Granite Noir Reading Part Two

It’s Granite Noir this weekend. Last week I reviewed the books I’ve been reading for the first two panels I’m moderating. This post rounds up the rest of the books: it’s been fascinating to read the novels of four diverse crime writers.

On Saturday afternoon, I’ll be moderating the Page and Screen panel with MJ Arlidge and Stefan Ahnhem. Both writers combine successful screenwriting careers with writing bestselling crime novels. Eighteen Below is Ahnhem’s latest thriller featuring his detective Fabian Risk. A car crashes off a quay in Helsingborg but the autopsy reveals that the victim, Peter Brise, was already dead when he hit the water. Below Eighteen is a substantial read and, in the best Scandi style, Ahnhem moves the narrative beyond the confines of the immediate investigation to incorporate Risk’s family life and the politics of the wider investigative team. A real treat for Nordic Noir fans.

Love Me Not is the seventh book in MJ Arlidge’s series featuring DI Helen Grace. A woman is killed in a hit and run accident closely followed by the shooting of a shopkeeper. Helen Grace struggles to find the common thread between the murders as a killing spree spreads through Southampton. Love Me Not cleverly takes place over the course of a single day adding high tension to this fast-paced and compelling thriller.

At my final panel on Sunday morning, I’ll be talking to Louise Voss and Torkil Damhaug about Psychological Noir.  Louise’s latest book, The Old You, isn’t out until May but there’ll be early copies available at the festival.  It’s a fascinating thriller about memory loss and deception within a marriage. Ed Naismith is diagnosed with early-onset dementia which devastates his wife of ten years, Lynn. He becomes fixated on a possible cure for his illness while his condition deteriorates and Lynn begins to wonder if her own mental health isn’t begging to suffer. The Old You is a fascinating read and full of twists and turns.

Certain Signs That You Are Dead is the fourth book in Torkil Damhaug’s Oslo Crime Files series. A patient disappears at a university hospital and retired forensic pathologist Jennifer Plåterud is called in to examine the dead man. Her son, Sigurd Woods, believes his girlfriend, Katya is having an affair and begins to follow her about the city. It’s a complex, modern story with various threads weaving through the narrative. Damhaug is excellent at keeping up the tension.

That’s it! See some of you at Granite Noir.

Advertisements

Granite Noir Reading

I’m off to Aberdeen at the end of this month for Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s celebration of crime fiction. Last year’s event was great fun and I’m looking forward to visiting the granite city again. If you’re nearby, I’ll be appearing alongside Jorn Lier Horst and Mari Hannah on the May the (Police) Force be with You on Friday evening. It would be lovely to see you if you can make it.

I’m also moderating four panels which I’ve been reading for over the last few weeks. It’s always great to see what others are writing and, as usual, it’s heartening to see the diversity of stories which make up the crime fiction genre. Because there are a fair few authors involved, I’ve split my reading over two blog posts, the second of which will come next week.

My moderating begins on Friday lunchtime with the Breathtaking Thrillers panel with Lilja Sigurdardottir and Catherine Ryan Howard. I reviewed Lilja’s English language debut, Snare, in a previous post in a and it’ll be fascinating to dig deeper into the world of her Reykjavik thriller.

Appearing alongside her is Catherine Ryan Howard who I met in a recent trip to Dublin. It was a fascinating city to visit not least as I’d just read Howard’s latestbook, The Liar’s Girl. In this tightly-plotted thriller, Alison Smith, after a decade living in the Netherlands returns to Ireland to face her former boyfriend who is serving a sentence for multiple murders. Following a recent copy-cat killing, he states he has some news on the murderer that he is only prepared to reveal to her. The Liar’s Girl is very well written and unsettling thriller set around Dublin’s canals which explores the assumptions we make about those accused of heinous crimes.

On the Saturday, I’ll be interviewing Lucy Atkins, Sarah Stovell and Louise Hutcheseon about their books.  It’s rare in a panel that themes intertwine seamlessly but all three authors have a written books that explore the world of authors and the truthfulness of particular narratives. In The Night Visitorprofessor Olivia Sweetman publishes a bestseller, a book based on a Victorian diary found by Vivian Tester in a house where she is working as a housekeeper. Vivian’s role has been kept hidden from Olivia’s publisher and readers, but has created a dependent relationship that Olivia is determined to break. It’s a fascinating, page-turning read with the narrative alternating between London, Sussex and the South of France.

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell also documents a destructive relationship, here between bestselling author Bo Luxton and Alice Dark, an aspiring writer recovering from a fractured childhood. The women are drawn together after meeting on a writing retreat led by Bo but soon their views on what their relationship entails begin to diverge wildly. The unsettling Exquisite cleverly portrays  an intoxicating relationship where secrets and power struggles hint at darker forces at work.

The Paper Cell by Louise Hutcheson is a short, exquisitely written book about the deception that Lewis Carson undertakes when, as a publishing assistant, he steals a young woman’s novel after she is found strangled on Peckham Rye. Hutcheson is excellent at deceiving the reader and it’s an intelligent and satisfying book.

I hope to see some readers of Crimepices at Granite Noir. Do come up and say hello if you’re there. I’ll be posting lots of pictures on my Facebook page.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Recent Reads: Mr Scarletti’s Ghost & Cliff House

A recent e-mail by new digital publisher, Sapere Books, alerted me to the fact they’re now publishing Linda Stratmann’s three books in the Mina Scarletti series. I had Mr Scarletti’s Ghost on my bookshelf and I rescued it this week to read. Spirit mediums are all the rage in 1871 Brighton, preying on the bereaved and vulnerable. A Miss Eustace claims to produce apparitions of the dead and ensnares Mina Scarletti’s widowed mother along with many of her friends, gaining financially from the seances. Mina is determined to expose Miss Eustace but comes up against devotees of the medium whose respectability in Brighton society is hard to break. Only by enlisting a band of family and friends can she expose the fraud.

Mr Scarletti’s Ghost is a clever and well written mystery with a wide-scale deception rather than murder at its heart. Particularly strong is the character of Mina Scarletti, disfigured by sclerosis of the spine but with a spirited character.  I’m sure she will carry the series through many books and I look forward to reading more by Stratmann. This new digital edition is out on the 5th February.

The other book I’ve read over the last week isn’t out until May but, if you enjoy a thriller with a  Cornish setting this one’s for you. Cliff House is Amanda Jenning’s fourth book and centres on a clifftop house which holds an enduring fascination for Tamsyn Tresize. She’s drawn to Edie, the daughter of the glamorous family who spend their time between London and the house, bringing a whiff of glamour and dissipation. Tamsyn’s mother, who cleans the house, warns against her getting too close to the family but both she and her brother, Jago are pulled into the destructive circle with tragic consequences.

Jennings cleverly sets most of the book in 1986, a time when bored teenagers drift into friendships just to while away the time. She touches on class divisions and local suspicion of outsiders along with destructive family forces. It’s atmospheric thriller which will delight her readers and if you haven’t read her books before, now’s the time.

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Holiday Reading

I was hoping to publish this post in time for the 6th January, marking Epiphany by summarising four books I read over the holiday period. These are in addition to the Scandi novels which were the topic of my previous post. However life intervened so, a day late, here are some of my recommendations if you’re looking for a good read.

The Birdwatcher was rightly acclaimed on its publication in 2016 and I’m sorry it took me so long to read it (the curse of the TBR pile). Sergeant William South is a birdwatcher and policeman who avoids murder cases. However, when a fellow bird enthusiast is killed, his attempts to assist in the investigation reveal murderous secrets in the Kent landscape. I loved the mix of strong setting and unusual plot. No-one  is quite who they seem and South’s back story adds poignancy to the plot. It has an interesting ending (no spoilers) and the lead detective DS Alexandra Cupidi has her own series in Salt Lane coming this year. I also read this over Christmas and it’s a little early to review yet, but I promise you it’s a good one. For those who hadn’t read William Shaw before, he really is an excellent writer.

Readers of this blog will know that Fred Vargas is one of my favourite writers but I’ve been a little disappointed in her most recent books. The Accordionist features her three evangelist characters who play less of a role than in previous books in this series. At the centre is an accordionist, Clement, sought by police for a number of murders. Ex-special investigator, Louis Kehlweiler is asked to help prove Clement’s innocence but isn’t helped by the accused’s learning disabilities and dark secrets in his past. It was an easy story written in Vargas’s trademark style and full of Parisian menace.

Fatal Evidence is a biography of Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor, a surgeon and chemist at Guy’s Hospital who was a pioneer of forensic techniques in the nineteenth century. The book describes many of fascinating cases that Taylor investigated and the level of detail that Barrell gives us never threatens to overwhelm the portrayal of a complex individual. It’s a fascinating period. Poison was easily accessible and, until Taylor’s forensic work, its presence difficult to prove post-mortem. Poison is unfairly considered a woman’s weapon. As Fatal Evidence shows, all sections of society were using it: fathers, lovers, spouses, children, professionals. Barrell also describes the influence of Taylor on a succession of crime writers, from Dickens to Sayers. It’s  fascinating read and, if you read one non-fiction book this year, Fatal Evidence should be it.

That’s it. Happy new year agin to everyone and look out for some posts on more of my nordic noir reading and also books I’ve been devouring in advance of Granite Noir, Aberdeen’s festive of crime fiction coming in February,