Lynn Harvey's favourite reads of 2017
2017 Top Five
In no particular order I give you my favourite Euro Crime reads of 2017, although I think one or two may have been published earlier.
Donna Leon – Earthly Remains (2017 Heinemann)
Donna Leon was one of my favourite early introductions to "European Crime" and I have always enjoyed her novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police and his wife Paola. In EARTHLY REMAINS Guido has reached crunch point with the system. Burnt out, he is ordered to rest and takes advantage of the chance of some isolation and reading on an island in the Lagoon. But Brunetti is Brunetti and sooner or later there is a death which he feels drawn to investigate. I really enjoyed this novel, its laguna setting and its insight into Brunetti's own past.
Donna Leon still has magic for me.
Frédéric Dard – Crush (2016 Pushkin Vertigo) Translated by Daniel Seton
I have never read Frédéric Dard before. A prolific French crime writer, friend of Simenon, he died in 2000. CRUSH is set in a grim industrial town in Northern France in the 1950s. It tells the story of 17 year old Louise who is fascinated by a wealthy American couple, the Roolands, with their glossy American car and totally alien lifestyle. Her fascination becomes obsession and the novel takes a dark route. A concise but gripping thriller, I read this in one sitting.
Leif GW Persson - The Dying Detective (2017 Black Swan) Translated by Neil Smith
Retired Chief of Police Lars Martin Johansson is in hospital recovering from a stroke when a chance encounter alerts him to a fact concerning an old investigation into the rape and murder of a child. The case's statute of limitations has expired. Nevertheless Johansson becomes determined to solve it. My first Leif Persson crime novel, I shall have to go retrospective.
Kati Hiekkapelto - The Exiled (2017 Orenda) Translated by David Hackston
Hiekkapelto's third "Anna Fekete" crime novel is set in Anna's home village in Northern Serbia rather than Finland. She is on holiday revisiting friends and family when she becomes a victim of a bag-snatch. The incident draws her deeper into an investigation of a death and then deeper into her own past.
I do my travelling in my crime reading and this was a captivating new landscape to explore.
Parker Bilal - Dark Water (2017 Bloomsbury)
I am a Parker Bilal fan, faithfully following the investigations of his Sudanese private eye, Makana, in his adopted country of Egypt. But this time Makana is drawn into an unfamiliar world of espionage as he is persuaded by a mysterious Englishman to escort an Iraqi scientist to safety from his hiding place in Istanbul. It's a case that once again brings Makana into contact with his own painful past.
And a sixth book for luck! And because this has become my "go to" Nordic Noir for Christmas and, yes, it is possible to re-read it and still be spellbound.
Johan Theorin - The Darkest Room (2010 Black Swan) Translated by Marlaine Delargy
Theorin's second novel in his Öland Quartet, Öland being an island off the Swedish coast large enough for its own community and towns but these days primarily home to vacationers and the elderly. Set in a bitterly cold mid-winter, this crime novel tells the stories of Katrine and Joakim who have come with their children to make a new home and renovate an isolated house near two lighthouses on the island's northern coast. Their plans are shattered by a death. What follows is a wonderful Christmas blend of snow, crime and creepiness. I had to add it to this list.
Happy New Year, best wishes and good reading for 2018.