Thanks for bearing with us as we work to resolve teething problems with our new online system. Your library service now has its own online catalogue where you can search and reserve items and log in and manage your account. The online catalogue for Dublin City members is https://dublincity.spydus.ie
A staff member reviews our most borrowed books from the Crimes and Misdemeanours section, one of our most popular sections, and we include links to the catalogue perhaps nudging you towards making an inspired selection. These books can also be found in our Crimes and misdemeanours book displays. If you'd like to borrow any of the books discussed below, simply click on title to be taken to the reservation page. You will need your library card and PIN to request the book.The Alphabet Murders - Lars Schütz No.53☆After a body of a brutally murdered man with an “A” tattooed on him is found in a wildlife park, criminal profilers Jan Grall and Rabea Wyler are thrown into a brutal game of cat and mouse. Later, more people are found with letters tattooed on their skin - it's obvious that this serial killer loves his ABCs and won’t stop till his set is complete.I liked the concept of this story. I thought it was inventive, and I hoped the story reflected that too, but I was sorely disappointed to find out that it wasn’t. Killing is my Business - Adam Christopher No.43 ☆This book is a sequel to “Made to Kill” by Adam Christopher. It's about an alternate universe set in the 1960’s, LA Noir style. Or robot LA Noir style. This is about the last robot left in working order in the world - our protagonist Raymond Electromatic, a former private investigator turned hitman. I liked the mashup of Sci Fi and Noir. If you’re a fan of either one of these genres, this is a good book for you. Murder at Greysbridge - Andrea Carter No.34 ☆Solicitor Benedicta O’ Keefe has been invited to her friend Leah’s wedding, at the newly restored Greysbridge Hotel - the perfect paradise with a private beach and a stunningly beautiful pier. But the festivities are cut short when a young visitor staying at the hotel drowns in full view of the wedding guests. As more and more deaths occur, Ben finds herself and her fellow guests at the center of a murder mystery.I would highly recommend you reserve this if you’re a fan of Agatha Christie’s or love a good old-fashioned murder mystery. A Noise Downstairs - Linwood Barclay No.24☆Eight months ago, Paul Davis discovered two dead bodies in the back of his co-worker Kenneth’s car. After he attends therapy, at night things get much worse, he starts to hear things. Paul thinks he’s losing his mind. Is he? Or does someone want him to believe he is? Gripping and hard to put down. The Death House - Sarah Pinborough No.15☆Taken from his family, our young protagonist Toby now lives in what is now called “The Death House”, an out-of-time existence far away from our own existence, where he and others like him are carefully studied for any sign of sickness by the mysterious and spine-chilling Matron and her team of “nurses”. As soon as they show any sign of sickness, they are taken to the sanatorium. No one returns from the sanatorium. Five stars.
Thirteen may be considered unlucky for some, but not to the thirteen on the Man Booker Prize longlist which includes three Irish authors this year. Donal Ryan’s "From a Low and Quiet Sea" is his second nomination for the prize after "Spinning Heart" in 2013. Anna Burns and Sally Rooney both receive their first nominations for "Milkman" and "Normal People" respectively. Belfast born Anna Burns was shortlisted for the Orange Prize, now the Women's Prize for Fiction, in 2001 for her debut; "No Bones". Sally Rooney, at 27, is the joint youngest author to be nominated this year. She can add that to an already impressive resume that includes being the 2017 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. Upon ditching the requirement of the author to be either from the U.K. or the Commonwealth two years ago, the two most recent winners of the prestigious accolade have both been from the U.S. Ireland can hold its head high to have the same number of nominations as the U.S. this year. There is only one previous winner nominated this year, Michael Ondaatje, whose book "The English Patient" was crowned the best Man Booker Prize winner of the last 50 years. This year he is nominated for his captivating novel "Warlight", set in post Blitz London in 1945. In a departure for the prize, this year sees a graphic novel, "Sabrina" by Nick Drnaso, nominated for the first time. Judges are quoted as being blown away by Drnaso's "oblique, subtle and minimal" style in a work that explores the chilling effect of 24-hour news after a girl has disappeared.Farouk's country has been torn apart by war. Lampy's heart has been laid waste by Chloe. John's past torments him as he nears his end. From a Low and Quiet Sea centres around the refugee, the dreamer and the penitent. From war-torn Syria to small-town Ireland, three men, scarred by all they have loved and lost, are searching for some version of home. Each is drawn towards a powerful reckoning, one that will bring them together in the most unexpected of ways.In this unnamed city, to be interesting is dangerous. Middle sister, our protagonist, is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her maybe-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with the Milkman. But when first brother-in-law sniffs out her struggle, and rumours start to swell, middle sister becomes 'interesting'. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous. "Milkman" is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. It is the story of inaction with enormous consequences.Connell and Marianne both grow up in the same town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. But they both get places to study at university in Dublin, and a connection that has grown between them despite the social tangle of school lasts long into the following years. Sally Rooney's second novel is a deeply political novel, just as it's also a novel about love. It's about how difficult it is to speak to what you feel and how difficult it is to change. It's wry and seductive; perceptive and bold. Normal People will make you cry and you will know yourself through it.As a nation that has the most Nobel Laureates per capita in the world, Ireland has always punched far above her weight in the literary world. Donal Ryan, Anna Burns and Sally Rooney continue the hallowed Irish tradition of captivating their readers with their touching and unflinchingly human stories. We wish them the very best of luck and hopefully one of them will be the fifth Irish Man Booker Prize winner.The Man Booker Prize Longlist:Snap, Belinda BauerMilkman, Anna BurnsSabrina, Nick DrnasoWashington Black, Esi EdugyanIn Our Mad and Furious City, Guy GunaratneEverything Under, Daisy JohnsonThe Mars Room, Rachel KushnerThe Water Cure, Sophie MackintoshWarlight, Michael OndaatjeThe Overstory, Richard PowersThe Long Take, Robin RobertsonNormal People, Sally RooneyFrom a Low and Quiet Sea, Donal RyanPress on the Man Booker:Three Irish Authors nominated for Man Booker Prize 2018 (Irish Times)First Graphic Novel nominated for Man Booker Prize 2018 (The Guardian)About the Man Booker:The Man Booker Prize is one of the world's most famous literary prizes for contemporary fiction. From 2014 eligibility for The Man Booker Prize was extended to include novels originally written in English and published in the UK, regardless of the nationality of their author. Previously it was only awarded to the best novel of the year written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.
Echoland is Dublin: One City, One Book 2017 Choice!
We are delighted to announce that Echoland by Joe Joyce, published by Liberties Press, is the Dublin: One City One Book choice for 2017. Echoland is the first novel in the Echoland series by Joe Joyce. Set in Dublin in the 1940s, with the threat of British or German invasion hanging over the country, it features young lieutenant Paul Duggan, who is tasked with investigating a suspected German spy. An addictive thriller about the double-dealing world of spies and politics, it shines a light on an exciting period in Ireland’s history.The announcement follows a highly successful Dublin: One City One Book Festival in 2016, when the book choice was Fallen by Lia Mills, and the festival became Two Cities One Book, when it twinned with Belfast for the commemorative year.Lord Mayor Brendan Carr said "I am very pleased that Echoland by Joe Joyce has been chosen for 'Dublin: One City One Book' 2017. I am sure that lovers of thrillers and of history will enjoy this book. I encourage all Dubliners to read this book and participate in the programme of events during the month of April 2017, which offers opportunities to engage with Echoland in a range of contexts.'Dublin City Librarian Margaret Hayes added “Dublin: One City One Book 2017 will be the twelfth year of this annual programme. Echoland is set in the Dublin of 1940, expertly capturing the atmosphere of the city as its citizens cope with the challenges of the Emergency. It's a brilliant opportunity for us to re-imagine our City as it was, while enjoying a thrilling read."Joe Joyce said, "I'm delighted and honoured that Echoland will be Dublin's One City One Book for 2017. The city is an integral part of the book, not just the backdrop to a spy story. As I was writing it, I was very conscious of the hardships and great dangers of the Emergency period, faced - as always by Dubliners - with resilience and wit."Since its inception in 2006, the Dublin: One City One Book Festival has encouraged everyone to read a book connected with Dublin during the month of April. The initiative is led by Dublin City Council's Public Library Service as part of Dublin's UNESCO City of Literature designation and is supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.Check the availability of 'Echoland' in the library catalogue. | Download Echoland eBook.Listen to Joe Joyce reading from Echoland (recorded in the Central Library, 3 October 2013)A full programme of events will be announced in early 2017.About the BookJune, 1940.France is teetering on the brink of collapse. British troops are desperately fleeing Dunkirk. Germany is winning the war. Its next target is Britain . . . and Ireland? In neutral Dublin, opinions are divided. Some want Germany to win, others favour Britain, most want to stay out of the war altogether.In this atmosphere of edgy uncertainty, young lieutenant Paul Duggan is drafted into G2, the army’s intelligence division, and put on the German desk. He’s given a suspected German spy to investigate, one who doesn’t appear to do much, other than write ambiguous letters to a German intelligence post box in Copenhagen. Before Duggan can probe further, however, he is diverted by a request from his politician uncle to try and find his daughter, who’s gone missing, possibly kidnapped.Enlisting the help of witty Special Branch detective Peter Gifford, the two lines of inquiry take Duggan into the double-dealing worlds of spies and politics, and lead him back to a shocking secret that will challenge everything he has grown up believing. An addictive thriller that will keep you glued to the page, traversing the City of Dublin, right through to its heart-pounding finale.About the AuthorJoe Joyce is the author of five thrillers: Echoland, Echobeat and Echowave (all set during the Second World War in Dublin); The Trigger Man (set during the Irish 'Troubles' in the late 1980s) and Off The Record (set in the 1970s world of Irish journalism); a history/biography of The Guinnesses and a critically acclaimed play, The Tower, about James Joyce and Oliver St John Gogarty.He is co-author with Peter Murtagh of The Boss, the classic account of Irish politician Charles Haughey in power, and Blind Justice, about a celebrated miscarriage of justice in Ireland in the 1970s.He has worked as a journalist for The Irish Times, The Guardian, and Reuters news agency. He lives in Dublin.D1C1B on Twitter | #1city1book | #Echoland
Crime fiction books are forever popular, as a look at any weekly bestsellers list will demonstrate. Think 'The Girl on the Train' (which I've just finished reading, and enjoyed), it's been a bestseller for umpteen weeks. Liz Nugent was topping the Irish bestsellers for a number of weeks recently with 'Lying in Wait', while James Patterson's name features regularly on such lists, albeit with books penned by other authors.Right: Donna Leon in Dubray Bookshop, Dublin, April 2013. (See larger image)Most of my reads are of crime novels in translation, as I like to travel the world a bit, at least in print. This literary journey recently took me even as far as Argentina and new-to-me author Claudia Pineiro (see below), an author I might not have discovered if it weren't for the International Dublin Literary Award. The inclusion of novels in translation adds greatly to the standing of this Award and differentiates it from most other book awards, and you could do worse than visit the Award site where you will be presented with hundreds of books to choose from, many in translation.Without further ado, here are five more crime fiction reads worthy of your consideration, four of which have been translated into English. Can you guess which one of the five was written in English? (answer at the bottom)The star ratings are mine, but I also include the ratings from two of the big book sites.A Climate of Fear by Fred VargasThe murder of a woman, made to look like suicide, is soon followed by another. A strange symbol is found near both bodies, and both victims were members of a doomed party that travelled to Iceland ten years before. The victims also seem to have had an association with a secretive society for the study of Maximilien Robespierre. Plenty of mystery here then!Commissaire Adamsberg and his team are really challenged in their efforts to solve the growing number of related murders with evidence at first pointing one way and then another. While the Icelandic connection seems to lose traction with most of the team, with Adamsberg is does not, resulting in friction and loyalties being called into question. The reader too is challenged to decide if clues are real or merely false trails.I can't say this delighted me as much as previous books by French writer Vargas. I rate her very highly so maybe I had high expectations, however the whole Robespierre angle just didn't grab me I'm afraid and at times I found it a bit tedious. But there is still enough here for me to recommend it, if not heartily; maybe you will think more of it than I did.Ratings: Amazon UK - 4.1/5 Goodreads - 3.9/5A Crack in the Wall by Claudia Pineiro Pablo Simó is a married, middle aged architect in a Buenos Aires practice, living a rather ordinary life, neither happy nor unhappy, and with no great expectations of life. But together with his two work colleagues, he harbours a secret that resurrects itself with the appearance one day of a young woman called Leonor who arrives at their practice asking about a certain Nelson Jara. Keeping the secret under wraps becomes more difficult when he strikes up a relationship with Leonor who has asked him to accompany her around the city on an architectural journey. As the day unfolds and details of the three-year old secret become known to us, one thing seems certain: Pablo's life in so many ways is about to change for ever.Not your typical crime story this, it is as much about one individual looking at his life and finally deciding to do something to change its course. In that regard the ending might surprise a little. I liked this.Ratings: Amazon UK - 3.7/5 Goodreads - 3.34/5The Waters of Eternal Youth by Donna LeonCommissario Guido Brunetti is back, this time attempting to discover if, some 15 years before, then 16-year old Manuela Lando-Continui fell into the canal or was pushed. The incident left her brain damaged and forever with the mind of a six year old. Her now elderly grandmother, the Contessa, is keen to discover the truth or otherwise of the outcome of the original police investigation, which concluded, with little or no actual investigation, that she fell.The 25th book in the series starts with a dinner party at which Brunetti is present together with his wife Paolo and her parents. Food always plays a part in the Brunetti series, which I welcome, as I do the home scenes involving Paolo and their children Chiara and Raffi. Ever present also are computer whizz Signorina Elettra, and officers Vianello, Patta and Scarpa, the latter two being as ever less than sympathetic to Brunetti but who the Commissario invariably outwits and out manoeuvers. No different here.An enjoyable enough read enhanced as ever by insights into Venetian life and Venice itself.(Ratings: Amazon UK - 4.7/5 Goodreads - 4.07/5).Midnight Sun by Jo NesboJon, going under the name Ulf for most of the story, is a hapless criminal on the run from his Oslo drug boss known as the Fisherman. His criminal involvement is driven by his desire to pay for his dying child's medical treatment. He somehow becomes the Fisherman's fixer but as an assassin he is an abject failure. As a result he heads for the north of Norway above the Arctic circle where he hides out in a small town. Here he befriends some of the locals including 10-year old Knut and his widowed mother Lea while he waits for the inevitable arrival of the fisherman's henchmen.This differs in so many ways from Norwegian Nesbo's Harry Hole crime series, being shorter (a novella), less violent, having a far simpler plot line and a likable criminal as the central character. It is more about the characters than the crime, it is about second chances. Nesbo is a storyteller first and foremost, thus the prose is simple and you will find this an easy and quick read.(Ratings: Amazon UK - 3.9/5, Goodreads - 3.61/5)Blade of Light by Andrea CamilleriInspector Salvo Montalbano is here investigating an armed robbery that ends with a kiss, and strange goings on at a shed with a disappearing door. Throw in a body that has all the hallmarks of a mafia hit and the involvement of the anti-terrorist police and you have the makings of yet another intriguing and entertaining Camilleri novel.This is the 19th in the Montalbano series and ever present too is the eclectic mix of characters, the beautiful Sicilian backdrop, and Salvo's love affair with food and women, though he has more success with one than the other. Should I maybe mention the presence of yet another love interest to challenge Salvo's long term, long distance relationship with the lovely Livia? If only Livia would come back to live on Sicily instead of making her sad to say brief appearances, sometimes only on the phone at that!Camilleri's crime mystery books are invariably clever, full of twists and humour, and always a great pleasure to read.(Ratings: Amazon UK - 4.6/5, Goodreads - 3.96/5)Below: Donna Leon and myself in Dubray Bookshop in Dublin , 11th April 2013, when she was talking about her work and signing copies of her book 'The Golden Egg' (Commissario Brunetti, #22).And the book written in English is... 'The Waters of Eternal Youth' by Donna Leon. American Donna Leon lives in Venice where her books are based, and all the novels in the Brunetti series (25 to date) have been written in English. Although they have been translated into many languages, she refuses to have them translated into Italian, her explanation being that she doesn't want to be famous where she lives, preferring a certain level on anonymity in her own back yard. Now you know!
Nails, Axes, Mirrors. And Love! Much ado about Crime
It is all too infrequent these days that I get a chance to post here on the blog regarding my crime fiction reads. It's not to say that I haven't been reading of late, far from it, but it does mean that I can struggle a little to recall the story line details of the many books I have read since my last post and how exactly I felt about them. But let me try at any rate. The following five books are either of an Italian, Thai, French or South African flavour, and I'm glad to say that none of them will disappoint. So read on!Icarus by Deon Meyer Icarus (published 2015) is the latest from South African crime writer Deon Meyer featuring Detective Captain Benny Griessel of the elite investigative team known as the Hawks. Griessel is investigating the high profile murder of Ernst Richter, MD of a new Internet startup company, whose body is discovered buried in the sand dunes north of Cape Town. But Benny has his own troubles, falling off the wagon as he does after 602 days dry. This has consequences both for his private life and work life, and he is challenged to remain focused and sharp at what he does best and to avoid being discovered and chucked out of the force. Richter's company, Alibi, is involved in providing false alibis to people; that and his trying to extract money from clients when his company is strapped for cash, means that there could be any number of possible suspects. There is a parallel story running throughout the book involving the confession of a wine maker under investigation, and the inevitable link between the two does not become clear until near the end.The investigative interviews with winemaker Francois de Toit that punctuate the story throughout were an aspect of the book I found a bit tedious, even if eventually everything does come together. This book also does not have the pace of Meyer's previous titles, however the plot line is as ever intricate and well thought out. His characters too are as ever well developed and interesting to boot. By and large this latest from Meyer is on a par with his previous books, which is another way of saying I can well recommend.Falling in Love by Donna Leon This is the twenty-fourth title in Donna Leon's Venice-based crime series featuring Commissario Brunetti. In this the opera singer Flavia Petrelli is uncomfortable with the level of attention she is getting from a supposed admirer, and when another singer is seriously injured having been pushed down some steps, Brunetti's concern for Flavia is heightened as he thinks both events may be related. The investigation is stepped up therefore before anyone comes to more serious harm. This story has an association with Leon's first book in the series, 'Death at La Fenice' where the soprano Flavia was a suspect in the death of a conductor. It therefore entails a revisit to the opera house La Fenice and the world of opera beloved by both Brunetti and Leon.An improvement on her previous (By Its Cover), but otherwise unremarkable; there is little real mystery, the outcome predictable. I have seen more of the streets and sights of Venice in previous books, but Brunetti's wife Paola and in-laws do feature somewhat, which I welcome, as does the ever resourceful secretary Signorina Elettra, her involvement invariably adding some humour and comedy to proceedings. This time she is on strike against her boss Vice-Questore Patta and his sidekick Lieutenant Scarpa!Game of Mirrors by Andrea Camilleri Game of Mirrors is the 18th in the Salvo Montalbano series from Andrea Camilleri, one of Italy's leading crime writers. Like all the others it is a joy to read and you will surely enjoy as I have Camilleri's style, the humour, the clever plot line, the Sicilian landscape and the culinary delights. I miss though, as I have done with many of the books, the presence of Salvo's longtime girlfriend Livia, living as she does in northern Italy and thus making only brief appearances at the end of a phone line. Their chemistry when she does visit Sicily adds so much to the books, so may she soon return.Summary - When Montalbano comes to the aid of his new neighbour, Liliana Lombardo, after the engine of her car is interfered with, the inspector can little imagine where this innocuous event will lead. It soon transpires that the young woman - beautiful, intelligent and rather vague about the whereabouts of her husband - is being targeted by someone with a grudge against her. But is Liliana's growing interest in Montalbano simply a product of the detective's innate charm? Or is she trying to lead him astray - and into trouble?The Axe Factor by Colin Cotterill This is the third and latest in the Jimm Juree series, following as it does 'Killed at the Whim of a Hat' and 'Grandad, There's a Head on the Beach'. These are humourous, witty reads with quirky characters and comic events, and murder too (!), all set in exotic rural Thailand. The plot is clever too and be certain things are not always as they might appear. The perfect light read for that sunny summer evening.Summary - On the gulf of Thailand, the Juree family are managing their run-down beach resort for the second year - still stalked by disaster. Daughter Jimm has a new love in her life, but finds herself pursued by another man with a markedly different agenda in mind. Meanwhile, Jimm's new case is that of Dr Somluk, a champion of the rights of rural mothers, who is missing following a run-in with the marketeers of infant formula. As ever, there is blood, brine and bedlam aplenty at the Gulf Bay Lovely Resort.Bed of Nails by Antonin Varenne This is the debut crime novel of French writer Antonin Varenne, and what a compelling, powerful debut it is. It can also be described as bleak and dark, but don't be put off by such descriptions. Inspector Guérin of the Suicide Division is investigating an apparent suicide during an S&M act, but things may not be as they appear. Plus also too events in people's past lives have a huge influence on their present state of being. Varenne is very strong on character development and human relationships, though unsympathetic so many of the characters might appear. There is too plenty of suspense and tension. The ending, without giving anything away, will do little to settle you or cheer you up! A must read. Another strong French crime writer to rank alongside the likes of Fred Vargas and Pierre Lemaitre.Summary - It's as if he's being mocked from beyond the grave. When John Nichols arrives to identify the body of an old friend, he is immediately caught up in the detritus of Alan Musgrave's life, the side of Paris the tourists don't see, where everyone has a past but very few count on a future.Happy reading!
Henning Mankell, that giant of Swedish, indeed European, crime fiction writing, has sadly passed away at the age of 67. He had been suffering from cancer. Though not exclusively a crime writer, his Kurt Wallander (pronounced vahl lahń’ der) crime series are known the world over and are must-reads for all fans of the crime fiction genre. The Wallander TV series has also proved a big success, viewers in this country may have been lucky enough to view the series on BBC 4.Mankell is a wonderful storyteller, his writing faultless. Though now passed, I shall continue to think of him in the present tense as he will live on in his books and in his characters.The main character in Mankell's crime novels, Inspector Kurt Wallander, lives and works in Ystad in southern Sweden where he solves crimes with his team of detectives. His daughter Linda follows him into the police force and her uneasy relationship with her dad, and the fact that she works with him on some of the cases, makes for added interest. Central to the series also is Swedish society, and I for one love to see a society and culture portrayed and commented upon through the characters and storyline by native writers in particular. Kurt is a bit of a loner, separated from his wife, with a dad who disapproves of his career choice, and he likes his tipple while listening to classical music. Kurt is a troubled man, his years dealing with crimes having taken its toll on him.There are twelve titles in the Wallander series, and whereas there is some difference in the publishing (in English) order and the chronological order (events timeline), my advice to you is to read them in the following order: Faceless Killers The Dogs of Riga The White Lioness The Man Who Smiled Sidetracked The Fifth Woman One Step Behind Firewall The Pyramid Before the Frost An Event in Autumn The Troubled Man'The Pyramid' is a series of short stories, 'An Event in Autumn' is a novella, while' Before the Frost' in fact features his daughter Linda in the lead role.In terms of Wallander on TV, there were three separate series done, two by Swedish TV and one by the BBC. The first Swedish series stars Rolf Lassgård, while the second stars Krister Henriksson: whereas all the Lassgård episodes are based on the books, most of the Henriksson ones were written for TV. The BBC series stars Kenneth Branagh and consists of six episodes. All three play the character differently, which makes for interesting comparisons if you are a Wallander aficionado. I have to say I loved in particular the Swedish series, I had a little difficulty with the strong English accents in the Swedish countryside in the British production. Though I would watch them again, that be said!Check out the availability of the Wallander DVDs in our online catalogue (yes, you can borrow!).Read also:Henning Mankell Obituary (The Guardian)Henning Mankell, writer - obituary (The Telegraph)Henning Mankell, Writer Whose Wallander Patrolled a Gritty Sweden, Dies at 67 (New York Times)
It's been some time since I've had the chance to share with you my crime reads, so when I do get the chance there is guilty pleasure aplenty. This time round I am focusing on books from the Nordic region, with titles in translation from Swedish, Icelandic, Norwegian and Danish authors. Now this concentration might be no surprise to anyone who follows my posts here on the library blog, as I am an avid reader of crime titles in translation, Nordic writers having a particular appeal for me. But not exclusively, as you will see next time round when I will venture further south to France and Italy and even to Thailand and South Africa!But back to the present, and I have to start with a BIG favourite of mine, Norway's Karin Fossum, and the 7th title in the Inspector Sejer Series, The Murder of Harriet Krohn .Charlo Torp, a flawed if otherwise ordinary individual, robs an elderly widow and in the process kills her when she resists. The story is largely set in the aftermath of the killing and is told by and from the perspective of the killer. Although part of the Inspector Sejer series, the Inspector features little in this one, yet you sense their paths will eventually cross given Sejer's record of having no unsolved cases.Charlo plans the robbery as a way of solving his gambling debts and, in his eyes, giving himself a fresh start. His wife is dead and he is somewhat estranged from his daughter Julie, and he sees this too as a chance to redeem that relationship and leave his gambling problems behind him. Charlo is a weak, unsympathetic, self-pitying sort of person, constantly justifying his actions to himself, who sees himself as a reformed individual and he, not Harriet, as the actual victim.This is largely a character study, something Norwegian crime author Karin Fossum is so very adept at. Fossum's books are often concerned with 'what if' type scenarios, placing ordinary people in despairing situations where things go wrong and spiral out of control, resulting in inevitable tragedy.I'm a huge fan of Karin Fossum and I can highly recommend this book as I do her others.Book Summary:Charles Olav Torp has problems. He's grieving for his late wife, he's lost his job, and gambling debts have alienated him from his teenage daughter. Desperate, his solution is to rob an elderly woman of her money and silverware. But Harriet Krohn fights back, and Charlo loses control. Wracked with guilt, Charlo attempts to rebuild his life and regain his dignity. But the police are catching up with him, and Inspector Konrad Sejer has never lost a case yet. Told through the eyes of a killer, 'The Murder of Harriet Krohn' poses the question: how far would you go to turn your life around, and could you live with yourself afterwards?Next up is Denmark's Jussi Adler-Olsen and Guilt , the 4th title in the Department Q series. Yet another excellent title from Adler-Olsen. Plot, characters, atmosphere, tension, this story of revenge is strong on all fronts. While the underlying story might be a dark one, there is even humour and mystery around members of the team itself that will maintain your interest on several levels. The ending will not disappoint. I can highly recommend.Book Summary:1987: Nete Hermansen, a young woman brutally assaulted in her youth, sterilised without her consent by a fanatical surgeon, and banished to Sprogo, the island for outcast women is planning her escape and her vengeance. And soon people begin to go missing and no one - certainly not the police - knows why, nor that individual cases are connected.Today: Carl Mørck and his assistants Assad and Rose in Department Q are examining old missing persons cases and spot a disturbing pattern from 1987.Sweden's Hakan Nesser is the author of the Chief Inspector Van Veeteren series, which is set in a town called Maardam, situated in a fictional northern European country. G File , is the final book in the series. The now retired Chief Inspector can't help being drawn away from his antiquarian book store when his one unsolved case resurrects itself. While Van Veeteren featured to a lesser degree in a number of the most recent titles in the series, here he takes centre stage, which is a welcome development. The book covers two time periods, 1987, when the death of a woman results in an unsolved case as the prime suspect has a water tight alibi, and 2002, when the disappearance of a private investigator involved in the unsolved case results in Van Veeteren revisiting the case.This is the only case Van Veeteren had failed to solve in over 30 years of police work, so it is fitting that it should be the subject of this, the final book in the series.In 1987, ex-police officer and private detective Verlangen, whose life has been heavily influenced by his drinking , is hired by a woman to follow her husband. However her death soon after and the fact that her husband had recently taken out a policy on her life lead to he being charged with her murder but walking free soon after due to his watertight alibi. Fifteen years later Verlangen goes missing and his daughter seeks Van Veeteren's help. It turns out that Verlangen seems to have uncovered new evidence regarding the death in 1987, and so Van Veeteren pursues the investigation afresh as well as the discovery of Verlangen's whereabouts.Van Veeteren displays his usual talent and determination in pursuit of this case, despite he being retired for some five years. The question is - can he finally solve his one outstanding case and what might well have been the perfect crime?The book is quite a long one (600 pages), with the first half set in 1987, but because it is in two parts your interest won't wane. Lend to that the fact that Nesser delivers an atmospheric crime thriller with a well constructed plot line, and interesting and well developed characters, not least Van Veeteren himself. Nesser's ability to surprise also makes his books interesting reads. A worthy finale to the series, it is up there with Nesser's best and will be time well spent.This series has been so successful that most of the books have now been turned into film.Iceland's Arnaldur Indridason's Reykjavík Nights differs from other titles in the series featuring Erlendur in that it takes you back to when Erlendur was a young policeman on the beat and first showing an ability for crime solving. So very different to the books featuring the older Inspector Erlendur and, should you have read any, you have to try and forget everything you know and think about him to large measure as it isn't really relevant to the young Erlendur.Erlendur works the night shift with two colleagues patrolling the streets of Reykjavík, and in so doing he meets and interacts quite closely with many of those who live rough on the streets and whose lives are hard and marked by drink, violence and poverty. The death of one man living rough, whom Erlendur knew, from an apparent drowning and the disappearance of a woman the same night show no clear signs of being related until Erlendur starts to enquire into the man's life and death.In the course of his private investigation unknown to his colleagues, he interacts with several characters living rough and others of questionable character, and it is this aspect of the book which holds most interest, the insight into the lives of those unfortunates proving interesting and revealing. In fact the scenes are probably reflective of the lives of many such unfortunates in any European city. They don't welcome his interest and interference as they would see it, and are suspicious of his motives and guarded of their lives and circumstances. So his investigation, while well intended, meets most resistance from those whom he seeks to help.True to form, Erlendur does make progress with his investigation and in true style his doggedness, his humanity and his eventual success serve to show why he went on the become the successful detective we are so familiar with in the other books he features in and set later in his life. While his own personal tragedy, namely the disappearance of his brother when he was a young boy, does not really feature in the story, its influence on him is evident in his desire to discover what has happened to the woman who has disappeared.While not quite on a par with his best, Indridason has nonetheless delivered here a book worth reading and certain not to disappoint.Closed for Winter was my first encounter with Norway's Jorn Lier Horst, and I'm afraid this particular police procedural didn't quite do it for me. Due in part to the author's style, also I found the very short chapters stilting and interrupting of the flow. It is slow moving, and I have to say I just struggled to engage with it.Book Summary:Ove Bakkerud, newly separated and extremely disillusioned, is looking forward to a final quiet weekend at his summer home before closing for winter. But, when the tourists leave, less welcome visitors arrive and Bakkerud's cottage is ransacked by burglars. Next door, however, there is an even more shocking discovery - the body of a man who has been beaten to death. Police Inspector William Wisting has witnessed grotesque murders before, but the desperation he sees in this latest murder is something new.Happy reading!
In recent months I have continued apace with my crime fiction reading, and here I share with you just some of those reads, they being books by Gillian Flynn, Donna Leon, Thomas Enger and Fred Vargas. So read on!Who at this stage is not familiar to some degree with the story that is 'Gone Girl' seeing how the film version was such a hit? Gillian Flynn's book, upon which the film is based, has proved a huge success, being the 25th bestselling adult fiction title of all time and spending 8 weeks at the top of the New York Times hardcover fiction bestseller list. 'Gone Girl' is the classic tale of a wife going missing and the finger of suspicion regarding her disappearance pointing at her husband. Where is Amy Dunne, and has loving husband Nick got something to do with her disappearance?This is a well crafted thriller with twists and surprises that will keep you guessing and likely ensure you are always one step at least behind the storyteller. Amy's diary and the gradual release of its contents adds to the mix and has you second guessing at the turn of every page. Nick's actions and thoughts don't help matters. As you delve further into the story things get even darker and the truth behind the seemingly happy marriage begins to unfold. The switching back and forth between the two narrators (Amy & Nick) is done intelligently and in a way that ensures your interest will not wane. This book begs the question - how well can you really know someone?I can well recommend 'Gone Girl', so get reading!. By Its Cover is the twenty-third title in Donna Leon's Venice-based crime series featuring Commissario Brunetti. The theft and vandalism of antiquarian books from a prestigious Venetian library form the basis of this story, and while the staff suspect that an American researcher has stolen them, Brunetti doesn't quite buy in to this theory.As the investigation proceeds, Brunetti seeks to enlighten himself about the stolen books, it being the subject matter rather than the physical beauty of such rare texts that is the appeal. Events take a sinister turn however (albeit half way into the story before so doing) when one of the library's regular readers, an ex-priest, turns up dead, murdered in brutal fashion. As the story progresses, developments point towards the black market in antiquarian books and the involvement of more than one person in the thefts from the library.To my mind, the focus on antiquarian books, in particular the subject matter of the stolen books is likely to be the strongest draw of this story, but if only for bibliophiles. Missing for me was the usual mix of interesting characters and the interactions between them and Brunetti, also the near absence of Brunetti's family and the Venetian cuisine we have become so accustomed to. Add to this the sudden, and for that reason, unsatisfying ending and this all adds up to, for me, one of Leon's least enjoyable works.Pierced by Norway's Thomas Enger is the follow up to 'Burned' and the second in the series featuring Oslo-based journalist Henning Juul. The series is centred around Juul's struggle to deal with the death of his son, which he largely feels responsible for, and his efforts to get to the bottom of the fire that resulted in his son's death and he receiving extensive injuries.In Pierced, Tore Pulli, a prisoner with an upcoming appeal into his conviction for a murder, challenges Juul to find evidence of his innocence, Juul's incentive being that Pulli knows something about the fire that resulted in his son's death and will share it with him in due course. Convinced that something untoward resulted in the fire, Juul has no choice but to investigate despite the weight of evidence against Pulli and the type of character he is. With assistance from fellow journalist, Iver Gundersen, who also happens to be his ex-wife's partner, Juul sets about delving into the seedy and dangerous world of underground gyms and clubs in Oslo.A parallel story involving a news cameraman has you wondering for some time what relevance that story line plays but all eventually become clear. Its inclusion and outcome lends to a complicated and involving plot which, for me, was largely satisfying and deemed the book a worthy read despite the book maybe being unnecessarily long at over 500 pages.Juul's struggle to deal with his son's death, plus his relationship with his ex-wife and her current partner, add nicely to the story and indeed serve to enhance the book's overall appeal.Given that the series continues with 'Scarred', which I now look forward to reading, it might be safe to assume that Juul's struggle will continue a bit longer despite what this story might reveal. Enjoy, I did!It's always a joy to read a book by France's Fred Vargas, the creator of the fabulous Commissaire Adamsberg series. Dog Will Have His Day , though not from the Adamsberg series, predates all but one in fact of the Adamsberg titles. Originally published back in 1996, it is the second of three in The Three Evangelists series, the first being The Three Evangelists; we await the third in translation.This book features Parisian Louis, or Ludwig, Kehlweiler, who, having discovered a human toe bone that was deposited by a dog (!) near his regular park bench, sets about investigating its source and, as he suspects, a possible murder. This investigation takes Louis and his pet toad (!) ,which he keeps in his pocket, to a town in Brittany as he follows the trail of the offending dog and his walker. Here an old woman has been found dead on a beach, minus of course a toe!The book is full of interesting and colourful characters, some you might even think eccentric, which is what you come to expect from Vargas, character development though being only one of her many attributes as a writer. There is Louis of course, a former investigator with the Ministry of Justice; old Marthé, a former prostitute; Marc, a medievalist and one of the evangelists; and others. Vargas also here paints a vivid and interesting picture of a provincial town and Breton life.This book is a wonderful crime mystery and was my delight to read, you will certainly want to seek out other titles by Vargas having read it. And I would highly recommend you to!Happy reading!
My crime fiction reads have taken me to many lands and long may that continue. In my previous blog post I visited Italy, Iceland, Sweden, South Africa and Botswana. In this latest compilation of crime reads I revisit Italy and South Africa, while also venturing to the USA, Sweden, Norway and France.Starting with France and moving in a clockwise-direction, we first encounter Pierre Lemaitre, whose book 'Alex' I have covered previously and thought very highly of. Now it is time to mention 'Irene' , the prequel to 'Alex', yet which followed it in translation. But reading 'Alex' first, as I did, can prove a bit unfortunate for obvious reasons, so I do recommend you stick to the proper order if you haven't yet read either. And read you must, for I can't recommend this author highly enough. He writes so well, and he is excellent on plot, characterization, atmosphere and tension building. But there is a word of caution: his portrayal of violence is not for the meek, and may put off some. So while you would be forgiven for moving quickly on at some points, you should not let it detract from your pursuit of otherwise top quality crime writing, which both 'Alex' and 'Irene' are. It would be good to know though that an author of Lemaitre's obvious talent could produce just as capable a work without the need for such graphic depictions of violence.A serial killer is on the loose, and his murders show marked similarities to those featured in some classic, and even some obscure, crime fiction novels. The diminutive and rather interesting Commandant Camille Verhoeven of the Paris police force and his team have the task of trying to find the murderer. To add even more interest to the plot, the Irene of the title refers to Verhoeven's wife, who is pregnant with their first child. Thus all the while you are reading this book you might wonder how and to what extent Verhoeven's personal life forms part of the story. Also too there is present in the story an academic who identifies the similarities between one murder and that featured in a crime novel by James Ellroy, and an irritating journalist who is not making Verhoeven's life any easier.Inevitably there is a race to catch the killer before he strikes again, you will be working just as hard as Verhoeven to make sense of the clues as you go. 'Irene' is an engaging read, you will soon want to follow it up with 'Alex'.Heading south-east, we land in Italy, or to be more precise, Sicily, land of an eternal favourite of mine, Commissario Salvo Montalbano. 'Angelica's Smile' is the 17th in the Montalbano series from Andrea Camilleri, and while still a clever, humourous, and entertaining read, it is not quite on a par with some of his previous. In this latest mystery, as usual based in the (fictitious) coastal town of Vigata in Sicily, Salvo is involved in trying to solve a string of copycat burglaries of seeming acquaintances who all own two properties. While not enamoured at being involved with mere burglaries, he is so because of the reputation of some of those burgled, and any disquiet he has is quickly dispelled when he meets and becomes infatuated with one of those burgled, the beautiful Angelica. What is it that ties the burglaries together, and why is the perpetrator sending him clues in anonymous messages? Is the reason for the burglaries something other than mere theft?Camilleri's plots are nearly always well thought out and need to be in order to keep this long series fresh. Yet I always yearn for more of Livia, Salvo's long-time girlfriend, whose appearances are always all too frustratingly short. There is the usual midnight stakeout, regular visits to his favourite eateries, trouble interpreting Officer Cateralla, and uncertainty regarding his relationship with Livia. And also, as appears usual, not everyone may be as they might appear. Maybe therein lies the clue to events.Sometimes Camilleri's books end with a tinge of sadness; this one may fall into that bracket, but for what reason I won't reveal. The reason could be either that the story is too short, someone maybe not deserving of it proves guilty, or that the ending is slightly ant-climatic or maybe even unsurprising. But see what you think!Leaving Sicily, we travel a great distance south to encounter the latest from South Africa's Deon Meyer, namely 'Cobra' . 'Cobra' is the fourth in the Captain Benny Griessel series based in and around post-apartheid Cape Town. In this thriller/police procedural, Griessel is in a race against time (isn't he always?) to find a kidnapped British scientist (Adair) before further killings ensue. Further, that is, to those that occurred when the scientist was kidnapped by an assassin, or group of, whose call signs are bullet casings engraved with a spitting cobra. They seem to be a very professional and ruthless group of hitmen determined to recover a memory card which has fallen into the hands of a pickpocket who plies his trade in an effort to support his sister who is attending college. With his sister's life also under threat, the pickpocket pursues his own means of safeguarding her life while maybe trying to profit from having the memory card in his possession. Invaluable information regarding global terrorism seems to be what's at stake, and maybe even the involvement of big business. Thus the mystery; who is behind efforts to recover the memory card and the kidnapping of the scientist? Will we find out?This is a pacy, well plotted suspenseful thriller, as Meyer's books invariably are. Much of the story revolves around the kidnapper and his role in proceedings, you might say at a cost to Griessel's own role. Griessel is a recovering alcoholic who does not always see eye to eye with his superiors, a trait common to the principal police characters in many crime/thriller novels. The ending is violent (but not descriptively so), but will it leave you satisfied? Read and see!The flight from South Africa to Mississippi, USA, is a very long one but one well worth taking in order to encounter the prolific John Grisham. 'Sycamore Row' is his latest but one novel (his most recent being 'Gray Mountain') and is also the sequel to 'A Time to Kill' starring small town lawyer Jake Brigance. This courtroom drama is set in Mississippi in 1988, three years after events in 'A Time to Kill' (Grisham's first novel), and again race relations and prejudice are at the centre of the story.In 'Sycamore Row' wealthy businessman Seth Hubbard rewrites his will shortly before taking his own life, a decision heavily influenced by his advancing cancer. This will leaves the bulk of his estate to Lettie Lang, his black housekeeper, much to the ire of his relatives and surprise of everyone else. Thus ensues a courtroom challenge to the will, central to the challenge of the relatives being Seth's 'testamentary capacity' and the possible 'undue influence' of Lettie Lang. Jake of course has been charged with defending the last will by Hubbard in a letter sent before his death, and while its defence looks a relatively straightforward task initially, events unfold which threaten to tear down the defence and see the will put aside in favour of an earlier version. Meanwhile also a search ensues for Seth's long lost brother, himself due to inherit in the new will and who also is the only link with the past, a past which may or may not have a bearing on events of the present. A certain humour is introduced by Grisham in the manner in which he deals with Seth's relatives and their supposed new found love for their Uncle Seth, a love which was not very evident when he was alive. How the possibility of inherited wealth can sway the hearts of so many!The courtroom element of this novel is its strongest aspect, which by and large covers most of the book! So yes, I enjoyed this, as I usually do Grisham's novels. The ending too is quite strong, something I can't say about a number of Grisham's other novels. The only gripe I might have is the character of Jake himself, too clean, too nice, no faults to list or complicate him as a character. I guess it makes the book ripe for another film blockbuster like 'A Time to Kill' became, starring as it did Matthew McConaughey.I just about give this four stars out of five, which I did to his previous 'The Racketeer', but 'The Racketeer' I can definitely say I did prefer. Crossing the Atlantic we arrive in Norway, home of that ex-soccer player come ex-rock band member come rock climber come well known author, Jo Nesbo, creator of the bestselling Harry Hole series. 'The Son' , however, is a stand-alone revenge thriller, so no Harry Hole here. But Nesbo has done that before with 'Headhunters'. In this rather long book (over 490 pages), 30-year old drug addict and convicted two-time murderer Sonny Lofthus, having served 12 years in prison, escapes to seek revenge for his father's death. His father was a police officer who apparently hung himself leaving a note admitting to corruption and disgracing his family. Thus the reason Sonny went off the rails and ended up in prison. While in prison Sonny behaves like a model prisoner but only so that he can have his drug habit fed; he is even ready to admit to crimes in order to continue feeding his habit. But discovering the truth of his father's death brings an about-turn. When Sonny escapes, he goes on a murder spree, seeking out those who had anything to do with his father's death. One of those he seeks is the 'Mole' an unidentified police officer guilty of feeding information to the Twin, one of Oslo's leading mobsters and a very dangerous man. The principal other character in the story is police officer and reformed gambling addict Simon Kefas, the once best friend and partner of Sonny's father, and the man given the task of capturing Sonny and thus bringing the killing spree to an end.This is the type of book which requires you to suspend belief somewhat. Sonny, a long-time heroin addict willing to admit to crimes in order to feed his habit, is suddenly able to kick the habit and escape prison; while in prison he is seen by other prisoners as having powers of healing and forgiveness and thus they are quite willing to confide in him in the hope of gaining spiritual forgiveness; and Sonny's ability to survive on the outside, despite 12 years incarceration, are quite remarkable. There is also a love interest; how this formulates itself and why may also require some blind acceptance on the part of the reader.All through the story is the underlying question as to who is or was the Mole? Whether or not this is revealed by story's end I won't say as that might be to reveal too much. Overall, I think you will enjoy the level of action, the story's twists and turns, its fast-pace, and a certain suspense. But you may struggle with the book's length and those elements which require suspension of belief. And maybe too the level of violence that is present. This book seems a perfect fit for film adaptation, which may have been in the author's mind when writing it I suspect; the latest word has it that Channing Tatum may co-direct and star in a Hollywood production. The final part of our trip takes us the short hop to Sweden, home of many a well known crime writer, including in this instance Johan Theorin. I was initially reluctant to read Theorin's 'The Asylum' , and for a time my progress was a little tentative, as the subject matter involves children and a child carer of suspect character and with a troubled past. Given the story is told from the main character's point of view, albeit in the third person, there is an unsettling feeling in having such access to his train of thought, his mindset. But if you stick with it, this slow moving psychological thriller will not disappoint, providing you don't mind a story that doesn't really allow you to side with, or feel sympathy for the main character, indeed any character, for fear that your sympathies might be ill-placed. Thus an unease stays with you throughout.In the story Jan, the main character, takes a job as a child carer in a day care centre attached to a secure psychiatric hospital. The children in this centre are the offspring of some of the inmates of the hospital, and they are allowed in on regular visits to their parents via a connecting passageway. Supposedly housed in the hospital is a woman from Jan's past whom he hopes to make contact with again. Indeed its his reason for applying for this particular post. Jan's past is revealed piece by piece, including his previous association with this woman, his previous employment in another pre-school and a particular experience that left an obvious mark on him. There are others of course held in the hospital, include a child killer, with whom another working in the day care centre has contact. The plot thickens!The story's psychological aspect, the tension, the uncertainty, all are its strongest points, and despite some unlikely circumstances, the slow pace, and an ending that is not quite the equal of the rest of the book, this book is still worth your attention. That being said, it is not quite on a par with the author's best ('Echoes from the Dead' and 'The Darkest Room'). Happy reading!
What's in a title, you may ask? Well, clarity you hope, but might I suggest instead, confusion and sometimes too time wasted. Whatever am I talking about, you might wonder. Let me ask - how often have you went looking for a book, only to discover that the title you seek is not the title that resides on the library bookshelf or the bookseller's for that matter? How often have you started to read a book only to soon get a feeling you've read it before? What I am getting at is the confusion that can abound because of the habit of publishers of releasing the same book under different titles. Sometimes it's a case that titles differ depending on the market (e.g. UK v US) but also too the title can change in the same market with the release of a new or paperback edition. And if that isn't confusing enough, book covers change too!A case in point is a favourite author of mine, Denmark's Jussi Adler-Olsen, writer of the Department Q crime series, which to date consists of five titles in Danish, four of which have so far been translated into English and all of which have different UK and US titles:Kvinden i buret - (translates as 'The Woman in the Cage')Mercy (UK, 2011) aka The Keeper of Lost Causes (US, 2011)Fasandræberne - (translates as 'The Pheasant Killers')Disgrace (UK, 2012) aka The Absent One (US, 2012)Flaskepost fra P - (translates as 'Message in a Bottle')Redemption (UK, 2013) aka A Conspiracy of Faith (US, 2013)Journal 64Guilt (UK, 2014) aka The Purity of Vengeance (US, 2013)Other crime fiction books that come to mind with two or more titles are:Liza Marklund (Sweden)Studio 69 aka Exposed (reprint) aka Studio Sex (US)Paradise aka VanishedArnaldur Indriðason (Iceland)Jar City aka Tainted Blood (pbk ed.)Tess Gerritsen (US)Keeping the Dead (UK) aka The Keepsake (US)The Killing Place (UK) aka Ice Cold (US) (Ice Cold - talking book)Karin Fossum (Norway)Calling Out for You (UK) aka The Indian Bride (US)Åsa Larsson (Sweden)The Savage Altar aka Sun Storm (US)Donna Leon (US, lives in Italy)The Anonymous Venetian aka Dressed for DeathA Venetian Reckoning (UK) aka Death and Judgement (US)Acqua Alta aka Death in High WaterThe Death of Faith (UK) aka Quietly in Their Sleep (US)Peter Høeg (Denmark)Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow (UK) aka Smilla's Sense of Snow (US)Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo (Sweden)The Laughing Policeman (sorry, no longer in stock) aka An Investigation of MurderSo, if reading your next book you get a feeling...----------Note: UK = United Kingdom; US = United States; aka = also known as