It's been too long since my last post here on crime reads, so time to catch up. In this post I am going to take you through my most recent reads, covering four nations, and not all Nordic! Starting with Italy we will then visit Iceland, Sweden and finally Denmark.
Number 21 in the Commissario Brunetti series, 'Beastly Things' convinces me that Donna Leon has not after all grown tired of the Venetian detective. Thank heavens, this is a definite return to form. Four stars (out of five) from me. A well developed plot (yet another body retrieved from a canal) with Brunetti as ever a joy to accompany as he meanders through Venice and its surrounds while unravelling the mystery. The abattoir visit is quite descriptive! In contrast to a reviewer for the Independent newspaper, I long for even more of wife Paolo and the culinary delights. A likeable read, a perfect holiday read if looking for one.
Read too my previous story featuring the books of Donna Leon.
In 'Black Skies' (Arnaldur Indridason), Inspector Erlunder is absent for the second book in a row ('Outrage' being the previous), which disappointed I must admit, Sigurdur Óli taking centre stage in this one. Óli is not what you might call a likeable character, a bit of a loner, initially arrogant maybe, but still interesting because of his scarred personal life and past. Written in 2009 soon after the Icelandic financial crash, but set in 2005, the shaky foundations of personal and institutional financial growth inevitably play their part in the storyline. There are two stories running in parallel, or rather three; one a story of blackmail, wife swapping (!), murder and greed, another of child abuse and its tragic effect, plus Sigurdur Óli's personal story, his relationships and evolving character. If not in my view quite up there with Indridason's best, it is nonetheless a good read.
Originally published in Sweden in 1999, 'Hour of the Wolf' is the 7th of ten in the Van Veeteren series, although it is Chief Inspector Rheinhart who is the main investigator here, as Van Veeteren is now retired and working as an antiquarian bookseller. In this story a drunk driver knocks down and kills a pedestrian, and in trying to cover up his actions, sets in motion a chain of events with further catastrophic results. Van Veeteren is present though, as he is drawn back into the investigation when it affects him personally in the worst way possible.
'Hour of the Wolf' has a well constructed plot and interestingly you get to see events from the point of view of both the killer and the police. One might wonder though about the quick transition of the guilty party from hit-and-run driver to cold killer in such a short space. But I loved this book and how all unfolds, it kept my interest throughout. Near top marks from me for this, one of Hakan Nesser's best in my estimation.
It's some twelve months since I read and very much enjoyed the first book in translation from Danish crime novelist Jussi Adler-Olsen, namely 'Mercy', and so I very much looking forward to reading his next up, 'Disgrace' (US title, 'The Absent One'). The premise for 'Disgrace', a group of wealthy and successful people getting their kicks from causing physical harm and even death to others, I have to say was the book's one unfavourable (read 'unbelievable') aspect, and the only thing that kept me from giving it the same star rating as 'Mercy'. But sometimes one must suspend belief a little!
In this story Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, and his somewhat mysterious Syrian assistant Assad, re-open a closed file on a murder to which one of a suspect group of well-to-do people admitted guilt. This is not a 'who done it?', as you know of the guilt of the group early on. But there are secrets to be unfolded. The story is concerned primarily with an original member of the group (Kimmie) now living on the street and in hiding from the other members, and the progress of the re-opened investigation by Mørck with Assad's assistance. Kimmie is the main character of interest, but the interactions between Mørck, Assad and new member of the Q team Rosie make for interesting exchanges, and Adler-Olsen doesn't disappoint when it comes to characterisation. Plus this novel has good pace and is very well written. I liked it, maybe not quite as much as 'Mercy', but I can still heartily recommend this as a good read.
...and where to next?
My current crime read of choice is taking me all the way to Botswana! Just started today, this is new territory for me, and looking forward to it. But oh too I must very soon stay on home soil and give some much overdue attention to the crop of contemporary Irish crime writers. See you soon!