Friday, December 30, 2011
In addition McFarland are publishing a companion guide, Andrea Camilleri: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction by Lucia Rinaldi, in July 2012:
Publisher's Blurb: This is the first comprehensive reference work in English dedicated to the writing of world-famous Italian mystery writer Andrea Camilleri. It includes entries on plots, characters, dates, literary motifs, and themes from the bestselling author’s detective stories and television crime dramas, with special attention to the serialized policeman Inspector Salvo Montalbano, Camilleri’s most famous character. It also equips the reader with background information on Camilleri’s life and career and provides a guide into the writings of reviewers and critics.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Coming soon: more favourite discoveries of 2011; an article by Leigh Russell on her new book, Death Bed, which is available on Kindle now - 6 months ahead of its print release; the Euro Crime reviewers favourite reads of 2011; a new competition or two, and included in the next set of reviews, reviews of the latest books by Elly Griffiths and Stuart Neville.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Michelle Peckham's Favourite Discovery of 2011
Missing both the dramatisations of Wallander and The Killing on BBC4, and feeling rather bereft, I ordered a 3 DVD set featuring Varg Veum from Amazon (Bitter Flowers / Sleeping Beauty / Yours Until Death). The series is based on the books by Gunnar Staalesen, of which I'd read Yours Until Death, and enjoyed. Unfortunately, not all the books are available in English, so the DVDs were actually a chance to discover more.
Varg Veum is a private investigator, based in Bergen, a 30ish rakish character, divorced, and attractive. He seems to have a knack for taking on cases that prove difficult, and always seem to bring him into contact with the police. The Norway setting adds to the interest, and these DVDs certainly made up for the lack of Scandinavian crime fiction on BBC4. Thoroughly recommended!
(This set is available in R1 and R2 - the R1 cover is on the right.)
Read Michelle's Euro Crime reviews here.
The titles by Gunnar Staalesen which have been translated into English - not many yet alas - are listed and reviewed here.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Terry Halligan's Favourite Discovery of 2011
The Warsaw Anagrams by Richard Zimler (Paperback: 336 pages (Feb. 2011) Publisher: Corsair ISBN: 1849013697)
It is the bitterly cold Autumn of 1940 and Erik Cohen, an elderly retired psychiatrist, is forced to move into an area within Warsaw that the Germans have created, to locate all the 400,000 Jews of that city. Erik is obliged to live with his niece and his beloved nine year old nephew, Adam, in a tiny flat. One, extremely cold day, Adam goes missing and after searching all over the place and questioning all their contacts, finally, the next day his body is found naked and entangled in the barbed wire fence that surrounds the ghetto. The boy's leg has been hacked off and a tiny piece of string has been left in his mouth.
Erik and niece are obviously, very upset about all of this and even more so, when a young girl's body is located also with one of her hands missing. Erik and his close friend Izzy start to look into all the possible clues associated with this, as both men feel that as Jews their lives are very limited and they need to ensure that all the children living in the ghetto are as safe from death as possible. It was a truly depressing time, the Germans having made an island where they control who goes in and out and what food and everything else goes in and out. This island is encircled with barbed wire and the only access points are guarded night and day by their armed soldiers. The inhabitants of the ghetto have to sell off all their possessions gradually, to buy food to live, as they get no income otherwise and as they do not know individually how long they will live, they have to go without and suffer the resulting hunger. As they cannot get any coal, even if they could afford it, as all possible supplies are cornered by the Germans to help the war effort, in this bleak Winter it is bitterly cold and they are having to burn furniture, or anything flammable in their fires to keep out the cold. But of course there is only a finite amount of furniture.
Erik discovers that the two dead children were members of a choir, he suspects that adult members of the same group could be involved in the deaths and then it becomes apparent that the girl who was killed was expecting a baby, the father of whom, was a gentile (a non Jew) living outside the ghetto. Erik wants to check that out more and needs to leave the ghetto to do so, which is very difficult and the preparations he makes are explained in detail. He needs to get fake papers forged by a criminal he knows, as he will have to go through a German check point. He decides to take Izzy along with him, which presents other difficulties. So as it goes on the two main characters have many adventures until at last the murderer is discovered and dealt with, but it doesn't end in a nice way.
I found this a deeply moving book. It deals with the Second World War but with an aspect of it that is not discussed too often, and the author has researched his subject extremely thoroughly and his characters live with much deprivation in the ghetto. I consider this book the best and most moving one that I've read for some time and I was deeply affected by it. This is the seventh book written by this author who indicates in a dedication at the beginning that many of his grand-uncles, aunts and cousins perished in the ghettos and camps of Poland during the War. A truly wonderful book, which I will not forget.
Read more of Terry's reviews here.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Amanda Gillies's Favourite Discovery of 2011
My best discovery this year is definitely the movie Dark City, a futuristic fantasy about, unsurprisingly, a city that is kept in perpetual darkness and the people living there who don’t seem to release they never see the sun. It focuses on John Murdoch (played by Rufus Sewell) who wakes up in the bath to discover that he has no memory and can’t understand why the police are after him. To make matters worse, his beloved wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly) no longer recognizes him.
John sets out to get to the bottom of the strange goings-on and his discoveries will make your blood run cold. He is horrified when the clock strikes midnight and everyone, except him, falls asleep exactly where they are. Things get even worse when he meets the terrifying, black-clad, white-faced "strangers" and their weird side-kick, Dr. Schreber.
The film was written and directed by Alex Proyas, also known for I, Robot and The Crow, and came out in 1998. It is a clever mix of crime fiction, science fiction and fantasy. I absolutely loved the movie and was delightfully creeped out and fascinated for its entire 2.5 hours. The idea of a city being controlled, directed, and changed round the way this one is, really caught my imagination. It also has an amazing ending and left me exhausted. Loads of "Tingle Factor" and, essentially, the right level of "Yuk" to keep the viewer happy.
I can’t believe it took me so long to find Dark City and must have been one of the very few who hadn’t seen it!
Read more of Amanda's reviews, both crime and teenage/YA fiction.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Geoff Jones's Favourite Discovery of 2011
In 2011 I discovered this exciting writer. Her first novel In the Woods made its debut in 2007 to apparently much acclaim (I must have been preoccupied with something else!). She followed this up a year later with the equally well received The Likeness. Her third book, published in 2010, is the one that made me notice this great talent – Faithful Place.
Born in the USA but of Irish parentage, she has lived in Ireland and Italy as well as America. She now lives in Dublin and is married with a daughter. She writes very well about Ireland which is a place I don't know but she describes it so well I feel as if I’ve been there. Her characters are very believable and she has a unique method that a minor character in one book becomes the lead in a subsequent one – very clever.
If I had been asked several years ago who my favourite authors were, very few women would have figured in the top 10. Not sure why – I suppose I felt that only men could write grisly murder mysteries? How wrong could I be!! Today Lynda La Plante, Karen Campbell, Denise Mina and Val McDermid feature prominently. I can now add Tana French to the growing list.
Her fourth book, Broken Harbour, is out in June 2012.
You can read reviews of Tana French's first three books here.
Geoff's reviews can be read here.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Here are this week's reviews:
Michelle Peckham reviews Joy Ellis's follow-up to Mask Wars, Shadowbreaker (which is set in my beloved Fens) and Michelle praises it highly;Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.
Lynn Harvey reviews the recent UK release of Kjell Eriksson's The Princess of Burundi, tr. Ebba Segerberg the earliest of the "Ann Lindell" series available in English from an author Lynn likens to Henning Mankell (and for once the snowy cover is warranted);
Mark Bailey reviews the most recent of Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May series: Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood;
I review the much talked-about The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, tr. Alexander O Smith & Elye J Alexander;
Maxine Clarke begins her review of Charles Lambert's Any Human Face (set in a Rome) by saying that it is "an excellent, well-written novel of suspense"
and Terry Halligan is impressed with Andrew Williams's To Kill a Tsar.
Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here and new titles by Geraint Anderson, Richard Blake, Julia Crouch, Steven Dunne, James Forrester, Ann Granger, Grebe & Traff, Quintin Jardine, Michael Jecks, Alan Judd, Tom Knox, Lynda La Plante, Matt Lynn, The Medieval Murderers, G J Moffat, Kate Rhodes, Craig Robertson, Imogen Robertson, Jacqui Rose, Bob Shepherd, Simon Spurrier, Jason Steel and Jon Stock have been added to these pages this week.
Friday, December 16, 2011
Rich Westwood's Favourite Discovery of 2011
My discovery of 2011 is the Provençal crime fiction of Pierre Magnan.
I'm a sucker for an illustrated cover, and the breezy artwork by Nadine James is what first brought Pierre Magnan to my attention in my local library. However, the comedy of the books is darker than the covers might suggest.
The investigator Commissaire Laviolette is an interesting figure, but for me it is the secondary characters who make these books sing. Magnan offers up crusty collection of eccentrics, thoroughly doused in red wine, reeking of Gitaines and strange local cheeses, all closeted in cramped little Provençal communities and dealing with boredom and poverty any way they can: gossip, superstition, ancient feuds, modern rivalries, mushroom-hunting, obsession and, of course, murder.
A truffle-hunting pig proves a useful ally for the Commissaire in Death in the Truffle Wood, ultimately a story of culture clash between hippies and locals (it was written in the 70s). The book has some great snow-bound scenes which really rack up the tension and show an (for me) unexpectedly harsh side of Provence.
The Messengers of Death has a strong flavour of John Dickson Carr, opening with a retired village postman digging his own grave and features a fancy-dress murderer wielding an antique bayonet.
I’ve only managed to find these two titles in the Laviolette series in English, but if you like Fred Vargas (in particular if you enjoyed the cryptic scenes with the Normandy hunters in This Night's Foul Work), I'd definitely recommend seeking them out.
You can read Rich's Euro Crime reviews here (by searching for his name).
Discover which of Pierre Magnan's books are available in English (with reviews), here. (Death in the Truffle Wood and The Messengers of Death were both translated by Patrica Clancy and are still in print having been published 2006/7.)
Pierre Magnan's website is here (in French).
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Lynn Harvey's Favourite Discoveries of 2011
It goes without saying that a Scandi-Noir fan like I thinks first of The Killing (original Danish version), because I was indeed hooked and transfixed by it, as was almost everybody. If I could, I would mention the other Scandi-series that had me glued to my telly chair this year: BBC4's showing of that most excellent Icelandic comedy of dysfunction, The Night Shift. But it has to be said that apart from petty pilfering and the violent onslaughts that the increasingly unhinged shift manager inflicts upon staff and customers alike, The Night Shift isn't really a crime story.
So it is with some surprise that I find that my most joyous crime-reading discovery of 2011 is set all the way over in South East Asia with the slightly off the wall crime novels of Colin Cotterill.
I reviewed Killed at the Whim of a Hat for Euro Crime. This is Cotterill's first outing with a new heroine, the woman journalist Jimm Juree, and is set in Thailand. But never having read any of Colin Cotterill's books before and in order to do my homework, I read one of his books set in Laos and featuring pathologist and reluctant shaman, Dr Siri Paiboun. The book that I chose was Curse of the Pogo Stick; foreign setting, social observation, a sense of the absurd, dark reality, black humour, and a helping of the paranormal - just my cup of tea. Although the title does make me wince a little, I love an imagination that can provide the visions of long-suffering shaman Dr Siri Paiboun's regular bruisings at the hands of a pair of tough guy skeletons in the Other Realm. Perhaps it is because I am also a fan of comics and graphic novels that this kind of visual imagination - Colin Cotterill is also a cartoonist - appeals to me. The book also describes the darker reality of life for a minority cultural group amidst the state and politics of 1970s Laos - so not all laughs then. Cotterill's writing is a truly happy discovery for me. So thank you, Euro Crime.
The Killing Series 1 & 2 will be available as a combined box-set from 19 December on R2 DVD, just in time for Christmas, or as individual series box-sets.
You can read Lynn's Euro Crime reviews here by searching for her name.
Colin Cotterill's books with reviews are listed here on the Euro Crime website.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Norman Price's Favourite Discovery of 2011
Braquo is a French crime series, showing on FX the channel that introduced The Wire to British TV. It is very exciting while raising the moral question of how far should the police go to solve crimes. Should they use the violent methods of the crooks they are attempting to catch, and should their loyalties be to their fellow cops or the law?
The four person squad at the centre of the series is a disparate group lead by Eddy, a grizzled veteran living on a houseboat on the Seine. Then there is Walter, a bald gambling addict whose wife is a chronic alcoholic unable to look after their children. Theo, a young violent coke addict who has a way with women. And Roxanne, who manages to look extremely sexy while alternating between a bad hair day, and a very bad hair day.
The squad are supported by their ex-boss and his crew, and opposed by nasty Internal Affairs cops, who are trying to catch them at the various crimes they are forced to commit to solve their numerous problems. When the cops are trying their hand at murder, robbery, drug dealing, kidnapping and blackmail you know that you are probably watching something French.
Perhaps not everyone's cup of tea but I am enjoying every episode.
Braquo will be available on R2 DVD just in time for Valentine's Day (6 February) at around £30.
You can read Norman's Euro Crime reviews here.
Discover French crime writers available in English, here.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Mark Bailey's Favourite Discovery of 2011
Absolutely the best thing that I have read this year is Carlo Lucarelli's De Luca trilogy (Carte Blanche (Carta Bianca), The Damned Season (L'estate Torbida) and Via delle Oche ) – small delicately shaped morsels (the longest is 160 pages and all three together are shorter than your typical doorstop novel).
In the last days and aftermath of World War II Italy, the world of Commissario de Luca, a fundamentally good man driven by a desire for justice who is (and has been) forced by circumstance to work for people with evil in the hearts is, to my mind, one of the great creations of modern crime fiction. I have the award winning TV movie adaptions on my to-be-watched list for Christmas and can’t wait.
You can read Mark's reviews for Euro Crime here by searching for his name.
A link to the DVD on amazon for more information.
Monday, December 12, 2011
(Euro Crime bibliography is here)
The blurb from amazon:
Eva is walking by the river one afternoon when a body floats to the surface of the icy water. She tells her daughter to wait patiently while she calls the police, but when she reaches the phone box Eva dials another number altogether.
The dead man, Egil, has been missing for months, and it doesn't take long for Inspector Sejer and his team to establish that he was the victim of very violent killer. But the trail has gone cold. It's as puzzling as another unsolved case on Sejer's desk: the murder of a prostitute who was found dead just before Egil went missing.
While Sejer is trying to piece together the fragments of a seemingly impossible case, Eva gets a phone call late one night. A stranger speaks and then swiftly hangs up. Eva looks out into the darkness and listens. All is quiet.Gripping and thought-provoking, In the Darkness is Karin Fossum's first novel featuring the iconic Inspector Sejer.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Here are this week's new reviews:
Terry Halligan reviews the fifth (and best so far he thinks) in Tom Cain's Carver series - Carver;Previous reviews can be found in the review archive.
Lynn Harvey reviews her first but the fourth "Vera" book in Ann Cleeves's (now televised) series - Silent Voices which is now out in paperback;
Laura Root reviews the second of Sean Cregan's Newport set series, The Razor Gate which is an example of "futurist noir writing";
I review the latest title that has been made available in English in Kjell Eriksson's Ann Lindell series, The Hand That Trembles, tr. Ebba Segerberg;
Susan White reviews the second in Jonathan Lewis's DCI Bale and dog-handler Kate Baker series, Into Dust;
Geoff Jones reviews the fourth (and last I believe) of R N Morris's Porfiry Petrovich series, The Cleansing Flames;
Lynn Harvey also reviews the fourth in another series, Murder Club by Mark Pearson which features DI Jack Delaney and is set in London;
Maxine Clarke reviews Roslund-Hellstrom's Cell 8, tr. Kari Dickson
and Amanda Gillies reviews Anne Zouroudi's The Whispers of Nemesis, the fifth in the Hermes Diaktoros series.
Forthcoming titles can be found by author or date or by category, here and new titles by George Arion, James Becker, Nancy Bilyeau, Ken Bruen, Paul Grossman, Oliver Harris, James Henry, Antonio Hill, Hjorth-Rosenfeldt, Bogdan Hrib, Camilla Lackberg, Andy McDermott, Roger/R N Morris, Leif GW Persson, Sarah Pinborough, Oana Stoica-Mujea, Roland Vernon, Jason Webster, Kate Williams and Juli Zeh have been added to these pages this week.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
I took the second and third photos after I'd walked into the lounge to see him on his back, motionless, legs pointing out. He'd moved a bit before I got back with my camera/phone...
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Henning Mankell - The Troubled Man (tr. Laurie Thompson)
Jo Nesbo - The Leopard (tr. Don Bartlett)
Thomas Enger - Burned (tr. Charlotte Barslund)
Jason Webster - Or the Bull Kills You
Fred Vargas - An Uncertain Place (tr. Sian Reynolds)
S J Watson - Before I Go to Sleep
Tom Franklin - Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (reviewed by Maxine at Petrona)
"The idea of the Big City Read is to celebrate libraries, books and reading. Through the Big City Read Birmingham Libraries would like to encourage readers to try something new, to read and share their reading experience with other readers. We would like as many people as possible in Birmingham to read the same book, post reviews and pass it on. Our Big City Read book is Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson."
The book in question won the CWA John Creasey/New Blood Dagger 2011 and is reviewed on Euro Crime by Lizzie Hayes.
Pop along to your local Birmingham library and pick up a copy. It can be reviewed via email (details on the website listed below) or on the review sheet included with the book. (NB. limited stocks of the book are available.)
More details are on the Big City Read website.
Before I Go to Sleep is released in paperback on 5 January 2012.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
This new venture kicks off with Nigel McCrery reprising his Sam Ryan creation in Titan. The first 5 parts are now available to buy and a second series is planned for 2012. Pilots have been commissioned from other authors.
Find out more at BOX Fiction.
Monday, December 05, 2011
You can read an extract from False Mary (which is the cover on the book below) written by Alexander McCall Smith on the NPG website.
Eight internationally acclaimed authors have invented imaginary biographies and character sketches based on fourteen unidentified portraits. Who are these men and women, why were they painted, and why do they now find themselves in the Collection of the National Portrait Gallery? With fictional letters, diaries, mini-biographies and memoirs, Imagined Lives creates vivid stories about these unknown sitters from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Sunday, December 04, 2011
However if you say Accessories in the local accent it does approximate to Accessroies. Super Hero's what though, I wonder?
I wonder if the sign writer is also responsible for Chloe's Consessions as the shops are only two doors apart:
Friday, December 02, 2011
Listen here or download via iTunes.
Summer. A boy, Gusto, is lying on the floor of an Oslo apartment. He is bleeding and will soon die. He is trying to make sense of what has happened. In order to place his life and death in some kind of context he begins to tell his story. Outside, the church bells chime.
Autumn. Former Police Detective Harry Hole returns to Oslo after three years abroad. He seeks out his former boss at Police Headquarters to request permission to investigate a homicide. But the case is already closed; a young junkie, Gusto, was in all likelihood shot by a pal in a conflict over drugs. Harry is granted permission to visit the accused boy in prison. There, he meets himself and his own history. It’s the start of a solitary investigation of the most impossible case in Harry Hole’s life. And while Harry is searching, Gusto continues his story.
A man walks the dark streets of night-time Oslo. The streets are his and he has always been there. He is a phantom.
Thursday, December 01, 2011
In 2011 Profusion initiates a brand new publishing venture featuring a series of Romanian crime fiction, along with a shocking true crime story. These books are different. They are thrilling, and they also illuminate the reality of a secret Romania, once behind the Iron Curtain, now a vital European partner.1. Kill the General by Bogdan Hrib, tr. Ramona Mitrica, Mike Phillips, and Mihai Risnoveanu was published last week in paperback and on Kindle (quite cheaply for 1 month):
Behind the tumult of the new, lies a past of intrigue, terror and pitch black comedy. The Profusion Crime Series outlines the map and blazes a trail through this hidden history.
Bogdan Hrib's KILL THE GENERAL is an explosive thriller - and not just because it talks about Chernobyl and a bloody revolution.
“Stelian Munteanu, lover, killer and Bucharest boy, is a hero who tells us more than we ever imagined about our times. Stelian, a book editor with a sideline in international police work, has to kill a man, a general whose book he’s just published. Will he pull the trigger? Kill the General is an exciting and suspenseful thriller. It is also a complex and detailed character study of an individual - a roller coaster ride through the transitions which have taken place over the last decades in Romanian history.” (Mike Phillips)
“It’s early. The city is sleeping. I cannot pull the trigger. The time is flying. If I don’t make a decision now... I have no guarantee that the general will still be here the following night. I should get this job done and get the hell out of here!”
2. Attack in the Library by George Arion, tr. Ramona Mitrica, Mike Phillips, and Mihai Risnoveanu was published on 15 November and is also currently available at a reduced price on Kindle.
“GEORGE ARION's Attack in the Library is one of the classic narratives of Romanian popular fiction. Written during the dictatorship of the 1980s, it weaves a gripping narrative out of the bars, the housing estates and restaurants of Bucharest. Arion's characters queue for food, cope with power blackouts, sweat in the heat and struggle with the privileges and influence of the elites.“ (Mike Phillips)
“Andrei Mladin, living Romanian journalist! Still living, I should say.”
“Exactly in the chapter indicated by the voice, there were fifty 100-lei banknotes. I felt the embrace of sheer panic. Right then the telephone rang again: ‘Mladin! Have you found the money?’ All I heard after that was the sound of the phone hanging up.”
3. Anatomical Clues by Oana Stoica-Mujea, tr. Ramona Mitrica, Mike Phillips, and Mihai Risnoveanu will be published on 20 December.
“Iolanda Stireanu is a brilliant criminal investigator. She is also crippled by mental instability and the fact that she can’t leave her flat.
Anatomical Clues is a gripping, grotesque exploration of damaged psychologies - a tale, which, like Iolanda, will creep into your head and stay there.” (Mike Phillips)
“The eyes had been plucked and laid carefully on the living room table, in between two withered roses. Everything was in perfect order, and it was just these eyes which didn’t fit with the rest of the picture. On the other hand, they were not strikingly out of place. There was, however, no sign of the body to which they must have belonged.”