Thursday, March 31, 2016

Review: Ordeal by Jorn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce

Today's review is again courtesy of CrimeTime's Bob Cornwell.

Ordeal by Jorn Lier Horst, tr. Anne Bruce (320 pages, March 2016, Sandstone Press Ltd, ISBN: 1910124745)

After the international developments of THE CAVEMAN, more domestic issues are at the forefront of the latest book to feature Chief Inspector William Wisting and his daughter Line. An opening chapter finds Wisting contemplating his relationships with the three principal women in his life (but only briefly, as regular readers might expect): his current boss Assistant Chief of Police Christine Thiis, fifteen years his junior and so far careful to keep her professional distance; his pregnant daughter Line now established in a nearby house, as she struggles (with occasional help from her father) to expunge any trace of Viggo Hansen, its previous occupant (discovered four months dead in the previous book); and Suzanne, until recently a regular feature in Wisting’s life, but who has now moved on and is running a café in the centre of Larvik, their mutual home town. Also contemplating a new start in Larvik is another single mother, Sofie Lund née Mandt, grand-daughter of a prominent local criminal. He’s now dead, and Sofie (along with her daughter, the infant Maja) is moving into his old house which, nineteen years before, she had vowed never to re-enter.

But it is Suzanne that kicks off the major plot line with her report of an unusual reaction from a patron of her café to a newspaper report of the latest case causing Wisting’s brow to furrow: the disappearance “without trace” six months ago of local taxi-driver Jens Hummel. Meanwhile the ever practical Line, having left, maybe permanently, the pressure of her job as a journalist, and whilst dreading the impending birth, is set on giving her child the best (rural) start in life. Out shopping she is recognised by Sofie. Not only were they at primary school together but Sofie is a fan of her work as a journalist. Clearly a friendship is destined, and besides, there is a mysterious safe in Sofie’s grandfather’s house to be explored.

As I suggested, a low-key entry in the series, I guess deliberately. Arguably there are too many crime novels intent on delivering shock and awe. This one proceeds calmly, though with steadily mounting tension, particularly as an ancient pistol is found in Sofie’s grandfather’s safe, and it proves to have been used in a recent murder, one about to be prosecuted in court. Horst’s emphasis is as usual on Wisting’s team and their meticulous police work, Line contributing the occasional, often crucial development. The process is never less than fascinating.

But if you were hoping that with fireworks largely missing from the major narrative (though some actual fireworks play a key role in the story), Wisting might have time to reveal a little more about himself, you could be disappointed. Some fleeting memories of his dead wife, some philosophising with Suzanne over a quote from Nietzsche is all. His weary resignation is also revealed, rather than anger, over recent changes in Norwegian society. A little more emotion – and perhaps some humour amongst the police team – might lend the Wisting books more depth and render them a trifle more sympathetic.

And will Wisting redeem his vow to Line to be present at the birth of his first grandchild? I’m taking no bets, and you’ll have to read the book to find out...

Bob Cornwell
March 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Petrona Award 2016 - The Contenders

One week from now, I shall be meeting up with the Petrona Award judges, Barry Forshaw, Kat Hall and Sarah Ward, to discuss the shortlist for the 2016 Petrona Award. The winner will be announced at the Gala Dinner at Crime Fest on 21 May.

So, in a very civilised manner, the shortlist will be determined next Wednesday and the details released shortly after that. I expect the shortlist to contain 6 titles but don't hold me to it!

The list below is all the books submitted for the Award so which of these would you put on your shortlist? Email, tweet, comment below or on Facebook. Do let me know!

Jussi Adler-Olsen - The Hanging Girl tr. William Frost, Quercus
Samuel Bjork - I'm Travelling Alone tr. Charlotte Barslund, Doubleday
Cilla & Rolf Borjlind - Third Voice tr. Hilary Parnfors, Hesperus Press
Jorgen Brekke - Death Song tr. Steven T Murray, Macmillan
Christoffer Carlsson - The Invisible Man from Salem tr. Michael Gallagher, Scribe
Arne Dahl - Europa Blues tr. Alice Menzies, Harvill Secker
Torkil Damhaug - Medusa tr. Robert Ferguson, Headline
Anders de la Motte - MemoRandom tr. Neil Smith, Harper
Kjell Eriksson - Open Grave tr. Paul Norlen, Allison & Busby
Karin Fossum - The Drowned Boy - tr. Kari Dickson, Harvill Secker
Nik Frobenius - Dark Branches tr. Frank Stewart, Sandstone Press
Lotte and Soren Hammer - The Girl in the Ice tr. Paul Norlen, Bloomsbury
Kati Hiekkapelto - The Defenceless tr. David Hackston, Orenda Books
Hjorth-Rosenfeldt - The Man Who Watched Women tr. Marlaine Delargy, Century/Random House
Anne Holt - Dead Joker tr. Anne Bruce, Atlantic
Jorn Lier Horst - The Caveman tr. Anne Bruce, Sandstone Press
Arnaldur Indridason - Oblivion tr. Victoria Cribb, Harvill Secker
Ragnar Jonasson - Snowblind tr. Quentin Bates, Orenda Books
Ragnar Jonasson - Nightblind tr. Quentin Bates, Orenda Books
Mari Jungstedt - The Dangerous Game tr. Tiina Nunnally, Doubleday
Mons Kallentoft - Water Angels tr. Neil Smith, Hodder
Robert Karjel - My name is N (apa The Swede) tr. Nancy Pick & Robert Karjel, HarperCollins
David Lagercrantz - Fall of Man in Wilmslow tr. George Goulding, MacLehose Press
David Lagercrantz - The Girl in the Spider's Web tr. George Goulding, MacLehose Press
Hans Olav Lahlum - Satellite People tr. Kari Dickson, Mantle
Hans Olav Lahlum - The Catalyst Killing tr. Kari Dickson, Mantle
Jens Lapidus - Life Deluxe tr. Astri von Arbin Ahlander, Macmillan
Liza Marklund - Without a Trace tr. Neil Smith, Corgi
Jo Nesbo - Blood on Snow tr. Neil Smith, Harvill Secker
Jo Nesbo - Midnight Sun tr. Neil Smith, Harvill Secker
Hakan Nesser - The Living and the Dead in Winsford tr. Laurie Thompson, Mantle
Hakan Nesser - The Summer of Kim Novak tr. Saskia Vogel, World Editions
Harri Nykanen - Behind God's Back tr. Kristian London, Bitter Lemon Press
Kristina Ohlsson - The Chosen tr. Marlaine Delargy, Simon & Schuster
Yrsa Sigurdardottir - The Undesired tr. Victoria Cribb, Hodder & Stoughton
Alexander Soderberg - The Other Son tr. Neil Smith, Harvill Secker
Stefan Spjut - Stallo tr. Susan Beard, Faber & Faber
Gunnar Staalesen - We Shall Inherit the Wind tr. Don Bartlett, Orenda Books
Anton Svensson - Made In Sweden Part I: The Father tr. Elizabeth Clark Wessel, Sphere/Little Brown
Johan Theorin - The Voices Beyond tr. Marlaine Delargy, Doubleday
Antti Tuomainen - Dark as My Heart tr. Lola Roger,s Harvill Secker
Carl-Johan Vallgren - The Boy in the Shadows tr. Rachel Willson-Broyles, Quercus

Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: Bad Samaritan by Michael J Malone

Bad Samaritan by Michael J Malone, March 2016, 298 pages, Contraband, ISBN: 1910192317

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

You know the excitement you feel when a book you have been waiting for for ages finally lands on your doormat? That almost overwhelming desire to drop everything you are doing and launch yourself into your book, mixed with a tingle of worry in case you end up hating it? That was how it was in my house recently, when BAD SAMARITAN arrived. Except it didn’t disappoint at all. Far from it. This book is every bit as fantastic as Malone’s earlier offerings and leaves you feeling ragged and breathless with emotion at the end.

Without giving away any spoilers, DI Ray McBain is back. He is still damaged and haunted by his dealings with Leonard and still wracked with the guilt of knowing he helped to put the wrong man behind bars for the Stigmata killings. His policing skills are still way below par but he is back. And his colleagues are as supportive as ever.

The story starts with the body of a university student being found on the street in Glasgow. She has been hit on the head and has plenty of forensic evidence on her but McBain is slow to find the killer and frustrated at his lack of success. Things are made worse for him when he is contacted by Joseph McCall – the young man who willingly took the blame for the Stigmata killings and is currently serving time in Barlinnie Prison. Joseph tells McBain that Leonard is back to his old tricks and that Stigmata will strike again. Needless to say, McBain is now even less happy than he was before and starts to fall apart at the seams. He has a panic attack and eventually gets forced to take time off to get his head sorted. However, being McBain he can’t let things go and gets dragged further and further into his own private cesspool of misery.

Knowing that Stigmata is after him, and getting ever closer, he struggles to come to terms with everything that has happened as well as what he must do in order to stop the killings before it is too late.

It is not often I read a book that is still with me days after I finish it. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times this has happened and BAD SAMARITAN is one of those books. Malone’s writing style is first rate and his ability to transport the reader into the world he has created is beyond compare. If you like books full of characters that are so full of life you feel as if you know them, then Malone’s work is for you. If you like darker crime fiction, with damaged heroes who are doing their best to silence their ghosts and make a positive difference in the world, then you are going to love DI Ray McBain; both in this book and the others he features in. Michael J Malone is a key contributor to the Scottish crime fiction scene. I am impatient to see what he gives us next!

Extremely Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, March 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Things Learned This Week (2)

News from 'Social Media' this week:

It's not crime but it is Danish - I strongly recommend Love is All You Need, which is on BBC Four tonight at 10pm and stars Trine Dyrholm and Pierce Brosnan.

Luther creator, Neil Cross, is to adapt the Tom Ripley novels by Patricia Highsmith for a TV series, reports Variety.

Elijah Wood signs on for the US version of Dirk Gently's Holistic Agency (though not as Dirk) - more information is at Den of Geek.

ITV confirms that Marcella, written by Hans Rosenfeldt and starring Anna Friel will start on 4 April. Further details on the ITV website.

and some sad news - the founder of Arcadia Books, Gary Pulsifer has died. (The Bookseller.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Things Learned This Week

Here are a few things I picked up on email/Twitter this week:

Ian Rankin's next Rebus will be called Rather be the Devil and will be out in November.

You can download Copenhagen Noir for free until the end of today from Akashic Books.

Ragnar Jonasson's Icelandic series is to be made into a tv series.

The Absent One based on Disgrace by Jussi Adler-Olsen will be in UK Cinemas on 8 April according to

Gomorrah Season 2 will be transmitted in the UK on Sky Atlantic from 10 May.

And don't forget, if you're in the UK you can enter the (Euro Crime) competition to win a DVD of The Last Panthers.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Free & Cheap Scandi Ebooks

Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo tr. Reg Keeland is currently free on UK Kindle and UK Kobo.

(The Girl Who Played with Fire is 99p on UK Kindle.)

Jorn Lier Horst's Ordeal tr. Anne Bruce, released today, is currently £1.00 on UK Kindle.

(Dregs and Closed for Winter are currently 98p each on UK Kindle.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: Cold Justice by Lee Weeks

Cold Justice by Lee Weeks, November 2015, 480 pages, Simon & Schuster UK, ISBN: 147113363X

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

This book begins with a suicide in a hotel room and you get the distinct impression that it isn’t going to be a particularly cheery story. Things go downhill from there pretty quickly for the son of the politician who kills himself and soon there is a missing child to worry about as well. In this latest book from Lee Weeks, we see detectives Carter and Willis once again stretched to their limits as they race against the clock to find the missing boy. Things are made more difficult for them by the way people keep holding back the truth. Toby – the politician’s son, for example, went for a walk with his child on the day of the funeral and came back without him. He forgets to tell the police that the child was left unattended at various points. Forgets or has something to hide?

Willis and Carter follow a convoluted trail that takes them to a small, seaside town in Cornwall. The residents are close and draw even closer together when questioned about their connections with the dead man and his son. Some fairly chilling information leaks out but it is difficult to know for sure if it is the truth or exactly how the past connects to the present.

You, the reader, feel dragged along as many rocky cliff paths as the detectives in their desperate search for answers. As time ticks by, your own anxiety increases and you feel the chances of finding the boy alive getting slimmer and slimmer. COLD JUSTICE has a delicious way of creeping under your skin without you noticing; frustratingly you find yourself wondering how things will turn out, and if the boy is still alive, when you are going about your normal routine but can’t get back to your book for ages. If you enjoy a book that gets into your head then this one is most definitely for you. The ending is simply perfect and the final answers will leave you shocked to the very core.

Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, March 2016.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Win: The Last Panthers on DVD

Euro Crime has 3 copies of the DVD box-set of The Last Panthers to giveaway. To be in with a chance to win a copy, please enter your details in the form at the bottom of this post.

Only one entry per person please.
UK residents only.
Closing date is 24 March 2016 at 23.59.

Watch the bonus clip which also contains brief interviews with cast and crew:

All six episodes of the drama series created by Jack Thorne. Samantha Morton plays Naomi, a private British claims specialist instructed by her boss Tom (John Hurt) to recover diamonds stolen by a Serbian group calling themselves the Pink Panthers from a bank in Marseilles. Also on the hunt is French-Algerian cop Khalil (Tahar Rahim), in a chase that will take them into the murky underworld of gangsters and gangs in Eastern Europe. The series features an opening theme song from the late David Bowie.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Review: The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood, January 2016, 400 pages, Sphere, ISBN: 0751550701

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

This is one of those “read in a sitting books”: well plotted, believable characters and a gripping storyline. The story moves between 2004 and the present day. Sean Jackson, a wealthy builder, was fifty years old in 2004 and celebrated with his wife Claire and their twin three-year-old daughters Coco and Ruby. They had taken over a house that Sean had renovated near Poole, Dorset. Also present were: the Gavilas – Maria and Robert - she is in media communications, he is a solicitor; the Clutterbucks, Charlie and Imogen - he is a Tory MP strongly tipped for the Cabinet and Jimmy Orizio, a doctor, and his wife Linda. There are children of similar age to the Jackson twins as well as Robert’s teenage daughter.

Sean's daughters from his first marriage – teenagers India and Camilla arrive but Sean was not expecting them and there is a row. There are builders next door, the weather is hot and the noise and heat make tempers rise. Over the weekend Coco goes missing.

The story in the present day is seen through the eyes of Camilla Jackson – now wanting to be known as Mila. It is eleven years since Coco’s disappearance and no sightings have been made. Sean divorced Claire and married Linda. Linda was killed in an accident at one of the homes they were renovating. Sean then married Robert's daughter Simone who is a similar age to Mila. Sean is found dead in embarrassing circumstances in a London hotel. The funeral is planned in Devon. Mila is persuaded by Claire to collect Ruby, the surviving twin, to go to the funeral. Claire won’t go to the funeral nor will India who now lives and works in New Zealand.

What happens at Sean and Simone’s home in Devon will have devastating consequences for all concerned. The Gavilas are there as well as the Clutterbucks, though he is no longer an MP,  and the disgraced Jimmy Orisio who was struck off the Medical register for impropriety, as well as Mila and Ruby.

I have never read anything by this author before, but I intend to read both of her previous books – THE WICKED GIRLS and THE KILLER NEXT DOOR. She is a journalist and writes well and is an excellent storyteller. I can't recommend this book enough. Brilliant.

Geoff Jones, March 2016

Monday, March 07, 2016

Review: The American by Nadia Dalbuono

The American by Nadia Dalbuono, January 2016, 368 pages, Scribe Publications, ISBN: 1925228193

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

“Enlighten me then – what does it remind you of?”
Scamarcio took a cigarette out of his pocket and lit up, breathing out into the cool air and then sucking it back in. After a few seconds, he said: “God's Banker”.

Rome: Detective Leone Scamarcio is on the Ponte Sant' Angelo as the CSI team haul the dead man back over its parapet, a rope still around his neck. His expensive suit bears a “Saks 5th Avenue” label, the trouser pockets are full of rubble. Something stirs in Scamarcio's memory: Roberto Calvi of the Banco Ambrosiano, “God's Banker”, found hanging, in 1982, under Blackfriars Bridge in London. His pockets too had been full of rubble. It had been a sensational case riddled with accusations of money laundering, fraud and Mafia vengeance. There had also been rumours of Vatican and right wing Masonic involvement but the connection to today's dead body is tenuous.
At police headquarters Scamarcio sends his U.S. contacts a photo, asking for a possible identification. Shortly afterwards, his boss calls him into his office to tell him that there are rumours of a death amongst the Vatican high-ups. When two visitors are announced – dark suits, aviator glasses, military haircuts – Scamarcio decides they are secret service but not Italian and indeed they demand to speak in English and their accents are American. Refusing to name their department, they claim the dead man is a suspected fraudster who, knowing they were hot on his trail, had killed himself and that is all there is to it. But their patronising tone and vaguely threatening manner in assuring Scamarcio that there is no need to pursue the investigation further and that they will supply all the necessary paperwork to clear it with the Italian authorities, puts Scamarcio on his guard.
That evening, determined to track down the pair's identity, he contacts an American journalist friend who specialises in the American security services. In the midst of their phone conversation Scamarcio spots a TV bulletin reporting the murder of Cardinal Abbiati. A prominent figure in Opus Dei, his apartment is in the same building as the headquarters of the Vatican Bank but Scamarcio knows that the Rome police will not be allowed into this particular investigation, the Vatican is literally a foreign land. The phone rings again. This time it is Aurelia. Their conversation is stilted. She rings off before Scamarcio can smooth things over.

When the pathologist finds signs of poison in the “suicide's” corpse, the corpse disappears and later its identity is revealed to be that of an ex-CIA man – Scamarcio and his police team are hemmed in by powerful interested parties. Aurelia is drawn into the dangerous game and Scamarcio is forced to turn to his father's Mafia contacts for help.

Nadia Dalbuono's second thriller featuring Rome detective Leone Scamarcio (a third is in the pipeline) is as much a conspiracy thriller as a detective story. Having worked as a documentary director for channel Four and ITV, Dalbuono says that she now enjoys the freedom of novel writing and relishes “being able to create my own dialogue after so many years working with the thoughts of others.” But the book's blurb linking it to the work of Donna Leon, I think, does THE AMERICAN no favours. It certainly set me up with false assumptions. Dalbuono's writing style does not particularly echo that of Leon's. There is the concern for the current “state of the nation” that is echoed in much good crime fiction from Europe but on the whole the tone and dialogue is as much that of a pacey trans-Atlantic-thriller as of an Italian crime novel. No meals are lovingly described in this book.

Don't let me leave you thinking I did not enjoy this book. I did. THE AMERICAN has a narrative which moves between Scamarcio's investigations in present day Rome and the voice of Carter, the dead American, whose memories stretch back over the last thirty five years or so. It also takes Scamarcio to the United States in his determination to solve the puzzle of the hanging man. But its strength lies in Scamarcio himself and his mounting dilemma as the son of a Mafioso with one foot in the protective camp of his father's old “lieutenant” and the other in his desired ambition to be an honest Roman cop. This strand alone should be enough to get you reaching for the next title in the series.

Lynn Harvey, March 2016

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Review: Bodies by Design by P R Ellis

Bodies by Design by P R Ellis, August 2015, 254 pages, ellifont, Ebook (the paperback edition is available from the author)

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

Jasmine was forced out of the police force by prejudice and discrimination and now makes an uncertain living as a private detective. Working on her first case for the Department of Works and Pensions, she is investigating a possible benefits fraud, and is hopeful that it might lead to a more profitable and secure income. She is on surveillance, bored and uncomfortable. A young girl runs from a house shouting fire, and Jasmine's first instinct is to help, although it will mean breaking her cover. When she hears that another young woman, Xristal, is in the house she breaks in but finds her dead - the fire seemingly centred on her body. Xristal turns out to be a young "she-man" a male with some of the physical attributes of a female who earns her living as a prostitute providing a very exclusive and specific service.

DS Tom Shepherd, Jasmine's former colleague, and still a friend, is assigned the case, now identified as murder, and his superior, despite his apparent dislike and distrust, decides to appoint Jasmine as a consultant due to her expertise of the transgender world. She finds herself drawn into a new, complicated world of the difficult choices that some make to survive.

As well as the murder, this is the story of Jasmine's life and her transition from male to female. Unusually, her former wife is supportive of her goals but Jasmine finds herself with few friends after starting her decision. The response of most former friends and colleagues to her has been negative, so when a new neighbour, Viv, seems to be attracted to her, she is initially disbelieving and suspicious, but hopeful of the possibility.

This is the sequel to PAINTED LADIES and describes a further stage on the long, painful and complicated procedures that are necessary for transgender to achieve their ultimate goal - to be the person they need and want to be. A difficult subject, dealt with sensitively but informatively.

Susan White, March 2016

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

New Releases - March 2016

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in March 2016 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). March and future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything do please leave a comment.

• Anthology - Stockholm Noir (ed.s Nathan Larson & Carl-Michael Edenborg)
• Arlidge, M J - Little Boy Blue #5 Helen Grace, Southampton Police
• Bates, Quentin - Thin Ice #5 Gunnhildur, Police Sergeant, Reykjavik, Iceland
• Bowen, Rhys - Time of Fog and Fire #16 Molly Murphy, PI, 1900s New York
• Bruen, Ken - Pimp (with Jason Starr) #4 Max Fisher and Angela Petrakos
• Carver, Tania - The Lost Girl #8 Detective Inspector Phil Brennan
• Christer, Sam - The House Of Moriarty
• De Angelis, Augusto - The Hotel of the Three Roses #7 Inspector De Vincenzi
• Donoghue, Clare - Trust No One #3 DI Mike Lockyer, South-east London
• Fowler, Christopher - Bryant & May - Strange Tide #13 Inspectors Bryant and May, London
• Friis, Agnete & Kaaberbol, Lene - The Considerate Killer #4 Nina Borg, Red Cross Nurse
• Gray, Alex - The Darkest Goodbye #13 DCI Lorimer & psychologist Solomon Brightman, Glasgow
• Grey, Isabelle - Shot Through the Heart #2 Detective Grace Fisher, Essex
• Griffiths, Rebecca - The Primrose Path
• Hammer, Lotte and Soren - The Vanished #3 Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen and his team from the Murder Squad in Copenhagen
• Horst, Jorn Lier - Ordeal #10 Chief Inspector William Wisting, Larvik
• Hunter, Max - Murder at the Ashmolean #1 Museum Mysteries
• Kerr, Philip - The Other Side of Silence #11 Private Detective Bernhard Gunther, 1930s Berlin
• Lackberg, Camilla - The Ice Child #9 Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck, Fjallbacka
• Lawton, John - The Unfortunate Englishman #1 Joe Wilderness
• Macmillan, Gilly - The Perfect Girl
• McGowan, Claire - A Savage Hunger #4 Paula Maguire, Forensic psychologist, Northern Ireland
• McQuaile, Kate - What She Never Told Me
• Muddiman, Rebecca - Tell Me Lies #3 DI Michael Gardner
• Persson, Leif GW - The Dying Detective
• Slovo, Gillian - Ten Days
• Sten, Viveca - Closed Circles #2 Sandhamn Murders
• Stratmann, Linda - Death in Bayswater #6 Frances Doughty, London, 1880
• Tope, Rebecca - Guilt in the Cotswolds #14 Thea Osborne, House Sitter, Cotswolds
• Wilson, Elizabeth - She Died Young
• Winspear, Jacqueline - Journey to Munich #12 Maisie Dobbs, Psychologist and Investigator, 1930s London
• Yokoyama, Hideo - Six Four