Friday, July 03, 2015

Review: The Suicide Club by Andrew Williams

The Suicide Club by Andrew Williams, July 2015, 368 pages, Hodder Paperbacks, ISBN: 1848545886

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

It is July/August 1917 and the First World War has been dragging on in France for three years and is at something of a stalemate. Sir Maurice Cummings or "C" as he is known as the head of the new Secret Intelligence Service summon Captain Alexander Innes fresh from undercover work in Belgium. Captain Innes is a Scot with a gift for languages (he speaks five) and "C" wants him to be attached to Field Marshal Haig's headquarters in France to join an espionage unit known as "The Suicide Club"; his real mission however is to spy on Haig's intelligence chiefs who are suspected of passing incomplete information. "C" particularly suspects a Brigadier Charteris and wants to discover if he is responsible for compromising the Army's network in the occupied territories where agents are being killed.

Innes has his work cut out at GHQ, as he finds he must do daily mind games with other officers of similar rank in order to prove that the work of the Secret Intelligence Service is better than the bad intelligence supplied by the Army to Haig. There is an undercover intelligence source known as "Faust" that Haig seems to put a lot of faith in but Innes believes that hundreds of thousands of British soldiers lives may be lost because of this mistaken belief. Because of the political infighting between Government and GHQ, Innes decides to go behind enemy lines and search out Faust and discover the truth.

THE SUICIDE CLUB is a novel based on real events and draws on the diary and correspondence of Douglas Haig and the diaries and memoirs of the War Cabinet secretary Sir Maurice Hankey. Andrew Williams worked as a senior producer for the BBC flagship Panorama and Newsnight programmes and as a writer and director of history documentaries. I have read previously for review his earlier books TO KILL A TSAR (shortlisted for the Ellis Peters Award and the Walter Scott Prize) and THE POISON TIDE. As with those I really enjoyed this latest, fast-paced, historical thriller and was very impressed with the huge amount of research the author undertook to give a true and fascinating picture of life at that remarkable time. I look forward to reading more books by this gifted author. Strongly recommended.

Terry Halligan, July 2015.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

TV News: Crossing Lines on Alibi

Crossing Lines, starring William Fichtner and Donald Sutherland starts on Alibi next Tuesday at 9pm. The series has recently been renewed for a third season.

As it's a European co-production I gather it is already available on eg German DVD with the option of English audio.

Plot (from Wikipedia): Former New York Police Department officer Carl Hickman's life has fallen apart after he was injured on the job; he has become addicted to morphine and works as a garbage collector at a carnival in the Netherlands. He is recruited to join the International Criminal Court's special crime unit (a fictional unit). 

Based in The Hague, it investigates a variety of crimes that cross international boundaries. The unit includes an anti-organized crime covert specialist from Italy, a technical specialist from Germany, a crimes analyst from France, and a weapons specialist and tactical expert from Northern Ireland.

Some 1987 Titles (for Past Offences)

The latest monthly challenge over at Past Offences is to read a book in July, published in 1987. Here are quite a few crime titles to choose from, first published in English in 1987, pulled from my database. 1987 was a good year for the beginnings of series, including: Kinsey Millhone (Grafton), Rebus (Rankin), Inspector Banks (Robinson), Elvis Cole (Crais), Kemal Kayankaya (Arjouni) and Lindsay Gordon (McDermid):

Anthology - Murder in Japan: Japanese Stories of Crime and Detection
Peter Ackroyd - Chatterton
Douglas Adams - Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency
Marcel Allain & Pierre Souvestre - The Silent Executioner
Evelyn Anthony - No Enemy But Time
Jakob Arjouni - Happy Birthday, Turk!
Campbell Armstrong - Jig
Robert Barnard - Death in Purple Prose (apa The Cherry Blossom Corpse)
Robert Barnard - The Skeleton in the Grass
George Baxt - The Tallulah Bankhead Murder Case
M C Beaton - Death of a Cad
Carole Berry - The Letter of the Law
Michael Bond - Monsieur Pamplemousse Takes the Cure
Kjell-Olof Bornemark - The Messenger Must Die
Lilian Jackson Braun - The Cat Who Played Brahms
Lilian Jackson Braun - The Cat Who Played Post Office
Simon Brett - The Three Detectives and the Knight in Armor
Simon Brett - What Bloody Man Is That
W J Burley - Wycliffe and the Winsor Blue
Gwendoline Butler - Coffin in Fashion
Robert Campbell - Alice in La-La Land
Ann Cleeves - Come Death and High Water
Anthea Cohen - Ministering Angel
Robert Crais - The Monkey's Raincoat
Clare Curzon - Trail of Fire
Eileen Dewhurst - A Nice Little Business
Eileen Dewhurst - A Private Prosecution
Margaret Duffy - Murder of Crows
Susan Dunlap - A Dinner to Die For
Clare Francis - Wolf Winter
Dick Francis - Hot Money
John Francome - Riding High (with James MacGregor)
Antonia Fraser - Your Royal Hostage
Sue Grafton - A is for Alibi
Caroline Graham - The Killings at Badger's Drift
Lesley Grant-Adamson - Wild Justice
Gerald Hammond - Adverse Reports
Gerald Hammond - The Worried Widow
Carolyn G Hart - Death on Demand
S T Haymon - Death of a God
Tim Heald - Brought to Book
Joan Hess - Malice in Maggody
Joan Hess - Dear Miss Demeanor
Reginald Hill - Death of a Dormouse (written as Patrick Ruell)
Reginald Hill - There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union
Reginald Hill - The Collaborators
Reginald Hill - Child's Play
Timothy Holme - At the Lake of Sudden Death
Alan Hunter - Strangling Man
Bill James - Halo Parade
Roderic Jeffries - Relatively Dangerous
Dan Kavanagh - Going to the Dogs
H R F Keating - The Body in the Billiard Room
Stephen Leather - Pay Off
Gillian Linscott - A Whiff of Sulphur
Peter Lovesey - Bertie and the Tinman
Peter MacAlan - The Valkyrie Directive
Marion Mainwaring - Murder in Pastiche
Margaret Maron - The Right Jack
Lia Matera - Where Lawyers Fear to Tread
J K Mayo - Wolf's Head
Val McDermid - Report for Murder
Jill McGown - Record of Sin
Jill McGown - Stalking Horse
Keith Miles - Bullet Hole
Martin Millar - Milk, Sulphate and Alby Starvation
Paul Myers - Deadly Aria
Paul Myers - Deadly Sonata
Amy Myers - Murder in the Limelight
Magdalen Nabb - The Marshal and the Murderer
Shizuko Natsuki - The Third Lady
Fridrikh Neznansky - The Body in Sokolniki Park
Frank Parrish - Caught in the Birdlime (apa Bird In The Net)
Daniel Pennac - Fairy Gunmother
Anne Perry - Cardington Crescent
Ellis Peters - The Hermit of Eyton Forest
Andrew Puckett - Bloodstains
Sheila Radley - Who Saw Him Die?
Ian Rankin - Knots and Crosses
Ruth Rendell - Collected Short Stories (apa Collected Stories)
Ruth Rendell - Heartstones
Gillian Roberts - Caught Dead in Philadelphia
Peter Robinson - Gallows View
Joseph Roth - Confession of a Murderer
Julian Semyonov - Tass Is Authorized to Announce...
Gerald Seymour - At Close Quarters (apa An Eye for an Eye)
John Sherwood - Flowers of Evil
Dorothy Simpson - Element of Doubt
Gillian Slovo - Death Comes Staccato
Joan Smith - A Masculine Ending
Andrew Taylor - The Second Midnight
Andrew Taylor - Freelance Death
Leslie Thomas - Dangerous in Love
June Thomson - No Flowers by Request
Lesley Thomson - Seven Miles from Sydney
Edward Topol - Red Snow
M J Trow - Lestrade and the Hallowed House
M J Trow - Lestrade and the Leviathan
Janwillem Van de Wetering - The Sergeant's Cat: And Other Stories
Barbara Vine - A Fatal Inversion
Timothy Williams - Persona Non Grata (apa The White Audi)
David Williams - Divided Treasure
Margaret Yorke - Evidence to Destroy
Eve Zaremba - Beyond Hope

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

CWA Daggers - Gold, Creasey & Steel - Shortlists

Also announced last night were the shortlists (whittled down from these longlists) for the CWA's 2015 Gold, Creasey and Steel Awards.

From The Bookseller:


The Shut Eye - Belinda Bauer/Transworld Publishers/Bantam Press

The Rules of Wolfe - James Carlos Blake/Oldcastle Books/No Exit Press

The Silkworm - Robert Galbraith/Little, Brown Book Group/Sphere

Missing - Sam Hawken Profile Books/Serpent's Tail

Mr Mercedes - Stephen King/Hodder & Stoughton/Hodder & Stoughton

Pleasantville - Attica Locke/Profile Books/Serpent's Tail
Life or Death - Michael Robotham/Little, Brown Book Group/Sphere


The Abrupt Physics of Dying - Paul E Hardisty/Orenda Books

Everything I Never Told You - Celeste Ng/Little, Brown Book Group

Fourth of July Creek - Smith Henderson/Random House/William Heinemann

The Girl in the Red Coat - Kate Hamer/Faber and Faber

You - Caroline Kepnes/Simon & Schuster


Missing - Sam Hawken/Profile Books/Serpent's Tail

The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins/Transworld Publishers/Doubleday

Nobody Walks - Mick Herron/Soho Crime/ Soho Crime

The White Van - Patrick Hoffman/Atlantic Books Ltd/Grove Press

The Night The Rich Men Burned - Malcolm Mackay/Pan Macmillan/Mantle

Cop Town - Karin Slaughter/Random House/Century

The Kind Worth Killing - Peter Swanson/Faber and Faber

International Dagger 2015 - Winner

Last night the winner of the 2015 International Dagger was announced. It is Camille by Pierre Lemaitre (tr Frank Wynne).

Also shortlisted - with links to Euro Crime reviews:

Falling Freely, As If In A Dream by Leif GW Persson (tr Paul Norlen)

Cobra by Deon Meyer (tr K.L Seegers)
Arab Jazz by Karim Miské (tr Sam Gordon)
The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo (tr Isabelle Kaufeler)
Into a Raging Blaze by Andreas Norman (tr Ian Giles)

Also announced:

The winner of the Dagger in the Library is Christopher Fowler.
The winner of the Historical Dagger is The Seeker by S G Maclean.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Review: The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo tr. Isabelle Kaufeler

The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo translated by Isabelle Kaufeler, April 2015, 432 pages, HarperCollins, ISBN: 000752532X

Reviewed by Laura Root.
(Read more of Laura's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

THE INVISIBLE GUARDIAN by Dolores Redondo (translator Isabelle Kaufeler) is the first in her best-selling trilogy of novels set in Navarre. These books feature young female detective, Police Inspector Amaia Salazar, who had a traumatic childhood in the beautiful historic small town of Elizondo. The literal meaning of the name Elizondo is “beside the church” , which proves to be a rather apt meaning as quite a few of the characters in this book hold pagan and magical beliefs or believe they have seen supernatural creatures. After leaving home to study at university, Amaia now lives in Pamplona and has a successful police career and happy marriage to her husband, an American sculptor from a wealthy family, with the only fly in the ointment being concerns about her fertility. But then Amaia is sent back to Elizondo to head up the murder investigation after the particularly nasty ritualised murder of a young girl, Ainhoa Elisazu, whose body was found by the riverside in the woods.

Amaia soon discovers that there is probably a serial killer at large near her home town. A girl in her late teens had been found dead some months before after a drug-fuelled row with her boyfriend, and the police had wrongly assumed that the boyfriend was the culprit. But Amaia soon finds out that there are a number of similarities with the death of Ainhoa, and the boyfriend was almost certainly unfairly imprisoned. The forensic reports in Ainhoa's case reveal some puzzling information, that mysterious animal hairs were found at the crime scene. Events taken an even stranger turn when a sighting by a forest ranger spark rumours that a basajaun was present in the forest around the time of the murder. (A basajaun is a creature from Basque mythology, a giant human like hairy creature that is reputed to protect animals in the forest.)

Amaia has to face up to a number of family troubles past and present on her return home, having been cast since childhood in the role of the family scapegoat in the eyes of her mother and older sister Flora. Amaia has a better relationship with her other sister,. Rosaura, who is reeling from a recent split with her ne'er do well boyfriend, Freddy, but this sisterly relationship becomes strained during the course of the investigation. Flora is an overbearing bully who has taken over the family baking business, and made a huge success of it, with book and television deals in the pipeline. Despite this success Flora is bitter as she perceives that Ros and Amaia escaped the responsibility of the business. The burden of her past weighs heavily on Amaia as she investigates this case, and has to battle to gain the respect of some of her male colleagues whilst having painful flashbacks to her childhood

I found that THE INVISIBLE GUARDIAN has an intriguing take on the police procedural, moving beyond the gory details of crime scenes and office politics typical of the genre. What is particularly distinctive about this book is the way the atmosphere and the local mythology of the Basque region play such an important part in this story. Amaia is an interesting heroine, whose unfeasibly good detective skills are shown as being the result of the combination of her talent at conventional detective work with a witch-like intuition. The back-story and at times strained relationships between Amaia and her sisters was convincingly depicted. At times though I found the writing a bit overwrought and a little too determined to show Amaia's intellectual and professional superiority compared to her colleagues. Otherwise THE INVISIBLE GUARDIAN is a striking debut, and I would be interested to read future books in this series.

Laura Root, June 2015

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cover Theme - Who You Gonna Call?

From Fenland to the Highlands, the iconic red phone-box:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville

Those We Left Behind by Stuart Neville, June 2015, 368 pages, Harvill Secker, ISBN: 1846556961

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

Belfast, 2007
The two brothers huddle together on the bed, their hands bloodied. Ciaran asks his older brother Thomas if they are going to jail. Throughout the hammering and shouting at the front door and the sound of the approaching siren, Thomas's voice soothes Ciaran as they lie together.

Belfast, 2014
As soon as she sees the headlines screaming the release of the “schoolboy killer”, Probation Officer Paula Cunningham knows that the case will fall to her. Ciaran was imprisoned for murder at the age of twelve, his older brother Thomas released two years ago. Both boys' names have been released to the press. At nineteen, Ciaran Devine will have no idea how the outside world works.

Meanwhile DCI Serena Flanagan's first day back at work after her cancer treatment is one she has been dreading: the stares, the whispers, the pussy-footing. As she repositions the photos of her husband and two children on her desk, her boss enters with a file under his arm. Serena's heart sinks to find it is a clear-up job on the cases belonging to a retiring DCI but her boss reminds her that it is early days yet in her return to work. He pauses on the way out to pass on the message that the Devine boy's probation officer would like to speak to her.
Serena remembers Ciaran: a boy, a child. How she had gained his confidence but struggled with the facts when he confessed. And the letter that he had sent to her from prison. The letter that made her blush and that she had kept. Talking to Paula Cunningham, Serena also recalls the horrendous crime scene, the body of the boys' foster father in the corner of the master bedroom, the brothers lying on the bed. At the police station, Ciaran – thin, bearing the scars of self-harm – asked to see his brother. When she explained that he could not, she saw the panic in his eyes. He began to weep uncontrollably and she did what any mother would do and put her arms around the boy, comforting and rocking. Later, at the formal interview with a social worker observing, Ciaran made a full confession, stating that his older brother had tried to stop him but couldn't. Serena suspended the interview. She knew the brothers' stories would match....

Stuart Neville's latest book is signalled as the start of a new series featuring DCI Serena Flanagan. Serena first appeared in THE FINAL SILENCE – as one of DI Jack Lennon's adversaries. And I do hope we will read more Jack Lennon in the future. As with all “good” police protagonists, Serena has her own ambiguities not least the stubborn strength of her own feelings. (But where would we be without stubborn police detectives?) In THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND she not only struggles with her memories of Ciaran Devine and his shocking confession but with the double suicide of a friend and her husband. But she is not in charge of the suicide investigation and her subsequent “meddling” does not endear her to her boss. Character is something that Neville does very well and Paula Cunningham, the probation officer, convinces well – a hard-pressed worker who is perhaps close to burn out.

But the true chill of THOSE WE LEFT BEHIND lies in Neville's laying out of the Devine brothers' relationship with an empathic and devastating precision that had me flinching from what might yet come. Neville's work can be chilling but in this book he explores new territory. This is not the supernatural shiver that occasionally enters the “Jack Lennon” books. Nor the wintry brutality of old terrorists turned crime bosses. This is a full-on psychological ice, a dreadful, intimate study of two brothers, the youngest of whom confesses to a brutal killing as a twelve-year-old and whose release into a world as rushed and unforgiving as the one that nurtured the brothers spells disaster for those who cross their path. I have admired all of Neville's previous thrillers – including RATLINES, his departure into a political faction, thriller-land of 1960s Ireland as haven for fascist war criminals. But this latest book displays Neville's grasp of psychological suspense and reminds me of Scandinavian crime writers such as Mons Kallentoft, Karen Fossum and Henning Mankell. Don't let me muddy the waters of Northern Irish Crime writing however. Just read this book. And whilst it keeps you in fear and suspense – appreciate how beautifully it is written.

Lynn Harvey, June 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

New Reviews: Atherton, Bates, Howard, Johnston, Jones, Knight, Magson, Moliner, Richmond

Here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, five have appeared on the blog since last time, and four are completely new.

You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page.

New Reviews

I review Nancy Atherton's Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well, the nineteenth in the Aunt Dimity series set in the Cotswolds;

Ewa Sherman reviews Quentin Bates' Summerchill, in which we catch up with Icelandic police officer Gunna;

Susan White reviews Cold Revenge by Alex Howard, which is the second outing for DCI Hanlon;

Mark Bailey reviews Paul Johnston's Heads or Hearts: the return of Quint Dalrymple;

Geoff Jones reviews J Sydney Jones' Cold War thriller, Basic Law;

Laura Root reviews Disclaimer by Renee Knight, her debut;

Terry Halligan reviews Adrian Magson's Close Quarters, the second Marc Portman thriller;

Lynn Harvey reviews The Whispering City by Sara Moliner tr. Mara Faye Letham

and Michelle Peckham reviews What She Left by T R Richmond, also a debut. 

Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, along with releases by year.