It's time to update you on some of the crime novels I have read in recent times. Hard not to notice that Nordic writers are ever present, no apologies, I am still working my way through the expansive library of Nordic crime fiction. But nice too that some of those Nordic authors mentioned here were new to me, as was the South African Deon Meyer. Always interesting to find someone new. But mentioned here too is one of my perennial favourites, Colin Cotterill.
First up is 'At Night All Wolves are Grey' (1986) by Gunnar Staalesen.
(Oops! Catalogue indicates title no longer in stock, but try reserving via borrowbooks.ie and we can try to get it from another library authority). The star of this and other books by Staalesen is Bergen-based private detective Varg Veum, and here he investigates two old, yet related, unsolved cases. Bergen features prominently and is richly described, which I liked having been there. Staalesen is a quality writer, and his writing is often said to be in the tradition of Raymond Chandler. This is the third Staalesen I have read and I recommend them all (see previous mention of Staalesen here on the blog). I note too that Varg Veum has made it to film, with a number of DVDs available on Amazon.
(p.s. I will see if I can get Staalesen titles back in stock.)
'Unwanted' (2011) by Kristina Ohlsson is a reasonable debut novel, and she is yet another author to add to the already long list of Swedish crime writers. A tale of child abduction and murder, the concentration on the different police characters and the investigation does mean that the gloomy subject matter (albeit not graphic) does not overpower and cut short your reading of it. The psychology behind the violence unfolds well enough (predictable? in hindsight, yeah, probably). I did though grow weary of the male-female divide in the investigation team. The ending was a little disappointing, and even though I enjoyed reading it well enough, I was left untouched emotionally. Not up there with the best of the Swedish crime writers, but will give the next in the series a chance when it appears in translation.
'Slash and Burn' (2011) by Colin Cotterill is number eight in the Dr Siri murder mystery series. Cotterill is always a pleasure to read, even if this wasn't quite up there with the best in the Dr. Siri series. The series has humour aplenty, plenty of interesting characters, invariably an intriguing mystery and well thought out storyline, plus Laos is always centre stage. And you can't but warm to Siri. A good mystery and a light, fun read, even if this particular story was not among the best in the series.
Read a previous post on Cotterill.
My relatively recent introduction to South African Deon Meyer was his latest crime novel 'Trackers' (2011) , and second up was this, his debut novel 'Dead before Dying' (1999) (aagh! another title we no longer have, but again reserve via borrowbooks.ie and we can try to get it from elsewhere for you). A police procedural, I thought 'Dead Before Dying' just ok for a debut novel; not as good as 'Trackers' (read my thoughts on 'Trackers' in a previous post), the ending was too much of a coincidence and somewhat unbelievable, and I didn't see much point to the bank robbery story. The characters and interactions were a positive though. Based more on what I thought of 'Trackers', I will read more of his, indeed have just started 'Dead at Daybreak' (2000)! Will let you know in my next post how I got on.
Sissel-Jo Gazan is a Danish author new to me, and 'The Dinosaur Feather' (2011) is her first novel. I quite liked this first novel, but maybe too much of the scientific, it was a little laborious at times (the author is a biologist and does tend to indulge in her specialist topic!). Otherwise good plot and characterisation, and well written.
Watch out for my next post where I will write about some more recent crime reads, including Nesbo, Nesser and Camilleri!