Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: Dog Will Have His Day by Fred Vargas tr. Siân Reynolds

Dog Will Have His Day by Fred Vargas translated by Siân Reynolds, April 2014, 256 pages, Harvill Secker, ISBN: 1846558190

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

Paquelin leaned over the object more closely. The little thing was gnawed, corroded, pierced with dozens of pinpricks, and slightly brown in colour. He'd seen bones before, but no, this fellow must be having him on.

Paris, 1995
Marthe, who must be about 70 now, is sitting in the café doing a crossword when Louis Kehlweiler comes in. She interrogates Louis at the top of her voice as usual: what’s he doing here – what's he working on – where's the girlfriend? Louis, one-time investigator for the Ministry of Justice tells her, not unkindly, to keep her voice down and, after a drink together, sees her home. He is on his way to one of his many observation posts – “Bench 102”. Here he keeps an eye on the nephew of a far-right politician. And although it is pouring with rain, Kehlweiler knows how to look like a tramp on a bench under a tree. He pulls a disgusted face. Some dog has done his business at the foot of the tree. That's happened since Kehlweiler was last at here at lunch-time.
Next morning, back at the bench, one of his helpers – Vincent – is already in place. Louis asks if Vincent minds if he puts Bufo on the bench; Bufo is Louis' confidante and companion, a pet toad. Vincent has no objection. But he tells Louis that Marthe is homeless, evicted by a landlord keen to redevelop. It was typical of Marthe's pride not to have let on when Louis delivered her to her front door last night. Louis is distracted by a tiny white object under the tree, where the dog had left its calling card. A bone. A human bone. A toe bone in fact.
The Paris police are not interested in the bone. Kehlweiler feels he has no option but to do what he does, which is to investigate. Using his small army of “co-investigators” and street-contacts he keeps watch on the routine evening dog-walkers. He even calls for help from medieval historian Marc Vandoosler, already employed in maintaining the archive of cuttings necessary for Kehlweiler's investigations. When Vandoosler finds no reports of Paris deaths that would tally with the toe bone, Kehlweiler asks him to broaden the search to recent deaths outside Paris. One – an elderly woman who fell and died whilst collecting winkles from rocks in Brittany – tallies with the ownership of a certain dog and draws Kehlweiler and Bufo to the far west.

An unashamed Vargas fan, I've been looking forward to DOG SHALL HAVE HIS DAY. This is not a new Vargas book in fact, but a translation by Vargas's long-time prize-winning translator into English, Siân Reynolds, of the second Three Evangelists book which was published in France in 1996. As such, it re-introduces us to the young archaeologist/historian trio of THE THREE EVANGELISTS and in particular, to the medievalist Marc Vandoosler, clad in black and still searching for chivalric love. But it is the obsessive investigator Louis Kehlweiler, mysterious as to his own past, family and nationality, who is central to this story of a bone, a toe, a corpse and a dog.

If you know the work of four-times CWA International Dagger Award winner, Fred Vargas, you know to expect a crime story of mystery and suspense filled with rich characters and regionality. And although these characters are rich to the point of eccentricity, they still convince. DOG WILL HAVE HIS DAY does not disappoint. An earlier book, it is more of a straightforward "whodunnit" than some of the Adamsberg books. But the Vargas eye and ear for individual character, voice and conversation is all here. She has said in an interview: "I like to use these people from villages. Theirs are the voices that never move and never change." Her innate knowledge of community and character which she depicts with humanity is what make her books a joy. They are deeply “French” – in the tradition of the films of Renoir and Truffaut: life is here, complete with both humour and tragedy, but not painted so dark as to make traumatic reading. DOG WILL HAVE HIS DAY is a well-told intriguing mystery: a story about people's lives, desires and intrigues. So, although there is no Inspector Adamsberg, this is Vargas through and through. Read and savour.

Lynn Harvey, April 2014.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

New Reviews: Enger, Fowler, Kavanagh, Learner, Lipska, Macbain, Sutton, Tuomainen, Walker

Here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, three have appeared on the blog over the last couple of weeks and six are completely new.

In another of my occasional feature posts, I recently put together a list of vegetarian detectives and sidekicks.

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

New Reviews

Laura Root reviews Thomas Enger's Scarred tr. Charlotte Barslund, the third in the Henning Juul series set in Oslo;

Mark Bailey reviews the latest in the Bryant and May series by Christopher Fowler: Bryant & May and The Bleeding Heart;

Michelle Peckham reviews Emma Kavanagh's debut, Falling;

Terry Halligan reviews T S Learner's third thriller, The Stolen;

Geoff Jones reviews Anya Lipska's Death Can't Take a Joke the follow-up to the well-received, Where the Devil Can't Go;

Susan White reviews The Bull Slayer, the second in Bruce Macbain's Pliny series;

Terry also reviews Lawless and the Devil of Euston Square by William Sutton, set in Victorian London;

Lynn Harvey reviews Antti Tuomainen's The Healer tr. Lola Rogers which is now out in paperback

and Amanda Gillies reviews Martin Walker's The Resistance Man the latest in the Bruno, Chief of Police, series set in rural France.

Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sherlock Holmes News x2

Following the success of The House of Silk, Anthony Horowitz has penned another authorised Sherlock Holmes-world story - Moriarty - which is published by Orion in October:
Sherlock Holmes is dead.

Days after Holmes and his arch-enemy Moriarty fall to their doom at the Reichenbach Falls, Pinkerton agent Frederick Chase arrives in Europe from New York. The death of Moriarty has created a poisonous vacuum which has been swiftly filled by a fiendish new criminal mastermind who has risen to take his place.

Ably assisted by Inspector Athelney Jones of Scotland Yard, a devoted student of Holmes's methods of investigation and deduction, Frederick Chase must forge a path through the darkest corners of the capital to shine light on this shadowy figure, a man much feared but seldom seen, a man determined to engulf London in a tide of murder and menace.

From this recent article in The Guardian:
The publisher said that Moriarty would be "very different in nature to Horowitz's previous bestseller; but fans will be delighted to see a few surprise guests from the Conan Doyle's canon making appearances in the new book".

Horowitz himself revealed on Twitter that "Sherlock Holmes does not appear (until the very end)", that "a vicious murder is investigated by Inspector Athelney Jones (from The Sign of Four)" and that "nearly all the policemen Holmes ever worked with, including Lestrade, appear in my new book".

And I've just received this press release about a Sherlock Holmes event on 23 April in London:

To celebrate World Book Night on 23 April, Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes London will host a fun filled Holmes themed event, taking guests back to 1895 with Victorian food and drink and offering a reward for those donning the most impressive Victorian costume.

Together with specialist Sherlock Holmes publisher, MX Publishing, Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes London will welcome guests to enjoy an evening celebrating all things Sherlock, with all ticket proceeds going to the National Literacy Trust, helping to raise literacy among the UK's most disadvantaged communities.

Special guests will include bestselling author, Dan Andriacco, via satellite from Cincinnati. Dan has published six Sherlock Holmes novels, including ‘No Police Like Holmes’ and will be launching the second novel in his collaboration series with equally renowned Holmes writer, Kieran McMullen, The Poisoned Penman, on 15th May.

As well as a live Q&A with Dan, activities will include the screening of the award winning first episodes of a Sherlock Holmes web series and a Sherlock Holmes themed quiz, with prizes for the winning team.

The event will take place between 6.30pm and 9.30pm in Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes London’s Watson’s Lounge and guests purchasing tickets will also benefit from discounted drinks throughout the evening, an exclusive offer for overnight stays at the hotel, and an exclusive lifetime discount on purchases from the newly launched Watson's Lounge bookshop; a dedicated online Sherlock Holmes themed bookstore.

Tickets cost £5 per person and include:
  • Sherlock Holmes themed cocktail and canapés
  • Live author Q&A
  • Prizes for the best Victorian Dress
  • Entry to the Sherlock Holmes Quiz
  • Screening of the first episodes of a Sherlock Holmes Web Series
  • £5 donation to  the National Literacy Trust
  • 20% discount on drinks at the bar throughout the evening
  • 20% off best available rate for a future overnight stays at Park Plaza Sherlock Holmes Hotel (subject to availability)
  • Lifetime discount on purchases from the Watson’s Lounge Bookshop

To book your place:

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vegetarian Detectives & Sidekicks

Late last year I happened to read two very enjoyable crime novels in which the lead characters were vegetarian. I put a call out to Sharon at Crime Review UK/Two Fat Vegetarians as to whether she could think of any more vegetarian detectives and she circulated the request more widely. However we pretty much drew a blank. So here are the handful that we've discovered and I would love to know of more, and of course any corrections. I'm including the US in this list to make it a bit longer!

The two I read which prompted this post are:

1. The Mangle Street Murders (2013) by M R C Kasasian which introduces Sidney Grice and his ward March Middleton. Sidney Grice is a vegan. I loved this book and my full review is here.

2. Paws for Murder (2014) by Annie Knox which is also the first in a new series. The main character, Izzy, and her best friend Rena, are both vegetarians. I reviewed it here.

UK Vegetarian Sleuths

Cath Staincliffe's's Manchester PI Sal Kilkenny is vegetarian at least in the early books. I believe she may have changed in the newer ones. The first book in the series is Looking for Trouble (1994).

DS Annie Cabbot first appeared in In a Dry Season (1999), the tenth in the Inspector Banks series by Peter Robinson. I believe Annie wobbles a bit on the path of true vegetarianism but is pretty close.

US Vegetarian Sleuths

In the currently fifteen-book series which began with The Monkey's Raincoat (1987), it's Robert Crais's Joe Pike, sidekick to Elvis Cole, and sometimes centre-stage protagonist who is vegetarian.

Harlan Coben's Myron Bolitar has a vegetarian one-man killing machine sidekick called Win. The first book in the series is Deal Breaker (1995).

Judy Fitzwater's six-book (soon to be seven) series features aspiring crime novelist and vegetarian Jennifer Marsh. The first book, Dying to Get Published (1995), is currently free as an ebook.

Jaqueline Girdner wrote a twelve-book series about Californian vegetarian Kate Jasper which began with, Adjusted to Death (1990).

Jaqueline Girdner also wrote a four-book series as Claire Daniels about a holistic healer. The first book is Body of Intuition (2002). I am assuming these also feature a vegetarian sleuth.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Review: Bryant & May and The Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler

Bryant & May and The Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler, March 2014, 384 pages, Doubleday, ISBN: 0857522035

Reviewed by Mark Bailey.
(Read more of Mark's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

BRYANT & MAY AND THE BLEEDING HEART is the eleventh book about Arthur Bryant, John May and their Peculiar Crimes Unit.

BRYANT & MAY AND THE BLEEDING HEART begins with the Peculiar Crimes Unit having moved from being part of the Metropolitan Police to being part of the City of London Police which brings a new issue for them with a new very sharp and business oriented manager overseeing them. Their first case in their new jurisdiction involves two teenagers who witness a dead man rising from his grave at night in a London park. While the others investigate this, Arthur Bryant is seeking to find out how someone could have stolen all seven ravens from the Tower of London - as legend has it, when the ravens leave, the nation falls.

I think that this is a good place for a new reader to start engaging in the weird and wonderful world of the Peculiar Crimes Unit as there is a good amount of background information, much of it in the first few pages in the form of a memo from the Peculiar Crimes Unit chief, so that you can see what has gone before.

The dark humour that one expects of a Bryant & May novel is there with perhaps more of a tinge of reality than usual and overall this is yet another strong Bryant & May novel with the expected, very intricate plot with lots of twists, turns and misdirections – remember everything is magic.

Personally I thought this was the best one yet and am waiting for the next one - THE BURNING MAN.

Mark Bailey, April 2014

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Finally on Inspector De Luca: Via delle Oche

The fourth and final episode of Inspector De Luca is based on the third book in Carlo Lucarelli's De Luca trilogy, Via delle Oche, and is being shown on 12 April at 9pm on BBC Four:
April 1948, and demoted to the role of deputy inspector and assigned to the vice squad, De Luca returns to Bologna. As the first elections of the newly-formed Italian Republic are about to take place, a man is found hanged in a brothel. Although the authorities are quick to pronounce the incident death by suicide, De Luca suspects foul play. His dogged determination provokes a stand-off with his superiors, and the investigation takes a further turn for the personal when the inspector runs into the madam of a brothel located in Via Delle Oche.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Review: The Resistance Man by Martin Walker

The Resistance Man by Martin Walker, March 2014, 352 pages, Quercus, ISBN: 1780870744

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

Bruno, chef de police in St Denis, in rural France, is back for another wonderful instalment and, as with his earlier outings, continues to tantalise us with his amazing culinary skills as he searches for the responsible criminal(s). This is the sixth book to feature our French hero, his animals and women friends. Bruno is quite a character and, despite having no shortage of female company, he is still searching for that special someone to share his life and home with. He longs to be surrounded by a family but none of his girlfriends seem to be the settling-down type. In the meantime, he can always cook for his friends – and he frequently does, using fresh ingredients from his garden in a way that teases the reader and leaves you feeling somewhat peckish!

This novel begins with the (natural) death of an elderly man who worked with the resistance during WWII. Bruno arrives to pay his respects and is surprised to discover several old banknotes clutched in the dead man's hands. Closer inspection suggests that the notes may have come from an infamous train robbery that took place during the war and it seems likely that the old man could have been involved with this. While planning the funeral arrangements for this war hero, Bruno has to investigate a series of burglaries that have taken place locally while residents have been away. All of the stolen material is expensive art and Bruno is keen is find the perpetrators, especially as there is also a murder to solve and the two may be linked. As Bruno digs deeper into the crimes, he finds himself digging into his memory regarding a nasty homophobic incident that left him shocked more than ten years previously. He is both surprised and relieved that solving the current happenings might give him closure for that unpleasant cold case as well.

Martin Walker, the author of this successful series is an award-winning journalist and lives in Washington DC. He summers in the Dordogne area, where the series is set, and his familiarity with the region is only too apparent in the deliciously rich descriptions he provides of the locals and their surroundings.

Bruno is a cheery, likeable character, as indeed are his many friends and neighbours. He has a winning way with the ladies and I am hopeful that his friendship with one lady in particular is set to blossom in the future!

Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, April 2014.