crime-thriller

The New and the Not So New: Yet More Crime Reads!

The new and not so new in the title refers to the fact that two of the four authors I include in this post are new to me, in fact first time authors, but not so the other two. The not so new are Denmark's Jussi Adler-Olsen and Norway's big gun, Jo Nesbo. To them in a moment. But first the debutants, France's Bernard Minier and Norway's Thomas Enger.

The Frozen Dead'The Frozen Dead' 3.5 stars, a first novel from French thriller writer Bernard Minier, is a tale of murder and revenge set amidst the harshness of a Pyrenees winter. The wilderness, the snow, the bleakness of the landscape, all in fact contribute as much to the book's atmosphere as the events taking place. The decapitated body of a horse found hanging from a frozen cliff triggers the involvement of Toulouse police Commandant Martin Servaz, but it isn't long before human bodies start turning up. The killings are taking place in close proximity to a secure institution for the criminally insane where a Swiss psychologist taking up her new post is immediately faced with suspicious happenings. A link between the killings and the asylum soon becomes apparent when one inmate’s DNA shows up at a crime scene. Throw in the involvement of one of France’s wealthiest men and the suicide of several teenagers some years before and you have here a nicely formed and intricate plotline, to which can be added some interesting and complex characters who I think will attract your interest every bit as much as the storyline.

Crime Thriller Award Winners Announced

Specsavers Crime Thriller AwardsLast night saw the winners announced in the various TV, film and book categories of the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards 2013. The Awards grew out of a new TV series about crime writing on ITV3 called the Crime Thriller Club which was first aired in September. The Awards were presented in conjunction with the Crime Writers' Association (CWA).

The winners of the 2013 Awards are as follows:

CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger for the Best Crime Novel of the Year: 'Dead Lions' by Mick Herron (Soho Press) (sorry, title not yet in stock)

CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for the Best First Book by previously unpublished writer: 'Norwegian by Night' by Derek B. Miller (Faber and Faber)

Irish Crime Fiction in a Healthy State

Broken HarbourI've been meaning for so long to do a post or three on Irish crime fiction, and the weight of guilt for not so doing before now has finally proved enough of a catalyst to get me across that line, thankfully.

But where to start?  In light of the fact that the shortlist for the Irish Book Awards (IBA) "Ireland AM Crime Fiction Award" is to be announced on the 31st October, I thought I would start with a mention of what books published over the past year might find themselves in the running. I have to say in that regard that Declan Burke's 'Crime Always Pays' blog has been an invaluable jump-off point and is well worth a visit if you want to keep informed about the Irish crime fiction scene. Last year's IBA winner by the way ('Broken Harbour' by Tana French) was selected from a shortlist of six, and I will revisit last year's winner and shortlist on another occasion (and soon!).
(Update: 'Irregulars' by McCarthy added, 30 Oct.)

Suspense and Thrills with a Psychological Component

Sebastian FitzekPost by Fabienne Sauberlich.

In Germany his books regularly occupy the top positions on the bestseller lists when they first come out, in fact his first book 'Therapy' kicked the Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown right off the number one position in 2006. Some of his books have been translated into English and have made their way over to us. Have you already guessed who this post is about? It is of course about Sebastian Fitzek, an author I have enjoyed very much and as you see I am not alone.

Blood, Bandits and Dark Nights: Most Recent Crime Reads

In my last post (8 August) I discussed four titles from yes, Nordic climes, two being Swedish, one Finnish and one Icelandic. While Nordic writers tend to dominate my reading, they are by no means the only crime writers on my list, case in point being my posts on French crime fiction, Italian crime fiction, and my post on writers from as far afield as Australia, the US, Laos and Africa.

While this my latest update does include two Nordic titles, it also includes an Italian and a South African, and it is the latter that I will start with, as it is the book that excited me the most and which I am only dying to share with you.

City of BloodThe book is 'City of Blood' 5 stars, and it is the debut novel of M.D. Villiers (Martie de Villiers), a South African living in London. Set on the dangerous streets of Johannesburg, it is the tale of Siphiwe, a 19-year old orphan who, after rushing to the aid of a woman stabbed on the street, unwittingly gets caught up in the turf war between two rival and dangerous crime lords, one South African, the other Nigerian. With the danger to him and those close to him ever growing, he has to have his wits about him and forge alliances with criminals and police alike in order to survive. The story is told mainly through Siphiwe's eyes.

Latest Crime Writers' Association Shortlists Announced!

Crime Writers' AssociationToday the Crime Writers’ Association announced the shortlists for the remaining three CWA 2013 Daggers. Great to see Stuart Neville make the shortlist for the steel dagger (thriller) with Ratlines, which explores the lives of Nazis who were harboured in Ireland. Doug Johnstone a book critic for the Independent.co.uk newspaper described Ratlines as a "seriously impressive piece of crime fiction, that lingers long in the memory".

The shortlisted authors are:

For the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger:
Belinda Bauer for Rubbernecker (Bantam/Transworld)
Lauren Beukes for The Shining Girls (HarperCollins)
Mick Herron for Dead Lions (Soho Crime) (not yet in stock, sorry!)
Becky Masterman for Rage Against the Dying (Orion) (not yet in stock, sorry!)

Nordic Crime Catch-Ups

Redemption and Light in a Dark HouseWith the prospect of some added free time coming my way over the next couple of weeks, a chance to catch up on my reading beckons. So no better time than the present to have some good luck, with two recently (18 July) published crime novels landing on my desk just today! The two are: 'Redemption' (US title: A Conspiracy of Faith) by Denmark's Jussi Adler-Olsen and 'Light in a Dark House' by German-born but Finnish-based Jan Costin Wagner. Having read and enjoyed both authors before, I can now look forward to reading these two new titles in the near future.

CWA Award Winners Announced!

Alex and The Ghost Riders of OrdebecLast night saw the winners announced in a number of categories in the annual CWA (Crime Writers' Association) Dagger Awards, PLUS the longlists announced in the remaining categories. The announcement that excited me most was that of the International Dagger winner, or rather winners! Yes, in a rather unusual step, the judges saw fit to share the Award between two French writers, Pierre Lemaitre for Alex, and Fred Vargas for The Ghost Riders of Ordebec. Personally I couldn't be more pleased, I have long been a fan of Fred Vargas, loving this her latest as much as any of her previous, and being equally pleased having read the first book in translation by Pierre Lemaitre. Lemaitre is a real find and I can't wait for the next in the Verhoerven series to be translated - or maybe it is just the incentive I need to brush up on my french? You can read what I had to say about both titles in a recent post of mine here on the blog.

The French Crime Fiction Challenge

I think it fair to say that the Nordic countries have not got it all to themselves after all! What might I be referring to, you may ask? The market in crime fiction of course. But maybe some of you never thought they had to to begin with - after all we have always had a wealth of crime fiction emanating from the United States and from Britain, and you could add to that several others including the Italians and in recent times the Irish too. I have to say it IS great to see Irish crime fiction writing blossoming in recent years, a subject I really must blog about soon.

DivaBut there is another jurisdiction we must visit and pay tribute to also, and that is France. Crime fiction is hugely popular in France; I have read where it says one in five books sold there is a crime novel. As a bit of an aside, I recall many years ago seeing Diva (1981), that wonderful french film about a Parisian mail courier (Jules) in possession of two highly sought-after tapes: the first containing a rare recording of an American opera singer with whom he has fallen in love; the second is a tape slipped into his bag by a young woman just before she is murdered. The unwitting Jules finds himself being pursued by a gang of drug-dealers who will do anything to get their hands on the cassettes. A marvellous film, do borrow the DVD from the library when you get the chance (and sitting on the shelf in Pearse Street Library as I write!).

An Italian Love Affair - Italian Crime Fiction Re-visited

Donna Leon

Donna Leon

I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with crime fiction author Donna Leon at a book signing in Dubray Bookshop (see photo on left) in Dublin on the 11th April last, where she was talking about her work and signing copies of her latest book 'The Golden Egg' 4 stars. Her description of this, the 22nd in the  Commissario Brunetti series, as a "love letter to language" just increased my desire to get started on it, which I did soon after.

In this, Commissario Brunetti, at the behest of his wife Paola, looks into the suspicious death of a deaf-mute man who may also have had mental issues. Of interest too of course is that no one seems to know much if anything about the man, who worked in their local dry cleaners for many years. So it becomes an investigation to discover who this man with no paper trail was and what were his circumstances. Without wanting to give too much away, this is not a conventional crime story but rather a tale of a different sort of crime and the tragedy and injustice that can befall an individual born into the wrong circumstances.

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