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 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…

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…

Last Train To Helsingør: spooky Scandi stories

Deliciously delicate, these Danish short stories meander along the sinister side of twilight, weaving dark descriptions of despair, duplicity and justly-deserved retribution. The 19 haunting and subtle stories in this anthology come from author Heidi Amsinck who, although born in Copenhagen, writes fluidly and artfully in English. This makes her writing refreshingly accessible for an international…

Crime Time: new books and recommended reads

The first crop of crime-thrillers of the year is a stunning selection… which bodes well for the rest of 2018. So here are the recent arrivals on our reading shelf. Check out the plot-twisting psychological thrillers, slightly sinister Nordic noir, authentic police procedurals, a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, hardboiled and hard-edged black humour, Inspector Montalbano, and…