Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Favourite Discoveries 2013 (7)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2013 comes from reviewer Michelle Peckham who chooses a tv crime series based on Peter Robinson's popular Inspector Banks series.

Michelle Peckham's Favourite Discovery of 2013

My discovery of 2013 is DCI Banks, an ITV series (available on iTunes).

I'd read one or two of the crime novels featuring DCI Banks (by Peter Robinson), but had not watched the ITV series featuring this detective, until an American colleague of mine told me that he'd been watching it back in the USA. He said he'd really enjoyed it, particularly as it is set in Leeds, and he had had fun spotting places he recognised, places he'd seen when visiting me. On a dull rainy evening, I decided to download the TV series (series 1) from iTunes, and immediately became hooked. The stories run over two episodes, were well plotted, and entertaining to watch. Not quite the 'Montalbano' of the North, but with a nice flavour of Leeds and the surrounding countryside. Sadly, this is the only series on iTunes, but I am strongly tempted to buy the DVD for the follow-up series.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Favourite Discoveries 2013 (6)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2013 comes from me. I've bumped my entry up the list as the book I'm covering is in the Kindle sale until the end of the month.

Karen Meek's Favourite Discovery of 2013

My favourite discovery of the year is THE MANGLE STREET MURDERS by M R C Kasasian. I first heard mention of it on The Readers podcast and put it in my wishlist based on the title alone. I reserved it from the library and read it just before its current 99p promotion on UK Kindle. It's the first in a series and is the author's debut and has Sherlock Holmes echoes about it. It takes the form of a chronicle by March Middleton of a case that happened sixty years earlier in the 1880s.

Young March Middleton has had to leave her family home and come to London to be personal (not private!) detective Sidney Grice's ward. March is a feisty young woman, a smoker and drinker and who has seen a lot by dint of travelling with her army surgeon father. She hides these “vices” from her new guardian but not her ready wit and intelligence. Grice is a vegetarian, non-smoker, non-drinker and works for money rather than a sense of helping his fellow citizens. So when he is approached by a woman whose daughter has been murdered and whose son-in-law has been arrested for the crime, falsely she claims, he turns her down because she has no money. However March steps in with the last of her inheritance to pay Grice to take on the case on the proviso that she, March, can accompany him.

And so the unlikely pairing investigate the case by interviewing the son-in-law, visiting the crime scene and untangling what turns about to be a rather complicated case.

As well as the detective element we also get short diary entries about March's love affair with a soldier.

I really loved reading this book. It is very amusing, with Grice's logical statements and March's witty ripostes to any slurs against womanhood:

“Not much of a place for soppy girls,” one of them said.
“Just as well there are no soppy girls here then, “ I said.

The mystery is intriguing and twisty, you really feel like you're in Victorian London and there is much more to know about Grice and March in future books. I just wish the second book was already available!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Favourite Discoveries 2013 (5)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2013 comes from reviewer Susan White who chooses a new tv crime series which is now available on DVD (if you missed it in its day-time slot).

Susan White's Favourite Discovery of 2013

My discovery of 2013 is The Doctor Blake Mysteries - an Australian series premiered in 2013 and shown on BBC1 in the afternoons - a real gem.

Official blurb:

Doctor Blake, a keeper of secrets, a solver of mysteries. 

The Doctor Blake Mysteries is an original, period murder mystery series, starring Craig McLachlan as the maverick town doctor Lucien Blake - a risk-taker, he's impulsive and not afraid to upset the status quo.

Doctor Lucien Blake left Ballarat as a young man. But now, he finds himself returning, to take over his dead father's medical practice. And one of the unwanted duties his father left him is the on-call role of police surgeon.

Set in the old gothic gold rush town of Ballarat in 1959. The wealth that built its grand architecture long gone - but not the mysteries, murder and deceit that linger beneath the surface of its faded glory.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

TV News: The Bletchley Circle series 2

The Bletchley Circle returns to ITV on 6 January at 9pm with the first episode of four. The four episodes will be divided into two stories. The synopsis, from the ITV press release, for the first story is below:
Olivier award nominated actress Hattie Morahan joins Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Sophie Rundle and Julie Graham for four new episodes of the code-breaking thriller The Bletchley Circle, which returns to ITV at the beginning of 2014.

The series, based on the lives of four extraordinary and brilliant women who worked at top-secret HQ Bletchley Park during World War II, features two self-contained stories each played out across 2 x 60 minute episodes written by series creator Guy Burt.

Set a year on from the first series in 1953, the ladies are reunited for their second case in the first two-part story when former Bletchley Park colleague, Alice Merren (Hattie Morahan) is accused of murder. Jean (Julie Graham) methodically sets to work examining the evidence and is intent on helping Alice after a distinguished scientist is discovered shot through the heart in the study of his home with Alice, gun in hand, standing over him.

The evidence is stacked against her, but Jean’s instincts tell her differently and she goes to visit Alice in Holloway Prison. Alice is quietly resigned to the fact she will hang. But why has she offered no defence and why does she refuse to talk?

Jean calls on the ladies to reunite, but will they share her faith in Alice’s innocence?

Friday, December 27, 2013

Favourite Discoveries 2013 (4)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2013 comes from reviewer Geoff Jones, who has two authors he wants to mention.

Geoff Jones' Favourite Discoveries of 2013

Michael Russell has written two books and it is the second one that I’ve read, THE CITY OF STRANGERS. Set in Ireland and New York just before the commencement of the Second World War. Very well-written, atmospheric, well researched including some real people such as a Catholic priest who preached against America joining the war. The hero is a Garda sergeant, Stefan Gillespie, who on an assignment to bring a murder suspect back to Ireland from America, gets involved in helping a beautiful Irish woman and her sister. I haven’t yet read the author's first novel THE CITY OF STRANGERS but will remedy that soon. He is married and living in West Wicklow, Ireland. Previous career highlights include writing scripts for Midsummer Murders and Emmerdale.

Read Geoff's whole review of THE CITY OF STRANGERS.

Elly Griffiths lives in Brighton with her husband, children and two cats; she was born in London but sets her books in the wild desolate Norfolk countryside. Her husband trained to be an Archaeologist and this lead her to writing books featuring the Ruth Galloway character. I initially picked the book for my Lincolnshire village book group. I wasn’t around when it was reviewed but as it seemed to be well received I eventually read THE CROSSING PLACES - a good and interesting read.

She has written a further five Ruth Galloway books and I’ve downloaded THE JANUS STONE to read next. She brings alive the haunting Norfolk coastline. 

Elly Griffiths's Euro Crime bibliography with reviews is here.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Christmas

It's Pippa Jones's turn to be in the Christmas photo. She's had a lively morning chasing paper etc, not bad for a sixteen-year-old. Snoozing now.

Happy Christmas/Holidays to all Euro Crime's fans, reviewers, comment leavers.

Look out for some more postings over the Festive break.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Favourite Discoveries 2013 (3)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2013 comes from Amanda Gillies who also blogs and reviews at Old Dogs and New Tricks as well as at Euro Crime.

Amanda Gillies' Favourite Discovery of 2013

PERFUME, the story of a murderer.

One of my students recommended this nasty tale to me this year and I was very taken with it. I saw the film but also have the book, written by the German author Patrick Suskind and translated by John E. Woods, on my ‘to be read’ pile. The film was made in 2006, so it is very far from new, but it was new to me. Directed by Tom Tykwer, and starring Ben Whishaw, Alan Rickman and Dustin Hoffman, it is the story of a serial killer who has a superhuman sense of smell and is seeking to mix the perfect aroma and make it into the most exquisite perfume ever.

The killer, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is born beneath a fish stall in a market and left for dead. His mother, who has had four other children and left them in similar ways, is found guilty of multiple infanticide and is hanged, so he ends up in an orphanage and then scratches out a living working as an apprentice for a tanner. His sense of smell is highly developed and he is able to use it to navigate his way in the dark. One day he comes across a most magnificent aroma – that of a young virgin – and in attempting to smell her properly he accidentally smothers her. This is the beginning of his search for the perfect scent. He soon becomes an apprentice to a famous perfumer but this is not enough for him as he wants to learn how to extract the scents from new and different objects. To fulfill his desire he travels to the city of Grasse, where he meets with extremely talented perfumers and starts to create the most perfect scent ever.

This movie looks at the many emotions that can be associated with smells and also the morality of the human spirit. It is quite disturbing – especially in terms of how you feel about Grenouille; who murders women for their scent yet you end up liking him! I am very keen to read the book as I am told it is even better than the film. If, like me, you enjoy movies that are a bit twisted and make you think, then you will love this one as much as I did!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Favourite Discoveries 2013 (2)

Today's instalment of favourite discoveries of 2013 comes from Norman Price who blogs and reviews at Crime Scraps as well as at Euro Crime.

Norman Price's Favourite Discovery of 2013

My discovery of the year was Summertime, All The Cats Are Bored by Philippe Georget translated by Steve Rendall. This was a excellent debut novel with an intriguing title - a direct translation of the original French. One of the reasons I enjoyed it was that most French crime novels feature Parisian cops who may occasionally venture out into the provinces, while Summertime is located in Perpignan, a city situated on the Mediterranean coast with a cosmopolitan dual Catalan/French culture.

The intuitive detective Gilles Sebag, the main protagonist, is married to the beautiful Claire and they have two teenage children, Severine and Leo. It is all very French with Gilles unsure of Claire, and their relationship almost as important to the plot as the hunt for the perpetrator of crimes against young Dutch women.

I can't imagine Madame Maigret swimming naked with Jules, like Claire and Gilles in Summertime, but this is Perpignan not Paris and that was another simpler time.

I am looking forward to more novels about Gilles, his lovely wife Claire, his boss Castello and his colleague Jacques Molina.

Read Norman's full review of Summertime, All The Cats are Bored over at Crime Scraps.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Favourite Discoveries 2013 (I)

As usual I have asked my fellow Euro Crime reviewers to come up with their top 5 reads of 2013 - these will be collated and announced in early January. Like the previous two years, I have also asked them what their favourite crime fiction discovery of the past year - be it book, film or tv series - has been.

The first entry comes from Rich Westwood who has chosen a publisher.

Rich Westwood's Favourite Discovery of 2013

My favourite discovery of 2013 isn't an author, a book, or a TV show, but a publisher.

The British Library began publishing crime fiction taken from its archives last year, and has really gone for it this year, with a few choice selections. Both the texts and their production values are high quality. The books have excellent covers (THE SANTA KLAUS MURDER is possibly the most striking), and also feel much nicer than most publishers' paperbacks - dense yet flexible.

Charles Warren Adams' THE NOTTING HILL MYSTERY is usually regarded as the first detective novel - it was published in 1862. Its narrator, the perplexed detective Ralph Henderson, is forced to blame a mesmerist for an impossible crime, even though he refuses to believe in mesmerism.

They have also unearthed the earliest female protagonists in crime fiction.

William Stephens Hayward's REVELATIONS OF A LADY DETECTIVE was one of my books of the year - a wildly Victorian romp full of disguises and moustache-twirling villains.

Andrew Forrester's THE FEMALE DETECTIVE feels like a more serious contender for a place in the canon. Miss Gladden, our heroine (Gladden’s not her real name, and her friends think she is a dressmaker) shares a collection of tales from different stages of her career as a detective.

MR BAZALGETTE'S AGENT is an easy-to-read Victorian novel, although difficult to categorise as crime fiction (it's actually more like chick lit). Leonard Merrick was a respected Victorian novelist who hated, this, his first book, to the extent that he would buy up and destroy copies. I liked it a lot.

And to cap it all, back in January the Library also staged a lovely little exhibition of crime fiction. Amongst other treasures I saw Conan Doyle’s original manuscript of ‘The Adventure of the Retired Colourman’ (extremely neat writing), Walter Eberhart’s 1933 THE JIG-SAW PUZZLE MURDER (complete with jigsaw), and a 'crime dossier’ created by Dennis ‘The Devil Rides Out’ Wheatley. This featured included real clues, including a lock of human hair, used ticket stubs, and fag ends in little cellophane pockets.

Rich Westwood

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes, July 2013, 704 pages, Bantam Press, ISBN: 0593064941

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

This is the best first thriller novel with a espionage/murder theme by a British-born writer I think that I have read for a very long time. It is a real block-buster. Absolutely sensational.

It tells the story of a 'consultant' called out to a horrific killing in a very low class New York flop house hotel. The victim's identity has been masked by the killer putting her body in bath filled with acid. This hotel is located very near Ground Zero. The story traces the past life of the consultant who was a high ranking CIA specialist assassin. He was born an orphan but brought up by very wealthy foster parents and trained as a doctor but was approached after leaving medical school and spent many years in the CIA. After 9/11 he resigned which is why he was lending his skills to the New York police department.

The story also describes the life of an Arab boy born in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who had to witness the beheading of his own father and swore to avenge the killing not by attacking the Arabs but the Americans because they support Saudi Arabia. All the separate elements of this marvellous story come together in the dramatic conclusion.

Although this is his first novel, this author has massive experience of creating the screenplays for Road Warrior/Mad Max 2, Dead Calm and other films and TV, after a journalistic career in Australia. He has written an extremely gripping and highly imaginative story in his very first book with very well described characters and a plot which I don't think I'll forget for a very long time.

This is an absolutely tremendous book which, while it is quite long, covers much ground and the many adventures of the protagonist and his enemy. I do not think in view of this it could be any shorter. I was gripped and spellbound until I finished it in about three days! I'm looking forward to further books from this very talented new writer. Extremely enjoyable and well recommended.

Terry Halligan, December 2013.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The return of Lisbeth Salander...in book 4

I got in late last night so have only just seen this news in the MacLehose newsletter: a new Salander/Blomkvist title is to be written by David Lagercrantz and published in 2015:

David Lagercrantz writes a fourth book in the Millennium series

Stieg Larsson's Millennium books have sold more than 75 million copies in 50 countries, making it one of the most successful book series in modern times.

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist and the universe that Stieg Larsson created around Millennium, has engaged readers worldwide. Norstedts has today signed an agreement with David Lagercrantz, who has taken on the challenging task of writing a fourth, independent continuation of the Millennium Series.

David Lagercrantz has written several novels and non-fiction books. He has in his writing constantly sought out odd characters and complex geniuses. In 2011, I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic was published, one of the most successful Swedish books in recent years and a success worldwide.

In August 2015, exactly 10 years since Norstedts published Män som hatar kvinnor [in English The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo], the fourth part in the Millennium series will be published.

Linda Altrov Berg, the rights director of Norstedts, adds this coda, addressed to the worldwide publishers of Stieg Larsson:

Over the years we have been asked if there will ever be more books in the Millennium series. The question is not unexpected, as Stieg’s story and his books have engaged millions of readers all over the world.

Now we can finally answer that question.

I am happy to announce that Norstedts and Moggliden, the Stieg Larsson estate, recently decided to let the story about Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist continue. Swedish author David Lagercrantz will write an entirely new story based on Stieg Larsson's universe and characters. Ten years after Norstedts first published Män som hatar kvinnor by the unknown author Stieg Larsson, we will launch the fourth Millennium book.

Lagercrantz has written several books and has also worked as a journalist. His critically acclaimed book I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been one of the best-selling Swedish titles of recent years, and this fall it was shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year in the UK. In Sweden, the book was shortlisted for the August Prize and rights have been sold to close to 20 languages. Lagercrantz lives on Södermalm in Stockholm, in the same neighborhood where much of the action in the Millennium Trilogy is set. In my opinion, this together with the fact that he has a long experience from major newspapers make him the perfect choice.
Norstedts will publish Millennium #4 in August 2015. We already have an agreement in place for world English rights with MacLehose Press/Quercus, and they aim for simultaneous publication.

We are all thrilled and look forward to sharing an adventure with you once again!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Year On...

It's hard to believe it's been exactly a year since Maxine died but her influence and friendship live on.

In today's Petrona Remembered post, Maxine's long-time friend Michelle reviews Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason, tr. Victoria Cribb the last in a series that Maxine loved:

"I am sure that she would have really enjoyed STRANGE SHORES, particularly with the return to the story of Erlendur, the solitary, slightly depressive, detective, forever burdened by the loss of his brother when he was just a young boy, a character she very much engaged with."

Read the review here.

The Crime and Mystery Fiction Friend Feed group that Maxine set up is still going strong and welcoming new crime fiction readers and bloggers into its fold. Join in here.

Margot's anthology, In a Word: Murder, has been published with all proceeds going to Maxine's charity of choice, the Princess Alice Hospice. Currently available as an ebook, a print book is planned.

And the final submissions are on their way to the judges for The Petrona Award 2014 - an award for Scandinavian crime fiction in translation. The shortlist will be announced in March 2014 and the winner revealed at CrimeFest in May 2014. The 2013 Award went to Last Will by Liza Marklund tr. Neil Smith.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Brother Kemal by Jakob Arjouni tr. Anthea Bell

Brother Kemal by Jakob Arjouni translated by Anthea Bell, August 2013, 192 pages, No Exit Press, ISBN: 1842439650

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

“...My name is Kayankaya, and I look the way I look. I don't know how Muslim I am under religious law, but ask any of my neighbours, I'm sure they could tell you.”

Marieke is sixteen; a talented, committed and attractive young woman according to her mother. Her mother is also attractive, a blonde with a slim, toned body who knows the effect she has on a man. And the man in question this time is local private eye Kemal Kayankaya. But although the look in Valerie de Chavannes' eye says “I only ever think of one thing”, her manner is something else. Kayankaya must find her missing daughter Marieke. She refuses to give him the names of her daughter's friends but what she will tell him that the girl recently came into contact with an older man, a photographer called Erden Abakay, and a less than desirable acquaintance. Valerie de Chavannes is convinced that Marieke is with him. Kayankaya must get her back but he mustn't let her know who hired him to find her. Oh – and he must “discourage” Abakay from further contact. At this point Kayankaya cannot help wondering which of the two – mother or daughter – got to know the photographer first. After more sparring, he agrees to take the case and sets off back to his office.

At the run-down apartment building which houses his place of business, Kayankaya is intercepted by a tall, smart woman who introduces herself as Chief Press Officer for the publisher Maier Verlag. One of their authors is due to attend the forthcoming Frankfurt Book Fair to publicise his latest book. He is Moroccan and his novel is about a policeman who begins to question his Muslim faith when he falls in love with a young man. The central love affair and the book's depiction of Moroccan society has led to a hostile reception from certain Islamist quarters. With death threats made against the author, the publishers wish to hire Kayankaya as a bodyguard. In fact the author chose him for the job. Herr Kayankaya is a Muslim, is he not?....

Kayankaya has two cases to handle in BROTHER KEMAL: one is to find a missing sixteen year old girl and bring her home; the second is to protect a controversial author during his appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Both will throw unexpected complications, not least when he finds a freshly dead body in the flat where the missing girl is being held. The shrewd but impulsive Kayankaya deals with the complication quickly, an act which in itself will have repercussions. And being the outsider that he is – he must also handle the assumptions of his clients as to both his Turkishness and his religious beliefs.

BROTHER KEMAL is the fifth in Arjouni's prize-winning series featuring Frankfurt-based, Turkish-German private eye Kemal Kayankaya. Translated seamlessly by Anthea Bell, who in her long career has worked on books ranging from Asterix to Stefan Zweig by way of Kafka, the result is a one hundred and ninety-two page long, tightly constructed gem. Although a different kind of wit in a different society, Kayankaya is a private-eye in the Raymond Chandler tradition. His confrontations with attractive femme-fatale Valerie de Chavannes recall Philip Marlowe's encounters with equally mysterious but tempting clients. So I waited for the inevitable slap in the face and Kayankaya's answering, rueful smile but they didn't happen; this is Jakob Arjouni's writing not Chandler's. Nevertheless the world-weary wit in his two-edged encounters with clients, acquaintances, and police contacts echo Chandler as does the book's pace and vivid characterisations.

But sadly I have found Jakob Arjouni's imperfect hero too late. The writer died of pancreatic cancer in January 2013 and BROTHER KEMAL is his last book. Publishers No Exit Press are releasing the previous four titles simultaneously by way of tribute and they look to be a classic suite of “outsider noir” tales. I hope to catch up with all of them and meanwhile certainly recommend BROTHER KEMAL to all lovers of mean streets and wily detectives.

Lynn Harvey, December 2013.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

OT: Adventures with the Wife in Space by Neil Perryman

Adventures with the Wife in Space by Neil Perryman, Faber & Faber, November 2013, ISBN: 9780571298105

Official blurb:
Neil loves Sue. He also loves Doctor Who. But can he bring his two great loves together? And does he have the right?
In January 2011, Neil Perryman set out on an insane quest to make his wife Sue watch every episode of the classic series of Doctor Who from the very beginning. Even the ones that didn't exist any more. And so, over the next two and half years, Sue gamely watched them all: William Hartnell (the Miserable Git); Patrick Troughton (the Scruffy Drunk); Jon Pertwee (the Pompous Tory); Tom Baker (the Mad One); Peter Davison (the Fit One); Colin Baker (the Court Jester); Sylvester McCoy (the Crafty Sod) and Paul McGann (the One-Night Stand). The result was a wildly successful and hilariously revealing blog called Adventures with the Wife in Space.
But the adventure continues. From awkward years at school, terrified of giant insects, Daleks and rugby players, to even more awkward years as an adult, terrified of unexpected parenthood and being called a Whovian, here Neil tells the all too true story of life as a Doctor Who fan. Funny, honest and surprisingly brave, he also captures perfectly the joys - and fears - of sharing the thing you love with the people you love.
Adventures With the Wife in Space is, at its heart, the story of Doctor Who, and its fans, seen through the eyes of two people - one who knows almost nothing about the programme and another who knows way too much.

Being a Doctor Who fan [Tom Baker is my Doctor] I was very pleased to receive a copy of Adventures with the Wife in Space via Netgalley. I admit I hadn't come across the associated blog but having enjoyed Wiffle Lever to Full! by Bob Fischer and I Love You Dalek by Nick Griffiths I settled down to read.

A few hours later, I can say that I enjoyed it very much and that my only (and minor) complaint is that I would have liked it to be longer and to cover the New Who years. Having, myself, only just slogged through The Unearthly Child (the first serial) with all its non-pc attitudes and lots of unnecessary screaming I'm impressed that non-fan Sue continued on, and though it says she likes New Who I'd have liked a bit more on her opinions of it.

Having finished with Doctor Who, the two will be turning their eyes towards Blake's 7 in 2014.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

TV News: The Bridge II in January

The second series of The Bridge begins on BBC Four at 9pm on 4 January 2014, followed by the second episode (of ten) at 10pm.

Synopsis for Episode 1:
A coastal tanker leaves the Oresund waterway and is headed straight for the Oresund Bridge. When the coastguard board the ship they discover there is no crew and three Swedish and two Danish youths are chained below deck. Saga Noren of Malmo County Police is put in charge of the case and contacts Martin Rohde, who is still haunted by the death of his son. Together they embark on investigating the case.

The first series is being repeated over Christmas in the small hours of the weekday mornings ie Monday to Friday from 23 December at 3am on BBC Four. Full episode listing is here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Review: Screams in the Dark by Anna Smith

Screams in the Dark by Anna Smith, November 2013, 400 pages, Quercus, ISBN: 1780871201

Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

This extraordinarily good third novel by this very gifted author is about the adventures of ace crime reporter Rosie Gilmour who writes for the leading Glasgow tabloid The Post and it is set in July 1999. In a prologue to the main story a refugee cleaner arrives at the office of the solicitor she works for to discover his body hanging from the ceiling in an apparent suicide. His partner, when he arrives removes some files from the desk of the deceased. In another part of the city a naked torso is discovered floating in the River Clyde.

Rosie Gilmour arrives on assignment at a demonstration outside a block of council flats in North Glasgow. The participants are demonstrating against asylum seekers whom they believe are being given special treatment which they object to even though many of them had grandparents who were originally migrants themselves from Ireland. A Kosovan refugee that she befriends named Emir tells her that he arrived in the city a month ago with a childhood friend and one day they were both kidnapped but only he managed to escape. Rosie looks into the story much more deeply and discovers that a lot of refugees from all over Europe have been coming to Glasgow but many have disappeared. Where are they all going? Rosie sees there is a very big story here that she must investigate.

The story takes her all over Glasgow and ultimately to Belgrade before the exciting conclusion. Rosie has a lot of trouble with her investigation and upsets some important people and is seriously roughed up to put her off, but such treatment makes her more determined to get to the bottom of the story. This is a novel which once started is impossible to put down. The story is constantly changing direction as more and more information is acquired. I was very impressed and have taken steps to download her two previous stories to my ereader.

The author has been a journalist for over twenty years and is a former chief reporter for The Daily Record. She has covered wars across the world as well as major investigations and news stories and you can see the authenticity of her research reflected in the storyline of her novels. I was very impressed by the immensely gripping and fast moving story and the pages just shot by. This was a cracking good thriller which covered events which are very topical. I strongly recommend this book.

Terry Halligan, December 2013.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

TV News: More on BBC Four

There's no risk of my hard disk recorder ever being empty following today's news from the BBC...:
Cementing BBC Four as the home of international drama, the channel today announces three new foreign language drama series: Crimes Of Passion, a Swedish crime series set in the 1950s; Hostages, an Israeli thriller series; and 1864, a Danish historical drama series.

Sue Deeks, BBC Head of Programme Acquisition []: “I am delighted that we are adding to our range of international drama on BBC Four with three superb new series. Hostages is a taut, spare and authentic Israeli thriller; Crimes Of Passion is a stylish and engaging 50s-set detective drama; and 1864 is an epic historical Danish series with tremendous sweep and scale.”

1864 (8x60)
Brothers Laust and Peter live in an innocent world full of hope, under poor, but happy, circumstances, in the Danish countryside in the middle of the 19th century.
Following the victories over the Prussians in the war of 1848-51, Denmark is now scheming to annex Schleswig into the Danish Kingdom. Inflamed with nationalism, the leader of the Danish parliament, Monrad, neglects all European treaties and throws the country into war with Prussia. At the same time, Laust and Peter grow up and fall in love with the well-read and beautiful Inge, but when the war erupts Peter and Laust volunteer for the army...
1864 is an epic, highly cinematic historical drama, in which we become eyewitnesses to momentous events and the extraordinary love story of Peter, Laust and Inge, and how the brothers - along with thousands of Danish soldiers - fought some of the bloodiest battles in European history.
Starring: Jakob Oftebro, Pilou Asbæk, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Søren Malling.

Crimes Of Passion (6x90)
With love, sex, intrigue, betrayal, secrets, lies - and murder - Crimes Of Passion is based on the popular crime novels of author Maria Lang. Set in the magically beautiful region of Bergslagen, Sweden, these entertaining ‘whodunnits’ follow amateur sleuth Puck Ekstedt and fiancé Einar Bure, along with police superintendent Christer Wijk, in their quest to cast a light on the murderous intent beneath the seemingly idyllic surroundings – where the killer is always one of the community.

(Three of Maria Lang's many books are available in English, if you can find them. Can we hope for a reprint?)

Hostages (10x60)
Hostages is an intense psychological crime-thriller that follows a renowned surgeon about to perform a routine operation on the president of Israel. But there is nothing routine about it when the night before the procedure, her family is taken hostage and she is ordered to sabotage the operation and kill the president – or her family will die. Her battle to save both her family and the president takes us on a journey where everyone is fighting for survival.

BBC Four viewers can also look forward to season two of The Bridge, new Belgian conspiracy thriller Salamander, season three of Wallander, and home-grown dramas Hinterland from Wales and Amber from Ireland. 

Review: The City of Strangers by Michael Russell

The City of Strangers by Michael Russell, November 2013, 432 pages, Avon, ISBN: 1847563473

Reviewed by Geoff Jones.
(Read more of Geoff's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

THE CITY OF STRANGERS is set in Ireland and New York in 1939. Stefan Gillespie is a Garda police sergeant. Once a prospective high flyer in Dublin, he has for a variety of reasons moved to a backwater to police the area around Baltinglass. Since his wife died he and his son Tom have lived with Stefan’s parents on their farm below Kilranelagh. The family are from German descent and are worried about the impending war.

Stefan is called to Dublin to undertake a journey to New York to bring back the actor Owen Harris who is suspected of having killed his mother. On the transatlantic flying boat he meets up with an American, Dominic Carroll, who is the leader of Clan na Gael supporting the IRA in their fight for a united country.

Once in the city Stefan is amazed at the size and vibrancy. The World’s Fair exhibition is opening and he meets up with Captain John Cavendish, ostensibly looking at security at the exhibition, but also part of Ireland’s special branch. John is helping Kate O’Donnell who is trying to get her sister Niamh out of an asylum and away from her American husband Dominic Carroll.

When John is killed, Stefan decides to help Kate and together with the aid of the Jewish leader of the local mob - Longie Zwillman, they embark on a dangerous plan. Will it succeed and will Stefan get his prisoner back to Ireland?

THE CITY OF STRANGERS is rich with characters like the black jazz musician and lover of Niamh, Jimmy Palmer; some are real characters like the IRA leader Sean Russell and the radical Roman Catholic preacher, father Charles Coughlin, who preached on his radio show, against America joining the war.

It is also very well researched. I didn’t realise the extent of the dislike of Britain by some Americans (particularly Irish immigrants). The conflicting emotions as the Nazis make their moves on Europe are tensely described. I will certainly purchase the author’s preceding book THE CITY OF SHADOWS. He read English at Oxford and besides working on a farm in Devon, worked in TV as a producer. He and his family now live in Ireland.

Very much recommended.

Geoff Jones, December 2013

Sunday, December 08, 2013

New Reviews: Chatterton, Craig, Hannah, Holt, Lawton, Leather, Rickman, Shepherd, Yates

This week's set of reviews, added to the Euro Crime website today, is a mixture of new reviews and a catch-up of those posted directly on the blog in the last two weeks, so you may have read some of them before if you're a regular :).

Keep up to date with Euro Crime by following the blog and/or liking the Euro Crime Facebook page.

New Reviews

JF reviews Down Among the Dead Men by Ed Chatterton, the second in the DCI Frank Keane series, set in Liverpool and this time also LA;

Geoff Jones reviews James Craig's The Circus, the fourth in the DI John Carlyle series set in London;

Amanda Gillies reviews Monument to Murder by Mari Hannah, the fourth in the DCI Kate Daniels series set in Northumberland;

Lynn Harvey reviews Anne Holt's Blessed Are Those Who Thirst tr. Anne Bruce, the second outing for Oslo's Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen;

Norman Price reviews Then We Take Berlin by John Lawton, a non-Troy book which "...certainly meets the Troy standard of eccentricity, humour, meticulous historical research and readability";

Terry Halligan reviews Stephen Leather's True Colours, the tenth in the "Spider" series;

Rich Westwood reviews The Magus of Hay by Phil Rickman, the twelfth book in the Merrily Watkins series;

Terry also reviews Lynn Shepherd's A Treacherous Likeness the third in the Charles Maddox series, this time involving a mystery around the Shelleys
and Amanda also reviews Christopher J Yates's debut Black Chalk, starting her  review with: "Oh this book is seriously good".

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.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Review: Then We Take Berlin by John Lawton

Then We Take Berlin by John Lawton, December 2013, 432 pages, Grove Press / Atlantic Monthly Press, ISBN: 1611856124

Reviewed by Norman Price.
(Read more of Norman's reviews for Euro Crime here.)

THEN WE TAKE BERLIN, the latest book by John Lawton, author of the acclaimed Inspector Troy series, begins in 1963 with the two main characters many miles apart.

Aristocratic German Christina Helene von Raeder Burkhardt, conveniently know as Nell, is in Berlin as assistant to Mayor Willy Brandt as they plan the itinerary for the visit of President Kennedy.

While cockney John Holderness, known as Joe to his pals and Wilderness to his women is about to receive an offer to visit Frank Spoleto, his old associate from their exploits in post-war Berlin, all expenses paid. Frank is apparently a partner in Carver, Sharma and Dunn, a Madison Avenue advertising agency. Frank persuades Joe, for twenty grand, to help Steve Sharma’s maiden aunt, a Jew who somehow survived the war in Berlin, but now stuck behind the Berlin Wall and wishes to get out of Communist East Germany for the freedoms of the West.

The rest of the book is a long convoluted back-story that relates incidents in the lives of Joe and Nell during the war and its aftermath. All the strands in the narrative lead back to a conclusion in Berlin in 1963.

Cockney Joe Wilderness comes from very different strata of British society than Frederick Troy. Joe’s mother is killed in the Blitz, and with his abusive father in the army, his grandfather Abner Riley, a safebreaker, and his much younger girlfriend Merle, a part-time prostitute, look after the teenager. Young Joe accompanies Abner on his expeditions learning his tricks of the trade. But as the war ends Joe is called up for his National Service in the RAF where his insubordinate behaviour towards the casual brutality of the NCOs leads him ending up in the glass-house.

Intelligence Officer Alec Burne-Jones rescues him from the drudgery of square bashing and cleaning toilets with a toothbrush. The IQ test set on Joe’s entry to the service shows that this well-read cockney wide boy is a bit of a genius, and Burne-Jones realises he could be useful in Germany unmasking Nazis and looking for nuclear scientists.

Meanwhile Nell sent by her parents to live with an uncle at Celle in Lower Saxony makes her way through a shattered country via Bergen-Belsen, where she helps to identify, nurse and interpret for the haggard survivors, to her home Berlin and to a relationship with Joe, who is now deeply embedded in series of black market scams.

I am a fan of John Lawton’s Troy series, which goes way beyond simple crime and spy fiction and resembles a social history of the time. THEN WE TAKE BERLIN has been called a Troy novel without Troy, although it certainly meets the Troy standard of eccentricity, humour, meticulous historical research and readability. Lawton is one of those authors who because of his historical subject matter can have you smiling and crying on the same page. In THEN WE TAKE BERLIN we are given a brief scattering of characters from the Troy series, with a very fleeting appearance of the man himself. While Eddie Clark an occasional character in the Troy series becomes a central figure in the black market scams arranged by Frank and Joe, and unreliable NKVD Major Yuri.

John Lawton’s memorable characters, for instance Rada, a wonderful old Russian exile living in Cornwall Gardens who is asked by Burne–Jones to brush up Joe’s Russian and German language but decides to educate him about European society, are usually larger than life.

How she had danced with Kaiser Bill in 1912… More charm than than you might imagine.

But in this novel his themes and the atmosphere are more compelling. A Europe destroyed with over 12 million displaced persons, Germany shattered with women prepared to do anything for food or coffee or cigarettes. The race to obtain the services of nuclear scientists, Belsen and the Holocaust, the attempt to remove former Nazis from public life with the issuing of “Persilscheins”, the Berlin airlift of 1948, the Cold War, JFK and “Ich Bin Ein Berliner”, all find their allotted place in the narrative.

This historical novel is a fine read, although a little episodic in the later third, and it is a book with great educational value even if you take into consideration the slight liberties with history explained in the author’s notes. Joe Wilderness might well become as an addictive a read as Troy.

How do you end a novel that quirkily blends mentions of real life people Edward Teller, Lise Meitner, Ernest Bevin, Ingrid Bergman and Broadway producer Arthur Cantor with your new fictional hero Joe Wilderness, a cockney safecracker, spy, and mensch? Well you have to accept a little eccentricity from a brilliant writer such as John Lawton. Let us hope we don’t have to wait too long for the sequel.

“Ah….the British doctors. Everything in its place. Yes. And I shall answer. I had not a day’s illness in my life until last year.”


“I caught an incurable disease.”

“What’s it called?”


Norman Price, December 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

TV News - Trailer for Death Comes to Pemberley

P D James's Death Comes to Pemberley, set six years after Pride and Prejudice begins on BBC One on 26 December at 8:15pm.

From the Radio Times:
PD James's story picks up six years after Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice concluded, at the scene of a Pemberley ball which is dramatically interrupted by a murder, with Wickham (Matthew Goode) identified as the main suspect. If he's found guilty, he'll hang - much to the evident distress of his outspoken wife, Lydia, played by Jenna Coleman. Meanwhile, the Darcy household are embroiled in the scandalous murder investigation which threatens to shatter everything they hold dear.
Here's the trailer, released today:

Monday, December 02, 2013

Review: Blessed Are Those Who Thirst by Anne Holt tr. Anne Bruce

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst by Anne Holt translated by Anne Bruce, March 2013, 240 pages, Corvus, ISBN: 0857892266

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

Hanne Wilhelmsen borrowed a flashlight. In the middle of the bloody site, someone had placed a little strip of cardboard, like a gangway, without any rhyme or reason. She stepped carefully across as far as it reached, confirming that here too there was an eight-digit number scratched on the blood-smeared wall...

Early morning, May, Oslo.
Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen stands in the middle of the shed once used to store wood, it is now empty – except for the blood. Hanne plays her flashlight over the smears and marks on the wall. She can just make out a daubed eight-digit number. Despite its slaughterhouse appearance, the shed is not yet a crime scene. For that they need a victim. Oslo is in the middle of an unseasonal heat wave and its police force is in the middle of an equally overwhelming crime wave: three murders and sixteen rapes in six weeks. With the press having a field day and the public complaining about “police incompetence”, a week after the bloody scene in the shed Hanne is taking stock of an almost identical one. This time it is a parking garage. Another eight-digit number smeared on the wall. A third killing scene is found and these events are dubbed the “Saturday Night Massacres”. But one Saturday night sees a young women brutally raped in her own apartment. She is traumatised and unable to describe her attacker; she cannot bring his face to mind. And her father is shocked. For how can he help his daughter? How can he protect her? Although the police team interview the girl's neighbours no one tells them anything useful. Hanne politely accepts tea and stale cake from one old man but he too is uninformative. When Hanne leaves, the old man resumes his window seat and carries on thinking about the tall, well-built man he saw getting into the car that night. Taking off like a bat out of hell...

Anne Holt began her legal career in the Oslo police department – so she is no stranger to the workings of the Norwegian legal system. BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO THIRST is the second in her successful crime series featuring police detective Hanne Wilhelmsen. First published in 1994, almost twenty years ago, its themes remain undated; an under-resourced police force battling rising crime and social pressures which this time include resentment against immigrants and asylum seekers. Hanne's team is presented with a series of gruesome, bloodied killing-sites in which not all the blood is human. The challenge of these crime scenes without victims is eventually broken by the discovery of a woman's body. But they also have to track down a brutal rapist and whilst the police struggle to find a clue in the rape case, others take up the hunt for the rapist. In Holt's first Hanne Wilhelmsen novel BLIND GODDESS and in this second book there are aspects of the state system that stand open to flaws and corruption; power, powerlessness, revenge, and victim-hood are all threads that gather into the plot's exciting conclusion. Holt also continues to explore the lives of Hanne and her fellow police team members. Hanne is struggling to keep her private life (her fifteen-year-long lesbian relationship with live-in partner Cecilie) a secret, to the chagrin of Cecilie herself. And she starts to build a closer relationship with her fellow team members: undercover policemen Billy T and police attorney Hakon Sand who, involved with a married woman, is ironically someone else with a secret life.

I found a coolness in the writing that was initially off-putting. But the three Holt books that I have read so far have each had a different translator (perhaps because of the long time it has taken for her books to appear in English translation) so I have found it hard to identify Holt's voice as such. How much is the writer's voice affected by different translators? This edition of BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO THIRST is translated by Anne Bruce who has also translated the third in the series, DEATH OF THE DEMON. Whatever the answer to my question, I think this is a book of substance and that Holt is an important part of the Scandinavian crime fiction scene. I shall also long relish the striking image of a sleepless Hanne, riding around the night-time streets of Oslo on her rose-pink Harley-Davidson.

Lynn Harvey, December 2013.