More (lockdown) crime reads

My reading this month has consisted of books by international authors. Probably due to the restriction on travel, my mind has needed to journey into spaces other than Derbyshire! The good news is that we’re lucky in the UK in that publishers are willing to take a chance on writers from around the world.

First up was Australia. I’m a big fan of the recent books by Jane Harper and Chris Hammer so I put this debut to the top of my reading pile. Hermit by S R White is the twelve-hour narrative of a crime investigation in rural Australia. Nathan Whittler disappeared fifteen years earlier and is found next to the body of a murdered shopkeeper. Detective Dana Russo has a short period of time to question the troubled, inscrutable suspect and get to the bottom of both the murder and the man’s disappearance. Tense and absorbing, I loved everything about this intelligent thriller which is out in September.

I love Iceland in the winter and The Mist, the new novel from Ragnar Jonasson, beautifully evokes the splendid isolation of its rural farmsteads. In 1987, an elderly married couple are found murdered in their farmhouse after a month long snowstorm. Hulda Hermansdottir is sent from Reykjavik to investigate but she is haunted by her own family tragedy and her failure to spot a crime which was taking place in her own home. Bleak and haunting, I read this lovely novel in one sitting. The translation is by Victoria Cribb.


Hijack City is a novel set in Cape Town by Michael Williams. A group of car jackers are terrorising the city and detective Jake Mulligan is given the task of setting up an anti-hijack unit in a crummy building away from the main police station. His partner, Jackson Sondile, has been accused of corruption, tainting all he has come into contact with especially Jake. I loved the descriptions of various facets of Cape Town society, the excellent pace and, most of all, the character of Jake Mulligan.


Finally, the trenches of the First World War are the setting for Jon Wilkins’ excellent Poppy Flowers at the Front. Poppy is a ambulance driver ferrying wounded soldiers to the casualty clearing station. This is the story of a young girl plunged into the horror of the trenches, the experience of which assaults all her preconceptions of what it is to live and die. Her companion is Elodie, a French nurse, who provides Poppy with hope and flashes of joy amongst the horror. Beautifully written, with letters to home peppering the prose, I enjoyed this endearing love story.


19 thoughts on “More (lockdown) crime reads

  1. luckygibbo

    Good to Oz get a run. We have some fine writers down here. I agree with Jane Harper. Have you read Peter Temple, Garry Disher and Michael Robotham. You probably have. All fine writers. Rural Australia appeals to me as I’m a country boy. Thanks for the tip on Jonasson. Love Adtridason and this will be on my list, Currently watching the second series of the brilliant Icelandic drama “Trapped”. A certain psyche that I can’t describe with all the Nordic writers and dramas. have been re-reading Henning. Oh, how that man could write. Thanks again and hope is not too bad for you all up North. Kind regards, Dave.


    1. Hi Dave – sorry for the delay in replying. Things have been very strange here. I haven’t read any Garry Disher. Would you recommend him? I love Henning Mankell and I really enjoyed the first series of Trapped (haven’t managed the second yet). Hope all is well with you.


      1. luckygibbo

        I certainly would recommend Garry Disher. He is a precise, no nonsense writer: His novels are set south of Melbourne in a rural town. I would highly praise “Kittyhawk Down.”. So many books; so little time: 😀


  2. Margot Kinberg

    I do like international stories, Sarah, and especially now that we’re locked down. What a fantastic escape they can be! And you’ve got some great ones there. The Hermit interests me especially, as I do like an Aussie setting.


  3. Kathy P.

    Afternoon Sarah. Hoping you and yours are keeping well?
    Out of the four books, The Hermit especially and The Mist appeal to me. I’ve pre-ordered The Hermit from Amazon, so will look forward to that, and have just re-read The Dressmaker and The Dry, both excellent books from Down Under. I’ve come back to the UK now for books written set on the Scillies, and York.


      1. luckygibbo

        Kathy D- I commend you on Garry Disher, Not too many people have heard of him outside Australia. have you tried Peter Temple? An outstanding writer. Particularly “The Broken Shore'”.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Kathy D.

    The Hermit appeals to me, as I like books set in Oz by Garry Disher and Jane Harper.

    Perhaps Hijack City if it has character development and isn’t just a racing thriller.

    Will skip Jonansson’s book as I didn’t like the one I read with a terrible ending, and although Wilkins’ book sounds inviting, I choose to skip books set during war at this time. Too much to deal with. A few murders is one thing, a war is quite another.


  5. Kathy D.

    Gary Disher’s Bitter Wash Road is good and there is a sequel with the same character called Peace.

    Yes, I read a few of Peter Temple’s books, and liked Broken Shore.


  6. I do enjoy Icelandic writers, there is something about the bleakness of the place that makes it a perfect place for something ghastly to happen. What does surprise me is how such a small island with such a low murder rate can have such a high number of crime writers. Perhaps it is the long winter nights?

    I haven’t tried Ragnar Jonasson but will give him a go.


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