Death Notice: a twisting mystery

A series of near-impossible murders in in Chengdu, China, are connected by the beautifully-penned ‘death notices’ which precede them, daring the police to stop this calculating killer. Each of the victims has to atone for his or her crimes; adultery, betrayal, murder and corruption. But this serial killer’s secrets start far in the past, with…

The Book Of Mirrors: a warped whodunnit

An intriguing investigation into an unsolved cold case, The Book Of Mirrors deals with fragments of memory, conflicting perceptions, a whole host of unreliable narrators and a good old-fashioned murder in the library with a decent list of potential suspects. The author uses the format of a writer-writing-about-publishing which normally encourages me to flick to…

Nightfall Berlin: another brick in the wall

In the mid-1980s, just as Cold War tensions appear to be easing, Major Tom Fox is sent on an unusual mission to bring back a defector from behind the Iron Curtain. In no time flat he’s accused of murder, abandoned by his agency and left to fend for himself on the bleak streets of Berlin…

The Shadow Killer: Iceland at war

It seems that there’s an insatiable appetite for crime novels which are also war stories – historical fiction which uses the international upheaval of WW2 as its dramatic backdrop. I blame Bernie Gunther… but find these philosophical investigations as compelling as any contemporary thrillers. It’s as if we still can’t come to terms with what…

Crime Time: new books and recommended reads

What’s new in crime fiction? This month’s selection of recent releases and forthcoming titles includes serial killers, American noir, Scandi crime, British coppers, a classic locked room mystery, punishing pulp fiction, an intriguing art investigation and a Cold War spy story; broken homes, an unfaithful husband and a dead wife; flashbacks to the Roaring Twenties…

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…