Varg Veum: a wolf comes a-calling

In an extended moment of muppetry, I avoided reading Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum series for decades. Every time a new episode featuring the Norwegian private detective arrived, my vision was averted. I looked the other way, put off by back-cover blurbs which compared the books to Henning Mankell, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. That old…

Mission Khyber: a killer woman with a psy side

Psychic spy Tana Standish has a habit of appearing slap-bang in the middle of the most significant historical upheavals of the 20th century. This time she’s in Afghanistan in 1979, providing intel for the British secret intelligence service, running interference for freedom fighters, side-stepping a Soviet plot to kidnap her, liberating victims of oppression, avenging…

Watching You: a masterclass of misdirection

In Watching You, one of the Nordic nations’ premier crime writers delivers a masterclass of misdirection and suspense. Arne Dahl – or Jan Arnald, if you prefer his other pen-name – kicks off what appears to be a standard Scandi crime police procedural with a stand-out, set piece action sequence which simultaneously curls your toes…

Two Nights: a killer comeback

It’s brilliant when an established author comes out biting, gouging and punching below the belt with a revitalised zest for telling a rip-snorting story. That’s pretty much what’s happened here, with this new standalone thriller from one of the genre’s heavy hitters. Although I find forensic anthropology and the scientific analysis of crime scenes fascinating,…

The Ashes Of Berlin: a shattered society

This is not a book to wolf down in one sitting, nor one you can nibble away at in brief bites. It’s too densely detailed and emotionally intense for that. Like a giant supertanker, The Ashes of Berlin takes quite a while to get going – but once you’re absorbed in the plot and characters…

The Redemption Of Charm: an explosive ending

If this book were a piece of ordinance it would have a carefully calibrated, slow burn fuse snaking around its characters. It would gather pace, lighting the way to its explosive finale. It is brilliantly crafted, full of the sharp dialogue, wit and action that makes the author’s writing so compelling. This, third, Killing Sisters…

New books and ripping reads

The crime files are over-flowing right now with big-name blockbusters and outstanding indie authors. In fact there’s too many to fit into this round-up of ten intriguing titles, so come back in a fortnight for more gripping criminal activity. In the meanwhile we’ve a superb selection of police procedurals, serial killers, Nordic noir, vengeful vigilantes,…