3 06 2011

Hypothermia by Arnuldar Indridason

One cold autumn night, a woman is found hanging from a beam at her holiday cottage. At first sight, it appears like a straightforward case of suicide; María had never recovered from the death of her mother two years previously and she had a history of depression. But then the friend who found her body approaches Detective Erlendur with a tape of a séance that María attended before her death and his curiosity is aroused…

Driven by a need to find answers, Erlendur begins an unofficial investigation into María’s death. But he is also haunted by another unsolved mystery – the disappearance of two young people thirty years ago – and by his own quest to find the body of his brother, who died in a blizzard when he was a boy.

It’s not at all straightforward for Erlendur who remains a fascinating lead character. This series of admittedly often bleak Icelandic crime novels just seems to get better and better.

Robin a bobbin

17 02 2011

Redbreast by Jo Nesbo

According to Vogue: “Nobody can delve into the dark, twisted mind of a murderer better than a Scandinavian thriller writer”. Nothing like a sweeping generalisation to start things off. However, this is a really good crime thriller and well worth the puff. The blurb summarises it thus:

Harry Hole, drunkard, loner and brilliant detective is reassigned to surveillance after a high profile mistake. He’s bored by his new job until a report of a rare and unusual gun being fired sparks his interest because of its possible links to Neo Nazi activity. Then a former soldier is found with his throat cut. Next Harry’s former partner is murdered. Why had she been trying to reach Harry on the night her head was smashed in? The investigation leads Harry to suspect that the crimes have their roots in the battlefields of Eastern Front during WWII. In a quest that takes him to South Africa and Vienna, Harry finds himself perpetually one step behind the killer. He will be both winner and loser by the novel’s nail-biting conclusion. The Redbreast. He’s your judge, jury and executioner…And he must be stopped.

All good stuff. Looking forward to further cheery storylines in this series. Without wishing to spoil the plot too much I think it only fair to point out that the Redbreast of the title is not, in this case, an actual bird. Nor is he called Robin. In fact he displays very little interest in ornithology whatsoever what with all of that judging and executing.

[Read on iPad]

On Rebus

27 01 2008

The Rebus books by Ian Rankin

Have not mentioned the Rebus series before but in the past four or five years have read them all. OK, only just. Iwas going to wait for Exit Music to appear in paperback but then just couldn’t delay any longer and have just finished it. Generally, I avoid the Waterstones’ crime section, but was finally persuaded by the weight of highbrow reviews of Rankin to give him a go.

And am pretty glad I did. Despite the often grim subject matter I have found them all to be an easy read with really strong characterisation, not only of Rebus and those closest to him but other more transient individuals too. And a gritty and real Edinburgh is pretty prominent in most of the books too.

So, overall, good fun and really great entertainment. The soundtrack to Rebus’ life is not one I would choose for a minute (generally stuck in the early 70s) but despite this he is a genuinely interesting and sometimes almost likable rather than an annoying and curmudgeonly rebel (which is generally others’ view of him).

This is, I think, the full list in order

Rebus Series:
1 Knots and Crosses (1987)
2 Hide and Seek (1991)
3 Tooth and Nail (1992)
A good hanging (short stories)
4 Strip Jack (1992)
5 The Black Book (1993)
6 Mortal Causes (1994)
7 Let It Bleed (1996)
8 Black and Blue (1997)


9 The Hanging Garden (1998)
10 Dead Souls (1999)
11 Set in Darkness (2000)
12 The Falls (2001)
13 Resurrection Men (2003)
14 A Question of Blood (2004)
15 Fleshmarket close (2005)
16 Naming of the Dead (2006)
17 Exit Music (2007)

All highly recommended but don’t ask me to remember which one is which.

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