Friday, September 04, 2015

Review: Murder House: Part One by James Patterson & David Ellis

James Patterson & David Ellis's MURDER HOUSE is released in hardback 24 September however you can read it before then by buying it in 5 individual parts, released weekly.

Here's the official blurb:

Released as a unique weekly five-part serialisation in audio and eBook from 1st September 2015 in the run-up to publication in hardback on 24 September 2015 (RRP £18.99). Each five part serialisation is released with exciting extra content relating to the Murder House story. Radio news bulletins, newspaper articles, coroner’s reports and letters all help to create a truly immersive experience, helping you uncover vital clues and delve deeper into the mystery.

I have read a couple of James Patterson's books before which I've enjoyed: JACK & JILL and 7TH HEAVEN (with Maxine Paetro) and also his collaboration with Liza Marklund: POSTCARD KILLERS which I enjoyed a bit less.

I was therefore very pleased to accept an invitation to receive and review each week's serialisation as it comes out. Part One was released 1 September and contains a prologue and the first 27 chapters plus some extra items relating to the case.

Murder House: Part One by James Patterson & David Ellis, September 2015, Cornerstone Digital

MURDER HOUSE is set in the Hamptons. It begins with a prologue set sixteen years before the main narrative, in which an unnamed child plays a frightening prank at school. The child also mentions the haunted house – 7 Ocean Drive.

Back to the present day and we meet Noah Walker, an odd job man, with Matthew McConaughey looks, who is having an affair with Paige, the third wife of a possessive and influential billionaire. The police burst in, heavily armed, and arrest Noah for the double murder of an aspiring actress and a Hollywood agent. The lead police officer in the arrest is Det. Jenna Murphy who has been hounded out of NYPD and given a job by her uncle, the Chief of Police, Langdon James. Jenna, however, is not on the case but that doesn't stop her paying a visit to the crime scene – 7 Ocean Drive, already known to the locals as the Murder House.

More deaths follow but this Part One, focusses on the case against Noah Walker. Is he a sadistic killer? Jenna thinks not then thinks yes. Is he being framed? Are the police setting him up? Jenna too has her own problems. Why did her family stop visiting the Hamptons when she was young? What is causing her blackouts? There is plenty more to know about Jenna over the next four parts. With Noah pleading his innocence and Jenna being a bright detective, you would expect her to jump in and get to the bottom of the rash of murders hitting this quiet town; she hasn't yet but will she overcome her prejudices and find the truth?

MURDER HOUSE Part One sets the scene, and was a quick read. It ends on a humdinger of a last sentence and I'm looking forward to Part Two. The extra material was interesting but I didn't find any clues this time.

NB. The murders are quite nasty but are described after the fact, rather than during.

Karen Meek, September 2015

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Review: Blood Mist by Mark Roberts

Blood Mist by Mark Roberts, August 2015, 352 pages, Head of Zeus, ISBN: 1784082880

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

This book is the first in a new series and introduces DCI Eve Clay, who heads a team searching for a particularly nasty, Satanic killer in Liverpool. The book is fantastic! It grips hold of you right away with a tantalizing prologue that feeds you some tasty morsels about Eve’s early life and sets you up, ready, for the horrors that are to follow.

When an entire family is savagely slaughtered in their own home, and DCI Eve Clay is asked to head up the investigation, little does she know that she is about to end up face to face with her own unsavoury past. She also appears to be dealing with a killer, or killers, who know more about her than she knows about herself: abandoned soon after birth, by parents unknown, Eve was first brought up by an elderly nun, Sister Philomena, and then spent the rest of her childhood in a Catholic children’s home after the old woman passes away. Eve is now happily married with a young son and the severe brutality of the murders has her in fear for the safety of her family; especially when she finds out that the killer(s) seem to know her. Her search for answers seems to be heading nowhere but then she receives a telephone call from a deadly name from the past: Adrian White, a sadistic, insane murderer who she caught and helped to lock away many years ago, wants to see her. He has information for her but definitely knows more than he is saying.

When a second family is murdered, Eve knows that she must act quickly before more lives are lost. Her investigations lead her to a very shocking truth that has her dealing with some extremely evil and dangerous people. The reader is left not only horrified by what is going on but also amazed that Eve has turned out to be as sane and level-headed as she has, given where she came from and how she was brought up. I am delighted that this book is the first in a series about DCI Eve Clay. She is a feisty, interesting and likeable character and I am rather pleased that the case she got to solve messed beautifully with my head!

Mark Roberts is a gifted writer and was a teacher for twenty years before putting pen to paper. His last book, WHAT SHE SAW, that was reviewed on Euro Crime last year, was long-listed for a CWA Gold Dagger – which is an indication of how awesome this author’s writing is. As with Robert’s previous books, BLOOD MIST is a hard hitting and disturbing tale. It leaves you chilled, exhausted and most definitely uncomfortable. If you like your crime fiction to be more of a thriller than a procedural detective story, then you are going to love this book. Mark Roberts is another talent to look out for in the future. He has already been added to my growing list of favourites and I am really excited to see what he produces next.

Extremely Highly Recommended.

Amanda Gillies, September 2015.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

TV News: Backstrom starts tonight

Backstrom, the US series based on Leif GW Persson's Evert Backstrom series of books, begins tonight on Fox UK at 9pm:

"Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom is a man with no filter. After a five-year exile to the traffic division for offensive behavior, he has returned from disgrace to lead Portland's newly minted S.C.U. Tasked with navigating the city's most sensitive and serious cases, he must solve each crime as he tries, and fails, to change his own self-destructive behavior."

Backstrom is played by Rainn Wilson and there are 13 episodes in this one and only season as the show was cancelled earlier this year.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Some 1976 Titles (for Past Offences)

The latest monthly challenge over at Past Offences is to read a book in September, published in 1976. Here are 52 British/European crime titles to choose from, first published in English in 1976, pulled from my database:
Ted Allbeury - The Only Good German (aka Mission Berlin)
Ted Allbeury - Moscow Quadrille
Meg Elizabeth Atkins - Samain
Robert Barnard - A Little Local Murder
Maisie Birmingham - The Heat of the Sun
Anders Bodelsen - Operation Cobra
Anders Bodelsen - Consider the Verdict
Kyril Bonfiglioli - Something Nasty in the Woodshed
Paul Bonnecarrere - Ultimatum
Simon Brett - So Much Blood
W J Burley - Wycliffe and the Schoolgirls
Gwendoline Butler - Vesey Inheritance
Margaret Carr - Blindman's Bluff
Margaret Carr - Sharendel
Agatha Christie - Sleeping Murder
Peter Conway - Cradle Snatch
Peter Conway - Flight of Fear
Peter Conway - Devil to Pay
David Craig - Faith, Hope and Death
Eileen Dewhurst - After the Ball
Colin Dexter - Last Seen Wearing
Madelaine Duke - Death at the Wedding
Frederick Forsyth - The Shepherd
Dick Francis - In the Frame
James Fraser - Who Steals My Name?
Nicolas Freeling - Lake Isle (apa Sabine)
John Harvey - Amphetamines and Pearls
John Harvey - The Geranium Kiss
Tim Heald - Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Veronica Heley - Cry for Kit
Reginald Hill - Another Death in Venice
Alan Hunter - Gently Where the Birds Are
Roderic Jeffries - Two-Faced Death
H R F Keating - Filmi, Filmi, Inspector Ghote
H R F Keating - Murder by Death
Maurice Leblanc - The Exploits of Arsene Lupin
Peter Lovesey - Swing, Swing Together
Jessica Mann - The Eighth Deadly Sin
Michael Molloy - The Kid from Riga
Hubert Monteilhet - Murder at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Hubert Monteilhet - Dead Copy
Torben Nielsen - A Gallowsbird's Song
Ellis Peters - Never pick up Hitch-hikers!
Ruth Rendell - The Fallen Curtain: And Other Stories
Ruth Rendell - A Demon in My View
Hester Rowan - Overture in Venice
Gerald Seymour - The Glory Boys
Leslie Thomas - Dangerous Davies
Janwillem Van de Wetering - Tumbleweed
Janwillem Van de Wetering - The Corpse on the Dike
David Williams - Unholy Writ
Margaret Yorke - Cast for Death

Monday, August 31, 2015

Review Roundup: Collard, Lagercrantz, Larsson, London, Nicol, Palliser, Reading

Here are nine reviews which have been added to the Euro Crime website today, all have appeared on the blog since last time*. With the exception of Stieg Larsson, all these authors are making their first appearance in the review section. The Stieg Larsson reviews are reposts of Maxine's original reviews but I have included the recent paperback cover.

*I am trialling a new approach at the moment in that all reviews will appear on the Euro Crime blog rather than being separate files as part of the Euro Crime website. I feel this will give the reviews more exposure and make them more findable in a search engine. The reviews will usually appear daily ie Monday to Friday, with occasional weekend postings, and roundups will appear on Sundays (or Bank Holidays!). The website will continue with bibliographies etc, the only change is that the reviews will be on the blog.

I'd be interested in any comments about this new approach.

You can keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page and follow on Twitter, @eurocrime.

New Reviews

Terry Halligan reviews The Devil's Assassin by Paul Fraser Collard which features swashbuckling hero, Jack Lark;

The big release last week was David Lagercrantz's The Girl in the Spider's Web tr. George Goulding which is a sequel to Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy. Review copies were released on the day of publication (UK) and Craig Sisterson kindly shared his review with Euro Crime the same day;

To remind ourselves of Stieg Larsson's original trilogy, I reposted Maxine's reviews of:

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo;

The Girl Who Played With Fire

and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest

which were all translated by Reg Keeland.

I continue my US cozy review feature with Criminal Confections by Colette London, which introduces a chocolate whisperer as amateur sleuth;

Going from cozy to noir, Lynn Harvey reviews Mike Nicol's Power Play, a Cape Town thriller inspired by Titus Andronicus;

Susan White reviews Charles Palliser's Victorian-styled The Unburied

and Ewa Sherman reviews Mario Reading's The Templar Inheritance.

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

Sunday, August 30, 2015

US Cozy Review: Criminal Confections by Colette London

Welcome to another entry in my irregular feature: US cozy review. Again, this is the start of a new series, and it features a likeable lead who has the job of "chocolate whisperer"!

Criminal Confections by Colette London, January 2015, Kensington

CRIMINAL CONFECTIONS is the first in the series and introduces Hayden Mundy Moore, chocolatier aka the chocolate whisperer. Hayden is a troubleshooter, who is hired discreetly to fix problems with products. She is employed all over the world and has inherited a fortune from an uncle – however there are conditions attached to that wealth – including, it seems, not settling down. Her latest assignment brings her to Lemaitre Chocolates at San Francisco. Lemaitre are hosting a long-weekend event at their flagship hotel and Hayden is invited with the proviso that she finishes her report.

Hayden invites a plus-one – Danny – a long-time friend who has a shady past and now specialises in security matters. This turns out to be a fortunate career profession for Hayden as she soon needs his services.

The apparently accidental death of a Lemaitre employee seems to Hayden to be more likely a murder and possibly she, Hayden, was the intended target. Unable to feel safe until she gets to the bottom of the death she begins to investigate. There are several candidates for the role of killer, including the current CEO and the deposed CEO of Lemaitre, a jealous wife, and a business rival.

Fortunately for Hayden she has Danny to help her and on the end of the phone is Travis, her accountant and owner of a very sexy voice, that she hasn't met yet.

I enjoyed CRIMINAL CONFECTIONS with its independent and talented female lead, though it has to be said she's perhaps not the greatest detective. I guessed correctly whodunnit before she did. The mystery element is possibly the weakest bit as the police are absent until the very end and Hayden steals some of what should have been evidence and ships it to Travis for testing. However the information about chocolate is fascinating – the many ways it can be used – not just for food but for example, in the spa as a hot cocoa mud bath. You will want to eat/buy chocolate after/during reading this book. Most importantly, I liked the narration style, which is as if she's speaking to you, similar to Laura Levine's Jaine Austen series and of course there's the mysterious Travis to meet in due course I hope...

I'll be carrying on with this series and the second book, DANGEROUSLY DARK, is published on 29 September.

Karen Meek, August 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Review: The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz tr. George Goulding

Today sees the release of book 4 in the Millennium series begun by Stieg Larsson, and now continued by David Lagercrantz in the shape of The Girl in the Spider's Web, translated by George Goulding.

London-based reviewer Craig Sisterson was able to get a copy at midnight and has very kindly shared his review with Euro Crime. This review first appeared on Crime Watch this morning:

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz translated by George Goulding, 448 pages, August 2015, MacLehose Press, ISBN: 0857059998

She's back. After all the waiting, anticipation, and controversy, Lisbeth Salander is back.

It starts with a hand, beating rhythmically on a mattress in an unknown bedroom. Why is the hand beating? Whose hand is it? Whose bedroom? What does it mean?

None of those questions are answered until much later in THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB, and by then David Lagercrantz has taken readers on a heck of an absorbing ride.

Let's address the elephant in the room: not everyone will be happy with this novel. Many people in the books world seem to have decided to avoid it or dislike it on principle: that no-one should continue Stieg Larsson's series, the three books of an intended ten that he'd written but never published before his heart attack.

But those who approach THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB with at least a partially open mind will find themselves pleasantly surprised; it's a very good book. It's terrific to see Salander, who is much more than an antisocial goth hacker, back fighting against injustice in a new adventure. In her own inimitable way.

Undoubtedly the creation of Salander was Stieg Larsson's greatest genius in his initial trilogy: while his tales were swirling epics addressing some dark issues simmering below the seemingly perfect surface of Scandinavian society, Salander was the lightning rod that elevated the stories into something more.

In THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB Lagercrantz does a fantastic job at delving deeper into Lisbeth Salander, offering readers more of an insight into this 'grown up version of Pippi Longstocking' (as Larsson considered her). Lagercrantz treads the fine line between providing more texture about an enigmatic character, without losing the mystery and uncertainty that makes them so compelling in the first place.

Salander is the kind of iconic character who doesn't even need to be in the room to have a presence. Like James Bond, Zorro, Robin Hood, or Sherlock Holmes, she casts a shadow over a wider world, lingering in the minds and hearts of those she's touched, friends and foes alike.

Early on in THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB, Mikael Blomkvist is battling against money-driven evisceration of Millennium, the magazine he loves, when he meets a potential source in a bar to discuss a story tip. Things are stock-standard, and Blomkvist's eyes are glazing as he listens to chat about technology and corporate espionage, when he - and the reader - is suddenly electrified by the passing mention of a female hacker. From there, the story becomes much more interesting, for Blomkvist and the reader.

As Blomkvist delves deeper, the story gets bigger and bigger. A world-renowned Swedish computer scientist, a verifiable genius, has seemingly abandoned his work and boarded himself up in his home. He wants to talk to Blomkvist, but is attacked before they can meet. His work has disappeared, and the only witness is an autistic child, who know becomes the target of a shadowy criminal organisation.

Lagercrantz does well juggling all the players in this tale, from the driven staff of the NSA, who see spying on everyone as the way to protect their country's interests, to Eastern European gangsters, Swedish authorities, and shadowy figures from Salander's own past. While Salander and Blomkvist are the stars, there is a broad cast of fascinating cast of characters who add texture and intrigue - and Lagercrantz does an elegant job keeping THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB building then racing along rather than becoming convoluted.

For those who love Scandinavian crime for the way it delves into social and personal issues, there is plenty of that on offer in the fourth Salander book, from issues of privacy, what the public is entitled to know, to the various ways technology can be used and abused, the changing face of the media, and much more.

For me however, it is the evocation of Salander, who is one of the finest characters created in contemporary fiction, which is the real highlight of THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB. Much like Christopher Nolan did with his tremendous re-imagining of Batman, Lagercrantz delves deeper into Lisbeth while keeping her very much who she is. We see more and understand more, but remain fascinated, intrigued, and unsure.

And when the final page came, I was no longer doubtful of whether the books should be continued or not. In fact, I am very much hoping that we will see more from Lagercrantz, Blomkvist and Salander in future.

Craig Sisterson
August 2015