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Posts Tagged ‘Scandi Noir’

SNARE new front cover

** My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of this wonderful book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world.

As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My Thoughts & Review:

When you pick up any book in the Scandi Noir genre you’re instantly looking for something that will blow you away, something that will chill you to your core (more the weather conditions than the plot but if the plot is good enough, it can certainly have that impression on you), but most of all you’re hoping for an exceptionally written book that leaves you with an intense book hangover.  Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir is all of the above, and then some!

Readers first meet the main character Sonja as she is smuggling drugs into Iceland at the “request” of the criminal underworld.  Following a heartbreaking and messy divorce, she lost custody of her son, she has sunk to drug smuggling to try and survive.
Sonja’s efforts in bringing the cocaine into the country are under scrutiny of customs officials, and one in particular is sure that she’s up to something.  Bragi is close to retirement and after his wife going into a care home, his job is all he has left and he’s determined to prove his worth.

And if drug smuggling with a cat and mouse chase wasn’t enough for readers, there is a deliciously thrilling thread of financial crime running through the plot that involves another character linked to Sonja.
At the heart of this book is the story line of a desperate mother who will do anything to win her son back, the problem being that she needs to outwit those around her who have a vested interested in her in order to gain her freedom.

Lilja Sigurdardóttir has created a very powerful book, with a plot that will stay with readers long after they’ve finished reading.  It is a book that readers will struggle to put down, and if they do manage to, the book will only call out to them tauntingly to be picked back up.
Sometimes when you read a book you can imagine a scene play out, or you can see the setting because of the language used by the writer, but in the case of this book, you really do feel like the whole thing plays out like a movie in your mind.  There’s just something so fantastic about the writing.

Characterisation in this is perfect, I could not help but feel connected to the different characters and their tales and despite wanting to dislike Sonja for her drug smuggling, I felt that I sympathised with her in a way.  And boy did I feel my heart thundering when she was passing through customs, she may have appeared cool and collected but I was a nervous wreck on her behalf – astounding writing!!

An excellent addition to the Scandi Noir genre, packed with tension, suspense and a crime story that gets under your skin!

I also think that credit and appreciation should go to Quentin Bates for his wonderful translation.

 

You can buy a copy of Snare via:

Orenda eBookstore
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

Follow the blog tour:

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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.

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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:

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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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I am so excited to welcome you to my stop on the #FinnishInvasion Blog Tour by Orenda Books and share my review of Kati Hiekkapelto’s The Exiled.

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Published: 19 August 2016
Reviewed: 13 November 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Orenda Books as part of blog tour

 

Description:

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal?

Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes?

My Thoughts & Review:

I have to admit this is the first book that I have read by Kati Hiekkapelto, something I will definitely be remedying in the coming weeks as I fully intend to buy copies of the other books featuring Detective Anna Fekete.

The Exiled is actually the third book in the Detective Anna Fekete series, and thankfully this can be read without reading The Hummingbird or The Defenceless.  There are references to prior cases and colleagues but these are minimal so does not impact upon your enjoyment of the story.
The reader meets Anna upon her return to Serbia for a holiday.  She intends to spend time with family and friends but ends up involved in a robbery and a murder investigation.

Clever plotting and well constructed characters make this a great read, add in the use of native language and you have a wonderfully authentic offering from the Scani Noir genre.  The translation to English has been done so well that this reads as though it were originally written in English.
The vivid descriptions of both scenery and characters really bring them alive.  The easy flowing style of writing lends itself well to this story, the well woven threads of the plot ensure that the pace is good and slowly increases with the secrets that are waiting to be unearthed, drawing the reader in and making this a compulsive read.

As you would expect with Scani Noir, this is chilling, it’s clever and it looks behind the curtain at some very topical issues such as migrancy and refugees including detailing the social impacts and implications.  The writing of these subjects is done with transparency and a frankness that adds a chilling edge to the narrative but at the same time the author shows sensitivity to these subjects by using characters as voices of reason and conscience.

An fantastic read that I cannot thank Karen at Orenda Books for introducing me to, and I am eagerly looking forward to the next Anna Fekete book.

You can buy a copy of The Exiled here


About the Author:

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Kati Hiekkapelto was born in 1970 in Oulu, Finland.  She wrote her first stories at the age of two and recorded them on cassette tapes.  Kati has studied Fine Arts in Liminka Art School and Special Education at the University of Jyväskylä.  The subject of her final thesis/dissertation was racist bullying in Finnish schools.  She went to work on as a special-needs teacher for immigrant children.  Today Kti is an international crime writer, punk singer and performance artist.  Her books, The Hummingbird and The Defenceless have been translated into 16 languages and were both shortlisted for the Petrona Award in the UK.  The Defenceless won Best Finnish Crime Novel of the Year, and has been shortlisted for the prestigious Glass Key.  She lives and writes in her 200-year-ols farmhouse in Hailuoto, an island in the Gulf of Bothnia, North Finland.  In her free time she rehearses with her band, runs, hunts, picks berries and mushrooms and gardens.  During long, dark winter months she chops wood to head her house, shovels snow and skis.

For more information on Kati’s books, go to her website http://www.katihiekkapelto.com/ or follow her on Twitter @HiekkapeltoKati


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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Author: Camilla Grebe

Published: 8 September 2016
Reviewed: 30 September 2016

4.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre in return for an honest review

 

Description:

NO ORDINARY PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER – THIS WILL KEEP YOU UP ALL NIGHT

For fans of Jo Nesbo and The Bridge, The Ice Beneath Her is a gripping and deeply disturbing story about love, betrayal and obsession that is impossible to put down. Fast-paced and peopled with compelling characters, it surprises at every turn as it hurtles towards an unforgettable ending with a twist you really won’t see coming . . .

A young woman is found beheaded in an infamous business tycoon’s marble-lined hallway.

The businessman, scandal-ridden CEO of the retail chain Clothes & More, is missing without a trace.

But who is the dead woman? And who is the brutal killer who wielded the machete?

Rewind two months earlier to meet Emma Bohman, a sales assistant for Clothes & More, whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with Jesper Orre. Insisting that their love affair is kept secret, he shakes Emma’s world a second time when he suddenly leaves her with no explanation.

As frightening things begin to happen to Emma, she suspects Jesper is responsible. But why does he want to hurt her? And how far would he go to silence his secret lover?

My Thoughts & Review:

As a fan of Scandi Noir I was instantly intrigued by this book, the description sounded like just the sort of book to get stuck into on a quiet night.

This gripping psychological thriller immediately grabs the reader’s attention,  the decapitated body of a young woman is discovered,  and more curiously it was discovered in the home of an infamous business tycoon.

With narration from the perspective of three characters makes this story very interesting, and helps to make this a fast paced read, but also gives a real insight into the characters.  The subsequent development of each character makes this a fascinating read and found I was thoroughly enjoying their individual tales.
Hanne, formerly a criminal profiler, diagnosed with early onset dementia and in a controlling and loveless marriage, is a fantastic character and one I was cheering on whilst I read.
Peter, the detective with commitment issues (unless it’s work he has to commit to), is good at his job, but his personal life….not so organised.  Together Peter and Hanne work well, its clear there is a shared history and it makes reading the story much more enjoyable.
Emma’s story was probably the most interesting one, a young woman that meets and falls in love with the CEO of the company she works for but their love affair has to be kept secret because of who he is.

There is some very clever plotting in this book, it’s very dark and disturbing, Grebe weaves together twists and turns that have the reader guessing at what might happen next.  I feel that I should praise the translation of this book.  All too often when a book is translated into English, something can be “lost” but I am so pleased that is not the case with this one.  It has the hallmarks of a Scandi thriller, cold, dark and direct which really work well here, making this one of the best books I’ve read this year.

You can buy a copy of The Ice Beneath Her here.

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this in return for an honest review.

 

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Author: Yrsa Sigurdardottir

Published: 22 October 2015
Reviewed: 7 September 2016

3.5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Hodder and Stoughton in return for an honest review

 

Description:

The light spilling in from the corridor would have to do. Though weak, it was sufficient to show Aldís a boy sitting in the gloom at the furthest table. He had his back to her, so she couldn’t see who it was, but could tell that he was one of the youngest. A chill ran down her spine when he spoke again, without turning, as if he had eyes in the back of his head. ‘Go away. Leave me alone.’

‘Come on. You shouldn’t be here.’ Aldís spoke gently, fairly sure now that the boy must be delirious. Confused, rather than dangerous.

He turned, slowly and deliberately, and she glimpsed black eyes in a pale face. ‘I wasn’t talking to you.’

Aldis is working in a juvenile detention centre in rural Iceland. She witnesses something deeply disturbing in the middle of the night; soon afterwards, two of the boys at the centre are dead.

Decades later, single father Odinn is looking into alleged abuse at the centre following the unexplained death of the colleague who was previously running the investigation. The more he finds out, though, the more it seems the odd events of the 1970s are linked to the accident that killed his ex-wife. Was her death something more sinister?

My Thoughts & Review:

The Undesired is the first book by this author that I have read, I went in to it not knowing what to expect.

The story in this book begins with an ending of sorts, a man and his young daughter are trapped in a car slowly asphyxiating.  By doing this, the author has ensured that the audience are captive, instantly hooked by wondering who these people are, why there are there, what has lead to this monumental moment.  There are two strands of story in this book, the first following Odinn and the second following Aldis.

Following the death of his ex-wife, Odinn, now a single parent grapples with raising his daughter alone.  She is traumatised by the death of her mother and he struggles to support her.    Was her death accidental?  Why is she haunting Odinn and his daughter?
This is not all that Odinn has to contend with, he has taken over  investigations at work into alleged abuse at a care home for male young offenders, a home that shut down in the 1970s but certain questions remain unanswered.

Back in 1974 Aldi was a cleaner at the care home for the delinquent boys, she provides an eyewitness account of the happenings at the home.   Her relationship with one of the older boys and the the owner’s of the home having deep secrets really add an extra layer to the back story.
Weaving together Odinn’s investigation and the lead up to the closure of the home following the death of two boys, the author provides answers for the questions the reader has from the beginning of the book.

Characterisation is great, the details about the home feel authentic .  The plot is intriguing,  but I wonder if it might work better if billed as a psychological thriller as opposed to horror which the blurb implies.  Overall a good read, but I just felt that the “spooky” aspects took something away from the story.

You can buy a copy of The Undesired here.

 

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