Friday, February 12, 2016

Review: No Mortal Thing by Gerald Seymour

No Mortal Thing by Gerald Seymour, January 2016, 416 pages, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN: 1444758632

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

This is the author's latest book and the seventh that I've read for review, although I have enjoyed reading privately many others of his. The quality of his writing and research has not diminished over the years, in fact it seems to get better. I found this latest one just as exciting and dramatic as ever.

Jago is a kid from a rough part of London who has worked hard to get a job in a bank and is now on a fast-track secondment to the Berlin office.

Marcantonio is one of the new generation in the 'Ndrangheta crime families from Calabria, Southern Italy. He is in Germany to learn how to channel their illicit millions towards legitimate businesses all over Europe.

When Jago witnesses Marcantonio commit a vicious assault and the police seem uninterested, the Englishman refuses to let the matter drop.

After an unhappy meeting in Germany, Jago decides to put his job on hold and follow Marconio to Italy and after a chance meeting with a girl named Consolata, who gives him good advice he decides to observe Marcantonio and his Mafia family from under deep cover and debate how he can invoke justice against the offender. In the interest of reading a good story one has to suspend one's disbelief that a man in a very good and highly paid banking job in Germany would on a whim abandon it and go Italy to hurt in some way a Mafia gangster.

The story reminded me of his book A DENIABLE DEATH in that both stories employ the protagonist in a surveillance capacity under deep cover for quite long periods of time and the author's skill is deployed in lengthy descriptions of small movements of both the watchers and the targets. This may seem a bit long-winded but with the author's deep understanding of such tactics it becomes very tense. The book moves swiftly on until the explosive ending.

Gerald Seymour has been a full-time writer since 1978. NO MORTAL THING is his thirty-second novel. I hope he writes many more and that I get the chance to read them all as I have never known him to write a dull one. I enjoyed this book tremendously and was thoroughly enthralled until the final page. This story was absolutely gripping and I urge you to read this novel.

Strongly recommended.

Terry Halligan, February 2016.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Review: Blood Axe by Leigh Russell

Blood Axe by Leigh Russell, November 2015, 320 pages, No Exit Press, ISBN: 1843445433

Reviewed by Amanda Gillies.
(Read more of Amanda's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

BLOOD AXE is the third Leigh Russell novel to feature her detective DI Ian Peterson and is probably the most chilling one to date. This time the killer is completely insane and believes himself to be a Viking warrior: going out on raids and hacking apparently random targets to death with his axe. He takes his spoils – jewellery and coins - home with him and keeps them in a tin under his bed. The whole of York is in a state of high alert and it seems that no one is safe from this attacker, as he picks anyone who crosses his path when he is out on his raids. The first victim is a teenage girl on her way home from a party, the second a jewellery store manager and the third a well-to-do elderly woman who stops to ask for directions. The killer leaves no clues and it seems that catching him is going to be an impossible task.

DI Ian Peterson is up to the challenge of achieving the impossible. He and his team work late, follow up even the slightest clues and deal with a number of sensitive but annoying teenage girls, who seem to be fabricating evidence and wasting time right left and centre. Ian does his best but, as usual, has his work cut out for him as he also has to fight with himself over feeling guilty for neglecting his demanding wife, Bev, who doesn’t work and moans all the time about being alone. She seems remarkably pleasant in this novel and the reader is instantly suspicious of her motives.

As the body count increases, so does the pressure to find answers and what with the papers calling this man a serial killer, not to mention that the boss is breathing down their necks, time is running out for Ian and his team.

Leigh Russell’s books are simply wonderful. The characters are so real that you feel as if you know them. You either like them enormously and want them to succeed – Ian, for example, who you wish would just get rid of his wife – or dislike them immensely and get extremely annoyed when they interfere.

If you are a fan of books by Peter James, Sophie Hannah and Lynda La Plante then you are going to love books by Leigh Russell too. Her novels are always a relatively quick read, as well as being absorbing and well-written. They also pay a lot of attention to accuracy in terms of procedural details. It is to the author’s credit that she has already won awards for her work. It is high time she was given another one!

Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, February 2016.

Monday, February 08, 2016

TV News w/c 7 Feb 2016

Lots of exciting new programmes this week on the BBC (and the return tonight of the X-Files on Channel 5!).

If you missed it last night, you can catch up with Montalbano and Me: Andrea Camilleri on iPlayer.

An intimate portrait of the man behind Inspector Montalbano, as acclaimed Italian novelist Andrea Camilleri gives us access to the man himself, his work and personal history.

Camilleri shares the name and beginning of what will be the final Montalbano novel which he wrote when he was 80 - worried that Alzheimer's would strike. [He is still writing new ones.] The interviewer notes how all the Montalbanos are the same length and Camilleri explains that it is deliberate. There is a brief interview with Luca Zingaretti and how he got the job of playing Montalbano.

Tomorrow night sees the return of Happy Valley at 9pm on BBC One:

Eighteen months have passed, and Catherine is spinning plates at work and at home, where Ryan approaches his tenth birthday. Tommy, serving a life sentence in a high-security prison, finds a way of keeping a watchful eye over Ryan from behind bars, while Catherine becomes a murder suspect after finding a dead body.

and lastly on Saturday, on BBC Four from 9pm, the first two of the ten episodes of Icelandic drama, Trapped:

In a small Icelandic fishing port, a ferry docks. That same day a dismembered body is found in the river, sparking an investigation and a call to Reykjavik for detective reinforcements to assist the small local police force. With the ferry held in dock and a bad snowstorm threatening to cut off the town, chief of police Andri is under pressure to deliver results quickly.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Website Updates: February 2016

I've updated the main files on the Euro Crime website today. Euro Crime includes both British and other European crime fiction writers (that have been published in English); non-British/European born crime writers who are strongly associated with British/European crime fiction (eg. Donna Leon), and crime writers in translation from outside of Europe.

Just a couple of reminders regarding the New Releases page:

1. The main by month/by author pages refer to when a book is published (in English) anywhere in the world however the 'by category ie historical, translated etc' is specific to the UK eg Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series which was published in the US in the 2000s (and on) is only recently published in the UK and so some of her books appear in the 2015 Historical list.

2. When a book is released "early" in ebook I am taking the publication date as to be when the print edition comes out (this is the rule we use for determining Petrona Award eligibility).

As always, if you spot something wrong or missing, please do let me know.

Here's a summary of the usual updates:

The Author Websites page now lists 1047 sites.

In Bibliographies there are now bibliographies for 2278 authors (11496 titles of which 2995 are reviewed).

I've added new bibliographies for: Sascha Arango, Fiona Barton, Tom Callaghan, Barney Campbell, Clare Carson, M J Carter, Piero Chiara, Elliott Colla, Annie Dalton, Bram Dehouck, N J/Nev Fountain, Michael Genelin, Phyllis Gobbell, Martin Granger, Indrek Hargla, Tetsuya Honda, Jogvan Isaksen, Vaseem Khan, Volker Kutscher, Aga Lesiewicz, Davide Longo, Brooke Magnanti, David McCallum, Kate McQuaile, Cal Moriarty, Mandy Morton, Hassouna Mosbahi, Abir Mukherjee, Shichiri Nakayama, Hisashi Nozawa, Melanie Raabe, Cay Rademacher, Anne Randall, Jo Spain, Jon Stenhugg, Nick Sweet, Mike Thomas, Gaku Yakumaru and Hideo Yokoyama.

I've updated the bibliographies (ie added new titles) for: Bernhard Aichner, M J Arlidge, Jo Bannister, Stephanie Barron, Quentin Bates, Mark Billingham, Sean Black, Benjamin Black, Sara Blaedel, S J/Sharon Bolton, Eric Brown, Alison Bruce, Ken Bruen, Gianrico Carofiglio, Tania Carver, Steve Cavanagh, Ben Cheetham, Lee Child, Barbara Cleverly, Tammy Cohen, John Connolly, Lindsey Davis, Giancarlo De Cataldo, Oscar de Muriel, Clare Donoghue, Louise Doughty, David Downing, Sam Eastland, Kate Ellis, Roger Jon/R J Ellory, Chris Ewan, Jasper Fforde, Charles Finch, Sebastian Fitzek, Helen FitzGerald, Karin Fossum, Friis & Kaaberbol, V M Giambanco, Alan Glynn, Ann Granger, Andrew Grant, Alex Gray, Isabelle Grey, Lotte and Soren Hammer, Cora Harrison, Sam Hayes, Terry Hayes, Mick/M Herron, David Hodges, Jorn Lier Horst, Bogdan Hrib, Phillip Hunter, Steffen Jacobsen, Peter James, Quintin Jardine, Paul Johnston, Will Jordan, Mons Kallentoft, Emma Kavanagh, Christobel Kent, Lars Kepler, Simon Kernick, Philip Kerr, Bill Kitson, Kazuhiro Kiuchi, John Lawton, Donna Leon, Sheila Lowe, Stuart/Stuart B MacBride, Torquil MacLeod, Gilly Macmillan, Barry Maitland, Michael J Malone, Antonio Manzini, David Mark, Liza Marklund, Andrew Martin, Alex Marwood, Priscilla Masters, Seicho Matsumoto, Peter May, K T McCaffrey, A P McCoy, Claire McGowan, Adrian McKinty, Catriona McPherson, D A Mishani, Susan Moody, Frank/T F Muir, Stuart Neville, James Oswald, Caro Peacock, Leif GW Persson, Anthony Quinn, Caro Ramsay, Danielle Ramsay, Peter Robinson, Roslund & Hellstrom, James Runcie, Leigh Russell, Chris Simms, Gillian Slovo, Anna Smith, Cath Staincliffe, Viveca Sten, Dominique Sylvain, Lesley Thomson, Robert Thorogood, Valerio Varesi, Ruth Ware, Lee Weeks, Jan Merete Weiss, Kjell Westo, Kevin Wignall, Kerry Wilkinson, Jacqueline Winspear and Felicity Young.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Review: The Few by Nadia Dalbuono

The Few by Nadia Dalbuono, November 2014, 368 pages, Scribe Publications, ISBN: 1922247677

Reviewed by Susan White.
(Read more of Susan's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

THE FEW is an interesting book. Based in Rome, it deals very much with the underlying corruption in the Italian political system and the power of the Mafia. The leading character, Scarmarcio isn't very sympathetic or likeable, and it is difficult not to draw comparisons and links with Montalbano either, but there is a vulnerability and complexity in him that I found appealing.

Scarmarcio was brought up in a powerful Mafia family but has turned his back on them to join the police force. Not all his colleagues believe in his change of heart and many distrust him. His superior hands him a politically sensitive case involving an important member of the government who is being blackmailed. An added complication is that the case is to be treated very sensitively and also very secretly. No-one but his boss and someone very senior knows or should know how the case is proceeding. Scarmarcio suspects that he has been selected to investigate because he is expendable. Meanwhile, on Elba, an American child disappears from the beach while her parents are sun-bathing nearby. The two cases draw closer and closer together and some very important people's reputations are put at risk.

There is a second voice in the book - identified as Pino - with a seemingly parallel narrative and eventually the links between the two strands are resolved satisfactorily. The character of the Prime Minister in the book seemed, to me, very much based on the ex-Italian Prime Minister, Berlusconi, albeit a gentler, more pleasant individual.

One weakness in the book was the references to Scarmarcio's back story. This was lightly touched on but not in enough detail to satisfy me as a reader. Although I enjoyed the book, and I expect the next book will set this out in more detail, I found it irritating and dissatisfying and I was left with many questions. The writing has none of the lightness of touch, and humour of the Montalbano books but I feel that fans of that series one will enjoy this one.

Susan White, February 2016

Monday, February 01, 2016

New Releases - February 2016

Here's a snapshot of what I think is published for the first time in February 2016 (and is usually a UK date but occasionally will be a US or Australian date). January 2016 and also future months (and years) can be found on the Future Releases page. If I've missed anything do please leave a comment.

• Barron, Stephanie - Jane and the Waterloo Map #13 Jane Austen
• Beaton, M C - Death of a Nurse #32 PC Hamish Macbeth, Lochdubh, Scotland
• Benedict, A K - Jonathan Dark or The Evidence Of Ghosts
• Black, Sean - C is for Coochy Coo (with Rebecca Cantrell) (ebook only) #3 Sofia Salgado, Malibu
• Blaedel, Sara - The Killing Forest #8 Detective Inspector Louise Rick
• Brown, Eric - Murder at the Loch #3 Donald Langham, Crime Writer, London, 1955
• Bruce, Alison - The Promise #6 DC Gary Goodhew, Cambridge
• Camilleri, Andrea - Montalbano's First Case and Other Stories
• Dalton, Annie - Written in Red #2 Anna Hopkins, Oxford
• de Muriel, Oscar - A Fever of the Blood #2 Frey & McGray, Edinburgh, 1880s
• Ellis, Kate - The House of Eyes #20 Wesley Peterson (policeman) and Neil Watson (archaeologist), Tradmouth, Devon
• FitzGerald, Helen - Viral
• Fountain, N J - Painkiller
• Hannah, Sophie - The Narrow Bed #10 DC Simon Waterhouse and DS Charlie Zailer
• Herron, M - Real Tigers #3 Slough House
• Higashino, Keigo - A Midsummer's Equation #3 Detective Galileo
• Hill, Suzette - A The Primrose Pursuit #1 Primrose Oughterard
• Jacobsen, Steffen - Retribution
• Kiuchi, Kazuhiro - Shield of Straw
• Leather, Stephen - First Response
• Magnanti, Brooke - The Turning Tide
• Marston, Edward - Steps to the Gallows #2 Bow Street Rivals
• Masters, Priscilla - Dangerous Minds #1 Dr Claire Roget, Forensic Psychiatrist
• Oswald, James - The Damage Done #6 Detective Inspector McLean, Edinburgh
• Russell, Leigh - Journey to Death #1 Lucy Hall
• Tyler, L C - Cat Among the Herrings #6 Ethelred Tressider, author & Elsie Thirkettle, agent
• Varesi, Valerio - A Woman Much Missed #5 Commissario Soneri, Italy
• Vichi, Marco - Death in the Tuscan Hills #5 Inspector Bordelli, Florence, 1960s
• Wilkinson, Kerry - For Richer, For Poorer #10 DS Jessica Daniel, Manchester
• Young, Felicity - Flare-up (ebook only) #2 Cam Fraser, Australia

Friday, January 29, 2016

Some 1933 Titles (for Past Offences)

The latest monthly challenge over at Past Offences is to read a book in February, published in 1933. Here are some British/European (& E S Gardner) crime titles to choose from, first published in English in 1933, pulled from my database:

Margery Allingham - The Mystery Man of Soho
Margery Allingham - Other Man's Danger (apa The Man of Dangerous Secrets) (as Maxwell March)
Margery Allingham - Sweet Danger (apa Kingdom of Death/The Fear Sign)
Agatha Christie - Lord Edgware Dies (apa Thirteen at Dinner)
Agatha Christie - The Hound of Death And Other Stories
Erle Stanley Gardner - The Case of the Velvet Claws
Erle Stanley Gardner - The Case of the Sulky Girl
Georgette Heyer - Why Shoot a Butler?
Romilly & Katherine John - Death by Request
J C Masterman - An Oxford Tragedy
Dorothy L Sayers - Murder Must Advertise
Dorothy L Sayers - Hangman's Holiday
Georges Simenon - The House by the Canal
Georges Simenon - The Lock at Charenton (apa Maigret Sits it Out)
Georges Simenon - Tropic Moon
Georges Simenon - The Night Club
Georges Simenon - The Window over the Way
Georges Simenon - The Woman of the Grey House
Georges Simenon - Newhaven-Dieppe
Georges Simenon - Mr Hire's Engagment (apa The Engagement)
Beryl Symons - Blind Justice
Patricia Wentworth - Walk with Care
Patricia Wentworth - Seven Green Stones (apa Outrageous Fortune)
Dennis Wheatley - The Forbidden Territory