and he had been married for fourteen years. She died after many courses of chemotherapy for breast cancer. There are some inconsistencies in this woman's story but basically she knows a great deal about their life together and looks very much like his deceased wife. The police contact St. Augustine's hospital at the woman's request and speak to a consultant there – a Dr. Erik McMillan who tells them that Raker is suffering from Capgras delusion, a condition where people believe that a husband, wife or child has been replaced by an exact duplicate.

Raker who has built a reputation on finding what happened to missing people, is facing his worst nightmare and begins to believe he is losing his mind. He still maintains that the woman is not his wife but because it's Christmas time, he can't prove it. He can't even find the death certificate he last remembers was in the loft of his house. Then when the woman goes to spend the night at a hostel the police located for her, she vanishes and of course suspicion falls on Raker.

This is the ninth book by the author in this series. I have read four of them and they are always exciting mysteries and this one is no exception. It keeps you gripped and guessing up to the explosive finish. Recommended.

Geoff Jones, June 2018

Friday, June 01, 2018

New Releases - June 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in June 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). June and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.
• Ani, Friedrich - The Nameless Day #1 Jakob Franck
• Billingham, Mark - The Killing Habit #15 DI Tom Thorne, London
• Black, Cara - Murder on the Left Bank #18 Aimee Leduc, Paris
• Bonnier, Jonas - The Helicopter Heist
• Butler, JL - Mine
• Cavanagh, Steve - Thirteen #4 Eddie Flynn, USA
• Clare, Alys - The Angel in the Glass #2 Gabriel Taverner, Former ship's surgeon, C17 Devon
• Corry, Jane - The Dead Ex
• Craven, M W - The Puppet Show #1 Washington Poe
• Cumming, Charles - The Man Between
• Dhand, A A - City of Sinners #3 Detective Harry Virdee, Bradford
• Doherty, P C - Dark Queen Rising #1 Margaret Beaufort
• Duffy, Margaret - Stone Cold, Stone Dead #21 Major Patrick Gillard, MI5 & Ingrid Langley, author (ex MI5)
• Durrant, Sabine - Take Me In
• Ford, Nicola - The Hidden Bones #1 Hills & Barbrook
• Freeman, Dianne - A Lady's Guide To Etiquette And Murder #1 Countess of Harleigh, Victorian England
• Galan, Jorge - November
• Goldberg, Leonard - A Study in Treason #2 Daughter of Sherlock Holmes series
• Haohui, Zhou - Death Notice
• Heley, Veronica - Murder by Suggestion #19 Ellie Quicke, widow, London suburbs
• Hurley, Graham - Estocada #3 Wars Within
• King, Laurie R - Island of the Mad #15 Mary Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes
• Koutsakis, Pol - Baby Blue #2 Stratos Gazis
• Lindgren, Minna - The Lavender Ladies Detective Agency: The End of Sunset Grove #3 Twilight Grove Trilogy
• Linskey, Howard - The Chosen Ones #4 DC Ian Bradshaw
• Locke, Phoebe - The Tall Man
• MacBride, Stuart - The Blood Road #11 DS Logan McRae, Aberdeen
• Marshall, Laura - Three Little Lies
• Marston, Edward - Fugitive from the Grave #4 Bow Street Rivals
• McCrum, Mark - Cruising to Murder #2 Francis Meadowes
• McIlvanney, Liam - The Quaker #1 Duncan McCormac, Glasgow
• Mukherjee, Abir - Smoke and Ashes #3 Captain Sam Wyndham, Calcutta, 1919
• Nadel, Barbara - Incorruptible #20 Cetin Ikmen, Policeman, Istanbul
• O'Donohue, Clare - Beyond the Pale
• Ohlsson, Kristina - The Lies We Tell #2 Martin Benner
• Perry, Karen - Your Closest Friend
• Porter, Henry - Firefly
• Ramsay, Caro - The Sideman #10 DCI McAlpine, DS Anderson and DS Costello, Glasgow
• Robotham, Michael - The Other Wife #9 Joseph O'Loughlin, Psychologist & Detective Inspector Vincent Ruiz
• Sacks, Michelle - You Were Made for This
• Schepp, Emelie - Slowly We Die #3 Jana Berzelius, Public Prosecutor
• Seddon, Holly - Love Will Tear Us Apart
• Sharp, Zoe - Dancing On The Grave
• Shea, Susan C - Dressed for Death in Burgundy #2 Katherine Goff
• Simms, Chris - Loose Tongues #1 DC Sean Blake, Manchester
• Staalesen, Gunnar - Big Sister #20 Varg Veum, PI in Bergen, Norway
• Taylor, Abbie - The Dilemma
• Truss, Lynne - A Shot in the Dark #1 Constable Twitten, Brighton, 1950s
• Varesi, Valerio - The Lizard Strategy #12 Commissario Soneri, Italy
• Waites, Martyn - The Old Religion
• Walker, Martin - A Taste for Vengeance #11 Bruno, Chief of Police, France
• Wassmer, Julie - Disappearance at Oare #5 Pearl Nolan, Whitstable
• Watson, S J - Double Take

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Publishing Deal - Tana French

A standalone crime novel by Tana French is to be published next year. From the Bookseller:
Editorial director Katy Loftus bought UK and Commonwealth rights to The Wych Elm from her long-term agent Darley Anderson [], who described the novel as “an ambitious, thought-provoking, page-turning, masterpiece”. It is slated for publication for spring 2019.

The American-Irish author has written six award-winning novels published by Hodder, all set in Dublin, featuring different members of a fictional murder squad. The Wych Elm marks a move away from that series, with a central character who finds himself at the centre of a murder case when a skull is discovered in his family’s ancestral home.

And it's already on Netgalley, under a variation of the title:

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life - he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden - and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Awards News: Theakston Crime Novel of the Year 2018 - Shortlist

From the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival website, details of the six titles on the Theakston Crime Novel of the Year 2018 shortlist:
The shortlisted six were whittled down from a longlist of 18 titles. The prize, created to celebrate the very best in crime fiction, was open to UK and Irish crime authors whose novels were published in paperback from 1 May 2017 to 30 April 2018.
Spook Street by Mick Herron (John Murray)

Insidious Intent by Val McDermid (Little, Brown)

The Long Drop by Denise Mina (Vintage)

A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee (Harvill Secker)

The Intrusions by Stav Sherez (Faber)

Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner (The Borough Press)

Mick Herron’s espionage thriller, Spook Street, is the fourth in his award-winning Jackson Lamb series. His acclaimed series is based on an MI5 department of ‘rejects’ – intelligent services’ misfits and screw-ups. Herron’s writing was praised by critic Barry Forshaw for ‘the spycraft of le Carré refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22.’

Val McDermid’s Insidious Intent features DCI Carol Jordan and Tony Hill, two of the most iconic characters in crime fiction. The LA Times said it was a novel that ‘shows Val McDermid deserves her Queen of Crime crown’. McDermid last received the Novel of the Year accolade in 2006.

Denise Mina could make it a hat-trick after winning the award in 2012 and 2013, she is the only author to date to have won the Novel of the Year in two consecutive years. The Long Drop has already attracted a wealth of awards; Mina was the first woman to win The McIlvanney Prize for The Long Drop.

Abir Mukherjee is the only author on the shortlist for a debut novel. A Rising Man, saw Abir Mukherjee picked as a 2016 New Blood author by Val McDermid at the Festival. She hailed it as, ‘One of the most exciting debut novels I’ve read in years.’ It too has won awards, including the CWA Historical Dagger. His sequel in the Sam Wyndham series is A Necessary Evil.

The Intrusions by Stav Sherez was a 2017 Guardian and Sunday Times book of the year, dubbed ‘A Silence of the Lambs for the internet age’ by Ian Rankin. The book was acclaimed by critics for its echoes of Emile Zola and influences from Graham Greene to Dostoyevsky.

Former Guardian journalist Susie Steiner’s first crime novel introduced Detective Manon Bradshaw in Missing, Presumed, a Sunday Times bestseller. Her follow up, Persons Unknown, a Richard and Judy book club pick, has attracted huge critical acclaim.

2018 marks the 14th year of the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year award.

Executive director of T&R Theakston, Simon Theakston, said: “The shortlisted authors are already rich in awards, but there’s only one Novel of the Year, so it will be fascinating to see which of these remarkable titles prevails – all are simply outstanding.”

The shortlist will feature in a six-week promotion in libraries and in WHSmith stores nationwide. The overall winner will be decided by the panel of Judges, alongside a public vote. The public vote opens on 1 July and closes 14 July at

The winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by broadcaster Mark Lawson on 19 July on the opening night of the 16th Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate.

The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Petrona Award 2018 - Winner

Announcing the winner for:

The 2018 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year

On 19 May 2018, at the Gala Dinner at CrimeFest, Bristol, Petrona Award judges Barry Forshaw and Sarah Ward announced the winner of the 2018 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year.

The winner is QUICKSAND by Malin Persson Giolito, translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles and published by Simon & Schuster.

Ms Persson Giolito was unable to collect the trophy in person, but she sent an acceptance speech which was read out by last year's winner Gunnar Staalesen:

“Quicksand is a story about justice and fundamental human values, and I understand that Maxine Clarke – who inspired the Petrona Award – was someone who appreciated the social and political awareness of Scandinavian crime literature. We have that in common, and that is one of the many reasons why I am particularly proud that Quicksand has received the award.

My warmest thanks to the members of the jury whose expert knowledge and passion helps Nordic Noir travel far. I also want to thank my publisher Suzanne Baboneau, and it is a special honour to share the prize with my excellent translator Rachel Willson-Broyles.”

As well as the trophy, Malin Persson Giolito receives a pass to and a guaranteed panel at next year's CrimeFest.

Malin Persson Giolito and Rachel Willson-Broyles will also receive a cash prize.

The judges' statement on QUICKSAND:

“In a strong year for entries to the Petrona Award, the judges were impressed by Quicksand’s nuanced approach to the subject of school shootings and the motives behind them. Persson Giolito refuses to fall back on cliché, expertly drawing readers into the teenage world of Maja Norberg, who faces trial for her involvement in the killings of a teacher and fellow classmates. The court scenes, often tricky to make both realistic and compelling, are deftly written, inviting readers to consider not just the truth of Maja’s role, but the influence of class, parenting and misplaced loyalty in shaping the tragedy. Rachel Willson-Broyles’s excellent translation perfectly captures Maja’s voice – by turns vulnerable and defiant – as she struggles to deal with events. Gripping and thought-provoking, Quicksand is an outstanding Scandinavian crime novel and the highly worthy winner of the 2018 Petrona Award.”

The Petrona team would like to thank our sponsor, David Hicks, for his generous support of the 2018 Petrona Award.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Awards News: CWA Dagger Longlists (2018)

Here is the press release containing the CWA Longlististed titles for the Gold, Ian Fleming, John Creasey, International, Historical and Short Story Daggers plus the Dagger in the Library.

CWA Announce Longlists for Prestigious Crime Writing Daggers

The Crime Writers Association announced the much anticipated longlists for the annual Dagger awards at a reception during CrimeFest in Bristol on the evening of Friday 18 May.

Several titles appear on more than one list: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton and Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic both appear on the longlist for the CWA Gold Dagger and the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, while A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee is on the Gold and the Historical longlists. Meanwhile London Rules by Mick Herron appears on the Gold and the Ian Fleming Steel longlists – he won the Ian Fleming last year with Spook Street, just as Mukherjee won the Historical with A Rising Man.

For the CWA International Dagger, names like Fred Vargas, Pierre Lemaitre and Dolores Redondo again make an appearance together with Lilja Sigurdardottir and the late Henning Mankell, while the late Philip Kerr also appears on the Historical longlist. So do plenty of other stars including Nicola Upson, LC Tyler and Frances Brody.

Lee Child makes three appearances on the CWA Short Story Dagger longlist, and Christine Poulson also appears there with her story ‘Accounting for Murder’ from the CWA’s own anthology, Mystery Tour – she is also shortlisted for the Margery Allingham Short Story prize, awarded at the same event.

Chair of the CWA and President of the Detection Club, Martin Edwards, is longlisted for the ALCS Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction with The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books and he also appears on the longlist for the Dagger in the Library, together with other stand-out names such as Sophie Hannah, Peter May, Martina Cole and several others – it’s an exceptionally strong list this year.

The CWA Daggers, which are the probably the awards crime authors and publishers alike most wish to win, are awarded every year in 10 categories. The Diamond Dagger, for a career’s outstanding contribution to crime fiction as nominated by CWA members, was announced earlier in the year and has been awarded to best-selling author Michael Connelly.

Here are the CWA Dagger longlists for 2018.

The CWA Gold Dagger 2018 Longlist

Ross Armstrong - Head Case, HQ
Steve Cavanagh - The Liar, Orion
Mick Herron - London Rules, John Murray
Dennis Lehane - Since We Fell, Little Brown
Laura Lippman - Sunburn, Faber & Faber
Attica Locke - Bluebird, Bluebird, Serpent’s Tail
Imran Mahmood - You Don’t Know Me, Michael Joseph
Abir Mukherjee - A Necessary Evil, Harvill Secker
Stuart Turton - The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Raven Books
Emma Viskic - Resurrection Bay, Pushkin Vertigo

The CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2018 Longlist

Adam Brookes - The Spy’s Daughter, Sphere
Joseph Finder - The Switch, Head of Zeus
Mick Herron - London Rules, John Murray Publishers
Emily Koch - If I Die Before I Wake, Harvill Secker
Attica Locke - Bluebird, Bluebird, Serpent’s Tail
Colette McBeth - An Act of Silence, Wildfire
Abir Mukherjee - A Necessary Evil, Harvill Secker
Gin Phillips - Fierce Kingdom, Doubleday
C J Tudor - The Chalk Man, Michael Joseph
Don Winslow - The Force, HarperFiction

The CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger

William Boyle - Gravesend, No Exit Press
Joe Ide - I.Q., Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Greg Keen - Soho Dead, Thomas & Mercer
Danya Kukafka - Girl In Snow, Picador
Melissa Scrivner Love - Lola, Point Blank
Khurrum Rahman - East Of Hounslow, HQ
John Steele - Ravenhill, Silvertail
Gabriel Tallent - My Absolute Darling, Fourth Estate
Stuart Turton - The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle, Raven Books
Emma Viskic - Resurrection Bay, Pushkin Vertigo

The CWA International Dagger 2018 Longlist

Zen and the Art of Murder - Oliver Bottini tr. Jamie Bulloch, MacLehose
The Shadow District - Arnaldur Indriðason tr. Victoria Cribb, Harvill Secker
Three Days and a Life - Pierre Lemaitre tr. Frank Wynne, MacLehose
After the Fire - Henning Mankell tr. Marlaine Delargy, Harvill Secker
The Frozen Woman - Jon Michelet tr. Don Bartlett, No Exit Press
Offering to the Storm - Dolores Redondo tr. Nick Caistor & Lorenza Garzía, HarperCollins
Three Minutes - Roslund & Hellström tr. Elizabeth Clark Wessel, Quercus/riverrun
Snare - Lilja Sigurdardóttir tr. Quentin Bates, Orenda
The Accordionist - Fred Vargas tr. Sian Reynolds, Harvill Secker
Can You Hear Me? - Elena Varvello tr. Alex Valente, Two Roads/John Murray

The CWA Historical Dagger 2018 Longlist

Abir Mukherjee - A Necessary Evil, Harvill Secker
Frances Brody - Death in the Stars, Piatkus
L. C. Tyler - Fire, Constable
Thomas Mullen - Lightning Men, Little Brown
Mark Ellis - Merlin at War, London Wall Publishing
Ngaio Marsh & Stella Duffy - Money in the Morgue, HarperCollins
Nicola Upson - Nine Lessons, Faber & Faber
Rory Clements - Nucleus, Zaffre Publishing
Philip Kerr - Prussian Blue, Quercus Fiction
Jessica Fellows - The Mitford Murders, Sphere

The CWA Short Story Dagger 2018 Longlist

The Corpse on the Copse by Sharon Bolton
“The Body” Killer Women Crime Club Anthology 2 Edited by Susan Opie (Killer Women Ltd)

The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle by Chris Brookmyre
Bloody Scotland ( Historic Environment Scotland)

Too Much Time by Lee Child
No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories (Bantam Press)

Second Son by Lee Child
No Middle Name: The Complete Collected Jack Reacher Stories (Bantam Press)

Authentic Carbon Steel Forged by Elizabeth Haynes
Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women Edited by Sophie Hannah (Head of Zeus)

Smoking Kills by Erin Kelly
“The Body” Killer Women Crime Club Anthology 2 Edited by Susan Opie (Killer Women Ltd)

Nemo Me Impune Lacessit by Denise Mina
Bloody Scotland (Historic Environment Scotland)

Accounting for Murder by Christine Poulson
Mystery Tour: CWA Anthology of Short Stories Edited by Martin Edwards (Orenda Books)

Faking a Murder by Kathy Reichs and Lee Child
Match Up Edited by Lee Child (Sphere)

Trouble is a Lonesome Town by Cathi Unsworth
Deadlier: 100 of the Best Crime Stories Written by Women Edited by Sophie Hannah (Head of Zeus)

CWA Dagger In The Library 2018 Longlist

Selected by nominations from libraries.

Simon Beckett
Martina Cole
Martin Edwards
Nicci French
Sophie Hannah
Simon Kernick
Edward Marston
Peter May
Rebecca Tope

Shortlists for the Daggers will be announced in July and the winners will be announced at the Dagger Awards dinner in London on 25 October, for which tickets are now available. Visit for more information or email .


Margery Allingham Short Story Competition

The Margery Allingham short story competition is open to published and unpublished writers alike; unusual in writing competitions. The story itself must be unpublished. The winner of the Margery Allingham short story competition was announced and the £500 prize awarded by one of the judges, Janet Laurence.

The winner was Russell Day with his story ‘The Value of Vermin Control’. The competition is a joint initiative between the Margery Allingham Society and the CWA.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: Beside the Syrian Sea by James Wolff

Beside the Syrian Sea by James Wolff, March 2018, 320 pages, Bitter Lemon Press, ISBN: 1908524987

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

“The lie was necessary, Tobias,” Jonas said. “It allowed us to establish who you are, what you are. To establish whether you’re the right person to help us with something of huge importance.”

Jonas is 35 years old, a loner working as an analyst in the quieter backwaters of British Intelligence. His personal nightmare erupts when his father, the Reverend Samuel Worth, is taken hostage during an ecumenical mission of support to the Christian Church in Syria. Theirs is not a warm father-son relationship and Jonas is ravaged by guilt at not advising his father better and at allowing their animosities to come between them at what may prove to have been their last contact.

Unable to provoke his employers and the British government to deviate from their policy of refusing to pay ransom demands nor to speak clearly on their progress in negotiating his father’s freedom, Jonas, unkempt and increasingly unruly, begins to foster his own plans. Now, months later and on Special Unpaid Leave which is dismissal by any other name, he has based himself in Beirut.

He has already been visited by Desmond Naseby who introduces himself as a visiting SIS officer on a brief stay in Beirut and anxious to check up on him. How is he is getting on? Would he like to see the latest on the negotiations in his father’s case, blah-di-blah? Naseby looks around the flat on the pretext of “a niece” coming to study in Beirut and wondering about accommodation. Why was Jonas even here? Turkey, Naseby could understand, but Beirut? And people are concerned about Jonas. This isn’t London. And then of course everyone is worried about that Snowden chap, how much damage a USB stick can do. In turn, Jonas wonders what more he could have done to flesh out Naseby’s portrait of him as a useless mess; “no cause for further concern”. An empty vodka bottle would have been a good idea, plenty of glasses lying around.

Jonas has tracked down his own hostage negotiator. Tobias is a Swiss national, a defrocked and alcoholic priest who has acted as a negotiator in the past. Jonas had presented himself to Tobias as a journalist but now he paints himself as the most secret of secret agents on a mission to get a hostage out of Syria. Tobias is distrustful but eventually consents, demanding his own favours by way of payment: a UK visa and safe passage across the border for a Syrian woman. Jonas realises too late it would have been easier if he had laid the truth before Tobias, that the hostage was his own father. But in accepting the price set by Tobias he has raised the stakes on his elaborate trail of deception which will see him pursued and threatened by MI6, the CIA and both ISIS and Hezbollah during his desperate journey to the Syrian border.

We often talk about unlikely heroes but Wolff's compassionate portrait of his protagonist Jonas, in this his first novel, is exceptional. Driven by a dreadful need to put things right and deprived of his own carefully controlled boundaries and routines, Jonas unleashes within himself – to his own utter bewilderment – what he himself calls a "wildness". And it is this wildness, together with a marshalling of his own habitual tics of memory and pattern recognition which provide the engine for his extraordinary attempt to free his father. Wolff's characterisations do not stop there: the Swiss priest Tobias; Maryam, the Syrian woman fiercely loyal to Tobias; the British agent Naseby who, dressed in tennis whites and clutching his wife's offering of a cottage pie, seems to have stepped straight out of Olivia Manning's Balkan Trilogy. The foul mouthed, lethal, CIA man, Harvey, is a more modern beast – as are the London-grown, street-talking, ISIS kidnappers. Wolff’s range of characters are detailed and convincing and in this beautifully constructed thriller he piles on the pressure to the end.

Sometimes I think that crime novels answer a reader's emotional need for justice to triumph, no matter how rough. Similarly, perhaps spy thrillers allow the reader to indulge a paranoid adrenaline-fuelled flight from the all powerful "they" who are out to get us. Certainly everyone is out to get Jonas and BESIDE THE SYRIAN SEA is a brilliant, gripping and moving thriller.

Lynn Harvey, May 2018

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

TV News: Sky Arts' Urban Myths and Agatha Christie

Next week's episode of Urban Myths on Sky Arts (17 May) puts its own spin on the mysterious disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926:

From Sky:

Agatha Christie's mysterious 11 day disappearance in 1926 gripped the nation and set off one of the biggest manhunts ever mounted. In desperation, Britain's most famous crime writers of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers, were drafted in to help the search. As they took matters into their own hands with their contrasting methods of detection, this was the beginning of crimes most unlikely investigative partnership: Sayers and Conan Doyle, together at last and on the hunt for Agatha Christie.

Starring Anna Maxwell Martin (Agatha Christie), Bill Paterson (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), Rosie Cavaliero (Dorothy L. Sayers), Adrian Scarborough (Inspector Danders) and Robert James-Collier (Colonel Archie Christie).

Written by Paul Doolan and Abigail Wilson. Directed by Guillem Morales. Produced by John Rushton. Executive Producers Lucy Lumsden and Lucy Ansbro. Produced by Yellow Door Productions.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Publishing Deal - Søren Sveistrup

Michael Joseph have bought the rights to The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup. Søren Sveistrup is best known here as the creator of The Killing and this is his first novel. It is scheduled for UK publication in October.

From The Bookseller:
Set in Copenhagen, The Chestnut Man opens on the day a government minister returns to work a year after her 12-year-old daughter went missing. On the same day, a young mother is found brutally murdered in a city suburb, her hand cut off and a chestnut doll-figure hanging from a nearby Wendy house. Detectives Thulin and Hess form an unlikely duo must to find the culprit whilst encountering trouble in their own personal lives.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

New Releases - May 2018

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in May 2018 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). May and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything or got the date wrong, do please leave a comment.
• Bannister, Jo - Kindred Spirits #2 Detective Constable Hazel Best & Gabriel Ash
• Bauer, Belinda - Snap
• Blake, Sam - No Turning Back #3 Detective Garda Cathy Connolly, Dublin
• Bolton, Sharon - The Craftsman
• Boyd, Damien - Dead Lock #8 DI Nick Dixon
• Brett, Harry - Red Hot Front #2 Goodwins, Great Yarmouth
• Brett, Simon - A Deadly Habit #20 Charles Paris, Actor
• Cameron, Graeme - Dead Girls
• Carol, James - Kiss Me, Kill Me (as J S Carol)
• Cleverly, Barbara - Fall of Angels #1 Inspector Redfyre, Cambridge, 1923
• de Muriel, Oscar - Loch of the Dead #4 Frey & McGray, Edinburgh, 1880s
• del Arbol, Victor - A Million Drops
• Delaney, - Luke A Killing Mind #5 DI Sean Corrigan
• Edwards, Mark - In Her Shadow
• Edwards, Rachel - Darling
• Flanders, Judith - A Howl of Wolves #4 Samantha Clair, Publisher
• Fleet, Rebecca - The House Swap
• Flower, Amanda - Flowers and Foul Play #1 Fiona Knox, Florist, Scotland
• Gardner, Frank - Ultimatum #2 Luke Carlton, Ex-Special Boat Service commando
• Goldammer, Frank - The Air Raid Killer #1 Max Heller, Dresden Detective
• Grey, Isabelle - Wrong Way Home #4 Detective Grace Fisher, Essex
• Hall, Araminta - Our Kind of Cruelty
• Harris, C S - Why Kill the Innocent #13 Sebastian St. Cyr, Regency England
• Harris, Gregory - The Framingham Fiend #6 Colin Pendragon
• Harris, Tessa - The Angel Makers #2 Constance Piper, Flower Seller, 1888 London
• Healey, Emma - A Whistle in the Dark
• Hill, Mark - It Was Her #2 DI Ray Drake
• Horowitz, Anthony - Forever and a Day #2 James Bond
• Ison, Graham - Deadlock #16 DI Brock & DS Poole
• Jackson, David - Don't Make a Sound #3 DS Nathan Cody, Liverpool
• James, Peter - Dead If You Don't #14 Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, Brighton
• Jarlvi, Jessica - What Did I Do?
• Jennings, Amanda - The Cliff House
• Jeong, You-Jeong - The Good Son
• John, D B - Star of the North
• Johnstone, Doug - Fault Lines
• Kent, Christobel - What We Did
• Kepler, Lars - The Rabbit Hunter #6 DI Joona Linna, Stockholm
• Khan, Vaseem - Murder at the Grand Raj Palace #4 Inspector Chopra
• Kutscher, Volker - Goldstein #3 Detective Inspector Rath, Berlin, 1929/30s
• Longworth, M L - The Secrets of the Bastide Blanche #7 Verlaque and Bonnet, Aix-en-Provence
• Mariani, Scott - The Moscow Cipher #17 Ben Hope, Ex-SAS
• McGeorge, Chris - Guess Who
• McKeagney, K A - Tubing
• Pearl, Matthew - The Dante Chamber #2 Dante Club
• Pinborough, Sarah - Cross Her Heart
• Potzsch, Oliver - The Council of Twelve #7 Hangman's Daughter series
• Reeve, Alex - The House on Half Moon Street #1 Leo Stanhope, Victorian era
• Riley, Maey-Jane - Dark Waters #3 Alex Devlin, Journalist, Norfolk
• Roberts, Mark - Killing Time #4 DCI Eve Clay, Liverpool
• Shaw, William - Salt Lane #1 DS Alexandra Cupidi
• Shelton, Paige - Lost Books and Old Bones #3 Scottish Bookshop Mystery
• Sigurdardottir, Yrsa - The Reckoning #2 Children's House series
• Stirling, Joss - Don't Trust Me
• Street, Karen Lee - Edgar Allan Poe and the Jewel of Peru #2 Poe and Dupin
• Suter, Martin - Allmen and the Dragonflies #1 Allmen
• Swallow, James - Ghost #3 Marc Dane
• Tarttelin, Abigail - Dead Girls
• Truhen, Aidan - The Price You Pay
• Voss, Louise - The Old You
• Weaver, Tim - You Were Gone #9 David Raker, Missing Persons Investigator
• Weeks, Stephen - Sins of the Father #2 The Countess of Prague
• Wilson, Andrew A Different Kind of Evil #2 Agatha Christie
• Wolf, Inger - Frost and Ashes (ebook only) #2 Inspector Daniel Trokic, Arhus
• Young, Dylan - Blood Runs Cold #2 Detective Anna Gwynne

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Petrona Award 2018 - the Shortlist

From the press release which was embargoed until 7.30am today:

Outstanding crime fiction from Denmark, Finland and Sweden shortlisted for the 2018 Petrona Award

Six outstanding crime novels from Denmark, Finland and Sweden have made the shortlist for the 2018 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, which is announced today.

WHAT MY BODY REMEMBERS by Agnete Friis, tr. Lindy Falk van Rooyen (Soho Press; Denmark)

QUICKSAND by Malin Persson Giolito, tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (Simon & Schuster; Sweden)

AFTER THE FIRE by Henning Mankell, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Vintage/Harvill Secker; Sweden)

THE DARKEST DAY by Håkan Nesser, tr. Sarah Death (Pan Macmillan/Mantle; Sweden)

THE WHITE CITY by Karolina Ramqvist, tr. Saskia Vogel (Atlantic Books/Grove Press; Sweden)

THE MAN WHO DIED by Antti Tuomainen, tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)

The winning title will be announced at the Gala Dinner on 19 May during the annual international crime fiction convention CrimeFest, held in Bristol on 17-20 May 2018. The winning author and the translator of the winning title will both receive a cash prize, and the winning author will receive a full pass to and a guaranteed panel at CrimeFest 2019.

The Petrona Award is open to crime fiction in translation, either written by a Scandinavian author or set in Scandinavia, and published in the UK in the previous calendar year.

The Petrona team would like to thank our sponsor, David Hicks, for his continued generous support of the Petrona Award.

The judges’ comments on the shortlist:

There were 61 entries for the 2018 Petrona Award from six countries (Denmark, Finland, France, Iceland, Norway, Sweden). The novels were translated by 33 translators and submitted by 31 publishers/imprints. There were 27 female and 33 male authors, and one brother-sister writing duo.

This year’s Petrona Award shortlist sees Sweden strongly represented with four novels; Denmark and Finland each have one. The crime genres represented include a police procedural, a courtroom drama, a comic crime novel and three crime novels/thrillers with a strong psychological dimension.

As ever, the Petrona Award judges faced a difficult but enjoyable decision-making process when they met to draw up the shortlist. The six novels selected by the judges stand out for the quality of their writing, their characterisation and their plotting. They are original and inventive, and shine a light on highly complex subjects such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, school shootings, and life on the margins of society. A key theme that emerged across all of the shortlisted works was that of family: the physical and psychological challenges of parenting; the pressures exerted by family traditions or expectations; sibling rivalries; inter­generational tensions and bonds; family loyalty… and betrayal.

We are extremely grateful to the translators whose expertise and skill allows readers to access these gems of Scandinavian crime fiction, and to the publishers who continue to champion and support translated fiction.

The judges’ comments on each of the shortlisted titles:

WHAT MY BODY REMEMBERS by Agnete Friis, tr. Lindy Falk van Rooyen (Soho Press; Denmark)

Her ‘Nina Borg’ novels, co-written with Lene Kaaberbøl, have a dedicated following, but this first solo outing by Danish author Agnete Friis is a singular achievement in every sense. Ella Nygaard was a child when her mother was killed by her father. Did the seven-year-old witness the crime? She can’t remember, but her body does, manifesting physical symptoms that may double as clues. Ella’s complex character is superbly realised – traumatised yet tough, she struggles to keep her son Alex out of care while dealing with the fallout from her past.

QUICKSAND by Malin Persson Giolito, tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (Simon & Schuster; Sweden)

In this compelling and timely novel, eighteen-year-old Maja Norberg is on trial for her part in a school shooting which saw her boyfriend, best friend, teacher and other classmates killed. We follow the events leading up to the murders and the trial through Maja’s eyes, including her reaction to her legal team’s defence. Lawyer-turned-writer Malin Persson Giolito successfully pulls the reader into the story, but provides no easy answers to the motives behind the killings. Gripping and thought-provoking, the novel offers an insightful analysis of family and class dynamics.

AFTER THE FIRE by Henning Mankell, tr. Marlaine Delargy (Vintage/Harvill Secker; Sweden)

Henning Mankell’s final novel sees the return of Fredrik Welin from 2010's Italian Shoes. Living in splendid isolation on an island in a Swedish archipelago, Welin wakes up one night to find his house on fire and soon finds himself suspected of arson by the authorities. While there’s a crime at the heart of this novel, the story also addresses universal themes of loss, fragile family ties, difficult friendships, ageing and mortality. The occasionally bleak outlook is tempered by an acceptance of the vulnerability of human relationships and by the natural beauty of the novel’s coastal setting.

THE DARKEST DAY by Håkan Nesser, tr. Sarah Death (Pan Macmillan/Mantle; Sweden)

Many readers are familiar with the ‘Van Veeteren’ detective stories of Håkan Nesser, but his second series, featuring Swedish-Italian Detective Inspector Gunnar Barbarotti, is only now beginning to be translated. An engaging figure who navigates his post-divorce mid-life crisis by opening a witty dialogue with God, Barbarotti is asked to investigate the disappearance of two members of the Hermansson family following a birthday celebration. The novel’s multiple narrative perspectives and unhurried exploration of family dynamics make for a highly satisfying read.

THE WHITE CITY by Karolina Ramqvist, tr. Saskia Vogel (Atlantic Books/Grove Press; Sweden)

Karolina Ramqvist’s novella focuses on an often marginalised figure: the wife left stranded by her gangster husband when things go wrong. Karin’s wealthy, high-flying life is over. All that’s left are a once grand house, financial difficulties, government agencies closing in, and a baby she never wanted to have. This raw and compelling portrait of a woman at rock bottom uses the sometimes brutal physical realities of motherhood to depict a life out of control, and persuasively communicates Karin’s despair and her faltering attempts to reclaim her life.

THE MAN WHO DIED by Antti Tuomainen, tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)

The grim starting point of Antti Tuomainen’s novel – a man finding out that he has been systematically poisoned and his death is just a matter of time – develops into an assured crime caper brimming with wry black humour. Finnish mushroom exporter Jaakko Kaunismaa quickly discovers that there’s a worryingly long list of suspects, and sets about investigating his own murder with admirable pluck and determination. The novel’s heroes and anti-heroes are engagingly imperfect, and Jaakko’s first-person narration is stylishly pulled off.

Further information can be found on the Petrona Award website.