What a lot of reviews appear in the weeks since I last compiled them! And a very interesting mix, too.
India has its aficionados of Nordic crime. Among them is Anantha Krishnan, who reviews for a number of online sources. A recent example is this review in Midwest Book Review of Camilla Lackberg’s The Stonecutter. Ananth feels Lackberg’s strengths are in character development and setting more than plot. (I have to agree.)
Maxine Clark reviews Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom’s new thriller, Cell 8, finding it disappointingly ham-fisted in its treatment of an issue, capital punishment. She found the lead character unappealing and the use of coincidence and thin character development in the service of Making a Serious Point less than satisfying. She does point out that fans of political thrillers looking for a fast read may enjoy it.
Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise had a different experience reading Cell 8 – she found it well-paced and ingeniously plotted, with a nice ironic touch at the end. She also has done a bit of digging and points out that this book was published after Box 21 but before Three Seconds.
At the Independent, Barry Forshaw is also generally positive about the book, noting its strong political message, but concluding “the duo never lose sight of one imperative: to keep the readers transfixed with a mesmerising crime narrative.”
At Euro Crime, the founder and genius-in-chief, Karen Meek, reviews the latest in Kjell Ericksson’s Ann Lindell series, The Hand that Trembles. Though she finds the series uneven, this book was largely enjoyable after a sluggish start set in India and should appeal to those who prefer depth of characters over pacing and thrills. Unfortunately the production leaves much to be desired, with many problems a good proof-reading would have fixed.
Glenn Harper reviews Jo Nesbo’s standalone, Headhunters, and found it good fun except for the disgusting bits. It sounds very different than the Harry Hole series.
At The View from the Blue House, Rob Kitchen praises Arnaldur Indridason’s Outrage, which he finds layered, philosophical, and reflective while doing, as usual, a good job of mixing mundane daily life with a police investigation.
At Murder by Type Beth reviews Hakan Nesser’s The Unlucky Lottery which she finds a solid character-driven novel that explores what happens when friends win a lottery and it opens up a can of problems.
Three reviews for the price of one at Killer Reads – where readers comment on James Thompson’s Lucifer’s Tears, a Finnish mystery I enjoyed very much.
Keishon reviews Asa Larsson’s The Blood Spilt and gives it – and all of her books – high marks, though she found the ending a bit predictable.
At Crimepieces, Sarah reviews Jorn Lier Horst’s Dregs, which she feels has the qualities that she most enjoys in Scandinavian crime fiction – while sharing the unfortunate fate of being translated out of order.
Bernadette also reviews Dregs at Reactions to Reading and encourages publishers to give English-speaking readers more volumes in this smart, enjoyable series.
Beth at Murder by Type reviews Sara Blaedel’s Call Me Princess which she enjoyed, but cautions readers that it is being compared to all the wrong books; it’s much lighter fare than Stieg Larsson, though like the Millennium Trilogy, it’s about violence against women. If approached on its own merits, Beth thinks it’s well worth a read.
She also reviews The Leopard by Jo Nesbo, which she enjoyed very much, but which has an off-puttingly violent first chapter. Sounds like one to read with your eyes closed – or as she puts it, “the first chapter is unforgettable, which is why I wish I hadn’t read it. ” The other 94 chapters make up for it.
NancyO reviews Midwinter Sacrifice by Mons Kallentoft, which she finds very good and atmospheric, though she’s not convinced that the device of including the voices of the dead is particularly effective. (Or, as she puts it in the comment stream, “the series has potential to be very good but LOSE THE GHOSTY stuff!”
Kerry at Mysteries in Paradise listened to an audio version of Roseanna, the first in the Martin Beck series and finds it “a masterpiece of suspense and sadness.”
Norm at Crimescraps undertakes a reading of The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan and describes the experience with a great deal of humor, while providing a review. (Far too much backstory and subplotting in a doorstop of a book hides a good 300-page story hidden among 536 pages.)
And at Reviewing the Evidence I review Arne Dahl’s Misterioso, which seems to me closer to the Martin Beck series than any other Swedish crime fiction that is said to be inspired by Martin Beck. Though it seemed slow to start, I ended up enjoying it very much, and found the context – Sweden’s 1999 financial crisis – to be almost eerily topical and Dahl’s take on it spot-on.
The Euro Crime blog brings the good news that Maj Sjowall has been awarded the Big Caliber Prize of Honour at the International Festival of Crime Fiction, in Wroclaw, Poland. And well deserved it is, too.
The blog also provides a public service by alerting readers to a completely unnecessary and confusing title change. (Camilla Lackberg’s The Stranger = The Gallows Bird. Don’t be fooled into buying it twice.)
On the film and television front, Martin Scorsese will be directing a big screen version of Jo Nesbo’s The Snowman.
Much excitement is mounting over David Fincher’s version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, thanks to which it’s back on the New York Times‘ bestseller list. The New York Times just ran a profile of Fincher and his thoughts on the film. I won’t try to capture the buzz around the film, as that avalanche would quickly bury everything else here.
Though not actually crime fiction, we might as well mention that Henning Mankell’s Italian Shoes is being directed by Kenneth Branagh and will feature Judy Dench and (possibly) Anthony Hopkins.
But for sheer silliness, it’s hard to beat the clash of British and Scandinavian policing in the Hürda Gürda Mürder.
5 thoughts on “rounding up the reviews”
I can assure you I tried my best to find nice things to say about Cell 8 ;-). I am glad you liked Misterioso, which I enjoyed very much earlier this year. I haven’t read Lucifer’s Tears yet but it is in my Amazon basket – I have banned myself from buying any more until my shelf is clear of not yet read (I have already cheated by shifting the multi-vol Forsyte Saga downstairs to another shelf, but allowed it as I already read them years ago so only plan a re-read.) For me, Dregs has been my find of the year. At a time when we’ve lost Wallander, Morse, Rebus etc, we need a jolly good, solid police-procedural series. I think this is it, though one has to judge on #6 only at this stage, as you point out. Good on the small Scottish press, Sandstone, for taking a punt on this excellent author.
Yes I agree with Maxine. ‘Dregs’ was a great find. I enjoyed the Kjell Eriksson too but unlike Dregs I felt the translation order affected my enjoyment of it.
Thanks for posting Hurda Gurda Murders. I’ve almost choked from laughing when I’ve watched it a few times.
Thanks for a terrific website, reviews, round-ups and links. This has been a terrific year for Nordic crime fiction — so much so that I have had to tear myself away to read books from other countries so that I can be a well-rounded reader.
By the way, just finished The Boy in the Suitcase, and I feel like starting a petition campaign to persuade the publisher to translate into English and publish other Nina Borg books. It’s refreshing to read about a very complex protagonist, a bit akin to Liza Marklund’s complicated main character, although their problems are different. (I think I have post-good-book slump a bit after finishing this.)
Wish you the best holidays and new year, especially for great books from Scandinavia. Look forward to a lot more excellent posts right here.
Thanks Kathy and all – and same to you. I have quite a few tempting books on Mount TBR that I look forward to reading in the new year. By the way, I remember when reading The Boy in the Suitcase thinking “Kathy would like this” – so I’m pleased to be proven right!
Can’t wait to read these reviews. Enjoyed The Boy in the Suitcase after reading Outrage (excellent Indridason) and Until Thy Wrath be Past. Currently have 1222. Such good books!