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Archive for the ‘scandinavian crime’ Category

wolves in the dark cover

Description:

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts. When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material … and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet. Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.

My Thoughts & Review:

Impressively, this is the 21st book in the Varg Veum series, and indeed 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the series – the sign of an amazing character and author I would say!  And whilst not all of Gunnar Staalesen’s books are not available in English, it is possible to become utterly immersed in this series as you read.  The previous books “We Shall Inherit the Wind” and “Where Roses Never Die” have been published by Orenda Books and are available to buy now.

Varg Veum is a fantastic character that most readers will take to, despite his flaws and obvious dependence on alcohol, readers will connect with him and will find they are quietly cheering him on when things get tough.
The blossoming relationship with his new girlfriend is put under immense pressure when he is arrested for being part of a paedophile ring and for the possession of child pornography.  His reputation is hanging by a very frayed thread and he needs to work out quickly who is setting him up and why.  If I say anything else about the plot I fear that I will give something away (zips mouth shut).

With a plot revolving around a sensitive topic, this could make for difficult reading.  But I do believe that Staalesen has handled it well without becoming overly graphic and certainly includes only what is necessary to enhance the plot.  This is a hard hitting novel that truly encapsulates the very essence of Scandi Noir and I can see why this series and character have been so successful.  There’s an elegance in the writing, the plot is so intricate and clever that it challenges the reader, it’s not the sort of book to half look at whilst cooking the supper that’s for sure (yes I did burn the supper whilst reading this book and no I don’t recommend taking your eyes off the oven, otherwise the toad in the hole will be VERY caramelised).
The skill in bringing Veum to life was astounding, the more I read of this book the more I felt that he was real and found myself enjoying his sense of humour.

A fantastic instalment in the series and I cannot wait for more!!

It’s only right to make mention of Don Bartlett’s translation, again an impeccable job with a seamless translation.

You can buy a copy of “Wolves in the Dark” via:
Amazon
Wordery
The Book Depository

 

My heartfelt thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for the opportunity to read an early copy of this and for inviting me to participate in the blog tour.

wolves blog tour poster


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Published: 15 May 2017

Description:

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina. Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.

My Thoughts & Review:

Block 46 is quite possibly one of the most magnificent books I have read, it’s absolutely flawlessly plotted, rich in characters and has an astounding level of detail woven into it.  There are so many layers to this novel that it’s hard to begin to describe just how powerful this is.

The uppermost layer of the plot is a murder investigation, one which sparks tangents shooting off like electrical currents in several directions.
Linnea Blix is a much loved and talented jewellery designer so her failure to appear at the grand unveiling of her latest collection is worrying.  When her naked and mutilated corpse is discovered is Sweden, red flags are raised because of the resemblance to a case being investigated in London.  The best friend of Blix is writer Alexis Castells, who soon ends up working with profiler Emily Roy in a bid to discovering her killer.

From here the reader is drawn into a dark thriller that is rife with tension and utterly unnerving.
Johana Gustawsson then adds in another layer to “Block 46”  by incorporating a timeline from 1944 where a young man named Erich Hebner is incarcerated in Buchenwald Concentration Camp.  It is through glimpses of the horrendous and torturous conditions that the reader experiences some of the most harrowing storytelling.  The skill that Gustawsson exhibits in her writing is immense, she details the abhorrent conditions so that the audience is fully aware of the violence, lack of humanity and evil that emanated from the Camps and the ruling forces.

And if this wasn’t enough to make this book standout, then take a look at the characters involved.  A colourful collection of personalities make for some incredibly interesting reading, Alexis Castells and Emily Roy are superb characters, both strong in their own ways, and have qualities that are vital to the roles they play.  Alexis Castells is caring and warm, she is a calming influence on those around her but underneath it all she bears the scars of her past.  Emily Roy on the other hand is a wonderful contrast to this, her clinical approach to her work and interactions can be seen as blunt and cold but she almost needs to be that way in order to do the job that she does.
The glimpses into the mind of the killer that are sprinkled throughout the narrative give an insight into a truly twisted and chilling persona.  There is no doubting that this is a very dangerous individual who enjoys the thrill of the hunt when it comes to victims, and the sheer elation felt when a kill and torture sequence has been complete.

If shock value is what you are looking for then this is the book for you, there are some moments in this that you almost need reminders to keep breathing, the urge to hold your breath in anticipation is high.  The way that Johana Gustawsson plants the seeds of suspicion in the heads of her readers is cleverly done, many will read this book and all the while be trying to guess ahead as to who the killer is, what the motive is etc and good luck is all I can say.  This was a book that well and truly caught me off guard, there were aspects of the plot that I would never have guessed.

I want to offer my thanks to Maxim Jakubowski for the wonderful translation of this book from French into English, it takes incredible skill to translate any document from one language to another and here I feel that the skills of the translator deserve a round of applause as this book reads to well that you could be forgiven for thinking it had originally been penned in English.

My heartfelt thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for sharing this epic novel with me and for having me host this stop on the blog tour.

 

You can buy your copy of “Block 46” via:

Amazon
Orenda Books eBookstore
Wordery
The Book Depository

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour!

FINAL block 46 blog tour poster

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I am very excited to welcome you to my stop on the #FinnishInvasion Blog Tour by Orenda Books and share my review of Antti Tuomainen’s The Mine.

The Mine AW.indd

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Orenda Books as part of blog tour

Description:

A hitman.  A journalist.  A family torn apart.  A mine spewing toxic secrets that threated to poison them all…

In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life.

A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.

My Thoughts & Review:

This is a book that I might not have discovered had it not been for the wonderful Karen at Orenda Books, I am a big fan of Scandi Noir and she knows I have a soft spot for a good conspiracy story!

The Mine has a wonderfully crafted plot that begins with an investigation into illegal mining in Finland by journalist Janne Vuori, and intriguingly it all comes about via an anonymous tip off.  Uncovering corruption is a huge incentive for Janne, it would be a boost for his career, but he has to decide if it is worth the strain on his personal life and those he loves.

Working in tandem with this fantastic plot is some of the most wonderful writing I have been lucky enough to read.  Tuomainen writes with such immensely vivid detail that the reader can almost feel the cold biting winds that hit Janne as he opens the car door, can visualise the the scenery in all it’s snowy wonders and really feel like they are there seeing/experiencing it all.
The characters in this are so engaging and well created.  They draw the reader in with their turmoil and struggles, Janne is a man who is proud of his job and is dedicated to it, but he is also dedicated to his wife and their child.  The struggles he faces at being a good journalist or being a better father and provider are captivating reading.  His wife is frustrated at the time he invests in his career and reminds him that his own father put work before his family – which gives an insight into the troubled relationship between Janne and his father. 

At the heart of the plot is the corruption angle and the environmental impacts of the mine, but the idea of covering up the truth and corruption also flows into the characters, the relationship between Janne and his wife suffers from consequences of the toxicity of mistakes.  The almost secret life of Janne’s father recounted throughout the story also plays on the idea of the truth being hidden.

The translation to English by David Hackston has been done so incredibly well, none of Tuomainen’s subtleties have been lost and this reads very comfortably as if it had originally been written in English.

An excellent thriller with all the earmarks of Scandi Noir, gripping, elegant and looks to the bigger issues that play an important role in society – in this case the environmental disasters surrounding the mine and the corruption in covering it up.

You can buy a copy of The Mine here


About the Author:

antii-tuomainen

Finnish Antti Tuomainen (b. 1971) was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011 Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labeled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later in 2013 they crowned Tuomainen “The king of Helsinki Noir” when Dark as my Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen is one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula.

For more information on Antti’s books go to his website http://anttituomainen.com/ or follow him on Twitter @antti_tuomainen


Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the #FinnishInvasion Blog Tour for reviews and guest posts by both Kati Hiekkapelto and Annti Tuomainen.

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The Sword of Justice

Author: Leif G W Persson
Published: 14 January 2016
Reviewed: 5 April 2016
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24


Copy supplied by Random House UK, Transworld Publishers in return for an honest review

4.5 out of 5 Stars

 



Description: 

When gangster lawyer Thomas Eriksson, renowned defender of the guilty, is found brutally murdered in his own home the police face a rare problem. Finding a suspect isn’t difficult, but narrowing down the long list of people who wanted Eriksson dead might be… 

High on the list is the celebrated Detective Superintendent Evert Bäckström, in charge of the investigation. Unfortunately for him a high profile case really gets in the way of his routine, namely avoiding the office, keeping work to a minimum and steering well clear of his inept colleagues – aside from the attractive ones, of course.

Luckily, by virtue of his questionable contacts, Bäckström has an unequalled skill for having the guilty handed to him on a plate. All he has to do is break every rule in the book – and receive a healthy wad of cash for his trouble. But this time he’s in for a surprise because even Bäckström couldn’t have predicted where this trail would lead, or how far from comfortable he might be at its end.


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