Thursday, July 31, 2014

Competition News: Appear in the sequel to Falling Fast by Neil Broadfoot

Further to the recent announcement of the shortlist of the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, I've received the following information about a competition related to one of the shortlisted authors:

Falling Fast, the debut crime thriller by Neil Broadfoot, has been shortlisted for the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award, placing him alongside some of the top names in Scottish crime fiction, including Chris Brookmyre and Louise Welsh.

To celebrate, we’re running a competition for one lucky reader to appear as a character in the second book of the Falling Fast trilogy, due out in 2015. To qualify, simply tweet why you liked the book along with #FallingFast before 31 August 2014. Neil will pick the tweet that he likes the best and the winner will see their name appear in his next book.

The winner of the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award will be announced on 20 September at Bloody Scotland, Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, which takes place in Stirling from 19 to 21 September.

Neil said: “Being shortlisted for the Deanston is an absolute honour – and totally surreal. The crime-writing scene is bursting with incredible talent and great people at the moment, and to be plucked from all those brilliant writers is a humbling experience. I’ve been a fan of Bloody Scotland as a reader for years, to be here now on the shortlist is just fantastic. Bloody brilliant, in fact.” 

Falling Fast was also a Dundee International Book Prize finalist last year. From its shock opening to the final jaw-dropping twist, Falling Fast draws the reader into the world of Doug McGregor, a crime reporter juggling two stories: the hunt for a convicted rapist and the grisly death of a prominent politician’s daughter. Working off the record with insider contact and sometime sparring partner DS Susie Drummond, Doug uncovers secrets, brutal violence, drug abuse, murder – and the ultimate taboo.

The other shortlisted titles are: Flesh Wounds by Chris Brookmyre;
The Amber Fury by Natalie Haynes; Entry Island by Peter May;
A Lovely Way To Burn by Louise Welsh;
In The Rosary Garden by Nicola White.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Black Lies, Red Blood by Kjell Eriksson tr. Paul Norlen

Black Lies, Red Blood by Kjell Eriksson translated by Paul Norlen, May 2014, 350 pages, Allison & Busby, ISBN: 0749015039

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

“What connection do you think there is between the murdered man and Brant?”
“Not a clue,” said Lindell.
“But if you know him.”
“I don't know him.”
“But something...”
“Don't you hear what I'm saying? I don't know him!”

Uppsala, Sweden.
Ann Lindell is lying next to her lover of just a few weeks. It has been a long time since she has felt desired and the flat has been filled with talk, although talk of the present, no past or future. She knows that he is a journalist and he knows that she is a police detective, little else. Ann is just realising that she is in love – when Anders gets up and tells her he has to go and that he will be away for a week or two.

On waste land beneath a viaduct lies a man's body, bludgeoned to death. There is no clue to his identity except a slip of paper with a phone number. He looks like a vagrant and a short distance away is an old site-trailer where he might have been sleeping.

Ann finds it hard to concentrate during the morning meeting. She keeps thinking about Anders Brant and about their love-making. It is clear to the rest of the team that she is not paying attention. Self-conscious, she leaves the room “to make a phone call” but in reality she sits in her office trying to take stock. Her boss steps in and asks how she's doing. Ann parries his concern by suggesting that they ask at the local homeless shelter about the dead man and also suggests that it was a "wino killing a wino" but is pulled up by the reminder that they found no alcohol in the body. Finally – she cannot hide her shock when the chief tells her that the phone number found on the body is that of Anders Brant, a local journalist. He spots her reaction and asks if she knows Brant. Ann answers that they have met socially, but no – she doesn't really know him. She resolves the unspoken issue by suggesting that she works on her "cold case": a missing sixteen-year old whom no-one has seen since she left her home on a shopping trip one spring morning.

The police visit to the homeless shelter gives the dead man an identity, a circle of "friends", and an ex-wife. They interview the ex-wife and she tells them that the dead man had been a sober, hard-working scaffolder until an accident left him unable to continue working. After that – everything went downhill, the drink took over and the marriage fell apart.

Meanwhile Ann has given in to the urge to research Anders Brant on the internet. A colleague rings to tell her that he is at Brant's flat. He tells her that the last sight of him was that morning when he came home in a taxi and half an hour later left again, carrying a small suitcase. Angrily Ann shuts her computer. Anders is now "Brant" in her mind. She returns to the missing girl, further upset to find that the investigation overlooked a reported sighting. The girl was seen on the morning of her disappearance, walking along the road towards Uppsala with a young man in a grey hoody. The caller said that he had been test-riding a moped when he saw them and when he doubled back a short while later the couple were nowhere in sight...

BLACK LIES, RED BLOOD is Swedish writer Kjell Eriksson's fifth "Ann Lindell" novel to be translated into English (this time by Seattle-based Paul Norlen who has also translated books by Leif GW Persson and Carin Gerhardsen). The series is set in Eriksson's native Uppsala and features detective Lindell and her police colleagues. In this story Ann's emotional life as well as her police work are under the microscope when a lover becomes a suspect in the death of a homeless man. Ann attempts to sidestep the implications of her relationship by concentrating on the case of a missing teenager. Meanwhile her lover, Anders Brant, is in Brazil, reconnecting with another love, contemplating his own feelings for Ann, and himself becoming a witness to murder. It's a tangled story of lies, impulse and death.

Eriksson writes at the political sharp-end of Swedish crime fiction, perhaps more so than Henning Mankell. A one-time union activist, he insists that his novels are about the lives of "ordinary" working people as well as the homeless and the immigrant. BLACK LIES, RED BLOOD is no exception, formed from his familiar cross-section of characters' lives which intersect during a crime investigation. Occasionally Eriksson follows such characters out of the context of a central criminal plot, a technique which might leave hard-wired crime fiction fans – focused on chasing towards a whodunnit conclusion – adrift amongst his characters and regarding such diversions as red herrings. But to me these digressions are the result of Eriksson's urge for realism and social reportage and if that informs the spirit of Scandi-noir for you – then BLACK LIES, RED BLOOD is also the latest in your essential reading.

Lynn Harvey, July 2014.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Awards News: Scottish Crime Book of the Year - Shortlist announced

I've just received the following press release announcing the shortlist for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, the winner will be announced at Bloody Scotland.

Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival and the Deanston Distillery are delighted to announce the shortlist for the third annual Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year. The award, which recognises excellence in Scottish crime writing, includes a prize of £1000 and nation-wide promotion in Waterstone’s, will be announced at a gala event on Saturday 20 September as part of the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival. The previous winners are Malcolm Mackay with How A Gunman Says Goodbye in 2013 and Charles Cumming with A Foreign Country in 2012.

The shortlist, which was chosen by a panel of readers from a longlist of 49 books, is as
Chris Brookmyre, Flesh Wounds
Neil Broadfoot, Falling Fast
Natalie Haynes, The Amber Fury
Peter May, Entry Island
Louise Welsh, A Lovely Way To Burn
Nicola White, In The Rosary Garden

Magnus Linklater, journalist and former newspaper editor; Angie Crawford, Scottish
Buyer, Waterstones, and Jenny Niven, Portfolio Manager for Literature, Creative Scotland,
form the 2014 Deanston panel of judges.

Dom Hastings, Festival Manager, Bloody Scotland, said:
‘We are delighted to be working with Deanston again on what is increasingly one of the most prestigious prizes on the Scottish literary scene – and especially given that the lineup this year is so strong. Christopher Brookmyre, Peter May and Louise Welsh are well known to both Scottish and international audiences, but it’s great to be able to welcome Natalie Haynes, known for her work in television and comedy rather than writing, with her first novel, and brand new writers Neil Broadfoot and Nicola White. They’ve all written fantastic books, which take a variety of approaches to the whodunnit structure, whether they’re experimenting with form and darker tones, trying to get inside the mind of a disturbed teenager, creating a dystopian plague-ridden London, examining the murky underworld beneath Edinburgh’s political sheen, imagining reincarnation around the Highland Clearances or exploring the restrictions of convent school life. The strength and diversity of this year’s shortlist proves that Scottish crime writing is still burgeoning and pushing boundaries, whilst enthralling readers.’

Neil Broadfoot:
‘Being shortlisted for the Deanston is an absolute honour – and totally surreal. The crime-writing scene is bursting with incredible talent and great people at the moment, and to be plucked from all those superb writers to be shortlisted for the Book of the Year Award along with some of the biggest names in the business is a humbling experience. I’ve been a fan of Bloody Scotland as a reader since the festival began, so to be here now on the shortlist is just fantastic. Bloody brilliant, in fact!’

Chris Brookmyre:
‘It is an almighty validation to see Flesh Wounds on this shortlist. I believe that it is the most accomplished novel I have written, so having won plaudits for my earlier humorous work, it is particularly heartening to have the greater maturity and complexity of my more recent writing recognised.

Natalie Haynes:
‘I’m thrilled that Amber Fury has made the Deanston shortlist. This book is - aside from being a psychological thriller - my love letter to Edinburgh. When I was writing it, I hoped very much that Scottish readers would see it as one of their own. I couldn’t be more proud or delighted.’

Peter May:
‘I’m honoured to be on the shortlist for the Deanston Scottish Crime Book prize which, in its third year is going from strength to strength.’

Louise Welsh:
‘I'm surprised and delighted to be nominated for the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award, it's lovely to be part of an award that celebrates crime fiction in Scotland.’

Nicola White:
‘I’ve lived in Scotland for thirty years but today I’m feeling freshly adopted. It’s a huge honour to be nominated for the Deanston Prize with my first book, particularly among such talented company and given the mighty strengths of Scottish crime writing now.’

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.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Event News: Noirwich Crime Writing Festival

Many thanks to Sarah Ward for bringing this to my attention! A crime writing festival in Norwich ie Noirwich. It includes a day on Nordic Noir featuring Petrona Award judge Barry Forshaw.

From the website:
A New Crime Writing Festival in Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature.

10 - 14 September 2014

A deadly new festival of crime writing is coming to No(i)rwich this September in an exciting collaboration between the Crime Writers' Association, the University of East Anglia, Waterstones and Writers' Centre Norwich.

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival celebrates the sharpest noir and crime writing over five days of author events, film screenings and writing workshops in Norwich, UNESCO City of Literature. From big events featuring the likes of Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah, to specially developed crime writing workshops with Simon Brett and Henry Sutton, there's something for every reader and writer of crime.

Take your pick from the schedule below and prepare yourself for a series of sinister events...

A Forgotten Mystery: The Life and Works of S.T. Haymon with Dr. John Curran
Wednesday 10th September, 6pm, Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library, free event.

New Voices, Old Places with Tom Benn, Eva Dolan and Oliver Harris
Wednesday 10th September, 7.30pm, Waterstones Castle Street, £6 / £4 conc with £3 redeemable against the price of a book at the event and a free glass of wine.

The New Hercule Poirot Mystery with Sophie Hannah and Dr. John Curran
Thursday 11th September, 8pm, Norwich Playhouse, £12/£10 conc

The Skeleton Road: An Evening with Val McDermid
Friday 12th September, 8pm, Norwich Playhouse, £12/£10 conc

Celebrating the CWA Diamond Dagger with Simon Brett and John Harvey
Saturday 13th September, 7.30pm, Waterstones, Norwich, £6/£4 concessions with £3 redeemable from Simon’s latest book at the event and a free glass of wine.

Noirwich Crime Writing Festival Presents Megan Abbott
Sunday 14th September, 2.30pm, Norwich Cathedral Hostry, £6/£4 concessions with £3 redeemable off the price of the book at the event.

A Crime Thriller Workshop with Henry Sutton
Saturday 13th September, 10am-1pm, Writers’ Centre Norwich, £40 or £60 with Simon Brett Masterclass.

A Detective Fiction Masterclass with Simon Brett
Saturday 13th September, 2-5pm, Writers’ Centre Norwich, £40 or £60 with Henry Sutton Workshop

The Golden Age of Nordic Noir
Saturday 13th September,10.30am-4.30pm, Cinema City Education Space, £40/£30 conc.

Enjoy a day dedicated to the art of Nordic Noir. Trish Sheil, film academic, and Barry Forshaw, a leading expert on crime fiction and film, will help you to explore the all-pervading influence of the Scandinavian wave. Using short clips, iconic moments in film history and their personal knowledge, the tutors will guide you through the history of Noir, focussing on the Nordic classics and then exploring French crime film and television, and the blossoming of UK crime drama.

The Killer Inside Me: A Noirwich Frank’s Bar Film Screening
Sunday 14th September 2014, 5pm, Free

Monday, July 07, 2014

Review: Into a Raging Blaze by Andreas Norman tr. Ian Giles

Into a Raging Blaze by Andreas Norman translated by Ian Giles, July 2014, 528 pages, Quercus, ISBN: 1782066039

INTO A RAGING BLAZE is former Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs employee Andreas Norman's first novel and it is a detailed and absorbing look at the modern-day world of surveillance and government intelligence gathering.

Carina Dymek is a dedicated worker at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She has worked her way up and is hoping for a promotion shortly. She has a beautiful new boyfriend, Jamal, who works in another government department, and all seems to be going well for her.

At a routine meeting in Brussels, Carina speaks out against what she perceives as racist comments by another country's representatives and when she goes for lunch she is sought out by a man calling himself Jean. He says that Carina has a conscience and hands her a USB stick containing a top secret document about the possible formation of EIS, the European Intelligence Service, which he says needs stopping. Carina reluctantly agrees to take it back and pass the information on, though she is puzzled because she feels that the relevant people must already know about it.

Shortly after Carina disseminates the document, her life changes. Suspended for handling unauthorised documents, she is suspected of being a traitor and her Egyptian-born boyfriend's life is put under the microscope. Carina flees from the security service and knows the only way to clear herself is to find “Jean”. And so a chase begins between the authorities and Carina.

Ironically, Carina's only hope might come from Bente Jensen, the head of the Swedish Security Service (Sapo) unit in Brussels who begins to doubt the terrorist plot that the Swedish and British Secret Services think they have uncovered.

INTO A RAGING BLAZE starts off with a bang with an assassination in Brussels. It then spends some time laying the groundwork of the Ministry, Carina's job and life and her relationship with Jamal. After the USB stick incident the tension slowly builds but the pace is still steady. Carina has help from friends and unwittingly plays into the authorities' hands and it's only when she returns to Brussels later in the book, that the tension really mounts. The espionage plot is quite gripping – the British, especially, don't come out this book too well but nor do the Swedish authorities - but what makes this book fascinating, at least to me, is its apparent authenticity as to how the EU, Security Services and so on works. I particularly enjoyed the sections told from Bente Jenson's point of view – a woman in a top role - and doing it well.

At over 500 pages, INTO A RAGING BLAZE is a tad too long but I found it to be a quick read. If you've enjoyed Stella Rimington's books then do give INTO A RAGING BLAZE a try.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Double Review: Princes Gate and Stalin's Gold by Mark Ellis

Princes Gate by Mark Ellis, June 2011, 288 pages, Matador, ISBN: 1848766572

This very absorbing, top quality police procedural has a unique feature that lifts it above all others, in that it is set in a London of January 1940, with the backdrop of World War 2. The restrictions of the War, both in terms of rationing of food and other necessities of life and the limits on freedom of personal movement give an edge to this historical thriller that is difficult to quantify. DCI Frank Merlin and his team is called in from Scotland Yard to investigate the death of a woman employee of the USA Embassy, whose body is discovered floating in the River Thames. Also there is the suspicious death of a brilliant scientist who is killed by a hit and run driver.

The American Ambassador, is a certain gentleman named Joseph Kennedy, the true life father to the future President and is well known for his views of supporting conciliation with Hitler and in common with many influential Britons of negotiating a peace settlement to the European mainland war. Merlin is obliged to make enquiries with the staff of the Embassy in order to trace the background of the murdered girl and locate her killer. However, such investigations cause alarm with the Foreign Office who are very worried about any possible upset of Anglo/US relationships, as the US is likely to be a major source of armaments and other goods necessary for the future war effort.

Another death of an embassy employee causes further uproar and difficulties for Merlin from his superiors anxious not to upset American sensitivity in this very delicate area. But what can Frank Merlin do? He has an investigation to carry out and regrettably he may upset a few people as he needs to identify the killer before more deaths occur.

This exciting , very well plotted and historically evocative story drives forward to it's gripping conclusion. Frank Merlin is a lovely creation and totally convincing even down to the hole in his shoe. He is the English-born son of a Spanish migrant who decided to change his surname from 'Merino' to that of one of his favourite Arthurian legends. I lost myself in this thriller; this was a superb entertainment and I look forward to reading STALIN'S GOLD.

Stalin's Gold by Mark Ellis, February 2014, 320 pages, Matador, ISBN: 1783062460

In December of 1938, we read in the prologue of this very exciting new book, Josef Stalin is very upset that the Spanish paid the Russians for a lot of arms that were needed in their Civil War with gold but that there was an shortfall of some five or ten million dollars worth and he charges Lavrently Beria his head of the NKVD, the state security service, with the task of getting it back.

We then go forward in time to September 1940 and the Battle of Britain is still going strong and the skies above London are nightly filled with the noise of German bombers attacking the capital and British Spitfires and Hurricanes trying to repel them. Scotland Yard DCI Frank Merlin is very affected by it all, he has a heavy case-load of many crimes to solve and also is tasked with supervising the work of other officers. He has a serious shortage of manpower to help him, as most of the younger and fitter men have already been conscripted into the forces. Frank, who is in his early forties has a Polish girlfriend, Sonia, who works as a nurse. Sonia has a brother Jan, who is serving as a pilot in the Free Polish Air Force and they are involved in helping the British fight the Battle of Britain.

The author has done a lot of detailed research and really brings this historic thriller to life with his finely described cast of characters as they fight the Nazi threat to freedom and also try to solve the case of a missing Polish pilot and in the midst of all the bombing and collapsing houses and buildings stop the looting by nefarious criminals of lots of expensive art and antiques.

The characters are all very richly drawn and I was reminded of the Inspector Troy books by John Lawton The details of the story are fascinating and give an insight into life at this time with all the difficulties over the rationing of food and time in bomb shelters. The plot with many dramatic twists and turns is very vivid and knowledgeable and the widely diverse scenes kept me transfixed until the last page.

I found it very difficult to put this very gripping story down until the extraordinary end. This is the second book written with the character 'Frank Merlin'. The first was PRINCES GATE, which was set during the "phoney war" of early 1940 and I look forward hopefully to reading many more books by this very gifted author. Strongly recommended.

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

Terry Halligan, July 2014.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Books About Town: Criminally Good Benches

This beautiful bench, representing Hercule Poirot and the Greenshore Folly is one of 50 that have sprung up around London as part of Books About Town. Other crime-related benches are 'James Bond Stories' and 'Sherlock Holmes Stories'. All three are on the Bloomsbury Trail.

From the press release:
From today, benches shaped like open books will pop up all over the capital for Londoners, families and visitors to find and enjoy. ‘Books about Town’, launched by the National Literacy Trust and Wild in Art brings 50 unique BookBench sculptures to the city, created by local artists and famous names, to celebrate London’s literary heritage and reading for enjoyment.

The BookBenches feature stories linked to London and are based on a range of iconic books from treasured children’s stories such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Peter Pan to classic adult titles including 1984 and The Day of the Triffids.

Axel Scheffler has illustrated a bench which celebrates his work with Julia Donaldson and the characters they have created together, including The Gruffalo and characters from their new book The Scarecrow’s Wedding. Among the other top artists involved is Ralph Steadman who illustrated Lewis Caroll’s children’s classic Through the Looking Glass in 1973 and has reproduced some of these illustrations on a unique BookBench. Children’s authors Lauren Child and Cressida Cowell have each designed benches based on their own series Clarice Bean and How To Train Your Dragon. Original illustration by Rae Smith, the Tony and Olivier award-winning stage designer of the National Theatre’s production of War Horse also features on a bespoke War Horse BookBench.

Well-loved literary heroes such as Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Mary Poppins and Hercules Poirot also appear on benches which visitors can discover by following literary trails in Greenwich, City of London, Riverside and Bloomsbury until mid-September. On 7 October, the BookBenches will be auctioned at the Southbank Centre to raise valuable funds for the National Literacy Trust to tackle illiteracy in deprived communities across the UK.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Awards News: CWA Dagger winners & Longlists

On Monday night the CWA announced various Dagger winners and longlists (links are to Euro Crime reviews):
International Dagger - Winner Announced
Arnaldur Indridason - Strange Shores tr. Victoria Cribb
Pierre Lemaitre - Irene tr. Frank Wynne
Arturo Perez-Reverte - The Siege, tr. Frank Wynne - Winner
Olivier Truc - Forty Days without Shadow, tr. Louise Rogers LaLaurie
Simon Urban - Plan D tr. Katy Derbyshire
Fred Vargas - Dog Will Have His Day, tr. Siân Reynolds
The Gold Dagger - Longlist Announced

Stone Bruises - Simon Beckett
This Dark Road to Mercy - Wiley Cash
Keep Your Friends Close - Paula Daly
First Rule of Survival - Paul Mendelson
How the Light Gets In - Louise Penny
What She Saw - Mark Roberts
The Corporal’s Wife - Gerald Seymour
The Verdict - Nick Stone

Ian Fleming Steel - Longlist Announced

Never Go Back - Lee Child
Apple Tree Yard - Louise Doughty
419 - Will Ferguson
An Officer and A Spy - Robert Harris
I Am Pilgrim - Terry Hayes
The Abduction - Jonathan Holt
Natchez Burning - Greg Isles
The Corporal’s Wife - Gerald Seymour

John Creasey - Longlist Announced

Night Heron - Adam Brookes
The Strangler Vine - M J Carter
The Axeman’s Jazz - Ray Celestin
I Am Pilgrim - Terry Hayes
The Silent Wife - A S A Harrison
The Devil in the Marshalsea - Antonia Hodgson
Shovel Ready - Adam Sternbergh
Black Chalk - Christopher J Yates

The CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger - Winner Announced

Devil in the Marshalsea - Antonia Hodgson - Winner
The Late Scholar - Jill Paton Walsh
The City of Strangers - Michael Russell
Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders - Kate Griffin
Theft of Life - Imogen Robertson
The Dead Can Wait - Robert Ryan
Read more about the awards at the CWA website.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Awards News: Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2014 - Shortlist

The shortlist for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2014 has been announced. From the BBC's website (links are to Euro Crime reviews):


The Red Road - Denise Mina

The Necessary Death of Lewis Winter - Malcolm Mackay

The Chessmen - Peter May

Rubbernecker - Belinda Bauer

Dying Fall - Elly Griffiths

Eleven Days - Stav Sherez

The award is open to British and Irish authors whose novels were published in paperback in the last year.

The winner will be decided by a panel, chaired by writer Steve Mosby, which includes Simon Theakston, the executive director of Theakston; Radio Times' Alison Graham and Dave Swillman, head of fiction at WH Smith.

A public vote will also be included in the final decision.

Broadcaster Mark Lawson will host the awards on the opening night of the 12th annual Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate on 17 July.

The winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize - as well as a handmade, engraved beer barrel.

Also on the night, Lynda La Plante will receive the Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award, joining past winners Ruth Rendell, PD James, Colin Dexter and Reginald Hill.

Harrogate Crime Writing Festival