With the launch of A Deadly Thaw, I’m falling a little behind with my reviews and I’ve read some great books recently. So for my next few reviews, I’ll cluster the books into groups – translated crime novels, British crime fiction and some more ghostly tales.
First up, is A Climate of Fear by one of my favourite crime writers, Fred Vargas. I absolutely love her detective Adamsberg and also the way in which Vargas looks at the world. I find her output variable but still always look forward to her latest offering. A Climate of Fear is set both in France and Iceland and, if not her best, it’s an excellent read and a well-plotted mystery. There’s less emphasis on Adamsberg’s personal life and more on the series of gruesome murders centred around a modern day cult devoted to Robespierre. In both style and subject matter this is classic Vargas. The translation is by Sian Reynolds.
On contrast to Vargas, Steinar Bragi is a completely new writer to me. The Ice Lands isn’t out until the 20th October but I was sent a very early review copy in July. Set in the wilds of Iceland, it narrates the disorientation of four friends on a camping trip whose car breaks down and who are forced to seek shelter in a nearby farmhouse. Butchered animals, shadows seen at night and merciless weather combine to make a dark horror-style read. Perfect for fans of Stephen King. The translation is by Lorenza Garcia.
Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a consistently good writer whose books have a tinge of the supernatural about them. Why Did You Lie has three storylines, revolving around punishment for a lie that different characters have committed in the past. A journalist investigating an old case attempts suicide, a couple returning from a house swap discover that their guests are missing and four strangers are trapped on windswept rocks. You can’t go wrong in Yrsa’s hands and it’s a compelling tale.The translation is by Victoria Cribb.
The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn is set on an isolated fjord where a former TV person presenter, Allis, seeks refuge with a recently widowed man. Isolated from other villagers the book explores the dynamic of the relationship as secrets are gradually revealed. The writing reminds me of that of Karen Fossum and it’s a joy to read. The translation is by Rosie Hedger.