I am a fan of an Icelandic setting in my crime fiction and therefore I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Madsen.
Thirty Days of Darkness begins with novelist Hannah who wrote a critically acclaimed novel, albeit one that no one had read. She is incredibly scathing of crime fiction, especially her arch nemesis Jorn, a best selling crime fiction writer. During a rather public spat with him she states that she believes she could write a crime novel in a month, a challenge that her publisher decides to take her up on and quickly ships her off to a remote village to stay for 30 days to complete her first crime fiction novel. It’s not long before she realises it might not be as simple as she thought, but equally the village doesn’t turn out to be as quiet as she thought either. When a body turns up Hannah decides to turn amateur sleuth in the hope that it will ignite her inner crime writer!
This was a good read that I enjoyed on the whole. The actual novel writing part of Hannah’s story is almost secondary to the plot, and glossed over at the end but as a story prop it worked well. The focus is very much on the crime in the village, and the secrets and lies of all it’s inhabitants.
The setting of the book is key to the drama within. The long dark nights and cold short days give the story a sense of claustrophobia that only comes from places where the dark outweighs the light. Obviously this was a translated novel but clearly the translation was good as the writing seemed to flow well and I enjoyed how the story progressed.
The character of Hannah wasn’t particularly likeable for me, but it did make a change to read a novel where you are not instantly drawn to the main protagonist. However when her nemesis Jorn appears the pair together quickly lift the novel adding a humour to what was essentially a dark story.. There is a big cast of characters despite the small village setting and they are all drawn skilfully. Each one becomes a suspect in the crime, as one by one the clues to the true perpetrator are slowly revealed.
Overall I felt this was a good debut, and definitely worth a read if you like a bit of Scandinavian crime. Huge thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy.
Find out what others thought of the book by visiting other stops on the blog tour:
I find that often because I read so many new and debut authors I can often ignore established writers, especially those with long running series where I have probably missed out on a few of the books. Ann Cleaves is one of those authors but when I was offered a copy of her latest Vera novel I decided to give it a go, and I most certainly wasn’t disappointed.
In the Rising Tide we are transported to the Holy Island of Lindesfarne which is one of my favourite places. A group of friends are gathering for their regular reunion to remember a friend they lost during their first visit there fifty years ago. When one of the group is found hanged Vera Stanhope is called to investigate. The dead man had recently been fired from a very public role for misconduct and Vera soon realises that the friends are all hiding secrets.
This was an absolutely fantastic read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I had forgotten how much I love Vera Stanhope as a character. Her gruff exterior belies a heart that does really care and this case will test her resolve, especially at the heartbreaking finale. Vera is such an iconic character loved by everyone that it must be difficult to write her without having that always in the back of your head but Ann Cleeves manages to write a character that is both flawed and wonderful at the same time.
The story itself is intriguing. I enjoyed the mix of characters and liked the fact that we were introduced to them all individually at the beginning which gave us a real sense of who they all were. Ann Cleeves has a superb way of writing that absolutely flows of the page. There is a real sense of place about the books, and I thoroughly enjoyed the setting of Lindesfarne. It’s a beautiful place but within it is a real sense of menace and danger that comes from living somewhere that is cut off for a lot of the time.
The Rising Tide was a great read that was absolutely enthralling. I had forgotten what a superb author Ann Cleeves is and what a fantastic character we have in Vera!
Find out what other bloggers on the tour thought by visiting the stops below
I’ve been lucky enough to be invited onto some fantastic blog tours recently and the latest for the new novel by Karen Rose is no exception.
Quarter to Midnight by Karen Rose is the start of a brand new series featuring a band of private investigators led by Burke Broussard. Rocky Herbert has seemingly killed himself, however his son Gabe is certain that his dad wouldn’t do that and has a private autopsy done before hiring the Broussard agency. PI Molly Sutton soon realises that ex policeman Rocky was working on his own investigation. An investigation that threatens to expose corruption within the police force and bring down some high ranking individuals. A phonecall leads them to Xavier, a young lad who is the key witness to the case. Unfortunately they are not the only people who know that Xavier is the key and soon they are all running for their lives.
This is a great start to a cracking new series that was full of action and twists from the start. The series is set in New Orleans which is a fascinating city that Karen Rose managed to portray all sides of, from the terrible devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina to the diverse musical heritage the place is known for to the amazing sounding food and drink.
I enjoyed this story although it was not a quick read at over 600 pages and for me it did seem to drag on a bit in the middle but that’s probably because I was impatient to find out what was going to happen.
There were a lot of characters to keep track of but I found the story was so engrossing that it’s simple to keep everyone straight. I really enjoyed the characters of Xavier’s Mum and her friend Willa Mae. Their light hearted banter in the midst of some dark scenes was a real highlight.
As with a lot of the author’s stories this has a romance element and the budding relationship between PI Molly and her charge Gabe is interesting, although as I was keen to get back to the thriller element. The mix of thriller, romance and old fashioned adventure story was a mix that worked really well and creates a riveting read.
I have always been a big fan of Karen Rose, and despite it’s length this is a great start to a new series and I would definitely be looking out for the next in the series.
Having spent part of my childhood living near the seaside town of Cromer I have always had a bit of a fascination with coastal places, especially the disconnect between the holiday sunny ideal and the reality of seasonal living. Therefore when I was asked to review a true crime book focusing on murders in seaside towns I jumped at the chance.
Murder by the Sea is a companion to the CBS Reality true crime documentary series of the same name, and features 10 of the series stories with extra material that couldn’t be in the show, including interviews with detectives and witnesses.
This was a fascinating book with 10 hideous crimes all set in British Seaside Towns. Some of the stories you may know, for example that of John Cooper who was portrayed in the TV drama series The Pembrokeshire Murders. There are also others that I hadn’t heard of such as Mathew Hardman who killed Mabel Leyshon in Anglsey, or Malcom Green who murdered Gleys Johnson and Clive Tully nearly twenty years apart.
Murder By The Sea gives an interesting insight into the crimes and both the murderers as well as the victims but it also paints a picture of the coastal towns that goes against the postcard pictures usually seen. I really enjoyed the way this book was written. Each of the ten stories are well researched and have enough details to keep you interested but equally each chapter is relatively short so it keeps you reading.
A must for fans of true crime and a good read whether or not you have seen the TV series.