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.

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.


















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,

Nordic Noir Round-Up

My Nordic reading continues for both The Petrona Award and for Granite Noir where I’ll be interviewing three Scandi authors: Kristina Ohlsson, Kati Hiekkapelto and Gunnar Staalesen.

9781509809486chameleon-peopleChameleon People is the fourth book in the series featuring detective Kolbjorn ‘K2’ Kristiansen and his trusted advisor Patricia. As usual Lahlum mixes Golden Age writing style and plot structure  with political intrigue, in this case Norway’s 1972 vote on whether to join the EEC. It’s a substantial book and I enjoyed the fact that K2 has to investigate the case largely by himself due to Patricia’s antipathy towards his girlfriend, Miriam, and her own love life. Lahlum’s style is distinctive and I suspect you’re either a fan of this writer or you’re not. I always look forward to each new novel. The translation is by Kari Dickson.

41mxo4kt01l-_sx322_bo1204203200_Kati Heikkapelto writes books of a consistently high quality and The Exiled is no exception. Her protagonist, Anna Fekete, has returned to the Serbian village of her birth for a holiday but, after her bag is snatched and the perpetrator found drowned, she is dragged into an investigation that throws up questions about her own father’s death decades earlier. Probably Hiekkapelto’s best book to date, The Exiled  looks with insight and compassion at the lot of displaced people migrating through Europe and depressingly familiar attitudes to Roma. The translation is by David Hackston.

unwantedKristina Ohlsson is a security police analyst in Sweden and her books clearly reflect her in-depth knowledge of  criminal investigations. Unwanted  was her first book, published in English translation in 2011. A child is abducted on the Stockholm underground and initially the girl’s family comes under suspicion. In the finest tradition of Swedish crime fiction, the case is solved through meticulous team work, in this case by Investigative Analyst Fredrik Bergman and detectives Peder Rydh and Alex Recht. The subject matter makes it a shocking read which is balanced by the sobriety of police investigation. The translation is by Sarah Death.

I’m in the middle of two other Scandi books. The Midwife by Katja Kettu (on my kindle) and Who Watcheth by Helen Tursten. Reviews of these and more Nordic Noir coming soon…

Christmas Giveaway from Crimepieces 🎁🎄❄️

Christmas is fast approaching which means it’s time for my annual Scandi crime giveaway. I’ve been reading lots of Nordic Noir in readiness for March’s judging session of the Petrona Award. I’ll also be moderating some great Scandi panels at the forthcoming Granite Noir in Aberdeen.

I have a selection of this year’s Petrona eligible books to give away this festive season. To enter, all you need to do is sign up to my newsletter by clicking on the snowy image of the books below. The newsletter is sent out quarterly so you won’t get bombarded with e-mails but it includes updates on the Petrona Award and other exclusive book news.

If you already receive my newsletter, simply share my Facebook post or retweet the post. The competition is open to everyone, regardless of where you are geographically. I’ll be selecting the winner at 7pm on Sunday 18th December.

Good luck!

** The competition is now closed. Congratulations to Andrew in Essex, UK**