books & reading

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.

A Scare at Halloween!

The BansheeToday is Hallowe'en, and for many that means a time to scare and be scared! So below we have some scary reads to suggest to you that hopefully will not mean sleepless nights!

Hallowe'en is sometimes thought of an American feast, with its trick-or-treating, pumpkins, fancy dress parties and scary movies, but long before this – indeed, as far back as Celtic times - our ancestors celebrated Samhain, the beginning of the dark time of the year. In that regard, our Ghost Town Image Gallery showcases the Irish, and specifically Dublin, traditions of past times, with more than a nod to the celebrated Gothic writers and the haunted places of the city. It introduces viewers to such supernatural characters as the evil Dolocher and the murderess Darkey Kelly and also to gentler spirits such as that of Archbishop Marsh.

Most Borrowed Authors and Titles in Public Libraries in 2012

Diary of a Wimpy KidWhat was the most popular book in Irish libraries in 2012? Can you guess? Would 'Diary of a Wimpy Kid' ring any bells? Well, whether it does or whether it doesn't, this children's book is the most borrowed title of 2012. In fact the various titles in the Wimpy Kid series dominate the list, largely helped no doubt by the fact that it was made into a film.  What's more, nine children’s authors make it into the top ten 'most-borrowed-from-the-library' list, which goes to prove that Irish children are great readers and very influential users of our public libraries.

In terms of books for adults, it is nice to see the influence the Dublin City Public Libraries' initiative, ‘Dublin: One City, One Book’ has on people's reading habits, with 'Dubliners' by James Joyce at number 7 on the 'Most Borrowed Adult Fiction Titles' list.

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.)

What is Read in Germany?

Post by Fabienne Sauberlich.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold FryYes, of course there are some German authors whose works only appear in German, so unfortunately most of you won't be able to read them. But there are too a lot of international authors we Germans also like to read. And sometimes looking at what is read in other countries can give you ideas as to what books you shouldn’t miss out on.

If you want to know what books are read most in Germany you should have a look at the so called "Spiegel Bestsellerliste".  This list comes out weekly so you may also want to look at earlier ones. Below is the list for this week, and if you find something interesting watch out for it, you might even get it in your local Library.

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.

Vampires - From Dracula to Twilight and everything in between

Dracula (Christopher Lee)Post by Fabienne Sauberlich.

Are the Acheronian Dracula and the sparkling chick magnet Edward Cullen one and the same? Definitely not. But they are both vampires. Maybe there is not "That Vampire" anymore but a few very different types of vampires? And that is exactly how it is; they kind of spread over the whole media market placing themselves in different genres with different attributes. So if you think you know vampires, vampires fiction and vampires movies you might have missed some. What vampires do you like? The creature of human nightmares, the pitiless hunter of the night longing for your blood? You can find them with famous horror authors like Stephen King in Salem’s Lot, hunted by brave people like Van Helsing, Buffy and so on, or in classics like Dracula and Nosferatu.

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!)

The Romance of Air Travel

Dublin airportWhere has the romance gone? There was a time when it was a great adventure to fly, it was very glamorous, you dressed the part, and your luggage did not cause major grief. The role of air hostess was a top job for attractive young women. The Flying Boat Museum at Foynes, Co. Limerick, the excitement of the early days of passenger flight. 

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