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:
There is nothing more exciting (if you ask me) than getting a brand new hardback book through the post, especially when it’s one of my favourite authors. So I was very pleased to receive a copy of the latest book by Harlan Coben.
I Will Find You starts with family man David. He was happily married with a three year old son. However when he wakes one morning to find he is covered in blood and his son is dead his nightmare is only just beginning as he is found guilty of murder. Five years into a life sentence his sister in law comes to visit him with some life changing news. She has a photo that in the background has a little boy that looks just like David’s son Matty. Despite the logical part of his brain saying that it can’t be him, there is also a bit of him that thinks that is his son. He has to prove it one way or another.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story that follows David’s attempt to clear his name. Of course there were lots of bits that were a little far fetched, but it’s fiction after all. He was certainly a lucky man managing to evade the police as well as others after him so many times. However this was such a fast paced novel that you don’t get time to think too much about the coincidences.
I did guess part of the twist before the end but still couldn’t wait to see if I was right or not. I like the way that Harlan’s books are written, they are dialogue heavy which feels like it gives a good insight into the characters and I liked the way the characters bounced off each other. The detectives were characters that I really warmed to and they had a good mix of banter and detective work,
The chapter’s are short and read easily which makes for an enjoyable read. I wouldn’t say that this is the best of his recent novels but it was still a great read that is definitely entertaining and I can imagine Netflix will have another great hit on their hand.
I have a bad habit of downloading books onto my kindle and then completely forgetting what they about, even if I’m on a blog tour. That is exactly what happened with The Good Samaritan by C.J Parsons, so I started reading with no idea of what the story was about but I was soon sucked in.
The Good Samaritan starts with Carrie’s 5 year old daughter Sophia going missing from their local play park. Carrie has a condition meaning that she cannot read facial expressions and finds social situations difficult, so struggles to cope with new people. Days after the abduction Sophia is found by a stranger but there is no sign of the abductor and the police have no clues. Carrie is therefore going to have to try and trust her own instincts to keep herself and her daughter safe.
I thought this was a great read that kept me absolutely engrossed. I found the story quite unusual, a crime has been committed but there seems to be no motive or clue as to the perpetrator and Sophia has been returned unharmed. There seems to be two potential suspects, yet neither of them stand out and as the story progresses I was constantly going backwards and forwards thinking one thing and then changing my mind.
I found the character of Carrie intriguing. Being unable to read emotions from facial expressions was not a condition I had heard of before. You soon realise how difficult it would make situations if you couldn’t tell the difference between a genuine smile or a sarcastic one. I felt real sympathy for Carrie as she tried to navigate her way through situations that to most of us would be relatively simple. Her reliance on others to interpret emotion put her at a real threat of those who might want to take advantage.
This novel really focuses on just six people despite an interesting cast of supplemental characters and I felt that gave it a strange sense of tension, almost like a locked room style mystery. The two detectives on the case Juliet and Alistair were good characters. They gave a different element to the story and complemented the more intense character of Carrie as they bounced off one another.
This was an excellent story that I thoroughly enjoyed, I would definitely read more from CJ Parsons!
Find out what others on the blog tour thought of The Good Samaritan
My latest read has been My Sister, The Serial Killer. No this is is not autobiographical (Well as far as I know, bearing in mind the Sister lives with our parent’s and they are both very much alive and fighting fit so I assume if she had murderous tendencies the patio area might have been much extended by now!) My Sister the Serial Killer is actually the debut novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Set in Nigeria, it tells the story of Korede, the elder sister of Ayoola. The sisters are very close. So much so that Ayoola can ring Korede any time of the day or night knowing that she will drop everything to help her. Even when that help involves bleach, rubber gloves and the ability to move a body, for the third time. I picked this novel up on a whim whilst browsing Waterstones, at the time I hadn’t realised that Oyinkan was appearing at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival next weekend. Well once I started reading I couldn’t stop and I read this pretty much over two nights. My Sister, the Serial Killer was a really engaging novel. This wasn’t a long book, and had it been formatted like a normal book I imagine it would have been very small but that was part of the charm. It felt like quite a simple story, yet for some reason it is one that really gets under your skin. It is a slow story that is hard to explain, as it feels like nothing happens, yet it also includes murder galore. The sisters are two very different people. One is glamourous and exciting, the other is rather dowdy and dull yet they are bound together by a bond that only siblings will understand. I found the interaction between the two sisters interesting. There were moments where you just want to give Korede a good talking too and make her stop enabling her sister’s murderous ways. Yet equally you feel for her as she is trying to make the best of a situation that she didn’t create but is stuck in. This is mainly a story about relationships rather than murder. The writing is full of short quick sentences and the rather macabre topic is lifted by the deadpan humour of Korede. I would highly recommend My Sister, the Serial Killer for a quick engaging read and I am very much looking forward to hearing Oyinkan speak next week.