Six Strings: explosive action

This is the sixth JJ Stoner short story and again it hits all the right notes, and in the right order. I have read all the authors short stories and full-length books and, suffice to say, I have a standing order for the next one. In this story, our hero helps out the drug squad…

Threads In Dew: short, sharp and savage

This collection of half a dozen short stories is like a needle: sharply honed, painfully to the point. None of them make for comfortable reading: in a few brief pages they deliver a disconcerting and discordant viewpoint from a series of snapshot situations. This is genuine contemporary noir which breaks boundaries and refuses to be…

The Mind’s Eye: a great start but slow progress

Van Veeteren is among the most famous of Swedish fictional detectives, but this was my first written encounter with the character. This book started off brilliantly with a mystifying mystery of the locked room tradition: a drowned wife in a locked bathroom, the husband so inebriated he could only remember their wild festivity of the…

The Darkness: deceptively simple

If Ragnar Jónasson was a painter, he’d be a meticulous minimalist, quietly capturing the essence of commonplace events in a low-key life – and then revealing a dazzling, broad canvas which weeps with compassion for the human condition. The Darkness, a standalone investigation set in Iceland, may easily be his best work yet translated into…

Krigen: an unwinnable war

This sombre, typically Scandinavian drama explores the reality of modern conflict from an intensely personal perspective. It starts as a ‘war is hell’ movie and ends as a courtroom drama, debating the moral dimension of military action. The protagonist is forced to make a choice in the heat of battle, and must then accept responsibility…

Zen And The Art Of Murder: a bleak mid-winter

The cover art of this book perfectly captures its sensibilities: a lone individual, trudging in an endless, featureless expanse – seemingly aimless, isolated and disoriented. ‘Zen’ shares much with the stranger side of Scandinavian crime fiction: that slippery sensation of disconnectedness; an understanding that important things are happening but they seem to be just out…