New mysteries for November bring more translated Scandinavian crime fiction from Leif G.W. Persson, Kristina Ohlsson, with debuts from Vidar Sundstøl and Leena Lehtolainen; the latest Inspector Montalbano from Andrea Camilleri; and Barry Lancet’s acclaimed debut thriller ‘Japantown’…
The disappeared / Kristina Ohlsson ; translated by Marlaine Delargy.
“The body of a young woman is found carved up and buried in a forest glade in an innocuous Stockholm suburb. As Fredrika Bergman and her colleagues in the Stockholm Police continue to excavate the site, several more bodies are unearthed. Meanwhile, the name of a children’s fiction author keeps cropping up in the investigation. All the bodies in the mass grave appear to have some connection to the old author and her enigmatic circle of friends The Guardian Angels who formed an elitist film club in the 60s. But the elderly writer is mute and incapable of helping Fredrika with the investigation.” (Adapted from Syndetics review)
He who kills the dragon / Leif G.W. Persson ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“It should have been an open-and-shut case. Two drunks, previously acquainted with one another, meet for a bite to eat and considerably more to drink, fall into an argument about one of the many pointless matters that make up their private shared history. And one of them brings their evening together to an end by beating the other to death. A strangely routine and yet puzzling scenario for Detective Superintendent Evert Bäckström, whose legendary poor temper not been improved by strict orders from his doctor to lead a healthier life. His gut feeling proves him right: within days, his team has another murder on their hands, linked to the first, and reports of alleged ties to a van heist in which two people died. The nation needs a hero, and who better to save the day than Evert Bäckströ – misanthropic, ostentatious, devoid of morals, Hawaii-shirt-clad, and latterly armed? Once again a combination of laziness, luck and an unbelievable sense of timing may rescue him from the perils of his fifteen minutes of fame.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)
Japantown : a thriller / Barry Lancet.
“Lancet successfully places a PI in an international thriller plot in his highly entertaining debut. Five members of the Nakamura family have been gunned down at a pedestrian mall in San Francisco’s Japantown. SFPD Lt. Frank Renna asks Jim Brodie, an antiques dealer who inherited his father’s Tokyo-based private investigation firm, to decipher the one clue found at the crime scene: a single kanji, or Japanese letter, written on a piece of paper. Jim saw that same letter before-at the house fire in which his wife, Mieko, perished. Tokyo communications mogul Katsuyuki Hara hires Jim to find out who murdered his eldest daughter and the four other family members, including two children. The PI gets on the trail of the ruthless Soga, a private army for hire that’s responsible for unsolved high-profile deaths worldwide. The case becomes personal when the Soga kidnap Jim’s six-year-old daughter, Jenny. Readers will want to see more of the talented Jim, with his expertise in Japanese culture, history, and martial arts.” (Adapted from Syndetics review)
The land of dreams / Vidar Sundstøl ; translated by Tiina Nunnally.
“Norwegian crime novelist Sundstol’s stellar psychological thriller, the first in his Minnesota Trilogy, stunningly evokes the North Shore of Lake Superior and its people-Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish settlers, as well as Objibway Native Americans. When 46-year-old forest ranger and amateur historian Lance Hansen checks out a report of someone illegally pitching a tent near the lake, he comes across a distraught naked man smeared with dried blood and close by the body of the man’s murdered companion, both apparently Norwegian tourists. Lance soon gets entangled in a web of intrigue, revenge, and old unresolved conflicts-not the least agonizing of which is with his brother, Andy, whom Lance saw near the murder site before discovering the body… Like his detective Eirik Nyland, brought from Oslo to investigate the crime, Sundstol is an outsider, and as such, he clearly recognizes the violent energy beneath the placid surface of Cook County, Minn. Nunnally’s convincing translation helps bring it all to unforgettable life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
The treasure hunt / Andrea Camilleri.
“Sicilian police inspector Salvo Montalbano has a way of finding himself in some truly oddball situations, but this time he outdoes himself, with the oddball gauge securely in the red zone from the get-go. It starts with a comical action scene: a crazed brother and sister open fire from their apartment window on the plaza below, prompting Montalbano to turn Spider-Man and scale the building, collaring the seventysomething snipers. The inspector’s unlikely heroics are heralded in the press, prompting a curious response: someone begins sending Salvo peculiar notes, in rhyme, demanding that he take part in a treasure hunt. The clues seem only eccentric in the beginning, but as Montalbano follows the paths they chart, he begins to sense a sinister undertone. Could the hunt possibly tie in to the disappearance of a local girl? As always, Camilleri expertly mixes comedy with serious crime, but this time the evil foreshadowings dominate the tone (harking back to the earlier volumes in the series). Salvo wears his melancholy well—musings on aging accentuate the dark direction of the plot—and the bittersweet ending hits just the right end note.” (From Amazon.com review)
Savage spring / Mons Kallentoft ; translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith.
“The Swedish town of Linkping is bathed in Spring sunshine. The trees are blossoming and families are having breakfast at outdoor tables in the main square. Then a deafening explosion rips through the air. Broken glass and tulip petals cover the cobblestones, and two little girls, twin sisters, are killed while their mother is left fighting for her life. Detective Inspector Malin Fors has just attended her own mother’s funeral when she is summoned to the devastating scene. But, although Malin is plagued with questions about her past and the secrets her mother never revealed, she must once again bury her own pain if she is to find Tuva and Mira Viger?’s killer before he strikes again.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)
Let it burn / Steve Hamilton.
“A teenager Alex McKnight helped arrest for a savage murder is being released from prison. McKnight decides to make a sentimental journey to Detroit, scene of his finest hours as a cop as well as subsequent events that derailed his life and caused him to seek refuge on Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula. But soon after his arrival in the city, he begins to think he may have helped send an innocent teenager to prison, and he is determined to set things right. Let It Burn reads like several different kinds of novel. It begins with a man approaching 60, looking back ruefully on events that ended the life he’d anticipated. Then, in flashback, it describes the frantic hunt for the murderer before returning to the present and becoming a private-eye novel. By turns, it is either gauzy and impressionistic or a minutely detailed procedural.” (From Amazon.com review)
My first murder / Leena Lehtolainen ; translated by Owen F. Witesman.
“Rookie detective Maria Kallio is called out to a puzzling case involving a respected choir composed of college-age and 20-something adults. One of the members has been murdered at the Helsinki villa where the choir was invited for the weekend. Odds are that one of the victim’s fellow choristers killed him. Coincidentally, Maria knows many of the individuals, having gone to college with them. Despite the potential conflict of interest, the short-staffed police department makes it her case. But can Maria stay professional and not let her personal prejudices blind her to the mounting evidence? VERDICT Lehtolainen’s first entry (originally published in 1993) in a series long popular in Finland is an engaging Scandinavian procedural sure to appeal to Helene Tursten fans. It is also a good choice for readers who like a young protagonist trying to establish herself in a man’s world, not unlike Tess Gerritsen’s early Rizzoli and Isles titles.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Season of the witch / Arni Thorarinsson ; translated by Anna Yates.
“An inconvenient reassignment has landed Reykjavik crime reporter Einar in the small northern town of Akureyri, where his biggest story to date has been the college stage production of Loftur the Sorcerer, an Icelandic folktale of ambition and greed. But that supposedly ancient history becomes ominously relevant when an unexpected new story lands in Einar’s lap: a local woman dies after falling overboard during a corporate boating retreat. All evidence suggests an accident, but when the victim’s mother cries foul play, kind-hearted Einar agrees to investigate. Days later, the lead actor in Loftur vanishes, leaving the locals reeling – and Einar unconvinced that a single village could be so accident prone. Keenly perceptive and hungry for the truth, he begins to chip away at the small-town facade, uncovering a tangled and all-too-modern web of power and greed that threatens to devour the historic community once and for all.” (From Syndetics summary)
Daybreak / Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson ; translated by Björg Árnadóttir and Andrew Cauthery.
“When the shotgun-blasted body of a goose hunter is discovered, the police believe they have a list of suspects who may have wanted the victim dead, from his young wife to the caretaker of his property. But then a second body, another hunter, is found with a similar fatal wound. And then a third. As the pattern emerges–all goose hunters, all shot at the break of dawn–Reykjavik policemen Gunnar and Birkir face the terrifying possibility that a serial killer is stalking the idyllic Icelandic countryside. Gunnar and Birkir set a trap for the one they call ‘the Gander,’ but it quickly becomes a wild goose chase as the murderer plays some tricks of his own. With the clock running out and the discovery of another body all but guaranteed, the cops must determine if there is a thread connecting the victims or if the killings are all part of a twisted game.” (From Syndetics summary)