Crime Roundup January 2007 by Carla McKay
'Unseen' by Mari Jungstedt ; 'The Scent of the Night' by Andrea Camilleri; 'The Dinner Club' by Saskia Noort
The tidal wave of Scandinavian crime writing that threatens to engulf us largely leaves me cold. Henkell Manning, Arnaldur Indridason et al all plot and write perfectly satisfactorily but there’s little warmth, humour or depth to their work. Perhaps something is lost in translation. 'Unseen' by Mari Jungstedt (Doubleday £10.99) is a new Swedish writer who has taken the holiday island of Gotland for her setting where a serial killer is busy killing women. What is the tragic history that links the victims? Finally, Inspector Knutas and journalist Johan Berg find out but it is all a little slow.
For more gusto, warmth and emotional insights, the Italian crime writers are a better bet, none more so than the irrespressible Andrea Camilleri whose endearing and shambolic middle aged policeman, Salvo Montalbano makes his sixth appearance in 'The Scent of the Night' (Picador £12.99), reluctantly intervening when a furious octogenarian holds his lovelorn secretary at gunpoint.
'The Dinner Club' by Saskia Noort (Bitter Lemon Press £9.99). A runaway success in the Netherlands, this is a playful murder mystery which, as the publishers' blurb asserts, is redolent of Desperate Housewives - and about as insightful. Five bored, 30-something comfortably off suburban women form a dinner club to exchange the kind of gossip about children's schools, husbands' jobs and clothes that bores most people to death. In fact, funny I should mention that, because shortly afterwards one of the husbands dies in a mystery fire at his house and one of the women has a fatal fall from a hotel balcony. Consternation breaks out amongst the 4x4 owning, claret-swilling clique- an astounding number of drinks are consumed per page - and soon it emerges that not everyone is as friendly - or faithful - as they thought they were.
Carla McKay has been a fiction reviewer for over 15 years for the Daily Mail and has persuaded them to let her do a crime column of reviews of recent crime fiction once every two months or so.