Two Lives: challenging criminal literature

The seven short stories in this anthology almost defy classification. Their plots might hinge on a sudden moment of criminal madness – theft, murder, rape – but each of these self-contained stories is about something far more subtle, the brutalisation of the soul, perhaps; the subjugation of the self. The author was a police officer…

Dregs: another Scandi detective

William Wisting is the latest Norwegian detective to appear on our TV screens, and if you enjoy this style of calculated and complicated investigation then there’s a series of six books to look forward to. The first, Dregs, is very much cut from the same cloth as Wallander or Beck: this is Scandi crime and…

A Deadly Divide: Canada’s cultural schism

I’m a fan of ‘international crime’ in general and of Canadian thrillers in particular, and of novels which use this genre to get to grips with difficult issues. So although this was my first encounter with Detective Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty, the situation – a small Quebecois community – grabbed me straight away. So…

Best Crime Books 2019

The books we’ve read in the past 12 months have been packed with murder and mayhem, crime and punishment, despair and redemption – the very essence of the human condition, boiled down to brilliant crime-thriller fiction. We read more than 200 mystery and thriller books in 2019, from literary fiction by big-name bestsellers to dazzling…

Unknown Male: Japanese secrets

Japanese noir can be an acquired taste. It’s often stranger than the Scandi stuff: written in stylish prose that contrasts shattering acts of violence and fleeting images of bewildering beauty. It can be subtle to the point of obscurity yet explicit to extremes. This is not a genre for those who flinch easily, and unfamiliar…

Cold Fear: Lisbeth lite

This is a tricky book to love. On the surface, it has all the elements of a compelling Scandi crime thriller. We’re saturated in an unfamiliar culture, given revealing glimpses of the Greenlandic people and the harsh life they endure. Clinging to existence in small communities which hug the coastline, the Greenlanders apparently thrive in…

Wolves At The Door: it begins where others end

This Scandi detective story can be seen as the companion piece to the earlier Wolves In The Dark, and you should read that episode in the Varg Veum series before starting this one. Otherwise, it’s tricky to pick up the threads of the earlier story – which is convoluted enough – before you become embroiled…