The Chestnut Man: The Killing continues…

If a single book sums up the typical Nordic noir serial-killer-thriller then it’s this one. It sticks rigidly to the formula which has made Scandi crime so successful; grisly murders, political intrigue, multiple cliff-hangers, and investigative threads which appear entirely convincing in one chapter, only to be discarded in the next as another red herring…

Blood In The Snow: alpine excellence

Life is tough for readers of high-class international crime fiction. These books aren’t like the typical potboiler thriller. Their authors don’t just churn out a by-the-numbers page-turner every six months. A literary crime novel demands dedication and extensive effort to hone to something close to perfection. And then we English speaking types have to endure…

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…

A Grain Of Truth: complex Eurocrime

A weird murder with ritual overtones, the stifling confines of small-town society and a charismatic detective: this would be an enthralling investigation if that’s all it offered. But A Grain Of Truth also gets to grip with one of the toughest issues of our times: anti-Semitism and its complex implications. Few nations were as affected…

A Last Act Of Charity: a strong lead and a thrilling plot

Initially drawn to ‘Charity’ by the cover, it turns out to be a solid read. It starts out with a crime scene and immediately draws you in. It’s gritty, exciting, funny, and captivating, everything you’d expect from a good thriller and suspense novel. The language was descriptive and, at times, humorous. For example, in reference…

Six Strings: dark, raw and captivating

A few days ago I picked up another Jack Reacher novel… then put it down. Kinda lost interest in it. I wanted a thriller, but something fresh. I got Six Strings by Frank Westworth. It’s another character-driven crime thriller series, though there’s nothing typical and certainly nothing copycat about it – no one will say…

Witness Statement: author Jack Grimwood

Spy stories set against a backdrop of bitter division between East and West could hardly be more timely – and Jack Grimwood’s new Cold War thriller takes us back to the epicentre of post-war European espionage. Welcome to the partitioned city of Berlin in the 1980s, a near-perfect metaphor for people divided by politics. Nightfall…

Six Strings: an anti-hero in action

Frank Westworth has a gift for anfractuous prose, and this sixth JJ Stoner short story is no exception, even given the deceptively straightforward plot device – someone’s out to get JJ Stoner. The one thing you need to know about JJ Stoner’s world is that nothing is ever that simple. There is deceit aplenty from…

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…

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…