I must confess to never having read any of the previous novels by Kjell Ola Dhal. However when he was introduced to me as the Godfather of Nordic Noir I jumped at the chance to be on the blog tour for his latest novel, and I’m glad I did.
In the Ice Swimmer it is a few days before Christmas and a woman is being pursued onto a tube station in Oslo. When she is then run over by a train it is at first assumed to be a suicide. Elsewhere a body has been pulled from a frozen lake. This time it is thought that he just fell whilst drunk and the cold got him. However as Detective Lena Stigersand and her colleagues Gunnarstranda and Frølich start to investigate, they begin to realise that there are more sinister forces at work, which reach far wider than they thought.
This is a superb novel that I genuinely couldn’t put down. Set in the cold streets of a Winter Oslo the atmosphere was chilly to say the least. It’s the kind of book where when you are reading the descriptions of the place you feel the need to put an extra jumper on as the cold seeps off the page.
I really enjoyed the character of Lena. Personally I felt she was a really welcome change to a lot of the current female leads out there. Often females are portrayed as either being whisky drinking, one night stand, no feeling types, or weak and pathetic needing to be ‘rescued’ Yet she wasn’t either. She was a tough police officer who could look after herself. However she had a natural vulnerable side to her that helped in her policing. Her health scare, and her blossoming relationship with a local reporter also helped to give her a multidimensional character that worked really well. Although her taste in music was little dodgy (Does anyone really like listening to Christmas music??)
The story itself is fast paced with a huge amount of twists and turns, yet it was easy to follow. The novel is the sixth in the Oslo detective series however it works as a standalone and although I would like to know more about the detectives, that’s because I enjoyed the characters so much rather than I felt I was missing anything. One thing that I also really liked was that to me this didn’t actually feel like it was a translation. Sometimes when reading translated books I find myself having to re-read bits to make sense of them, yet this didn’t which is testament to the translator Don Bartlett.
If you like novels where the story is gripping and the writing is so good that you actually feel like you are in the place it is set then I would highly recommend The Ice Swimmer. I will definitely be reading the rest of Kjell Ola Dahl’s novels.
Find out more about the Ice Swimmer and Kjell Ola Dahl by visiting the other stops on the blog tour or buy the book here:
Closer Than You Know by Brad Park introduces us to Melanie. Having survived a difficult childhood she is now happily married with a young son. Her life seems to be in control. Until she arrives to pick up her son from his child minder to find out that he has been removed by social services. Her problems then increase when she is arrested for drug possession and she realises that someone is trying to frame her.
The story is told not only from the point of view of Melanie, but also that of Amy who is the assistant commonwealth’s attorney. She is assigned to Melanie’s case, but is also hunting down a serial rapist who has been active for years.
This was a good read. The story itself was interesting although in parts it did feel a little implausible. However it is no lie that I couldn’t put this one down. The twists and turns just kept coming giving it a real rollercoaster feel. The characters of Melanie and Amy were both well written. Both women were in incredibly frustrating situations and despite their different circumstances they both felt powerless at times. One thing that really stood out for me was the fact that at no point did it become obvious that this was a man writing from a woman’s point of view. I find often certain words or phrases sound a bit out of kilter but not with this one.
This was the first I have read from Brad Park’s but I’ll certainly keep an eye out for the rest of his novels if they are all such a roller coast as this one was. Closer Than You Know is out on the 15th March. Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.
Today I am delighted to be kicking off the blog tour for Evidence of Death by Peter Ritchie published by Black and White Publishing.
In Evidence of Death Billy Nelson returns to his loyalist roots following his discharge from army service and leads a gang in a series of violent attacks. Being forced out of Belfast which has changed since he was there he moves to Edinburgh. Here he decides to get into the drugs business and take on the criminal underworld that stretches from Edinburgh to Glasgow and back to Belfast. It is newly promoted Grace Macallan who has to try and keep the streets of Scotland safe whilst dealing with police in Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Evidence of Death by Peter Ritchie is the second in the Grace Macallan book, and although I hadn’t read his previous one there is enough in the story to fill in some of the background. This was a really interesting read that grabbed my attention from the start.
It is quite a violent novel, yet it doesn’t seem out of kilter with the book. Rather the violence draws you into the incredibly seedy and disturbing world that Billy Nelson inhabits. I particularly liked the character of Grace Macallan. She is tough, and doesn’t take any nonsense as you would expect. However we also get glimpses into a softer side of her.
There is a lot of police procedural in this book, yet that in no way distracts from the story. I actually found it fascinating learning details about how the police work. You almost felt like you were part of the investigation. I was also bizarrely drawn to some of the characters, even those who you are not meant to like, which says something about the quality of writing. Even mindless thugs have a different side sometimes!
I very much enjoyed this novel and look forward to reading more from Peter.
Evidence of Death is out on the 22nd February and can be purchased here.
As regular readers of this blog will know one of my favourite things about the TOPCWF is the opportunity it gives to read authors that have books coming out the following year. Sometimes these books include brand new authors and often there are some real gems within my book haul. One such gem is The Woman in the Window by A J Finn.
The Woman in the Window tells the story of Anna Fox, a child psychologist who is suffering from severe agoraphobia. She hasn’t left her house in over ten months and spends her days either watching her neighbours through the windows, or watching old films in the company of red wine. When new neighbours the Russell’s move in she is drawn to their picture perfect family. Until the night she hears a scream and thinks she sees something that she wasn’t supposed to. Unfortunately no one believes Anna, thinking she has just let her drunken imagination run wild. Therefore it is left to Anna to prove that she isn’t mad.
This was an absolutely cracking novel. I have to say I read a similar story last year which helped me guess one of the major plot twists quite early on. Yet this in no way detracted from what was an superb read. It did literally keep me up all night. There is a scene with Anna in bed with her cat that really shouldn’t be read when in bed on your own with a cat.
I thought the story itself was interesting and really didn’t see the ending coming. I found the character of Anna incredibly likeable. Despite her excessive self-medication and the slight self-pitying feel to her, she is a character that you quickly feel sympathy for as she struggles with the reality she has created. The beauty of this story is that it is a slow burner, this draws you into Anna’s world and you actually feel like you are looking through the windows with her. Obviously the setting rarely changes, which means there are few descriptive paragraphs included which I felt gave it a really claustrophobic feel. I was drawn in from the beginning and you are gradually taken along with Anna as she slowly declines before the ending shatters into sight.
This was a superb story, with excellent writing that I would highly recommend. I look forward to reading more by AJ Finn and to what little gems will be in the TOPCWF 2018 goody bag this year.
Today I’m delighted to be the next and final stop on Leigh Russell’s top ten tour.
For those of you who don’t know, Leigh writes the fantastic Geraldine Steel series. The tenth novel Class Murder is out now. In it Geraldine moves to York and has been demoted to Detective. She finds herself investigating the murder of two people, both of whom went to the same school and were in the same class. It soon becomes a race against time to stop the killer before more bodies appear.
Obviously any novel using York as a setting instantly heads to the top of my tbr pile. It’s always nice to read stories set where you live and I’m very glad I did. This is a fantastic story that kept me gripped throughout. The chapters from the killer’s point of view were especially chilling.
Although this is the tenth it works perfectly well as a standalone. I suspect this is helped by the move to York as I got to know Geraldine along with her new colleagues. Having only read a couple of her early novels before I definitely want to go back and read the whole series now.
To celebrate the release of the tenth novel I’m pleased to share Leigh’s latest top ten and this time we are finding out her top ten TV shows :
The West Wing
Have I got News for You
Line of Duty
Death in Paradise
Some interesting choices there. I thought I was the only Death in Paradise fan!
If you want to find out more about Leigh’s top tens then visit the other stops on her tour.
Thanks to No Exit Press for my copy of Class Murder.
I am delighted to today be taking part in the blog tour for the latest novel by Caimh McDonnell . This one is a prequel to the fantastic Dublin trilogy series.
Angels in Moonlight introduces us to Bunny McGarry. As we know from the previous novels Bunny has some rather unorthodox policing methods, and although he may be younger in this story he certainly hasn’t changed. Whilst his methods might not strictly toe the policing line they do get results, and it is those results his bosses want to see when he is tasked with bringing down one of Dublin’s most notorious gangs. What is different in this prequel is that we get to see another side of Bunny, he has a softer side that isn’t always evident in his previous cases. We find out how he met Simone who he has mentioned in the other novels. Although obviously the course of true love never runs smoothly, and this is no exception in Bunny’s case. On top of work and love life Bunny is worried about his straight laced partner Gringo. Gringo’s marriage is on the rocks but it is clear he is hiding something more worrying.
I am a big fan of humour in my crime fiction and this most definitely has that in spades. Caimh McDonnell manages to mix a police procedural with funny escapades incredibly skilfully. This novel felt like a bit of slower read than the previous ones, but that is rather deliberate I imagine as it gives you more of an insight into the detectives head. The writing is funny, but there is an element of sadness within this novel which for me really made this stand out.
The characters are all well written, and although there are a lot of them they are easy to keep track off. Obviously I don’t want to give away any spoilers but you should definitely look out for the nuns! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would recommend any of this series. I‘m very much looking forward to the final in the trilogy.
Angels in the Moonlight is out now
I have always been very glad to live in York. It’s a beautiful city, full of stunning buildings like the Minster, and beautiful green spaces such as Hob Moor (my personal favourite although I’m on the Friends committee so am biased) We have great pubs and lots of them, we have wonderful coffee shops (so I’ve been told anyway, pubs I have more first hand experience) and of course we are nice and close to the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.
Well this year York has suddenly got even better. A little while ago I spotted that one of my favourite authors Val McDermid was speaking at my local library. Of course I snapped up a ticket as it is always a pleasure to hear Val talk. What I hadn’t realised was that this talk was just a little taster of what was to come with the launch of York’s Big City Read 2017. The novel chosen was To Catch A Rabbit, by York based author Helen Cadbury who I was lucky enough to meet earlier this year. Sadly Helen died back in June, but the programme she helped put together is a fantastic legacy, and it is great that so many people will discover her excellent novels.
The line up this year is great, especially for die hard crime fiction fans like me. Over the next few weeks there are talks by authors including Sophie Hannah, Ruth Ware, and Francis Brody (I’m on her blog tour in October) There are discussion events including book groups all round the city who are going to be talking about To Catch A Rabbit. There are workshops on things such as using Goodreads, and planning the perfect murder (always useful to know just in case) There are plays straight from the Edinburgh Fringe and murder mysteries to join in. To top it all off the event ends with an ‘in conversation’ with the fabulous Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre.
The event kicked off last Thursday with Val McDermid and it was of course a great start. Only at a crime readers event could conversations include crisp packets as incendiary devices, painted Christmas trees, and burying bodies without someone calling the police.
As if York didn’t have enough reasons already to visit, the Big City Read programme of events has just provided one more. If anyone needs me during the next few weeks l’ll be in the library (or maybe in the pub obviously, even crime readers have to have time out of the library sometimes!)
Find out more about the programme of events here York Big City Read