Thursday, August 25, 2016

TV News: Ängelby on ITV Encore


Swedish series Ängleby starts next week on ITV Encore. Episode 1 (of twelve) is on 31 August at 10pm.

A brief description from the ITV Press Centre of Episode 1:
Vera Fors, a mother of two, loses her job and her husband at the same time. The only work she can find is in a small community she’s never heard of, yet she gathers her belongings and the kids and drives off to start fresh in Ängelby. Right before she enters the town, she seemingly hits a boy with her car. In complete shock she concludes the boy is dead. But was it really Vera who killed him?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: Rough Cut by Anna Smith

Rough Cut by Anna Smith, January 2016, 416 pages, Quercus, ISBN: 184866432X

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

The long-awaited sixth book in Anna Smith’s fabulous series featuring feisty journalist Rosie Gilmour is with us, and it is every bit as fabulous as the previous books about her. Smith writes books that consume you. Her protagonist constantly finds herself up to her eyes in all sorts of trouble in her quest for the truth and takes you with her every step of the way. I love Rosie’s drive and ambition. I also love the way these books are written. They hold you captive and keep you guessing but are also a relatively quick read, so possible to whizz through in a couple of days – leaving you an exhausted heap by the time you have finished.

The novel opens with the gruesome scene of a prostitute with a dead punter at her feet. She has accidentally killed him in an erotic game that has gone terribly wrong and is left wondering what to do. She calls her friend, and fellow prostitute, for advice and the two of them are soon making their get-away; taking the punter’s mysterious briefcase with them. The contents of the briefcase turns out to be a pile of fake passports and a large number of rough diamonds. This discovery opens a whole can of worms and before too long there are threats being made on the girls’ lives by less than savoury men who want the case returned as soon as possible. Not knowing what to do, the girls turn to Rosie for help and she sets out to get to the bottom of the trouble.

As usual, Rosie doesn’t make things easy for herself and is looking into the apparent suicide of a young Pakistani bride at the same time as helping the prostitutes. What she finds out takes her to Pakistan, to rescue another young girl who suddenly disappears. What Rosie discovers shocks her to the core and soon she is once again running for her life. With diplomatic aid to help her escape, it seems as if Rosie might be safe this time, but you do start to wonder how long her luck will last.

One of the best things about Rosie is her sense of justice. Being a journalist, her purpose and passion is to seek out the perfect story. However, she also has an overpowering desire for fair-play and honesty. She keeps the police informed as much as she can and does her utmost to help those who ask her to. Only one thing is missing – TJ, her love. She misses him constantly and you, the reader, are also caught up in the loneliness she feels when she thinks about him. You have your fingers crossed that she will be reunited with her love but are not quite sure if she will ever see him again.

If you like a good plot that keeps you guessing and covers a current, controversial topic with sensitivity and tact, then you are going to love this book. It is not necessary to read the previous books in the series to enjoy this one but it makes it much more interesting if you do.

Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, August 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: Hard Cover by Adrian Magson

Hard Cover by Adrian Magson, March 2016, 256 pages, Severn House Publishers Ltd, ISBN: 072788607X

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

I have read many books by Adrian Magson and there has not been a bad one yet and he has done it yet again with this latest Marc Portman thriller, the third one in this series.

Marc (codename Watchman) is working, as he usually does as a private contractor for the CIA/MI6 and has been sent into Russia to provide hidden, black ops, back-up for a wealthy Russian businessman who has lived in the UK for many years. Leonid Tzorekov was a former KGB officer but is now sympathetic to the West and is thought to be in Russia now with the object of meeting his old friend President Vladamir Putin to persuade him to be more sympathetic and moderate towards the West.

There are many, however, who do not want Leonid Tzorekov to meet with Putin and will do anything possible to stop him. Portman goes into Russia in disguise and under cover of darkness and puts an electronic beeper under the bumper of the Russian's car. He hopes this will aid him in following the target less overtly then without it. However, there are others who are considering the same tactic, but for more aggressive purposes.

This very exciting, tense adventure kept me guessing right up until the final sentence. I have had the privilege of reading the author's two earlier Marc Portman stories CLOSE QUARTERS and WATCHMAN; I have also read his NO KISS FOR THE DEVIL in his Riley Gavin series and two of his Lucas Rocco stories set in provincial France during the 1960s: DEATH ON THE MARAIS and DEATH ON THE RIVE NORD.

Adrian Magson is a very experienced author and when you open one of his titles you know that the book in question will provide a really interesting and tense plot, and thoughtful, well-described characters. He researches his plots in a thorough and painstaking manner in a similar way to fellow authors such as Stephen Leather and Simon Kernick. The reader can always expect a real sense of tense, nail-biting action and dramatic, page-turning suspense.

I look forward to reading any further adventures of Marc Portman and in fact any new books by this very talented and exciting author. Very strongly recommended.

Terry Halligan, August 2016.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: Rage by Zygmunt Miloszewski tr. Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Rage by Zygmunt Miloszewski translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones, August 2016, 426 pages, Paperback, AmazonCrossing, ISBN: 1503935868

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

Olsztyn, Poland, November 2013.
In the morass of Olsztyn’s traffic system, Prosecutor Szacki can feel his belief in the sanctity of life waning – particularly regarding Olsztyn’s traffic designer. It is a cold, damp morning with some kind of persistent frozen sludge falling from the sky and accumulating on his windscreen. He considers running the lights, but being caught by the traffic police would be a dark stain on his service history as a state prosecutor. He ponders the mishmash of architecture in this once German city as he drags his old Citroën through its clogged streets. He has no great love for the Germans, they destroyed so much of his home city of Warsaw, but he considers the only characterful buildings in this city to be those built by its German administration. This morning he is due to make a presentation at a local high school. He is mortified, when he finally arrives, to find he is also expected to make a speech.

In the suburbs, a woman contemplates her endless list of imperfections. She tries to chose something to wear that will please her husband. From another room her small son lets out a wail. She rushes to soothe him, tries to find a DVD to stop his crying. What has she done with the day? She puts the kid in his high chair and gives him microwaved pancakes with cottage cheese. She’d better put on some make-up, get down to the supermarket, buy some real food and cook a proper meal for them. “Don’t want it!” yells the kid. She rushes back to her son. Can’t believe what she sees. The kid has encased the new, designer-smart, universal remote with cottage cheese and is aiming it at the TV whilst shouting for the Teletubbies. She could rip his head off. Really. But instead she snorts with laughter and hugs him, daubing her sweater with cottage cheese.

Szacki thinks his image represents the strength and stability of the Polish State – prematurely white hair, his “Bond” outfit of grey suit, sky-blue shirt, skinny grey tie, cuff links and steel watch. Standing on the assembly hall’s platform he stares out at the students. The speech looms. He wants to be upbeat, start with a joke, but he realises this isn’t his style. After a long, awkward silence, he starts his address: “The statistics are against you...” and coldly lists the horrors which are the crimes they are likely to commit during their lifetimes: theft, violence, murder, harassment, rape. If they want to avoid this outcome, the answer is simply – “Do no wrong.” The head teacher glares at him and herself hands the framed certificate to the winning student. Applause. Slipping away, Szacki answers his boss’s phone call with relief. Roadworks (what else) have exposed an “Old German”, their slang term for a long-dead cadaver. All he needs to do is go over and check it off as such.

The hole in the road has revealed an underground room, some kind of offshoot from the hospital. The body, lying on a rusted bed frame, is indeed no more than bones. A complete set. Szacki signs the remains off and heads home but with a sense of dread. Since August he has shared his home with the “Two Witches”: his girlfriend and his daughter, an unhappy sixteen-year-old recently transplanted from Warsaw when her mother, Szacki’s ex-wife, moved to live abroad with her new husband and his research job in Singapore. Szacki had found it fine living with his girlfriend and fine with his daughter. But the two together was another matter.

At the office next day Szacki listens to junior prosecutor Edmund Falk’s report. Szacki knows that the rest of the legal system have dubbed them “king of the stuffed shirts” and “prince of the starched collars”. Truly, in Falk, Szacki has met his buttoned-up match. He is just about tolerating Falk’s jibes at Szacki’s performance at Falk’s old high school when he is summoned by Professor of Anatomy, Professor Frankenstein no less, to the University Hospital’s anatomy department. The professor has been examining the “Old German’s” bones and has found a remarkable component: a modern prosthetic toe joint. So modern in fact that this particular one was fitted only two weeks ago….

Miloszewski’s third “Prosecutor Szacki” novel – RAGE – begins with a murder. It’s a shocking murder on many levels, springing out from the book’s first pages and vividly painted as a physical struggle between two bodies – one to kill and one to survive. A great hook. Most of the rest of the novel is written in flashback, describing the events of the previous ten days which start with skeletal remains being found in a basement tunnel in the Polish city of Olsztyn. These turn out to be not only very modern but composed of bones from more than one body and Prosecutor Szacki begins to think he has a serial killer on his hands, one who likes to dissolve his victims in lye. But the cases are not so straightforward. Not all the victims are dead. Some have been mutilated and left to live in terror. Szacki must find this madman soon. Even sooner when the threat and fear touches him personally.

Stitching his crime themes throughout the fabric and imagery of each of his novels, the theme which runs through Miloszewski’s RAGE is domestic abuse, more particularly, the abuse of women. He even uses Greek myth to underscore his topic, when the co-owner of a travel agency explains the subject matter of a poster on the agency wall, a reproduction of Iphigenia in Tauris (modern day Crimea). The myth’s story is told in shorthand: a Greek tragedy, a family tale of murderous fathers, mothers and sons. In this novel Szacki is older and psychologically darker as his Sheriff of Cool stance is increasingly disrupted by his own rising sense of rage. But RAGE is a terrific story, convincingly translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones; full of potential suspects for the reader, full of suspense, strong characterisation and a tang of one of Miloszewski’s own crime writing heroes, Henning Mankell. But this is Mankell through Miloszewski's lens of wit and irony laced with affection.

In an author’s note at the end of the book, Miloszewski reveals that RAGE is the final episode in a trilogy featuring State Prosecutor Teodor Szacki. I have read all three – ENTANGLEMENT, A GRAIN OF TRUTH and now RAGE – and have become a devoted fan of Szacki. If this review tempts you, then read them all. You must. Myself, I shall miss Szacki’s elegance, irony, sarcasm and flawed calm. In fact I shall have to miss Miloszewski's crime writing altogether as he has announced (in a blog interview and a guest post on “Crime Fiction Lover” and “Reader Dad” respectively) that he has also given up writing crime fiction.

“It’s always better to stop too soon rather than too late” he says. In Miloszewski’s case – not for this reader.

Lynn Harvey, August 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Heads Up: A Deadly Thaw blog tour

I'm currently reading Sarah Ward's second book, A Deadly Thaw, in preparation for the upcoming blog tour. You may remember how much I enjoyed In Bitter Chill and I can report that book two is every bit as full of well-rounded characters and contains an even more puzzling mystery.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Cover Theme: Flight of Stairs

The Anita Shreve title is from a few years ago and is not crime. Corrie Jackson's book will be out in September and Jenny Blackhurst's book came out last year.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Award News: Petrona Award Eligibles 2017

Here is a list* of books (46) that can be submitted for the 2017 Petrona Award for the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year ie:
  • The submission must be in translation and published in English in the UK during the preceding calendar year ie 1 January – 31 December 2016.
  • The author of the submission must either be born in Scandinavia** or the submission must be set in Scandinavia*.
(E-books that meet the above criteria may be considered at the judges’ discretion (does not include self-published titles))
**in this instance taken to be Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

More details about the award and the history behind it can be found on the Petrona Award website. The winner of the 2016 Award was Jorn Lier Horst for The Caveman tr. Anne Bruce.

Gender, country and publisher details are also included.

*This list will be updated as and when additional titles are identified.

Published in 2016

January

Stefan Ahnhem - Victim Without a Face tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (M, Sweden) Head of Zeus
Jogvan Isaksen - Walpurgis Tide tr. John Keithsson (M, Denmark) Norvik Press
Leif GW Persson - The Sword of Justice tr. Neil Smith (M, Sweden) Doubleday

February

Steffen Jacobsen - Retribution tr. Charlotte Barslund (M, Denmark) Quercus

March

Friis & Kaaberbol - The Considerate Killer tr. Elisabeth Dyssegaard (F, Denmark) Soho Press
Lotte and Soren Hammer - The Vanished tr. Martin Aitken (B, Denmark) Bloomsbury
Jorn Lier Horst - Ordeal tr. Anne Bruce (M, Norway) Sandstone Press
Camilla Lackberg - The Ice Child tr. Tiina Nunnally (F, Sweden) HarperCollins
Viveca Sten - Closed Circles tr. Laura A Wideburg (F, Sweden) Lake Union Publishing (Amazon)

April

Simon Pasternak - Death Zones tr. Martin Aitken (M, Denmark) Harvill Secker
Erik Axl Sund - The Crow Girl tr. Neil Smith (M, Sweden) Harvill Secker

May

Torkil Damhaug - Death By Water tr. Robert Ferguson (M, Norway) Headline
Anne Holt - No Echo tr. Anne Bruce (F, Norway) Atlantic
Jari Jarvela - The Girl and the Rat tr. Kristian London (M, Finland) AmazonCrossing
Lars Kepler - Stalker tr. Neil Smith (B, Sweden) HarperCollins
Leena Lehtolainen - The Devil's Cubs tr. Jenni Salmi (F, Finland) AmazonCrossing
Kjell Westo - The Wednesday Club tr. Neil Smith (M, Finland) MacLehose Press

June

Karin Fossum - Hellfire tr. Kari Dickson (F, Norway) Harvill Secker
Hjorth-Rosenfeldt - The Man Who Wasn't There tr. Marlaine Delargy (M, Sweden) Century
Martin Holmen - Clinch tr. tbc (M, Sweden) Pushkin Press
Mari Jungstedt and Ruben Eliassen - A Darker Sky tr. Paul Norlen (B, Sweden) AmazonCrossing
Jonas Hassen Khemiri - Everything I Don't Remember tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (M, Sweden) Scribner
Minna Lindgren - The Lavender Ladies Detective Agency: Death in Sunset Grove tr. Lola Rogers (F, Finland) Pan
Liza Marklund - The Final Word tr. Neil Smith (F, Sweden) Corgi
Leif GW Persson - The Dying Detective tr. Neil Smith (M, Sweden) Doubleday
Gunnar Staalesen - Where Roses Never Die tr. Don Bartlett (M, Norway) Orenda

July

Emelie Schepp - Marked for Life tr. Rod Bradbury (F, Sweden) MIRA
Ragnar Jonasson - Blackout tr. Quentin Bates (M, Iceland) Orenda
Leena Lehtolainen - Fatal Headwind tr. Owen Witesman (F, Finland) AmazonCrossing

August

Yrsa Sigurdardottir - Why Did You Lie? tr. Victoria Cribb (F, Iceland) Hodder & Stoughton

September

Camilla Grebe - The Ice Beneath Her tr. tbc (F, Sweden) Zaffre Publishing
Hans Olav Lahlum - Chameleon People tr. Kari Dickson (M, Norway) Mantle
Jo Nesbo - The Kidnapping tr. tbc (M, Norway) Harvill Secker (Not on Good Reads)
Kristina Ohlsson - Buried Lies tr. Neil Smith (F, Sweden) Simon & Schuster moved to June 2017
Agnes Ravatn - The Bird Tribunal tr. Rosie Hedger (F, Norway) Orenda

October

Steinar Bragi - The Ice Lands tr. Lorenza Garcia (M, Iceland) Macmillan
Torkil Damhaug - Fireraiser tr. Robert Ferguson (M, Norway) Headline
Kati Hiekkapelto - The Exiled tr. David Hackston (F, Finland) Orenda Books
Anne Holt - Beyond the Truth tr. Anne Bruce (F, Norway) Corvus
Mari Jungstedt - The Fourth Victim tr. tbc (F, Sweden) Doubleday
Mons Kallentoft - Souls of Air tr. Neil Smith (M, Sweden) Hodder moved to April 2017
Thomas Rydahl - The Hermit tr. K E Semmel (M, Denmark) Oneworld Publications
Antti Tuomainen - The Mine tr. David Hackston (M, Finland) Orenda
Carl-Johan Vallgren - The Tunnel tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles (M, Sweden) Quercus
Joakim Zander - The Brother (apa The Believer) tr. Elizabeth Clark Wessel (M, Sweden) Head of Zeus

November

Christoffer Carlsson - The Falling Detective tr. Michael Gallagher (M, Sweden) Scribe
Kjell Eriksson - Stone Coffin tr. Ebba Segerberg (M, Sweden) Allison & Busby
Sara Stridsberg - The Gravity of Love tr. Deborah Bragan-Turner (F, Sweden) MacLehose Press

December

Anders de la Motte - Ultimatum (apa The Silenced) tr. Neil Smith (M, Sweden) Harper moved to May 2017