Recent Reads

As I’m busy writing, my crime reading has been pushed to late night chapters before I go to sleep. It’s a shame as, many times, I’ve wanted to keep going with the book. Such is the lure of good crime writing. However, we read when we can, and I’ve enjoyed some excellent thrillers recently.

Death in Summer is a strong first novel by Lina Areklew for fans of Nordic noir. Fredrik Froding is a former police officer convinced that his brother, who supposedly drowned in the MS Estonia disaster, is in fact still alive. He pursues the owner of a hotel he thinks he saw his brother enter to the island of Ulvön. There, his prey ends up dead and Fredrik a prime suspect for the killing. His ex-lover detective Sofia Hjortén is convinced there’s more to the case but puts her career in jeopardy keeping their affair secret. A compelling read with a wonderful location. The translation is by Tara F Chace.

Rachel Ward has a written a new crime novel under the name RM Ward. In Safe With You Kath, a resident of a London estate has befriended a shy girl in the flat next door and arranged, via a series of knocks, a system where she knows that all is well. When one day the knock doesn’t come, Kath begins a journey to discover what has happened to Mina. This pacy novel has an excellent premise which is well executed in a genuinely compelling read.

Another excellent psychological thriller, When the Lights Go Out, is coming in December by Chris Curran. Struggling actress Ava joins the Chimera theatre group, desperate to get away from her actor boyfriend and attentive parents. A car accident on her way to meet the group appears to be an unfortunate incident but Ava soon realises someone wants them out of town. Prank or genuine threat? As the attacks escalate, Ava starts to look more closely at her fellow thespians. A wonderful, character driven thriller. I loved the theatre group setting.

Trouble by Katja Ivar is a memorable read from an interesting crime writer. Private investigator Hella is asked by her former boss at the Helsinki murder squad to look into the background of it potential new head of the service. She agrees to the job but asks permission to view the files on her father’s death in 1942. Discovering little of value about her family’s tragedy’s she is nevertheless perturbed of reports that a man is watching her house and leaving her notes. As she digs deeper, her investigations into the past and present begin to converge. Hella is a wonderful protagonist with an interesting private life. Ivar has set up an intriguing premise of her next book in the series which I can’t wait to read. Trouble is out in January 2023.

Red Dirt Road is the third Australian based novel by S R White and, in my opinion, the best. Detective Dana Russo heads to Unamurra, an outback town suffering from the dry. Two men have been murdered, their bodies fashioned into angel figures which mirror the art installations in the town. Russo has two days to solve the case – after that her hostile boss wants her back. As she unpicks the town’s secrets, she finds help in an unexpected source. Tense and wonderfully detailed, I liked the slow unravelling of the denouement. Crime writing at its best.

(End of) Summer Reads

Summer is nearly over. We had a hot burst in July and it’s returned with a vengeance. For me, the only way to cope with the heat is to sit in a cool room to write and read. I’m not a great fan of hot weather even though I lived in Greece for four years. I can’t wait for autumn to appear but while I tap my feet for the first signs of cooler air, here are my end of summer picks. It’s a satisfyingly eclectic mix.

The Harbour by Katrine Engberg will give you a bit of Scandi coolness. Fifteen year old Oscar Dreyer-Hoff goes missing and his family are convinced its not teenage angst but his disappearance the result of a kidnapping. The solution to the mystery appears to lie at the harbour where the family own a boat and it takes the skills of detectives Jeppe Korner and Anette Werner to unravels layers of secrets. Although I haven’t read the author before, I found her writing absorbing and very much enjoyed the police procedural element to the novel. The translation was by Tara Chace.

I’m a big fan of Deon Meyer and was looking forward to reading his latest Benny Griessel novel, The Dark Flood. Benny is almost out on his ear after a failed investigation and exiled to Stellenbosch. The region’s economy has been ruined by entrepreneur Jasper Boonstra who has fixed his sights on Sandra Steenberg to sell one of his properties. But Sandra realises Jasper has plenty of dirt on her background and the stakes are high. Tense and compelling this is classic Meyer. The translation is by K L Seegers.

The Prime Minister’s Affair is the new thriller by Andrew Williams. While reading this absorbing story, I was struck by how little I knew about the politics of the late 1920s/early thirties. Labour’s first PM is Ramsay MacDonald, a widower whose affair with Kristina Forster lays him open to blackmail. The relationship is common knowledge amongst Ramsay’s friends, colleagues and enemies and it is down to Dick (French) Stewart to come to some arrangement over the indiscreet letters. As I’d expect from Williams, the story was compelling and full of rich portrayals of both real and fictional characters from the period. Shady intelligence practices and political manoeuvrings make for shifting allegiances and the story moves from Brecon to Paris via London. A wonderful read.

The fascination with the writer Georges Simenon is almost as strong as that of his fictional character Jules Maigret. In this new book by journalist and critic, Barry Forshaw, the author’s life and legacy is considered alongside his books and film adaptations. There is plenty of interest to attract both those new to Simenon’s work and more informed readers. I particularly liked the chapter on collecting Simenon – I began reading his books with the green penguins and have continued with the new translations. Forshaw’s writing is always accessible and wide ranging and this is no exception.

The Bad Sister by J A Corrigan is a tense, quick moving psychological thriller. Three sisters come together for a celebration and a tragedy occurs. Years later as another celebration is planned in the luxury riverside home, old jealousies and tensions rise to the surface. Corrigan’s work is always page-turning and I continue to be impressed by the range of her talents. Perfect end of summer reading.