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Russell, Craig - 'The Carnival Master'
Hardback: 400 pages (Aug. 2008) Publisher: Hutchinson Ltd ISBN: 0091921422

Craig Russell is a Scottish author who writes police procedural mysteries based not in his home country, like contemporaries such as Ian Rankin, but in Hamburg, Germany.

Chief Commissar Jan Fabel is a Hamburg murder detective of mixed parentage - half Scottish, half German - and he has reached a cross-roads in his career after experiencing so much death; he has received an offer to work in civilian life in something that could offer a different challenge. His girlfriend is very enthusiastic. He has tendered his resignation and is working out his notice, when he is asked by a detective in another city, Cologne, to lend his expertise in tracking a cannibalistic, gruesome murderer there. The murderer in Cologne usually strikes during the annual Carnival.

Maria Klee, Fabel's deputy, had in a previous investigation been left almost for dead by a very dangerous assailant who is still on the run. Maria had a mental breakdown and is far from well now, but is very determined to track to track this person down and learns through sources that he is likely to be in Cologne, where she now lives!

Additionally, there is a Ukrainian special operation unit working under cover and armed to the teeth, who have entered Cologne with orders to kill the same target (and his accomplices) that Maria is hunting.

All of these three key threads come to together at the end in a very surprising finale. THE CARNIVAL MASTER was a very good read although some of the Germanic names were a bit of a challenge. This novel is my first by this author and hopefully it won't be the last. He has written three previous books about Chief Commissar Jan Fabel and is due to start publishing a new series about a detective called Lennox set in Glasgow during the 1950s and I look forward to reading all of these.

Terry Halligan, England
August 2008

More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 30/08/2008 21:57