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.