staff picks

Christmas Holidays - time to curl up with a book...

I love the long, warm, bright summer evenings - but the long, chilly, dark winter evenings have their charms too, as long as I have something good to read. The girls in my house have stored up some special reads for those lazy days between Christmas and New Year. We've had to banish the chosen books from sight so we're not tempted to start reading immediately - there lies grave danger of no present buying, pudding making, tree trimming or other essential ingredients of Christmas.

Where Scotland meets Germany

Brother GrimmYou might well wonder, where does Scotland meet Germany? Or to be more precise, where does Glasgow meet Hamburg? The answer lies in the person of Craig Russell, Scottish-born author and the creator of two wonderful crime series, one set in Hamburg, the other, needless to say, in Glasgow.

The series set in Hamburg stars Detective Jan Fabel, he being half-Scottish and half-German, and stems from Russell's interest in the culture and people of Germany. Russell, born in Fife in Scotland in 1956, is an ex-policeman and fluent German speaker, and his Fabel series have been a big success not alone in Germany but elsewhere, having been translated into 23 languages.

African Adventures!

// Nordic authors and settings seem to dominate my crime reads, the list is not exclusively Northern European I am glad to say. I have even endeavoured to go beyond wider Europe, taking in the US of A, the Middle East, south-east Asia, and even Africa. And it is to Africa that I travel in this post, with two authors to mention, South Africa's Deon Meyer (see below) and Southern Rhodesia's (aka Zimbabwe's) Alexander McCall Smith. McCall Smith a Rhodesian, you might ask? Well, while living in Scotland, he is correctly speaking a Rhodesian-born Scotsman who has also spent some considerable time in Botswana. A prodigious writer, he is probably best known as the author of the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. The agency is located in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. So far the series extends to thirteen titles, of which I have to date read two.

Cornwell in the hometown of Stoker!

The Bone BedBest selling American crime writer Patricia Cornwell is in Dublin today, here to take part in one of the opening events of the Bram Stoker Festival, happening this weekend. The event, The Anatomy of Fear - From Stoker to Scarpetta with Patricia Cornwell, takes place in Trinity College, and the author will be introduced by the state pathologist, Dr. Marie Cassidy! Very appropriate given the subject matter and the significant role forensic science plays in her Dr. Kay Scarpetta series.

Patricia Cornwell in Trinity CollegeCornwell has sold over 100 million copies of her books worldwide, and wouldn't you know it, you can borrow her books in our branch libraries and read away to your heart's content (check below).

Right: Patricia Cornwell in Trinity College, 26th October 2012 (click thumbnail to enlarge)

The 20th novel in the Scarpetta series (The Bone Bed) has just been published (25th October in fact), so while not yet on our bookshelves is on order and soon to arrive. In this latest, Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta returns to solve the mysterious disappearance of a palaeontologist.

On the brink of nuclear war

Bás Beatha coverMid October 1962: the crisis began on 14 October when photographs of Soviet military installations in Cuba, taken by a U2 spy plane from the United States air force, showed that nuclear missile sites were being constructed. The United States government demanded that the missiles be withdrawn, and they put in place a naval blockade of Cuba with the intention of preventing any further military equipment being delivered. The crisis came to a head when a Soviet convoy approached some of the blockading ships. However at the last minute the Soviet ships halted and after a tense stand-off they eventually turned around.

From Italy to Iceland to Sweden to Denmark!

Beastly Things It's been too long since my last post here on crime reads, so time to catch up. In this post I am going to take you through my most recent reads, covering four nations, and not all Nordic! Starting with Italy we will then visit Iceland, Sweden and finally Denmark.

From Italy:

Number 21 in the Commissario Brunetti series, 'Beastly Things' 4 stars convinces me that Donna Leon has not after all grown tired of the Venetian detective. Thank heavens, this is a definite return to form. Four stars (out of five) from me. A well developed plot (yet another body retrieved from a canal) with Brunetti as ever a joy to accompany as he meanders through Venice and its surrounds while unravelling the mystery. The abattoir visit is quite descriptive! In contrast to a reviewer for the Independent newspaper, I long for even more of wife Paolo and the culinary delights. A likeable read, a perfect holiday read if looking for one.

Where Were You?

Where were you A very important and fascinating book was published this year, "Where Were You? Dublin Youth Culture & Street Style 1950-2000" by Garry O'Neil and Niall McCormack.

The book is a compilation of photographs documenting social and fashion scenes in Dublin. What sets this book apart is that there are no staged fashion shoots or celebrities, just amazing photographs of everyday people wearing what was in style and ordinary people with extraordinary style.

It's a very intimate account of street culture in Dublin. This feeling of intimacy is directly linked to the way in which the material was sourced. Posters were hung up in cafes, bars and shops around the city asking people to send in photos, rather then all the material being collected in newspaper archives.

The Irish Cloud Festival

Head in the Clouds: cloud FestivalHow often do you look up? The members of TICAS, The Irish Cloud Appreciation Society are very fond of doing so and at the end of this month (Fri-Sun 27th-29th July 2012)  are holding a festival in the north-west of Ireland.

Cloud watching, or cloud spotting is a relaxing and very enjoyable hobby. Enthusiasts will tell you there are ten basic categories of cloud, in a Latin 'Linnean' system devised by Luke Howard in 1802. Within these 'genea', or basic categories, however there are many different 'species' of cloud, and then within these there are further 'varieties'!

(More) Recent Crime Reads

Continuing with my series on recent crime reads (see first in series), I include here the new to me (Kallentoft), the relatively new to me (Meyer) and some old stalwarts (Nesbo, Nesser et al).

Midwinter Sacrifice'Midwinter Sacrifice' 4 stars was my first encounter with Swedish writer Mons Kallentoft, and I give it a definite thumbs up. This I understand is his first crime novel, though not his first book. He tells a good story and I like his style. Set in Linköping, Sweden, it is a murder investigation that, though slow moving, kept my interest throughout. I liked the insight into the various characters, but would have welcomed more of it in fact, if only because the author does it well, and his characters do stir your interest. None more so than the members of the suspect and rather unpleasant family. Principal investigator is Malin Fors, in her early thirties, divorced and with a 12-year old daughter. I have seen reviews compare her character with Sarah Lund of 'The Killing' fame! The voice of the murdered man being heard at various junctures worked for me in the end even if at first I was unsure. Eager to read his next up, 'Summertime Death'.

Ah Go On! And Knit.

Pauline McGlynnLike Pauline McLynn, the actress who plays Mrs. Doyle in the channel 4 series 'Father Ted', I was taught to knit by my mother. Knitting is a wonderful hobby, and and really fun and satisfying way to pass the time.

Recently however, the actress known so well for her mantra, 'Ah go on, go on, go on...' has now turned her hobby and her catchphrase into an online enterprise selling knitted tea cosies - the Go Ons. News article on Silicon Republic.

Dublin City Public Libraries has lots of great titles if you're starting out as a knitter for the first time, or if you're a more experienced knitter there are also good titles available.