2008's Euro Crime contributors: Pat Austin, Paul Blackburn, Karen Chisholm, Maxine Clarke, Sunnie Gill, Amanda Gillies, Terry Halligan, Geoff Jones, Karen Meek, Michelle Peckham, Norman Price, Mike Ripley, Laura Root, Kerrie Smith and Fiona Walker reveal their top European crime reads of that year (links are to the reviewer's own review of that title). NB. The top 5s are arranged alphabetically, rather than ranked 1 to 5.
A summary of the lists in terms of favourite titles and authors can be found here on the blog.
Other than Tom Cain, these represent what I think is the best of Tartan Noir. (The number in the bracket refers to the book's relevant position in the top 5 ie, Flesh House was the top read, Paying for It was second, etc).
I just loved the humour of this book, as well as the way that the treatment of "outsiders" was depicted.
Particularly involving and very memorable.
Closed room mystery, but Salander made it.
I loved the format of this book, to say nothing of the concise, yet incredibly involving manner in which the story was told.
Loved the humour in this one, as well as the intricate nature of the story.
b)Translated into English:
I like them all because they are strong books - thoughtful, interesting characters, intelligent writing, and show the effects on people of challenging circumstances.>
Cleeves writes about a small isolated community beautifully. Strong sense of place and a protagonist you can't help but like. I am eagerly awaiting Cleeves' next book in the series.
It's Reginald Hill. It's Dalziel and Pascoe. Is there anything else that needs to be said to explain why it's on my tops list?
SAWBONES is a departure from MacBride's DI Logan MacRae series. To begin with it it set in the USA and is a road trip no one would ever want to undertake.There are three gangsters in a car, a teenage boy who has recently had his "frank and beans" cut off and a dead FBI agent in the boot. They are on the trail of a serial killer who kidnaps young blonde women and cuts off their limbs while they are still alive. This time the killer has picked the wrong victim. He has taken Laura, the sixteen year old daughter of a New York crime boss. Police throughout the country are making enquiries, but the gang boss doesn’t trust them. His minions are making their own. Their interviewing techniques aren’t what you’d call subtle. After being questioned by this lot, a witness is just relieved to still be alive, let alone still have all their original body parts.
More a novella than a novel, SAWBONES is just 114 pages long. But those pages are action-packed with never a dull moment. But it comes with a warning. SAWBONES is very violent with a more than a dash of black humour. If you think you can handle the violence then give it a try. I loved it.
An Australian author, but set in England and winner of the 2008 Ned Kelly award for crime fiction, SHATTER is a tense thriller. Psychologist Joe O'Laughlin is battling Parkinson's disease which is making him increasingly debilitated. He is called to what appears to be an attempted suicide. A woman, naked but for a pair of high heels is on a bridge. When Joe arrives she is listening to someone talking to her on her mobile phone. Then she jumps. The authorities put it down as suicide, but the woman's teenage daughter doesn't believe this. Her mother was terrified of heights and had a lot to live for. As Joe searches for an explanation he uncovers something very dark and terrifying. Probably one of the best thrillers I've ever read. This is edge of seat stuff. SHATTER has the added bonus of some very fine writing.
Great series. Interesting to see where it goes from the cliff hanging finale!
Well written and a realistic detective with a personal problem.
Has written the best tv series (Prime Suspect) and has a winner with the Anna Travis series.
Not many good things come out of Aberdeen!! Oil and McBride.
1960s police procedural, fantastically plotted, full of atmosphere in Sweden. You can see where Henning Mankell got his ideas from!
3 other books would rank as equal 5th:-
Featuring the ageing medic turned coroner, Dr Siri Paiboun, and set in Laos. The struggle with the lack of facilities is made up for by the fact that Siri is some kind of shaman, and seems to have a knack for talking to the dead in his dreams. Set in a fascinating background to the country and its politics.
A fascinating book in which a journalist is asked to discover what happened to the missing daughter of Henrik Vanger, many years ago. Did she die, was she murdered, or is there another explanation? This is a lengthy and detailed book that explores family relationships, as well as the relationships of the journalist himself with others. While the ending is not totally unexpected, the means of discovery is fascinating.
Detective Harry Hole must discover the identity of a serial murder, and almost more importantly, what the motive is, as understanding the motive will lead to the killer. Another detective battling his alcoholism, relationships and mistrust of colleagues at work, but with a rare insight into how the mind of the killer might work.
A body is found missing its head, hands and feet. Detective Van Veeteren has to discover who has been murdered, as well as find the culprit, while battling with his fears of hospitals and his impending colon cancer operation. Van Veeteren is an intellectual, another loner and has an ecletic taste in classical music. Intelligently plotted with a shocking and thought provoking ending.
Another murder featuring a torso, but this time set in Sweden, and investigated by Detective Inspector Irene Huss. I like this one because it features a female detective, and there are interesting asides in the descriptions of her home life, husband and daughters, in addition to the great story and tight plotting.
I should also say the best new writers to me were jointly John Lawton - 'Second Violin' and 'Riptide', and Yrsa Sigurdardottir - 'Last Rituals' and that 'Arctic Chill' by Arnaldur Indridason and 'Death in Breslau' by Marek Krajewski were just outside that top group.
With a top ten, I would also have included: 'The Likeness' by Tana French, 'The Ice Princess' by Camilla Lackberg, 'A Grave in Gaza' by Matt Rees, 'The Murder Farm' by Andrea Schenkel and 'The Sweetness of Life' by Paulus Hochgatter.
It is rare for me to gallop through a book in 2 days particularly when it is quite long, but that's what happened here. There has been a tendency not to consider crime fiction as having literary merit but I think A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS easily straddles both genres. There's a quality in its word pictures that puts it right at the top.
For some people this book did not appeal. Once I had worked out what Reginald Hill was trying to do, to turn Jane Austen's SANDITON in to crime fiction, I was blown away. It is a fascinating read, and for me, doing some thinking about it, and some research afterwards, paid off, and I felt like I'd struck gold. For one thing I think Hill must have really enjoyed writing it.
I have to confess that I listened to an unabridged audio production of this book. It took me at least 5 weeks, travelling to and from work, to get it finished, even after resorting to driving slowly behind buses, sitting in the carpark waiting for a track to finish, and taking the long route home. It is McDermid at her best.
The remarkable thing for me about NEMESIS is that just when you believe everything is stitched up, Nesbo reminds you of something you forgot, and the roller coaster ride takes off again.
This is by far the best book I read in 2008. Robotham's 4th book, a psychological thriller that asks how far a mother would go to protect her children. It won the 2008 Ned Kelly Award.
Can I also stick on an hon. mention for the next Fred Vargas, due out in February