Recreation: an intriguing and unconventional female sleuth

There’s now an entire series of full-length crime novels in the Lena’s Friends series, and this prequel short story makes an ideal introduction to the imaginative characters who solve crimes, right wrongs and occasionally mete out righteous revenge in most unusual circumstances. This is not your average police procedural! ‘Recreation’ is a diverting short story…

Dead Reckoning: ugly things, beautifully written

Steel yourself for sixteen stories from the dark side; sinister slivers of broken and bloodied lives which blur genre boundaries to form a distinctly unsettling compendium. Several are bite-size rapid reads, others explore human frailty at greater length. They’re all united by the author’s distinctive voice which is unconventional and often complex. Dino Parenti crafts…

Blood Sons: a mafia family

Three striking stories intertwine in this American fable of family and fidelity. The author uses a vicious minor mobster in New York to explore the influence of nurture over nature – and it’s a set-up that works surprisingly well. The Family is all about family… isn’t it? That’s just one of the crime-thriller clichés which…

Cold Breath: hot stuff!

The latest ‘Icelandic Murder Mystery’ is an ideal introduction to this series. I’ve read all the preceding episodes but reckon you can sit straight down with this one without any introduction. Cold Breath is immensely readable and stylishly constructed from multiple viewpoints; the policewoman at the core of the story; an investigative journalist who’s off…

Paris In The Dark: a world of war

It might be set more than century ago, in a foreign land filled with political puzzles and unfamiliar factions, but Paris In The Dark delivers a completely convincing story, grounded in a solidly credible scenario. There aren’t so many characters that your head spins trying to recall them all, and the narrative itself is pretty…

The Sword Of Justice: a slice of Swedish ‘super-salami’

Superintendent Evart Bäckström is one of Scandi crime’s outstanding creations. He’s an utterly loathsome creature; lazy, corrupt, bigoted and entirely self-centred. Yet his sly intelligence and his ability to manipulate any situation to suit himself mean that he has an impressive case clearance rate and a public persona to match his inflated self-image. Bäckström is…

The Lady Killer: Japanese whodunnit

An artful, old fashioned murder mystery which merrily leads its investigators (and the reader) along a convoluted pathway scattered with clues. Even the title is a masterful play on words, open to several interpretations… more than one of which may be correct. The Lady Killer isn’t as outright bizarre as more modern Japanese crime fiction,…