Bits and Pieces

Profmike reads Jo Nesbo’s Nemesis and pronounces it well worth the read. “What Jo Nesbo has also done – very cleverly, in my opinion  – is to introduce a larger, overarching narrative that spans across the series of Harry Hole novels. . . . This is writing that is far more complex that it at first seems, extremely readable, combining old-fashioned structures and the steady hand of the popular novelist with more contemporary perspectives and sensibilities.”

Becky, who reads A Book a Week, thinks Arnaldur Indridason has scored a hit. “I always like mysteries that are about something else besides the mystery. The Draining Lake is about a lot more than just who is the dead guy at the bottom of the lake. That’s why I think it’s the best Indriðason book I’ve read. He’s really hitting his stride as a mystery craftsman and as a novelist.”

Mark Rose at Bookasm thinks Johan Theorin’s Echoes from the Dead works very well and is a good example of the region’s crime fiction. “Some universal memes exist that seem to exemplify Scandinavian mystery fiction: They are all ineffably sad, they all seem to focus on domestic mysteries with crime close to home, there is a ton of self-contemplative navel gazing, and they’re not afraid to use less-than-glamorous characters as our main focal points.” (Hmm . . . one could also argue that Scandinavian mysteries are as likely to examine social issues as they are domestic crimes – if one can generalize at all. I wouldn’t say, for example, that Helene Tursten or Hakan Nesser write sad books . . .)

And finally . . . do you Facebook? Then join the new group, Fans of Scandinavian Crime Novels. And if you simply want to keep up with crime fiction from all over, check out the Crime and Mystery Fiction room at FriendFeed – thanks owed to Maxine Clarke for setting it up.

. . . And Not to Be Missed . . .

Maxine Clarke reviews Last Rituals by Icelandic author Yrsa Sigurdardottir at Euro Crime and finds it a gripping tale with an appealing heroine.

LAST RITUALS is an ‘academic mystery’: that is, the crime takes place in a university department (a student is murdered), and the solution depends on the uncovering and understanding of the victim’s research, as well as of the broader mores, religion and witchcraft in medieval Europe. Yet the book is by no means heavy-going; the opposite in fact. LAST RITUALS is an assured novel, ably translated by the late Bernard Scudder. I recommend it very highly. . . .

Thora is an attractive heroine: she’s practical, capable and intelligent as well as having a dry sense of humour and an enquiring mind. Her domestic concerns are real enough, interesting and vivid, but without dominating the book. She’s curious about everything: I particularly liked her encouragement of the pathologist who did Harald’s autopsy to describe the molecular basis of muscle contraction. The description he provides is a little gem of knowledge. Similar examples are provided economically, accurately but not intrusively throughout the book – for example when a museum curator remarks in passing: “As a rule, people don’t know anything: they can’t even tell a revenant from a poltergeist.”

Incidentally, Karen Meek, the irresistible force behind the Euro Crime site, has announced that some expat North Americans and others will now be welcomed to the fold. The site will now “include those authors, though not born in Europe, who have a strong association with European crime fiction” – such as Donna Leon. May the sun never set on Euro Crime.