Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review: The Cold Summer by Gianrico Carofiglio tr. Howard Curtis

The Cold Summer by Gianrico Carofiglio translated by Howard Curtis, September 2018, 276 pages, Bitter Lemon Press, ISBN: 1912242036

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

“… You’re close to the shit, too, like all of us. But you never get it on you. I don’t know how else to put it. It’s like you had some kind of power …
Maybe it annoys me because I admire you, or vice versa. Am I talking crap?”
“No, you’re making perfect sense.”

1992, Bari, Southern Italy, summer-time.
Marshal Pietro Fenoglio sits in his favourite cafe so engrossed in the local newspaper editor’s advice to the police on handling a Mafia flare-up that he doesn’t immediately notice the young man trying to rob the cashier. When he does – he quickly overcomes the would-be robber and pins him to the floor. The cafe unfreezes and the carabinieri are called. Two men walk in and demand Fenoglio hands over the thief. They are not carabinieri. They say they will teach the thief a lesson. Fenoglio promises the men a lengthy stay at the police station if they don’t clear off – which they do. Then he pays for his breakfast pastry despite the owner’s objections and accompanies the young robber to the police station. Frankly, Fenoglio is tempted to let him go. He likes him, believes that this was, as he says, his first robbery attempt. But there are rules. He tells the young man to plea bargain and in all likelihood he will get a suspended sentence. The arrestee is grateful, telling Fenoglio that if he ever needs help he will find him hanging out near the Petruzzelli theatre. The mention of the theatre sours Fenoglio. It had been one of the things he had liked about Bari: concerts, an opera. But someone torched the theatre a few months ago. Now it’s just a burnt-out shell.

Captain Valente, new boss, fresh from Rome, summons Fenoglio to his office and asks him to bring him up to speed on the local mafia fight. Fenoglio obliges. A few weeks ago Shorty, a member of local crime boss Grimaldi's gang, was murdered. Since then several high profile Grimaldi gang members have disappeared or been killed. Valente assumes it’s a rival gang but Fenoglio points out that no-one outside the group has been killed. This looks more like battles within the gang itself.

Over a solitary lunch in a local trattoria, Fenoglio thinks about his current equally solitary life; his recent separation from Serena. The cause? His obsession with work perhaps but truly he thinks it’s because he can’t have children. Fenoglio knows that he has never been any good at showing his feelings. He feels them, but... Would Serena have a child with someone else? Could he stand that?

Back at the office they receive a tip-off. Grimaldi’s son has been kidnapped. Using a traffic violation as cover, Fenoglio questions one of Grimaldi’s associates known as the Accountant. Apparently the boy disappeared on the way to school a couple of days ago. The Accountant confirms there has been a ransom demand but cannot say whether it was paid or not. Fenoglio’s musings over the delicate procedure of demanding the appearance of a local Mafia boss and his wife at a police station are interrupted by news of a shoot-out in a neighbouring village. These incidents and killings are escalating in some kind of silent bubble, corroborating Fenoglio’s belief in an internal gang war. What is more the ransom, it seems, has been paid but the boy hasn’t been returned. They are interviewing the woman who delivered the ransom money when they get the grimmest news of all; the boy’s body has been found at the bottom of an isolated well. He has been dead for days…

Celebrated Italian crime writer, anti-Mafia prosecutor and one-time senator, Gianrico Carofiglio, embarks on a new series with THE COLD SUMMER (translated here by experienced Carofiglio translator Howard Curtis). It introduces Marshal Pietro Fenoglio of the Bari Carabinieri: solitary, thoughtful, reserved, a Northerner from Turin, carabiniere for twenty years and a man of principle. Events revolve around the tragic death of a kidnapped child and are set against the back-drop of real-life events – the Mafia assassinations of two high-profile anti-Mafia judges in 1992. In some parts the writing blends the action of police procedural with the cool reportage of legal deposition. This last might sound tedious but the formal language of the deposition serves to both collapse time and to filter the savagery of the violent crime. And Carofiglio's description of the structure and ritual of the “Societa Nostra” is engrossing and absorbing; simultaneously grandiose and elaborate, they function to confirm a gang member’s loyalty and even the subservience of locals to the rule and composition of the “Family” – perhaps an ornate mirror of modern day urban gang culture. The characters are closely observed: Fenoglio’s complex, reticent personality offset by the almost brutal character of his colleague Pellecchia. Finally a mix of random and purposeful events (Carofiglio has said that: “… real world investigations and trials are much more ruled by chance than in films and novels.”) move this story to an eventual darker turn and protagonist.

Strongly recommended. I look forward to more.

Lynn Harvey, January 2019

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

TV News: Trapped II and BBC Four

The BBC confirmed yesterday that Trapped, Follow the Money and Cardinal would be returning to BBC Four and that they have also purchased the Australian drama, Safe Harbour.

Here's the blurb for the second series of Iceland's Trapped:
After the success of the first series on BBC Four, series two of the acclaimed Icelandic crime drama Trapped returns. Outside Parliament in Reykjavik, a man throws himself at the Minister for Industry, setting fire to them both. Andri Olaffson, now working in Reykjavik, is assigned to the case and quickly learns the attacker was the minister’s twin. Their family’s roots are in the North, in the very area Andri had hoped to leave behind, where his old colleague Hinrika is now Chief of Police. Trouble is brewing in the town, with widespread anger at a power plant, drilling and a proposed aluminium plant. Shortly after Andri’s return the power plant’s foreman is found dead. Are the two incidents - the murder and the attack in Reykjavik - connected?
No news yet on the transmission date.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Review: Cruising to Murder by Mark McCrum

Cruising to Murder by Mark McCrum, June 2018, 224 pages, Severn House Publishers Ltd ISBN: 0727888072

Reviewed by Geoff Jones.

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

Francis Meadowes is a crime writer and has been invited to give a lecture on the cruise ship the Golden Adventurer in return for a free cruise. This is the high end of cruising, mainly wealthy Americans, some British and a German. Most cruise ships have between 800 and 1200 passengers on board, but this one has considerably less. Sailing the west coast of Africa, the itinerary is not the usual tourist visits but unusual and rare sights.

Francis is befriended by German retired surgeon, Klaus, an elderly lady who is a widow and has sailed on many cruises and looking forward to more, Eve, and an American single lady, Sadie, travelling with her aunt.

When Eve is found dead in her bed and the ship's doctor is reluctant to sign the death certificate everyone is naturally alarmed. When there is then a “man overboard” situation and they realise it is a young woman who is travelling with an older man, everyone is then convinced there is a murderer on board, despite the captain suggesting it is suicide. Francis is asked by the captain to investigate because of his previous success at a literary festival murder. One of the excursion staff accompanies Francis in his investigations on behalf of the captain.

Francis gets deeper into the mystery and soon realises his own life is at risk. Can he solve the case before it is too late?

The author knows his cruising. I've only been on the larger ships, but the description of the activities and the life on board is similar. He has written mainly non-fiction books except THE FESTIVAL MURDERS which also featured Francis. This was very enjoyable and I highly recommend it. I look forward to reading more about Francis, starting with his previous book.

Geoff Jones, January 2019

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Cover Theme: Twins

Saturday fun. The latest in my cover theme posts.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Cover Theme: Children's Playgrounds (& Balloons)

Saturday fun. The latest in my cover theme posts.

Aside from Julie Corbin's Tell Me No Secrets, these are all recent covers.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

TV News: Coroner

Not to be confused with the BBC's The Coroner....Canadian series Coroner is based on MR (Matthew) Hall's series of books featuring Coroner Jenny Cooper. The action has moved from the Welsh-English border near Bristol, to Toronto.

Coroner has just begun its run of 8 episodes in Canada but we don't have to wait long here in the UK. The first episode is on the Universal Channel at 9pm on 21 January.

Here's some of the the official blurb from CBC:
Inspired by the best-selling series of books by M.R. Hall and created by Morwyn Brebner (Saving Hope), CORONER (8x60) is a character-driven one-hour drama about Dr. Jenny Cooper (SERINDA SWAN), a recently widowed new coroner who investigates suspicious, unnatural or sudden deaths in Toronto. The series reflects the rich diversity of Toronto, and each case brings Jenny into a new arena in the city, touching on buzz-worthy themes. Jenny taps into her intuition as much as her intellect and heart as she solves cases with the help of homicide detective Donovan McAvoy (ROGER CROSS), a man who isn’t afraid of challenging the status quo; pathologist Dr. Dwayne Allen (LOVELL ADAMS-GRAY) and his assistant River Baitz (KILEY MAY); and Alison Trent (TAMARA PODEMSKI), Jenny’s assistant who keeps it real. And while Jenny solves mysterious deaths, she also deals with clinical anxiety; a teenage son, Ross (EHREN KASSAM), who is still grieving the death of his father; and the prospect of starting a new relationship with the enigmatic Liam (ÉRIC BRUNEAU).
Coroners feature as the lead characters in three other British/European series to my knowledge:

Bernard Knight's Sir John de Wolfe series set in twelfth century Devon.
Priscilla Masters' Martha Gunn series set in Shrewsbury.
Jutta Profijt's Martin Gänsewein series set in Cologne.

(There are slightly more pathologists.)

Monday, January 07, 2019

New Releases - January 2019

Many apologies for the extended delay since my last post. We've had a few technological issues over the last few weeks. Thank you for continuing to visit Euro Crime and best wishes for 2019 (and on).
Here's the latest in my regular feature, of monthly releases.

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in January 2019 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). January 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.
• Alfon, Dov - A Long Night in Paris
• Allan, Claire - Apple of My Eye
• Allen, Hania - Clearing The Dark #2 DS Dania Gorska
• Amphlett, Rachel - Bridge to Burn #7 Detective Kay Hunter
• Bailey, R J - Winner Kills All #3 Sam Wylde, Close Protection Officer
• Bannister, Jo - Silent Footsteps #3 Detective Constable Hazel Best & Gabriel Ash
• Barber, Lizzy - My Name is Anna
• Barton, Fiona - The Suspect
• Bradley, Alan - The Golden Tresses of the Dead #10 Eleven year old Flavia de Luce, 1950s England
• Broadribb, Steph - Deep Dirty Truth #3 Lori Anderson
• Brooke, Amanda - Don't Turn Around
• Butler, D S - Where Secrets Lie #2 Detective Karen Hart
• Clements, Rory - Nemesis #3 Thomas Wilde, 1930s
• Connolly, Sheila - The Lost Traveller #7 Maura Donovan, County Cork
• Cutts, Lisa - Lost Lives
• Dahl, Arne - Hunted #2 Detective Sam Berger
• Dean, Will - Red Snow #2 Tuva Moodyson, Sweden
• Deegan, James - The Angry Sea #2 John Carr, Ex SAS
• Dunford, Caroline - A Death at a Gentleman's Club #12 Euphemia Martins
• Eldridge, Jim - Murder at the British Museum #2 Former Detective Inspector Daniel Wilson
• Finlay, Mick - The Murder Pit #2 Arrowood, PI, 1895
• Foley, Lucy - The Hunting Party
• Fortin, Sue - Schoolgirl Missing
• Grant, Andrew - Invisible
• Griffin, Eamonn - East of England
• Hilton, Matt - False Move #5 Grey and Villere, Louisiana
• Hodge, Sibel - The Disappeared
• Hunter, Maddy - Catch Me if Yukon #12 Emily Andrews
• Hurley, Graham - Curtain Call
• Ivar, Katja - Evil Things #1 Hella Mauzer
• James, Bill - Hitmen I Have Known #35 DCS Harpur and ACC Iles
• Jameson, Hanna - The Last
• Kavanagh, Emma - To Catch a Killer
• Keane, Jessie - The Edge #3 Darke family
• Law, J S - The Coldest Blood #3 Lieutenant Danielle Lewis, Royal Navy
• Laws, Peter - Severed #3 Professor Matt Hunter
• Leather, Stephen - Last Man Standing
• Lehtolainen, Leena - Where Have All the Young Girls Gone #11 Detective Maria Kallio, Helsinki
• Lindstein, Mariette - The Cult on Fog Island #1 The Cult on Fog Island Trilogy
• Mark, David - Cold Bones #8 Detective Sergeant McAvoy of Humberside CID
• Martinez, Agustin - Village of the Lost Girls
• Maxwell, Alyssa - A Murderous Marriage #4 Lady and Lady's Maid Mystery
• May, Peter - The Man With No Face
• McCulloch, Ian - A Lot of Nerve
• McGuire, Michael - Flight Risk
• Mundy, Elizabeth - A Clean Canvas #2 Lena Szarka, Hungarian cleaner, London
• Parks, Alan - February's Son #2 Harry McCoy, Police Officer, Glasgow, 1973
• Rose, Jacqui - Fatal
• Rosett, Sara - Murder at Blackburn Hall #2 High Society Lady Detective, 1920s England
• Rowland, Laura Joh - The Hangman's Secret #3 Miss Sarah Bain, Victorian Era
• Savage, Vanessa - The Woman in the Dark
• Seymour, Gerald - Battle Sight Zero
• Shepherd-Robinson, Laura - Blood & Sugar
• Shimada, Soji - Murder in the Crooked House
• Sveistrup, Soren - The Chestnut Man
• Taylor, June - Keep Your Friends Close
• Wesolowski, Matt - Changeling #3 Six Stories
• Wilkins, Susan - It Should Have Been Me