Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Reviews: Alaux & Balen, Grey, Hall, James, Kelly, McKinty, Rendell, Russell, Schumacher

Since the last set of reviews went up, the Euro Crime favourite reads of 2014 have been compiled and the most mentioned authors/titles/translators announced.

In addition the review team's favourite discoveries of 2014 have been revealed.

In addition, here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today.

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

New Reviews

Terry Halligan reviews Treachery in Bordeaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noel Balen tr. Anne Trager, the first in the Winemaker Detective series;

Susan White reviews Isabelle Grey's Good Girls Don't Die;

Lynn Harvey reviews Tarquin Hall's The Case of the Love Commandos;

Rich Westwood reviews Christina James's Sausage Hall, the third in the DI Yates series;

Geoff Jones reviews Jim Kelly's At Death's Window, the latest in his North Norfolk-set Shaw & Valentine series;

Mark Bailey reviews Gun Street Girl by Adrian McKinty, the fourth in the Sean Duffy series;

Michelle Peckham reviews The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell;

Amanda Gillies reviews Leigh Russell's Race to Death

and Susan also reviews Tony Schumacher's The Darkest Hour.

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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2014 (6)

Here we come to the last of the favourite discoveries of 2014 posts, and like Norman, my favourite discovery of 2014 was Happy Valley. I initially didn't watch it but at Crimefest, Mrs Peabody strongly suggested I should watch it, so thanks to BBC iPlayer, I downloaded all the episodes and watched them on my commute.

I absolutely loved the way that the lead character played by Sarah Lancashire was introduced, which you can see in the trailer below:

My second favourite discovery is also thanks to iPlayer - Salamander, a Flemish 24-style thriller. I wasn't sure after the first episode but I stuck with it and enjoyed it very much in the end. It makes a change to see Belgian country-side and and to hear the different languages and to see WWII from a different perspective:

Brussels / Belgium. Sixty-six safes are robbed during a spectacular and bloody raid on the small but influential and extremely discreet private bank, Jonkhere, in Brussels. The owners of those safes form a select club of powerful people in Belgium. The bank's clients hold high-level positions in industry, finance, the military, the magistracy, politics, unions. Strangely enough, only the safes belonging to these powerful people were hit, and while the perpetrators took no money, they did take documents. Pandora's box has been opened!

When a police detective starts checking the files of the robbery, he must soon run for his life...

Friday, January 23, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2014 (5)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2014 comes from Terry Halligan.

Terry Halligan's Favourite Discovery of 2014

My favourite discovery of 2014 was Foyle's War, which I have already watched intermittently since it was first broadcast in 2002 but my wife hadn't seen it before and was very impressed with the exceptional quality of its plotting and we obtained the full series to watch them in sequence. The series is set during and after the Second World War in Hastings, Sussex, England, where Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) attempts to catch criminals who are taking advantage of the confusion the war has created. He is assisted by his driver Samantha "Sam" Stewart (Honeysuckle Weeks) and Detective Sergeant Paul Milner (Anthony Howell).
The creator and main writer of the series is Anthony Horowitz, who was given special permission to use the name of the present owner of London's Foyles Bookshop, Christopher Foyle for his main character. Each programme, broadcast on ITV in the UK and PBS in the USA lasts about two hours including adverts and in all there have been 25 episodes broadcast. It was expected that the programme would finish at the end of the Second World War with the nineteenth episode entitled "All Clear" but enthusiasm for the series both in the UK and the US persuaded the producers to extend the story to include the aftermath of the War when Foyle is asked to work for MI5. So a further nine programmes, including three which will be released on DVD on 19 January 2015 have been prepared which will bring the total number of episodes up to 28.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2014 (4)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2014 comes from Lynn Harvey who chooses a Swedish writer.

Lynn Harvey's Favourite Discovery of 2014

My favourite discovery of 2014 was a retro-read of the three "Öland" books of Swedish writer Johan Theorin who writes a wonderful mixture of modern crime and psychological chill. The towering presence in these books is Öland itself, a long, flat island connected to the Swedish mainland by a bridge. Once peopled by fishermen, sailors and quarrymen it has become a desirable summer holiday destination for successful Swedes. In Theorin's hands, the island still resonates with its history, landscape, folklore and ghosts, alongside its incomers – not to forget – enough modern day crime to satisfy the Euro Crime reader

The first in the series, ECHOES FROM THE DEAD, deals with the legacy of a child's sudden disappearance some twenty years before. In true Theorin style the story combines present day life with a look back into the community's history and its characters before driving through to its moving and suspenseful end. The second, THE DARKEST ROOM, is a truly atmospheric winter read. A young family moves into a run-down manor house at Eel Point. As Öland begins to face the Baltic winter blizzards, one of the family is found drowned. Theorin weaves supernatural and natural strands together so well that it seems that both worlds will collide in its tense conclusion. Finally, with THE QUARRY, we are more firmly rooted in present day Öland, predominantly peopled by holiday homers, returners, and a few elderly islanders. But there are still traces of past tragedies and secrets which filter in with the fog, fairies, trolls and the contemporary crimes of murder and greed. All of the Öland novels are beautifully translated into English by Marlaine Delargy and I think they are jewels in the realm of Scandi-Noir.
The final part in Johan Theorin's Öland quartet, The Voices Beyond, will be published in July.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2014 (3)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2014 comes from Amanda Gillies.

Amanda Gillies's Favourite Discovery of 2014

This year my recommended new discovery is a DVD box set. It is SPIRAL, a BBC DVD set from 2013, and it is first rate. SPIRAL (or Engrenages in the original French) is a French police series, in French with subtitles, and the box set I watched contains series one to four. I loved it because it was so gripping and brutal.

Set in the streets of Paris, SPIRAL is a very much in-your-face series and its 18 rating shows that it doesn’t pull any punches. The star of the series is Police Captain Laure Berthaud and she is just awesome! In a man’s world she takes the lead and, together with her team, solves some pretty nasty crimes.

If you like your crime fiction a bit on the dark side then you will love this series. Its reviews are pretty impressive and The Guardian’s assessment of it being “darker and more twisted than The Wire” sums it up perfectly. I am delighted to see that Series 5 is now showing on BBC Four.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2014 (2)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2014 comes from Geoff Jones.

Geoff Jones's Favourite Discovery of 2014

I first learned about Sara Sheridan when she wrote an article for the BBC website. Based in Edinburgh she is fascinated by history, particularly the period 1820 to 1950. Educated at Trinity College Dublin, she writes for both adults and children. She has written several novels, but I read the first of her (four so far) Mirabelle Bevan mysteries. The first book is titled Brighton Belle. The war is only just finished and Britain is struggling with rationing and deprivation. Mirabelle has known tragic loss and is still in mourning for her deceased lover. She works in a Brighton debt recovery firm in the office. She becomes friendly with a girl called Vesta Churchill. Together they have many adventures and escapades. Sara writes well and her stories are compelling and very enjoyable. I was disappointed when the book ended but there are more to read and enjoy and I look forward to them.

[Geoff put Brighton Belle in his top 5 Euro Crime reads of 2014.]

Monday, January 19, 2015

Favourite Discoveries of 2014 (I)

As usual I have asked my fellow Euro Crime reviewers to come up with their favourite crime fiction discovery of the past year - be it book, film or tv series.

The first entry comes from Norman Price.

Norman Price's Favourite Discovery of 2014

My discovery of the year was on the television:

Happy Valley proved that British television could match the very best of American and Scandinavian crime fiction TV. A great script written by Sally Wainwright, who was also involved with that very good series Scott and Bailey, and brilliant acting by Sarah Lancashire as Police Sergeant Catherine Cawood made this one of the best police series of 2014. This series raised the perennial question of how a limited mostly unarmed police force and a justice system that appears weighted against the victims of crime can deal with criminal evil.