Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Reviews: Bauer, Benacquista, Blake, Cleeves, James, Scott

Just a few hours left to enter the January competition: 3 copies of A K Shevchenko's Bequest are up for grabs. There are no geographical restrictions. Details of how to enter can be found here.

Here are this week's reviews:
Paul Blackburn reviews the much talked about (in the UK) Blacklands by Belinda Bauer which made his 'top 5 reads of 2009';

I review the violent black comedy that is Tonino Benacquista's Badfellas, tr. Emily Read which may make my 'top 5 reads of 2010';

Amanda Gillies praises the second in Richard Blake's Roman Empire series, now out in paperback - The Terror of Constantinople;

The last part of Ann Cleeves's Shetland Quartet, Blue Lightning, is out this week and Maxine Clarke's review will want to make you read it and the previous three if you haven't already;

Terry Halligan continues to be impressed with the Roy Grace series by Peter James; the latest - Dead Tomorrow is now out in paperback

and Michelle Peckham reviews the reissue of Manda Scott's The Crystal Skull, now prefixed with 2012 (nb. the film 2012 is not based on it) and is the third euro crime reviewer to enjoy the book very much.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film - UK trailer

You can see the English language trailer for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film due to be released 12 March at the end of the current edition of Film 2010. It's 28 minutes in but this link should take you straight there. Or with an annoying voice-over at the beginning, it can also be found on the Yahoo! Movies site.

An Author Wanted...

I work at a charming community library in North Birmingham - Mere Green:

and I've been tasked with organising an author visit. Recently we had a visit from Judith Cutler and Edward Marston and other guests have included Maureen Carter and R J Ellory.

Before the author visit we reserve as much of their library stock as is allowable and have the books on the display, thus ensuring lots of issues (and associated public lending rights revenue).

So if any author reading this would like to get some extra publicity and meet some of their fans, please contact me. I'm looking to get someone for March, on a Wednesday am or pm or a Tuesday or Thursday evening ie after 7pm.

Doesn't have to be a crime author either so if you know someone who'd be interested, please pass my plea on!

email: karen at eurocrime dot co dot uk

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Consorts of Death - sneak peak

I'm currently reading The Consorts of Death by Gunnar Staalesen, tr. Don Bartlett. Maxine has already reviewed it for Euro Crime, here.

Opening lines:


A phone call from the past. ‘Cecilie speaking,’ she said, and when I didn’t react, she added: ‘Cecilie Strand.’
‘Cecilie! Been a long time. How are you?’
‘Could be worse.’
‘Are you still in social services?’
‘Some of us are still hanging in there, yes.’
‘Must be at least ten years since we last saw each other, isn’t it?’
‘Yes, I crossed the mountains. Went to Oslo five years ago. Summer of 1990.’
‘You’re not ringing from Oslo now then?’
‘No, I’m in Bergen. Visiting my old mum in Munkebotn. Don’t know if you remember her?’
‘No, I …’
‘Well, that’s not so strange, but … I’ve got something important I need to talk to you about.’
‘If you’ve got time.’
‘Time is what I have most of, as I usually say.’
‘Could we meet?’
‘Of course. Any suggestions where?’
‘What about in Fjellveien?’
I looked out of the window. The rain this morning had not exactly been a foretaste of autumn. Now the September sun was drifting like liquid honey over the town. Mount Fløien looked green and inviting, with Fjellveien as the equator and not a storm warning in sight. ‘Whereabouts?’
‘Shall we just see where we bump into each other? I’ll be leaving here in under half an hour.’

and from p72:
She introduced herself as Randi Borge and burst into floods of tears when I explained the purpose of my visit. Age-wise, I would have put her at about forty. She had groomed dark blonde hair and was wearing a tight-fitting black dress that, from where I was standing, on my side of her reception desk, put me in far from a funereal mood.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Reviews: Breckon, Cotterill, Hall, Jungstedt, Pineiro, Strong

January competition reminder: 3 copies of A K Shevchenko's Bequest are up for grabs. There are no geographical restrictions. Details of how to enter can be found here.

Here are this week's reviews:
Rik Shepherd reviews the Ian Breckon's debut novel, set in WW2: Knight of Swords;

Michelle Peckham reviews the paperback edition of Colin Cotterill's Curse of the Pogo Stick the fith in the Dr Siri series;

Maxine Clarke reviews M R Hall's The Disappeared, the follow up to the award-winning The Coroner;

Laura Root reviews the paperback release of Mari Jungstedt's Unknown, tr. Tiina Nunnally (US: The Inner Circle), the third in the Inspector Knutas series set on Gotland;

I review Argentinian author Claudia Pineiro's delightfully gossipy Thursday Night Widows, tr. Miranda France

and Terry Halligan reviews the re-release of Terence Strong's Stalking Horse set during the first Gulf War.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Raven Black on Radio 4

Radio 4 has a 60 minute play of Raven Black by Ann Cleeves on Saturday 23 January at 2.30pm. It should also be available via "listen again" for a further 7 days.

Raven Black is the CWA Dagger Award-winning first part of the Shetland Quartet which has been followed by White Nights, Red Bones and the soon to be published Blue Lightning.

Ann Cleeves's Euro Crime page is here with links to reviews of the books mentioned above and Raven Black is reviewed on Euro Crime here and here and my review of the audio book of Raven Black for Mystery Women is here.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Publishing Deal - Tasha Alexander

From today's Publishers Lunch:
TEARS OF PEARL and upcoming DANGEROUS TO KNOW author Tasha Alexander's next two novels, featuring Lady Emily Hargreaves and her husband Colin, whose adventures take them to glamorous and exotic locales in the service of Queen Victoria's government, to Minotaur.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo film - UK release

The UK release date for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is 12 March and Empire Magazine also has dates for the next two films:
The Girl Who Played With Fire on September 10 and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest on November 5.

I got a chance to see the UK premiere in August (my review is here) and I plan to see it again when it's on general release.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Edgar Awards shortlists

The shortlists for the Edgar Awards came out today and two Euro Crime faves have appeared in two of the categories, to whit:

Best Novel - Nemesis by Jo Nesbo, tr. Don Bartlett
Best Paperback Original - The Herring-Seller's Apprentice by L C Tyler

The full shortlists are here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Badfellas - Sneak Peek

I'm currently reading Badfellas by Tonino Benacquista, tr. Emily Read which is shaping up to be another Bitter Lemon Press gem.

Blurb: "The story is violent, pacy and full of black humour. Imagine the Soprano family arriving in France, or perhaps better, Ray Liotta, the snitch from ‘Goodfellas’ settling down with his family in a small town in Normandy."

Opening Lines:

They took possession of the house in the middle of the night. Any other family would have seen it as a new start. The first morning of a new life – a new life in a new town. A rare moment that shouldn’t take place in the dark. For the Blakes, however, it was a moonlight flit in reverse: they were moving in as discreetly as possible. Maggie, the mother, went in first, tapping her heels on the steps to scare away any lurking rats. She went through all the rooms, ending up in the cellar, which appeared to be clean and to have the perfect level of humidity for maturing wheels of Parmesan, or storing cases of Chianti. The father, Frederick, who had never felt at ease around rodents, allowed his wife to go ahead.

From p69:
Without realizing it, Fred was proving a universal truth, which goes like this: as soon as one idiot tries to light a fire somewhere, four others will gather round to tell him how to do it.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Reviews: Black, Cabasson, Clark, Fox, Hilton, McCrery

January competition reminder: 3 copies of A K Shevchenko's Bequest are up for grabs. There are no geographical restrictions. Details of how to enter can be found here.

Here are this week's reviews:
Paul Blackburn reviews the third in Tony Black's Edinburgh based Gus Dury series - Loss;

Laura Root reviews Memory of Flames by Armand Cabasson, tr. Isabel Reid the most recent in this series of Napoleonic thrillers;

Amanda Brown catches up with the 14th century Abbess Hildegard in the paperback edition of The Red Velvet Turnshoe by Cassandra Clark;

Terry Halligan reviews the latest in the Anya Crichton, forensic pathologist series from Australian author Kathryn Fox: Blood Born;

Michelle Peckham reviews the paperback edition of the first of Matt Hilton's Joe Hunter thrillers: Dead Men's Dust

and Maxine Clarke reviews the second in Nigel McCrery's DCI Mark Lapslie series, Tooth and Claw.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Fifth Woman

The final (for now) Kenneth Branagh Wallander is on tomorrow at 9pm on BBC1 : The Fifth Woman

An elderly bird-watcher falls to his death in a meticulously-planned and brutal murder. In an apparently unconnected case, a local man disappears and Wallander gets too close to one of the suspects. Wallander believes he is on the trail of a serial killer bent on revenge.

My review of the audio book is here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Publishing Deal - Graham Moore

Very topical this one; from Publishers Weekly:
Twelve acquired North American rights to the debut novel The Sherlockian by Graham Moore. Jennifer Joel at ICM brokered the deal for Moore, a recent Columbia grad she described as an obsessive mystery fan since reading Agatha Christie in second grade. The book, which is slated for December 2010, follows two parallel mysteries: the first, set in the present, follows a Sherlock Holmes devotée and a literary researcher investigating the death of a Holmes scholar about to reveal secrets from Arthur Conan Doyle’s long-lost diary. The second mystery, set at the turn of the last century, follows Conan Doyle, who, with his author-buddy Bram Stoker, is hunting a serial killer. Deals for the book have also closed in Canada, Italy, and the U.K.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Upcoming crime dramas on the BBC

Here are the crime dramas announced on the BBC's Press Release for their Winter/Spring highlights, including Luther written by Neil Cross:


A new kind of crime thriller for British TV starring Idris Elba (The Wire). In each exciting and fast-moving story, the murderer's identity is known from the start, focussing the drama on the psychic duel between hunter and quarry, who sometimes have more in common than either would like to think.(*with Paul McGann)

Five Days

In the second series of this award-winning drama, a tiny newborn baby is abandoned in the toilets of a Yorkshire hospital. At the same time, the Trans-Pennine commuter train is halted by a suicidal jumper. Are they connected? From this moment on, the lives of those onboard the train and in the hospital will be changed irrevocably, not least for DC Laurie Franklin (Suranne Jones), off-duty that day but travelling on the train with her mum (Anne Reid), who is recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

Five Daughters

A three-part drama serial by acclaimed writer Stephen Butchard (House Of Saddam), Five Daughters (working title) is a sensitive portrait of events surrounding the discovery of five young women tragically murdered in Ipswich in 2006.

Made with the co-operation of Suffolk Police, and other agencies involved in the case, this factually-based drama will tell the story of three of the women's lives through the eyes of family members and friends, as well as following the inside story of the police investigation.

Ashes To Ashes

Gene Hunt is back in all his Eighties splendour for the final series of this hugely-popular series which promises more twists and turns than ever before.

The Silence

A deaf girl witnesses a murder in this new four-part drama. Eighteen-year-old Amelia Edwards (Genevieve Barr) has recently been fitted with a cochlear implant, enabling her to hear, but she struggles to accept that she has a place in the hearing world.

Breaking free from her over-protective parents (Gina McKee – In The Loop, Fiona's Story; and Hugh Bonneville – Lost In Austen), she goes to stay with her party-loving cousins, homicide detective uncle Jim (Douglas Henshall – Collision, Primeval) and warm-hearted aunt Maggie (Dervla Kirwan – Ondine, Moving On).

Amelia witnesses the audacious murder of a policewoman, and is reluctantly propelled further into a loud and frightening world. Jim is assigned the case and, when she identifies a police officer on the drugs squad as one of the killers, he urgently needs to protect his niece. If his colleagues find out what she has witnessed, she will be in extreme danger from the very people he works with. But, by keeping her a secret, he will jeopardise his own position in the force and put his whole family at risk.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Stats and The Red Dahlia

The stats package that comes with my website hosting has changed recently and I finally got round to looking at what it now provides and very excitingly I can have a weekly and a daily email showing me which pages have been viewed and how many times etc. Yesterday I did a screen grab of the pages visited the most between 3rd and 10th January and due to the popularity of ITV's The Red Dahlia, the most popular review for that time-period (and possibly ever), on the website is Lynda La Plante's The Red Dahlia which has ten times as many visits as any other review:

3-10 January 2010

Of the reviews posted yesterday - in the stats for Sunday, The Lost Sister nudges out The Red Dahlia, just. (The tv fuelled enthusiasm for The Red Dahlia having now died down.)

The Red Dahlia can be watched on the official ITV programme website.

And My See-Through Heart - crime fiction?

I've just come across this novel, And My See-Through Heart by Veronique Ovalde, tr. Adriana Hunter, published in English in July making it in the right time-frame for the 2010 International Dagger eligibility - I'm not sure how much of a crime novel it is? It's classified as a thriller in the library. Anyone read it yet? Here's the blurb:

Do we ever really know the person we live with? This is a question that has tormented Lancelot since the sudden death of his wife. The night of the accident, they had said goodbye at the airport and Irina should have been in another country when she was found drowned, in someone else's car, at the bottom of the local river. Lancelot is still numb from the shock when other facts begin to surface, each one more bewildering than the last. It seems that the woman he loved had a past - and a plan for the future - that he never even suspected.

The only review on amazon gives it 1 star. You can read a sample of the book at amazon here.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Reviews: Featherstone, Leon, McLean, Masello, Shevchenko, Temple & New Competition

There's a brand new competition for January and it has none of those pesky geographical restrictions. Three copies of A K Shevchenko's Bequest (reviewed below) are up for grabs. Details of how to enter can be found here.

Last week I summarised the Euro Crime reviewers' favourite reads of 2009. The break-down by reviewer with their additional comments is now on the website.

Again, this week's reviews range widely geographically including visits to Antarctica and Australia (useful if you are taking part in Dorte's 2010 Global Challenge):
Rik Shepherd reviews Ann Featherstone's debut, Walking in Pimlico (which he has included in his top 5 favourite reads of 2009);

Maxine Clarke reviews About Face by Donna Leon and finds it more of the same ie "a perfect miniature of a book with a social sting in its tail";

Amanda Gillies reviews Russel D McLean's The Lost Sister the second outing for Dundee PI McNee;

Terry Halligan goes to Antarctica in Robert Masello's Blood and Ice (this one made Terry's top 5 favourites of 2009);

Laura Root reviews this month's competition prize: Bequest by A K Shevchenko writing that it is "an intriguing and enjoyable novel"

and Michelle Peckham reviews the long awaited Truth by Australian author, the CWA Award Winning, Peter Temple.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Liza Marklund news

As well as the collaboration with James Patterson - Postcard Killers - in September (UK), the current edition of The Bookseller lists Liza Marklund's fifth Annika Bengtzon novel, Red Wolf, as being published in October, and there's more:
Transworld have bought eight of Marklund's books to publish twice a year with plans to replicate her pan-European popularity.

Georgette Heyer crime novels offer - The Book People

I mention The Book People's offers from time to time and the latest one to catch my eye is 10 of Heyer's crime novels for £9.99 (plus P & P):
The ten titles are:

* The Unfinished Clue
* They Found Him Dead
* Death in the Stocks
* Behold, Here's Poison
* Footsteps in the Dark
* A Blunt Instrument
* Why Shoot a Butler?
* No Wind of Blame
* Detective Unlimited
* Duplicate Death

Georgette Heyer wrote 12 crime novels, the two missing from the above set are: Penhallow and Envious Casca.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Euro Crime reviewers favourite reads of 2009

I've asked the recent contributors to Euro Crime to choose their five favourite European reads of 2009 and a total of 60 different titles have been submitted. The following favourites come from the lists submitted by: Pat Austin, Amanda Brown, Maxine Clarke, Amanda Gillies, Terry Halligan, Geoff Jones, Michelle Peckham, Norman Price, Laura Root, Rik Shepherd and myself:

The most mentioned titles are:
3 votes:
Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Played With Fire tr. Reg Keeland

2 votes:
Karin Alvtegen - Shadow tr. McKinley Burnett
Andrea Camilleri - The Paper Moon tr. Stephen Sartarelli
Hans Fallada - Alone in Berlin tr. Michael Hofmann
Arnaldur Indridason - Hypothermia tr. Victoria Cribb
Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest tr. Reg Keeland
Jo Nesbo - The Redeemer tr. Don Bartlett
The most mentioned authors (irrespective of title) are:
6 votes:
Stieg Larsson

3 votes:
Karin Alvtegen
Andrea Camilleri
Arnaldur Indridason
Jo Nesbo

2 votes:
Ann Cleeves
Ariana Franklin
John Lawton
The most mentioned translators are:
8 votes:
Reg Keeland/McKinley Burnett

4 votes:
Don Bartlett
The breakdown by reviewer plus any additional comments they have made, will be uploaded to the website soon.

Snowy Scenes

We've not escaped a significant snowfall this time, with several inches falling yesterday. Foxy's up to his belly this time (ankles before) but is loving chasing snow. I've kept him in so the birds can feed (rather than vice-versa).

I've just finished reading Ice Cold by Andrea Maria Schenkel and my current YA read is Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Favourite Reads/Listens of 2009

I've been reading crime fiction for several decades now and in 2009 I felt in need of a recharge so I didn't keep up with all the latest and greatest crime releases last year; I read some non-crime, some non-fiction and of course some teenage fiction for my other blog. I think it has helped and I now feel re-enthusiastic about my crime!

The aggregrated list of euro crime reviewers's favourite reads of last year will appear soon but here are my top 5 euro crime reads/listens, the links go to related posts on the blog:
Andrea Camilleri - August Heat
Arnaldur Indridason - Silence of the Grave (audio)
Stieg Larsson - The Girl Who Played with Fire
Alexander McCall Smith - Tea Time for the Traditionally Built (audio)
Jon Stock - Dead Spy Running (audio)
(My favourite teenage reads can be found here.)

Monday, January 04, 2010

Criminally Minded Cranford?

It often appears to the outside world that Britain has about 12 actors who appear in all tv shows but this impression wasn't helped by the 2009 Christmas specials with four actors from Cranford appearing in various criminal dramas within a few days of each other:

Cranford - Tom Hiddleston - Wallander

Cranford - Tim Curry - Poirot

Cranford - Julia McKenzie - Marple


Cranford - Alex Jennings - Marple

Sunday, January 03, 2010

New Reviews: Charles, Cross, Holt, McCleary, Tallis, Woodrow

Two of this week's review books are published this week, two are from December and two from September; they range geographically from Norway to Paris, Ireland to Austria and the UK to South America:
Geoff Jones reviews Family Life by Paul Charles the second in this Garda Inspector series;

Maxine Clarke reviews Captured by Spooks' writer Neil Cross and she recommends you have a cat or blanket nearby to cuddle;

I review the latest Vik/Stubo outing from Anne Holt, tr. Kara Dickson, Death in Oslo in which the pair get involved in finding the kidnapped female President of the United States;

Terry Halligan follows Nellie Bly to 1889 Paris in Carol McCleary's lengthy The Alchemy of Murder;

Michelle Peckham joins psychologist Dr Liebermann for his fifth investigation in Frank Tallis's Deadly Communion

and Amanda Gillies loved Patrick Woodrow's thriller First Contact.
Previous reviews can be found in the review archive and forthcoming titles can be found here.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Finnish Crime Fiction

Very few Finnish crime authors have been translated into English. The most famous perhaps being Matti Joensuu. German author Jan Costin Wagner spends half the year in Finland and his haunting Finland set Ice Moon was translated into English in 2006.

News comes via Mystery Book News of a novel written by an American author who has been living in Finland for ten years.

Snow Angels by James Thompson, is published in the US on 7 January and marks the first of a new series featuring Finnish police officer Inspector Kari Vaara. The cover has quotes from Michael Connelly and Peter Hoeg:

The first thriller in a new series featuring Inspector Kari Vaara: the haunted, hardened detective who must delve into Finland's dark and violent underbelly.

Kaamos: Just before Christmas, the bleakest time of the year in Lapland. The unrelenting darkness and extreme cold above the Arctic Circle drive everyone just a little insane . . . perhaps enough to kill.

A beautiful Somali immigrant is found dead in a snowfield, her body gruesomely mutilated, a racial slur carved into her chest. Heading the murder investigation is Inspector Kari Vaara, the lead detective of the small-town police force. The vicious killing may have been a hate crime, a sex crime-or one and the same. Vaara knows he must keep this potentially ex­plosive case out of the national headlines or else it will send shock waves across Finland, an insular nation afraid to face its own xenophobia.

The demands of the investigation begin to take their toll on Vaara and his marriage. His young American wife, Kate, newly pregnant with their first child, is struggling to adapt to both the unforgiving Arctic climate and the Finnish culture of silence and isolation. Meanwhile Vaara himself, haunted by his rough childhood and failed first marriage, discovers that the past keeps biting at his heels: He suspects that the rich man for whom his ex-wife left him years ago may be the killer.

Endless night can drive anyone to murder.

Review: Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King's Daughter by Simon Brett

Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King's Daughter written and narrated by Simon Brett (September 2009, ISIS Audio Books (mp3), ISBN: 0753143666)

This is the first in a new series by Simon Brett and features aristocratic brother and sister team, Blotto and Twinks. Blotto is handsome and not terribly bright but a good sport (especially at cricket) and Twinks is beautiful with a knowledge to rival Sherlock Holmes.

The family seat is Tawcester (Taster) Towers and the ex-king of Mitteleuropia is currently staying there with his entourage, including his daughter, ex-princess Ethelinde. The books opens with Blotto discovering a body in the library. Not trusting the local police, Blotto and Twinks decide to investigate:

"I will summon the estimable Chief Inspector Trumbull. I like to do these things honourably - level playing field and all that. I must allow the police to have a fair wallop at the investigation ... before I run circles round them and tell them who really committed the murder."

Along the way they discover a plot to kidnap ex-princess Ethelinde by the usurping King Vlatislav which they are unable to foil and so the action moves to Mitteleuropia and Blotto, his chauffeur and a translator "Klaus" are sent to rescue the ex-princess.

Blotto, Twinks and the Ex-King's Daughter and reads as if Agatha Christie collaborated with P G Wodehouse. It's absolutely delightful and very, very funny. The plot is a romp and Blotto and Twinks make a fun pair of sleuths. The language Blotto in particular uses may leave you saying "broken biscuits" and "me old gumdrop" for some time after.

Simon Brett's narration adds another level of enjoyment as I feel you get to hear what the author intended you to hear when the author themselves does the narration and Simon Brett is very good at it indeed.

The sequel, Blotto, Twinks and the Dead Dowager Duchess, is due out in July.

Happy New Year and a Thank You

I'd just like to say thank you to all my blog visitors for their support over 2009 and hope you'll continue to visit and comment in 2010.

I also want to thank the euro crime review team for taking the time to write thoughtful reviews and in particular I'd like to thank Maxine (Petrona) for her tireless promotion of the euro crime website and her initiation of the essential reading that is the Friendfeed crime and mystery fiction room.