Sunday, July 27, 2014

New Reviews: Fossum, Goddard, Hall, Kerr, Magson. Oswald, Ridpath, Smith, Stiastny

Here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, two have appeared on the blog over the last week and seven are completely new.

NB. You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page.

New Reviews

Laura Root reviews Karin Fossum's The Murder of Harriet Krohn tr. James Anderson, the seventh in the Inspector Sejer series and which completes the set of one to ten in English; however it appears, pleasingly, that there are a couple more, newer, Sejers to be translated;

Geoff Jones reviews Robert Goddard's The Corners of the Globe, which is now the middle part of a trilogy;

Michelle Peckham reviews The Burning by M R Hall, the latest in the Jenny Cooper, Coroner series;

Terry Halligan reviews a standalone by Philip Kerr - Research;

Lynn Harvey reviews Adrian Magson's Death at the Clos du Lac, the fourth in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in 1960s France;

Dead Men's Bones is the fourth in James Oswald's Inspector McLean series set in Edinburgh, reviewed here by Terry;

Lynn also reviews Meltwater by Michael Ridpath, the third in his Icelandic series;

Amanda Gillies reviews Anna Smith's Betrayed, the fourth in the Glasgow reporter Rosie Gilmour series

and Susan reviews Terry Stiastny's debut Acts of Omission.

Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here along with releases by year.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny

Acts of Omission by Terry Stiastny, July 2014, 336 pages, John Murray, ISBN: 1444794280

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

Alex Rutherford is a young civil servant who loses a disk of highly sensitive material when out with some friends. Despite his attempts to recover it, he finally has to admit that he broke all the rules and took the information away from the secure office. He is suspended and investigated for betraying the trust of his office.

Mark Lucas is an MP and the newly appointed Foreign Minister. He believes in transparency in government and when approached by the German government about information concerning former East German informers his instinct is to give it to them, but his colleagues disagree. So when the information finds its way to a newspaper - the same newspaper for which Alex's former university colleague now works – both Alex and Mark are considered as potential security risks. This heightens when Mark’s father, an eminent professor, is named as a former East German informer.

Both Alex and Mark find their lives turned upside down and their careers in doubt as the media storm hits their personal lives and the police and secret services start to question how the disk was obtained by the newspaper and where the breach in security lies.

I am not normally fond of political dramas but enjoyed this one very much. The characters are believable and it is easy to be sympathetic to both Mark and Alex in their attempts to serve their country to the best of their ability. The role of the newspaper and the journalist, Anna Travers, and what she will do to get her story is an unpleasant read and one that is realistic given the recent revelations in to how far the press will go to find the information they want, citing public interest in their quest for the scoop.

This is a first novel written by a former BBC reporter and is based on a true story. It has a decent enough pace, enough for the characters to develop, without the reader feeling they are being rushed on too fast. An author to watch I think.

A good read.

Susan White, July 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Award News: Icepick short-list announced

Quentin Bates, author of the Iceland-set Gunnhildur series, is one of the judges for the new crime fiction award, the Icepick, and has sent me the following press release:

Dicker, Flynn, Nesbø, Nesser and Tuomainen shortlisted for the inaugural Icepick

The authors and Icelandic translators of the following five novels are shortlisted for the inaugural Icepick Award – the Iceland Noir Award for translated crime fiction.

Joël Dicker: La Vérité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert [The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair] – Icelandic translation: Friðrik Rafnsson
Gillian Flynn: Gone Girl – Icelandic translation: Bjarni Jónsson
Jo Nesbø: Panserhjerte [The Leopard] – Icelandic translation: Bjarni Gunnarsson
Håkan Nesser: Människa utan hund [Man Without Dog] – Icelandic translation: Ævar Örn Jósepsson
Antti Tuomainen: Veljeni vartija [My Brother’s Keeper] – Icelandic translation: Sigurður Karlsson

The award is founded by the Reykjavik Crime Festival Iceland Noir, The Icelandic Association of Translators and Interpreters and The Icelandic Crime Writing Association. The Icepick will be awarded for the first time at the Nordic House in Reykjavik on 22 November 2014.

The Icepick shortlist is announced on the date of birth of Raymond Chandler, who used an icepick as a murder weapon in his 1949 novel, The Little Sister.

The jury for the award is composed of Magnea J. Matthíasdóttir, Chairman of The Icelandic Association of Translators and Interpreters, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Member of Parliament and former Minister of Culture and Education, journalist and literary critic Kolbrún Bergþórsdóttir, and crime writers Quentin Bates and Ragnar Jónasson.

The judging panel commented that Veljeni vartija [My Brother’s Keeper] by Antti Tuomainen and translated by Sigurður Karlsson is a very well written crime noir from Finland. The author’s strong and sharp style is impressive and memorable, and is delivered well in translation.

Panserhjerte [The Leopard] by Jo Nesbø, translated by Bjarni Gunnarsson, is a terrific crime novel from the Norwegian grandmaster, well translated; the eighth Harry Hole novel and one of the best in the series.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, translated by Bjarni Jónsson, is seen as a brilliant and exciting thriller, fluently translated; an unusual and surprising storyline, with a wonderful plot twist.

The panel found Människa utan hund by Håkan Nesser, translated by Ævar Örn Jósepsson, to be a first class family drama in the form of a crime novel, driven by strong characters; impressively translated.

In La Vérité sur l'affaire Harry Quebert [The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair] by Joël Dicker, translated by Friðrik Rafnsson an unusual hero gets caught up in a murder mystery full of surprises, keeping the reader’s attention for 700 pages; a cleverly constructed book, and a very fine translation.

ICELAND NOIR – Reykjavik International Crime Festival will take place, for the second time, the weekend of November 20 – 23, 2014. Around thirty authors, from all around the world, will take part in panels and interviews. Featured authors 2014 are Peter James, Johan Theorin, Vidar Sundstøl and David Hewson. The festival is open to all fans of crime fiction. For registration information please visit

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: The Burning by M R Hall

The Burning by M R Hall, February 2014, 400 pages, Mantle, ISBN: 0230752047

Reviewed by Michelle Peckham.
(Read more of Michelle's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

In THE BURNING, the latest in the series of books featuring the coroner Jenny Cooper, she investigates what really happened when a house was burnt down, with three people inside. Did one of the victims (Ed Morgan) kill his two daughters using a shotgun, before setting light to the house, and then shooting himself? Where is his three-year-old son Robbie, who is missing, and why does he seem to have deliberately hidden him from his 'whore' of a wife Kelly, who was out at work. As usual, Jenny becomes engrossed in the case, and starts to uncover facts and details that others would rather leave uncovered. Her assistant Alison, who had a serious accident in the previous book THE CHOSEN DEAD is keen on returning to work to help, although intriguingly, the damage to part of the frontal lobe in her brain has apparently affected her social behaviour. No longer is she the disapproving assistant of the past, she is now quite gung-ho and eager to help. Jenny's relationship with her pilot boyfriend Michael seems to be going well, but then becomes complicated, as Jenny can't quite bring herself to completely trust him. More unrelated deaths work their way into the mix, which, on further investigation turn out to play a part in the story, and a larger conspiracy begins to unfold.

In the first few books, Jenny was fairly dependent on a range of pills and tablets to help with her various anxieties. Despite finally having weaned herself off these, and her regular therapy sessions, she finds herself having to occasionally resort to the odd pill or two in this story, as she encounters the usual resistance to her dogged determination to leave no stone unturned. A bull-headed character, apparently lacking in confidence to some degree, but yet still determined to go where others are reluctant to go, to discover the truth, she is an interesting woman. I'm not sure how much I actually like her, but one can't help but admire her determination. It all ends in a final climactic scene, and then a final solution to the last remaining mystery, nicely tying everything off. I found the big conspiracy story-line a little bit unconvincing, but otherwise the novel is nicely put together, entertaining and is another enjoyable read from this author.

Michelle Peckham, July 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sunday, July 13, 2014

New Reviews: Ellis, Fossum, Grieves, Kent, Millar, Norman, Poulson, Simms

Here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, four have appeared on the blog over the last week and five are completely new.

NB. You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page.

New Reviews

Terry Halligan reviews two books by Mark Ellis, Princes Gate and Stalin's Gold, both set in 1940;

Lynn Harvey is very impressed with I Can See in the Dark by Karin Fossum tr. James Anderson;

Amanda Gillies reviews Tom Grieves' second book, A Cry in the Night, set in the Lake District;
Susan White reviews The Killing Room, the fifth in the Sandro Cellini series by Christobel Kent, set in Italy;

Michelle Peckham reviews Louise Millar's The Hidden Girl, set in Suffolk;

I review Andreas Norman's debut, a spy thriller set in Sweden and Brussels: Into a Raging Blaze tr. Ian Giles;

Geoff Jones reviews, recent competition prize, Invisible by Christine Poulson

and Mark Bailey reviews Chris Simms' A Price to Pay, the second in the DC Iona Khan series set in Manchester.

Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here along with releases by year.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Review: I Can See in the Dark by Karin Fossum tr. James Anderson

I Can See in the Dark by Karin Fossum translated by James Anderson, July 2014, 256 pages, Vintage, ISBN: 0099571838

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

My manner is calm and friendly, and I do what I am told. It's easy. I talk like them, laugh like them, tell funny stories. But with all the feeble elderly people under my care, things often slide out of control.

A town in Norway – a park by the lake.
Riktor observes the twitches and unintelligible noises of the child in her wheelchair. She and her chain-smoking mother come to the park every day. And so does Riktor. It is part of his daily routine, although he visits at different times of the day because of his shift work at the local nursing home. Riktor likes the park. Peaceful. Riktor doesn't sleep much, his nights are long and agonised. An articulated lorry parks by his bed every night with its engine churning and filling the room with diesel fumes. But he likes to think that he keeps a good grasp on reality during the day, it is only with the more helpless of his charges that things get out of hand. Riktor loves the peace of the park and in particular he loves the statue, Weeping Woman. The true condition of humanity, thinks Riktor, and when no one is looking he caresses her legs and slim body. In the park he also watches the man with the tremors. Most likely alcoholism, thinks Riktor. A thought which is confirmed by the man's hip flask. One day he leaves his flask behind. Riktor picks it up. It is inscribed to "Arnfinn". Riktor puts it in his pocket, perhaps Arnfinn will come back for it.

Riktor also studies the other staff at the nursing home, in particular the beautiful, good, kind, Sister Anna. He loves Anna. But she is as sharp as she is good, Riktor takes special care not to reveal his ministrations when she is around – injections into the mattresses, food and medication flushed down the pan. And blind Nelly Friis, whose frail skin he pinches until it bleeds and whose thin hair he pulls. She can't call out. She can't see who it is. Although, sometimes, when Riktor accompanies Anna into Nelly's room she flaps her hands and grows agitated.

Riktor's home is a small red house forty minutes walk away, with a veranda and the forest at its back. Riktor likes to walk to work whatever the weather. Walking brings order to his thoughts, those seething creatures that besiege his brain at sunset. He doesn't tell anyone about these thoughts, nor the lorry. Nor the fact that he can see in the dark – see the glowing life force of creatures and buildings. Riktor simply smiles and assumes a friendly expression.

One April day, with the snow still deep on the surrounding fields, Riktor spots a skier making his vigorous way towards the frozen lake, red suit and powerful arm strokes. Riktor is incredulous when the man moves out onto the ice of the lake, and transfixed when he stumbles and sinks, flailing at the ice breaking up around him. The man's cries weaken and he disappears, leaving a black pool surrounded by ice. His hand still clutching his mobile phone, Riktor turns and walks away. He won't report it. He mustn't draw attention to himself...

Karin Fossum is an award-winning Norwegian writer, one of the top names in Scandinavian crime fiction with her internationally published "Inspector Sejer" novels. I CAN SEE IN THE DARK however is a standalone psychological crime novel. It brings us the narrative of Riktor, a nurse at a local nursing home, a tortured man with torturing ways. Nicknamed by a schoolmate "The Pike" (for his protruding jaw and teeth) he not only brings to mind the dictionary definition of a pike as "a predatory freshwater fish with sharply pointed head and teeth" but also its popular image as a cunning, voracious hunter, lurking under the river bank. Riktor befriends the alcoholic Arnfinn and the friendship reaches a terrible conclusion. But when a police inspector visits Riktor and accuses him of a crime, it is one he did not commit.

Translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson (who has translated the novels of Karl Ove Knausgaard amongst others) the book reads beautifully. Fossum has so successfully and sensitively conjured Riktor, that I weirdly feel some sympathy for this sociopathic “villain”. The story manages both balance and suspense, and chillingly reminds us of the vulnerability of us all, including the isolated and disturbed Riktor. In an interview with The Independent a few years years ago, Fossum said: "I'm not a good crime writer. I'm not good with plots... so I have to do something else". I CAN SEE IN THE DARK is a masterful and beautifully written "something else" amidst Nordic Noir and you have to read it.

Read another review of I CAN SEE IN THE DARK.

Lynn Harvey, July 2014.