Wintery crime: Nordic Noir

The Man Who Died book cover

Exposing the shadowy side of Scandinavian life, these dark tales are gritty and unpredictable. This selection of recent titles from Scandinavia has authors from: Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.  Some are translated from the original, a couple feature writing partnerships that have created award winning television series, authors who have inspired movies and adaptations of classics in a modern setting.


The scarred woman / Jussi Adler-Olsen (from Denmark)
“The body of an elderly woman is found in a Copenhagen park, and since this book features Detective Carl Morck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, you can bet the case bears resemblance to an unsolved murder dating back a decade. The race is on, and if Morck doesn’t win this one, Department Q will be closed.” (Catalogue)

The silent girl : a Sebastian Bergman thriller /Michael Hjorth (from Sweden)
“An idyllic white, two-storey, beautiful house in Sweden. Inside, a family has been brutally murdered – mother, father and two young children all shot in broad daylight. And the killer has got away. Sebastian Bergman is at a dead end until he discovers a young girl saw it all happen has disappeared.  Bergman has to track the young girl down before it’s too late. But the killer is chasing her too – and he is determined to finish what he started.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The reckoning / Yrsa Sigurdardottir (from Iceland)
“In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait. This is the chilling message found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried. But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat… Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him busy and away from real police work. He turns to Freyja to help with the psychology of the child who hid the note. Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.” (Catalogue)

Three minutes / Anders Roslund  (from Sweden)
Roslund & Hellstrom are a writing team consisting of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom. Follow the link to discover Roslund’s links to Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
“One-time Swedish government agent Piet Hoffmann is on the run: both from the life prison sentence, and from the Polish mafia. In order to survive, he ends up as bodyguard and hit man for the Colombian mafia, and is approached by the US DEA to infiltrate the same cartel.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The man who died / Antti Tuomainen  (Finland)
“A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, markinng a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo (from Norway)
Adapted from the classic as part of the Hogarth Press Shakespeare series.  This grim retelling uses place as well as character to evoke the struggle of flawed individuals under the influence of the headiest of drugs, power. Macbeth is cast as an inspector unexpectedly finding himself in a place foretold by potion brewing sisters. ‘The Lady’ has her own designs on power both have laid out a path of disastrous consequences.

The girl in the woods / Camilla Läckberg  (from Sweden)
Popular author Camilla Lackberg has a series of books based in Fjllbacka as one of her creative pursuits.
“When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjllbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered. Detective Patrik Hedstrm starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.” (Catalogue)

The ice swimmer / Kjell Ola Dahl  (from Norway)
“When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated.  Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.” (Catalogue)

The shadow district / Arnaldur Indriðason (from Iceland)
“A 90-year-old man is found dead in his bed, smothered with his own pillow. On his desk the police find newspaper cuttings about a murder case dating from the Second World War, when a young woman was found strangled behind Reykjavik’s National Theatre. Konrad, a former detective, is bored with retirement, he grew up in “the shadow district” and remembers the crime. Why would someone be interested in that crime now? He starts his own unofficial enquiry.” (Catalogue)

Swedish author Henning Mankell dies

Syndetics book coverThe very popular writer Henning Mankell, aged 67 has died of cancer. Best known for his mystery thrillers, featuring the character Swedish police detective Kurt Wallander, he was also a prolific writer of stage plays, children’s books, screenplays and general fiction.
His first novel, published in 1991, was translated into English in 1997 and was titled Faceless Killers. He received, almost annually, many international awards and honours for his writing. His last novel was titled An Autumn Event and was published in 2014.

November Fiction Newsletter

Welcome to the November Fiction newsletter a selection of the best fiction from our most recently received titles. This month’s Other Genre features some exciting new fiction from New Zealand writers and in the New Contemporary Fiction category, we have the latest blockbusters from three top Australian writers. As the holiday season approaches there are many great new books with which to read away the long summer days.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

Blockbusters abound in this month’s selection of New Contemporary fiction. Highly recommended is the much acclaimed Tim Winton‘s new novel titled, Eyre.

Syndetics book coverAn officer and a spy / Robert Harris.
“January 1895. On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, Georges Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of twenty thousand spectators baying ‘Death to the Jew!’ The officer Picquart is made the French army’s youngest colonel and put in command of ‘the Statistical Section’, the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus. The spy, meanwhile, is shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil’s Island, unable to speak to anyone, not even his guards, his case seems closed forever. But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section. When he discovers another German spy operating on French soil, his superiors are oddly reluctant to pursue it. Despite official warnings, Picquart persists, and soon the officer and the spy are in the same predicament.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBarracuda / Christos Tsiolkas.
“Daniel Kelly, a talented young swimmer, has one chance to escape his working-class upbringing. His astonishing ability in the pool should drive him to fame and fortune, as well as his revenge on the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sport scholarship. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of his dream. But when he melts down at his first big international championship and comes only fifth, he begins to destroy everything he has fought for and turn on everyone around him.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverEyrie / Tim Winton.
“The story of Tom Keely, a man who’s lost his bearings in middle age and is now holed up in a flat at the top of a grim high-rise, looking down on the world he’s fallen out of love with. He’s cut himself off, until one day he runs into some neighbours: a woman he used to know when they were kids, and her introverted young boy. The encounter shakes him up in a way that he doesn’t understand. Despite himself, Keely lets them in.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Read more

Graphic novels

In this month’s new Graphic Novels horror, super heroes, crime and suspense are well represented. For a thought provoking read we highly recommend Rachel Hope Allison’s, I’m not a plastic bag.

Syndetics book coverI’m not a plastic bag : a graphic novel / story and art by Rachel Hope Allison ; forward [sic] by Jeff Corwin.
“An allegorical tale about pollution. In this wordless graphic novel, produced in association with biologist/TV host Jeff Corwin, Allison tackles the real-world result of modern consumption and trash production: the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. But rather than showing the formless slew it is in reality, Allison creates a lonely, floating landfill that communicates in words from restaurant signs and name tags. By its very nature, the trash monster is a danger to those it would befriend, and its only hope for happiness lies in transformation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFerals. Vol. 1 / written by David Lapham ; art by Gabriel Andrade.
“Officer Dale Chesnutt is a lawman with a big, bloody problem. Slaughtered civilians are turning up in the sleepy town of Cypress, and the burden falls on him to end the carnage. But no sooner does he begin his investigation than he finds himself violently drawn to a sexy, mysterious woman and a vicious creature strikes again at Dale’s own family.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSupurbia. Volume one, Power couples / [created and written by Grace Randolph ; art by Russell Dauterman].
“What goes down when the capes come off? Meet the ‘Real Housewives’ of Earth’s greatest super-team, the Meta legion! It’s the egos, the tantrums, and the betrayals of the super set. Find out what happens behind the masks as superhero families are faced with the sordid problems of everyday life.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more

Mysteries

Yet more translated Scandinavian crime fiction feature in this month’s selection of new Mystery fiction. For something different, the debut thriller titled, Japantown by Barry Lancet is highly recommended.

Syndetics book coverHe 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)

Syndetics book coverJapantown : 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)

Syndetics book coverSavage 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)

Read more

Science fiction/fantasy

From Aliens to Zombies, Kings to Kraken, cobra snakes to Japanese Monks, all will provide entertaining reading for Science Fiction and Fantasy enthusiasts in this month’s newly received material. Recommended is the latest novel by veteran Science Fiction writer Stephen Baxter, titled Proxima.

Syndetics book coverProxima / Stephen Baxter. “The 27th century: Proxima Centauri, an undistinguished red dwarf star, is the nearest star to our sun and (in this fiction), the nearest to host a world, Proxima IV, habitable by humans. But Proxima IV is unlike Earth in many ways. Huddling close to the warmth, orbiting in weeks, it keeps one face to its parent star at all times. The ’substellar point’, with the star forever overhead, is a blasted desert, and the ‘antistellar point’ on the far side is under an ice cap in perpetual darkness. How would it be to live on such a world? Needle ships fall from Proxima IV’s sky. Yuri Jones, with 1000 others, is about to find out.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe incrementalists / Steven Brust and Skyler White.
“A secret society has existed for millennia, operating under the surface of society. The Incrementalists are improving the world by making slight adjustments that make human existence a bit better than it might have been. They had a hand in the invention of the MP3 format, and they practically invented Robin Hood. But now they have a major problem on their hands. One of their own, who recently died, might have been murdered, and the woman who was given her memories paradoxically doesn’t seem to be able to remember her. Even worse, it looks like the dead woman has somehow manipulated the Incrementalists (or, to be more precise, Phil, who has loved her for centuries) into putting her memories into a very specific young woman for a very specific and quite troubling, possibly catastrophic, reason.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOn the razor’s edge / Michael Flynn.
“The Harper, Mearana, is kidnapped by Ravn Olafsdotter or, more accurately, manipulated into venturing to Terra to rescue her father, and Bridget ban, as Ravn and Mearana know, follows with a pack of Hounds. Gidula, one of the rebels, holds Donovan, demanding that he retrieve the secrets held between the fractured personalities of his mind.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more

Other genres

This month’s Other Genre selection highlights new works form New Zealand writers. Some great reading from some talented writers. Highly recommend new novel from Carl Nixon titled, The Virgin and the Whale.

Husbandry for the single woman / Carmel Hurdle.
“As electric drills whirr and there’s threat of a wrecking ball hitting her office desk, Ginny Barnes decides her workplace has become a demolition site. The final straw is discovering that the harbour-view office ear-marked for her on the renovation plan has now been allocated to the big-bosomed Darlene Duffy. She decides to place an advertisement in a farming newspaper. The response is promising, but after sifting through several dubious replies, Ginny is about to give up the idea of leaving town for the countryside. Then she opens a letter from an older woman, Maureen Moffat, an Elvis Presley fan, who is looking for help on her farm.” (Adapted from Book cover)

Syndetics book coverThe infinite air / Fiona Kidman.
“Jean Batten became an international icon in the 1930s. A brave, glamorous woman, she made a number of heroic solo flights across the world. The newspapers couldn’t get enough of her; and yet she suddenly slipped out of view, disappearing to the Caribbean with her mother and dying in obscurity in Majorca, buried in a pauper’s grave.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe virgin and the whale : a love story / Carl Nixon.
“It is 1919. Elizabeth Whitman is working as a nurse in the local hospital, waiting for her husband to return from war, though he is missing in action, ‘presumed dead’. She keeps him alive for their four-year-old son, Jack, by telling the story of a man she calls The Balloonist, who went away in a hot-air balloon and has adventures in exotic countries. When she is asked to nurse a returned soldier, whose head injury has reduced him to an animal-like state with no memory, Elizabeth starts telling stories to him. It is through them that she manages to engage his interest and offer him a new life in more ways than one.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more

Fiction Newsletter for August

Welcome to the Fiction newsletter for August. This month New Zealand writers are featured in the Other Genre catagory, leading with Eleanore Catton‘s Mann Booker Prize contender, The Luminaries. In this selection of the best most recently recieved fiction across all genres you can be sure there will be something to tempt you.

Library News

Contemporary fiction

The selection from the new contemporary fiction selection this month includes the new blockbuster, Paris by Edward Rutherfurd, tracing the history of this fascinating city through the lives of one Parisian family.

Syndetics book coverPerfect / Rachel Joyce.
“In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was in order to balance clock time with the movement of the Earth. Byron Hemming knew this because James Lowe had told him and James was the cleverest boy at school. But how could time change? The steady movement of hands around a clock was as certain as their golden futures. Then Byron’s mother, late for the school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? And can what happened ever be put right?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParis / Edward Rutherfurd.
“The story of a Parisian family that starts in Roman times, then sweeps along from the building of Notre Dame to the Hundred Years’ War, the glories of Versailles, the Revolution, the Belle Epoque, the remarkable Twenties, and, finally, World War II.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe English girl : a novel / Daniel Silva.
“Gabriel Allon, Israeli secret agent and art restorer is home in Jerusalem when an intelligence acquaintance pays him a visit. The British prime minister has received a ransom demand for his captive lover, Madeline Hart. He has to pay in seven days, or she dies and the scandal will be revealed to the media. Allon’s assignment launches him on a chase around Europe and Russia, he finds a few unlikely allies in an assassin who once spared his life and a Russian businessman, as he peels away the layers of the elaborate blackmail scheme that is bigger and more dangerous than anyone anticipated.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more

Graphic novels

This month’s selection includes the first graphic novel by Yves Pelletier titled Fammy & Romeo. Just delightful. Of course the hard edged fiction is also included from apocalyptic alien invasion to Noir Crime.

Syndetics book coverTumor / written by Joshua Hale Fialkov ; art by Noel Tuazon.
“Tumor is the story of Frank Armstrong, a man at the boot heel of the world, barely scraping up a living as a private investigator in modern day Los Angeles. He finally lands a big case, finding the missing daughter of a drug kingpin, just as he’s taken by the symptoms of a late-stage brain tumor. Memories blend with reality, as the missing girl case starts to seep into the memory of his missing wife from 20 years prior. Now, with days, maybe even hours, left to live, he must save this girl, while the one thing he’s relied on all of his life fails him, his mind!” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFanny & Romeo / Yves Pelletier, Pascal Girard ; [translation by KerryAnn Cochrane]. “The story concerns a young couple, Fanny wants to have children, and Fabien doesn’t feel ready. Then a cat called Romeo comes into their lives. She falls in love, but he’s allergic. Fanny becomes more and more attached to the cat, to the point where she actually rents a separate apartment for it. But it turns out her Romeo has actually been two-timing her.” (adapted from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverExtermination. Volume 1, The last and dreadful hour / written by Simon Spurrier ; art by Jeffrey Edwards and V. Ken Marion.
“In the wake of an apocalyptic alien invasion, the world’s greatest super-heroes and deadliest super-villains must form an alliance to prevent their own extermination. Two arch-enemies, Nox, a driven hero, and Red Reaper, a ruthless villain, form a volatile partnership for the greater good. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, but will they be able to ultimately put aside their bitter past to prevent global genocide?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Read more

Mysteries

The selection from the new mysteries for this newsletter include Scandinavian crime from Stockholm, Finland & Copenhagen

Cover imageMore bitter than death / Camilla Grebe and Åsa Träff ; translated from the Swedish by Tara Chace.
“Sometimes reliving the past revives old demons …In a Stockholm apartment, five-year-old Tilde watches from under the kitchen table as her mother is brutally kicked to death. Meanwhile, in another part of town, psychotherapist Siri Bergman and her colleague Aina meet their new patients – a group of women, all of whom are victims of domestic violence. From Kattis, who was beaten by her boyfriend and lives under the constant threat of his return, to Malin, the promising young athlete who was attacked by a man she met online, and from Sofi, the teenager abused by her stepfather, to Sirkka, an older woman who had a troubled marriage – each woman takes her turn to share her story in the safety of the sessions. But as the group gets closer, it is not long before the dangers lurking in the women’s lives outside invade the peace with shattering consequences. And somehow, the fate of five-year-old Tilde is intertwined with that of Siri and the other women, so that what started out as the search for peace will swiftly turn into a tense hunt for a murderer.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverSnow angels / James Thompson.Snow Angels
“*Starred Review* American born Finnish resident Thompson’s first novel is set in northern Finland during kaamos, the country’s two weeks of complete darkness. Inspector Vaara is newly married and about to become a father, but his American wife finds northern Finland depressing and lonely, especially after a young Somali movie star is brutally murdered, and the case consumes Vaara’s days and nights. Vaara has been chief of police in his small hometown ever since being injured as a young beat cop in Helsinki, and the few murders that have come his way have been easily solved domestic disputes or drunken bar fights. That’s not the case this time, but Vaara refuses to give up, even after finding out that his ex-wife might be involved.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hanging / Lotte and Søren Hammer.
“On a cold Monday morning before school begins, two children make a gruesome discovery. Hanging from the roof of the school gymnasium are the bodies of five naked and heavily disfigured men. Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen and his team from the Murder Squad in Copenhagen are called in to investigate this horrific case – the men hanging in a geometric pattern; the scene so closely resembling a public execution. When the identities of the five victims and the disturbing link between them is leaked to the press, the sinister motivation behind the killings quickly becomes apparent to the police. Up against a building internet campaign and even members of his own team, Simonsen finds that he must battle public opinion and vigilante groups in his mission to catch the killers. A nerve-wrenching look at justice and retribution, The Hanging is a spectacular crime tale straight from the heart of Scandinavia.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Read more

Science fiction/fantasy

Highly recommended in this seletion of new Science Fiction and Fantasy novels is the 2011 BSFA and 2012 Campbell Award winning novel titled The Islanders by Christopher Priest.

Syndetics book coverGhost spin / Chris Moriarty.
“As the brutal but reliable framework of the UN-Syndicate war collapses into anarchy in the wake of the depletion of Bose-Einstein Condensate, the material needed for reliable faster-than-light travel, Cohen, an artificial intelligence sometimes housed in a human body, commits suicide on the industrial world of New Allegheny. His lover, Catherine Li, gets word of Cohen’s death but refuses to believe that he would kill himself. She undertakes the extraordinarily dangerous journey from Earth to New Allegheny and soon gets tangled in the affairs of corrupt officials, rogue intelligence agents, and pirates.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe long war / Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter.
“A new America called Valhalla grows restless under the controlling long arm of the Datum government, while all of the Long Earth is infused by the song of the trolls who are starting to react to humanity’s thoughtless exploitation, bringing humankind to the brink of war.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe islanders / Christopher Priest.
” A tale of murder, artistic rivalry and literary trickery; a Chinese puzzle of a novel where nothing is quite what it seems; a narrator whose agenda is artful and subtle; a narrative that pulls you in and plays an elegant game with you.The Dream Archipelago is a vast network of islands. The names of the islands are different depending on who you talk to, their very locations seem to twist and shift. Some islands have been sculpted into vast musical instruments, others are home to lethal creatures, others the playground for high society. Hot winds blow across the archipelago and a war fought between two distant continents is played out across its waters.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Read more

New Mystery fiction : cold cases, profilers, NYPD detectives and medical examiners

In our picks of the new mysteries this month we’ve included lots of Scandinavian mystery fiction (so much more just keeps being translated – it’s wonderful!), plus the new Kay Scarpetta novel from Patricia Cornwell. Also included are Richard Castle‘s new novel (yes, we know – he’s a fictional character, but these are great!), and Deon Meyer‘s Seven Days — translated into English from the Afrikaans, and a great opportunity to read a complex crime novel AND peek into South African society all at the same time. Enjoy!

Syndetics book coverSeven days / Deon Meyer ; translated from Afrikaans by K. L. Seegers.
“Meyer borrows the ticking-clock framework and many of the characters from his novel Thirteen Hours (2010). A sniper has been shooting at Cape Town policemen and then sending threatening e-mails, vowing to shoot one officer a day unless they solve a cold case the murder of financial analyst Hanneke Sloet, who was fatally stabbed with a very large knife. Inspector Benny Griessel, newly transferred to the elite Hawks unit, is chosen to lead the investigation, and he is well aware of the pressure that will be raining down on him not only from the media but also from the highest levels of command. He has gone 227 days without a drink, but his old demons are calling to him, especially when he discovers that the Sloet case seems absolutely impenetrable, with no motive and no forensic evidence. As policemen continue to fall, Benny works to connect the threads, combing through financial records and trying to plumb the psyche of the ruthlessly ambitious victim, looking for something, anything, that makes sense. Sleekly done crime fiction layered with the cultural complexities of the new South Africa…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSebastian Bergman / [Michael] Hjorth & [Hans] Rosenfeldt ; translation by Marlaine Delargy.
“The electrifying thriller from the writers of BBC4 Swedish TV drama SEBASTIAN BERGMAN and the creator of the hugely successful series THE BRIDGE. The massive Swedish international bestseller and the first in the Sebastian Bergman series. Now a hit BBC4 TV drama starring Rolf Lassgård, the original WALLANDER, as Bergman. Sixteen-year-old Roger has vanished. Days pass and Västerås Police do nothing, blaming his disappearance on teenage antics. Then Roger’s pale, mutilated body is found floating in a shallow marshland pool, his heart missing, and the experts descend. They need Sebastian Bergman: widower, psychologist, top criminal profiler and one of Sweden’s foremost experts on serial killers. Since losing his wife and child Sebastian has become numb to the outside world and has no interest in taking on the murder case – until he is blindsided by a secret from his past. Desperate for access to confidential police files, he agrees to join the investigation and it’s not long until the brittle web of lies and deception seizes his full attention…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverDick Francis’s bloodline / Felix Francis.
“Francis ably follows in the footsteps of his father, Dick Francis, with his second stand-alone set in the English horse racing world (after 2011’s Dick Francis’s Gamble). Mark Shillingford, a TV commentator who covers horse races, is ridden with guilt over an argument he had with his jockey twin sister, Clare, after discovering that she was losing some races deliberately. In the aftermath of the confrontation, an angry Mark lets Clare’s phone messages go to voicemail, a choice he regrets after Clare apparently leaps to her death from a London hotel window. Mark resolves to discover what really happened in the hotel room before the fatal plunge. Suspecting that his sister’s cheating was more extensive than she admitted, he studies old video images of her recent races to spot a pattern that may identify those who wanted her dead to cover up the fraud. Fans will have a hard time distinguishing this solid thriller from the father’s work…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe absent one / Jussi Adler-Olsen ; translated by K.E. Semmel.
“Grumpy Copenhagen police detective Carl Morck finds that Department Q, the cold-case Siberia to which he was exiled in The Keeper of Lost Causes (2011), has become a little less chilly since he cracked the famous Lynggaard case although his uneasy partnership with the genial Assad has been complicated by the transfer of a difficult second assistant named Rose. A file lands on Morck’s desk and leads him to a group of industry titans who may have been getting away with murder literally since their days at an elite boarding school. Adler-Olsen riffs on inequality in Danish society, which is timely, although the predations of the bad guys are so over the top that they teeter on the edge of parody. And while Morck’s guilty feelings over his old partner’s injury gave depth to the first book, they’re treated cursorily here. Most memorable is the portrait of Kimmie, the absent one of the title, a damaged but deadly cipher who has fallen out with the group. She’s no Salander, but she’s almost as original. Less riveting than the first one, but worthwhile for fans…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFrozen heat / Richard Castle.
“Hot on the heels of Richard Castle’s #1 New York Times bestseller Heat Rises comes the fourth novel in the Nikki Heat series, Frozen Heat. Nikki Heat and Jameson Rook are together again, facing an unsolved murder mystery that has haunted Nikki for ten years. NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat arrives at her latest crime scene to find an unidentified woman stabbed to death and stuffed inside a suitcase left on a Manhattan street. Nikki is in for a big shock when this new homicide connects to the unsolved murder of her own mother. Paired once again with her romantic and investigative partner, top journalist Jameson Rook, Heat works to solve the mystery of the body in the suitcase while she is forced to confront unexplored areas of her mother’s background. Facing relentless danger as someone targets her for the next kill, Nikki’s search will unearth painful family truths, expose a startling hidden life, and cause Nikki to reexamine her own past. Heat’s passionate quest takes her and Rook from the back alleys of Manhattan to the avenues of Paris, trying to catch a ruthless killer. The question is, now that her mother’s cold case has unexpectedly thawed, will Nikki Heat finally be able to solve the dark mystery that has been her demon for ten years?..(Description from Amazon.com)

Syndetics book coverThe bone bed / Patricia Cornwell.
“In Alberta, Canada, an eminent paleontologist disappears from a dinosaur dig site, and at the Cambridge Forensic Center, Kay Scarpetta receives a grisly communication that gives her a dreadful reason to suspect this may become her next case. Then, with shocking speed, events begin to unfold. A body recovered from Boston Harbor reveals bizarre trace evidence hinting of a link to other unsolved cases that seem to have nothing in common. Who is behind all this? And whom can Scarpetta trust? Her lead investigator, Pete Marino, and FBI agent husband, Benton Wesley, are both unhappy with her because of personnel changes at the CFC, and her niece Lucy has become even more secretive than usual. Scarpetta fears she just may be on her own this time–against an enormously powerful and cunning enemy who seems impossible to defeat…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStick a fork in it / Robin Allen.Stick a Fork in It
“In Allen’s fun sequel to 2011’s If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Austin, Tex., health inspector Poppy Markham targets a new restaurant still under wraps, Capital Punishment, which features prison decor (electric chair, anyone?) and a menu of executed criminals’ last meals. The restaurant can’t open without her okay, and problem after problem keeps her returning to recheck progress-which stalls when Troy Sharpe, ex-jock and co-owner, is found hanged from the catwalk. The other owners-Troy’s twin brother, Todd, and the Sharpes’ schoolmate, Danny MacAdams-are determined to open on time, but construction chief Miles Archer struggles to get everything working at once. Determined to find out if Troy’s death is suicide or murder, Poppy must also contend with the mystery of the snack truck she can’t catch up with to inspect as well as her complicated love life. Lots of plot twists help make this a must-read for cozy lovers…” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSilenced / Kristina Ohlsson.
“Fifteen years ago, a teenage girl is assaulted and raped as she picks flowers for a Midsummer’s Eve ritual. Cut to the present, and a man is killed in a hit and run. He has no identification on him, he is not reported missing nor wanted by the police. At the same time, a priest and his wife are found dead in an apparent suicide. Fredrika Bergman, along with Alex Recht’s federal investigation unit, is assigned to the seemingly unconnected cases. The investigations lead to a clandestine people-smuggling network: a new player on the international human smuggling market operating out of Bangkok. As the police slowly uncover the shocking hypocrisy behind the network, they begin to find a trail that runs all the way back to the 1980s, to a crime that went unreported, but whose consequences will reach further and deeper than anyone ever expected…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverWhat the cat saw / Carolyn Hart.
“This appealing first in a new paranormal cozy series from Agatha-winner Hart (Death Comes Silently and 21 other Annie Darling bookstore mysteries) introduces unemployed investigative reporter Nela Farley, who can read cats’ thoughts. When Nela’s flighty sister, Chloe, an employee of the charitable Haklo Foundation, suddenly decides to take a vacation, Nela comes to Craddock, Okla., to fill in for Chloe. Nela stays in the apartment of Haklo’s late chief operating officer, Marian Grant, who recently died in what seemed to be an accident, though Nela gathers from Marian’s cat that she was a victim of foul play. The suspense builds as everyone on the foundation’s small staff becomes a suspect, from trustee Blythe Webster, a powerful woman who expects to be treated with deference, to newly hired assistant curator Abby Andrews. Reporter Steve Flynn provides a romantic foil for Nela, while Det. K.T. Dugan believes Nela is up to no good. Traditional mystery fans will find a lot to like…”(Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Need a new tattoo? : Life after the Millenium Trilogy

David Fincher’s remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has spawned a second wave of enthusiasts seeking out Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy in print. Starting with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the Millenium Trilogy follows journalist Mikael Blomkvist and hacker Lisbeth Salander through a series of conspiracies, murders and dark familial secrets. If you’ve seen the films but have yet to read the books, it’s well worth diving in. Though you’ll anticipate some twists and turns, you’ll also be rewarded with greater plot detail and a more thorough joining of the dots than is possible within the space of a film.

If you’ve already read the series, you might be wondering where to go next. Featured below is a list of titles that in some way echo the themes, characters and feel of the Millenium Trilogy. Cosy mystery fans and other delicate souls avert your eyes! Several of the authors are quite prolific, so if you find one you like there’ll be more to explore.

Syndetics book coverNemesis / Jo Nesbø ; translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett.
“In Nemesis, a Norwegian bestseller translated to English, Harry Hole is an alcoholic detective heading straight for trouble. While his girlfriend is away, he reunites with a former lover, Anna, in a one-night stand. The next day, he wakes up alone, and Anna is found dead. The case is ruled a suicide, but Hole doesn’t believe it. While he quietly investigates her death, another case is building that must be solved. A string of bank robberies have left the city ravaged and several people dead, ruthlessly gunned down. The bank robbers are professional, leaving no trace of evidence behind. Hole begins to receive cryptic anonymous e-mails from someone who knows everything, including where he was last night.” (Gale Books & Authors)
Jo Nesbo will be visiting Wellington for the Writers and Readers Week in March 2011.

Syndetics book coverMiss Smilla’s feeling for snow / Peter Hoeg ; translated from the Danish by F. David.
“Smilla Jasperson is an outsider, an exile from the vast white wastes of her birth, an icy, bitter, and intellectual woman. She loves or needs no one, but is touched when a small Greenlander boy in her building, Isaiah, needs her help. When Isaiah dies mysteriously, Smilla is determined to understand why. Despite the official attitude that Isaiah’s death was accidental, she digs for answers–and runs headlong into a vast and frightening conspiracy of which Isaiah was only one casualty.” (Gale Books and Authors)

Syndetics book coverBox 21 / Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström.
“Another best-selling Swedish crime thriller translated for American audiences, this book is the work of TV personality Roslund and former criminal and current youth worker Hellstrom. Their dark and gritty tale revolves around Lithuanian sex slaves Lydia and Alena, vicious and rarely convicted mob enforcer Jochum Lang, and Hilding Oldeus, a desperate heroin junkie. Their stories converge when cranky, old-fashioned police inspector Ewert Grens is assigned to the investigation of Lydia’s horrific murder by her pimp, Lang and Oldeus get out of jail, and Grens resumes his crusade to put Lang away permanently.” (Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverHypothermia / Arnaldur Indridason ; translated by Victoria Cribb.
“Against the backdrop of Reykjavik, Iceland, police detective Erlendur is investigating the apparent suicide of a troubled young woman named Maria. The more Erlendur learns about Maria, however, the more he suspects that she did not take her own life. Rather, Erlendur believes Maria was murdered as the result of an unusually evil scheme. As more details about Maria’s case are revealed, Erlendur examines his own life, the choices he has made, and the misdeeds of his past that remain unresolved. Hypothermia is the sixth book in Arnaldur Indridason’s Reykjavik Thriller series, which also includes Arctic Chill and The Draining Lake.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe man from Beijing / Henning Mankell ; translated by Laurie Thompson.
“When 19 people are brutally murdered in Hesjovallen, Sweden, a judge named Birgitta Roslin becomes interested in the case. Birgitta realizes that she is distantly related to a number of the victims, so she travels to the small town to look for answers. Although the local police are unhappy about her investigations, Birgitta finds a diary that gives clues about possible motives for the crime. It seems that the murder victims were descendants of a man who oversaw Chinese workers who helped build the first American transcontinental railroad. The overseer was a cruel man who mistreated the Chinese workers. After Birgitta learns that other people related to the overseer were murdered in the United States, she suspects that the murders were motivated by violence that occurred more than a century earlier.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe black path / Åsa Larsson ; translated by Marlaine Delargy.
“On an early spring night in northern Sweden, the body of a woman is discovered by a fisherman. Police inspector Anna-Maria Mella and her colleague Sven-Erik Stalnacke are called to Tornetrask to investigate. Identifying the body as Inna Wattrang, the head of information for Kallis Mining, Mella soon learns that Wattrang was severely tortured before she was murdered. Wanting to learn more about Kallis Mining before she meets with its owner Mauri Kallis, Mella turns to attorney Rebecka Martinsson for help in sifting through information about the company. Although Martinsson is happy to help Mella with the investigation, she is still recovering herself from a previous case. Investigating both Kallis and Wattrang’s brother, Diddi, Mella soon learns that Kallis Mining’s business dealings may be the cause of Wattrang’s death.” (Gale Books & Authors)
Also available as an eBook

Syndetics book coverThe informationist / Taylor Stevens.
“In The Informationist by Taylor Stevens, a missing-persons case draws Vanessa Michael Munroe back to the treacherous region of Africa she escaped as a teenager. While living with her missionary parents in Cameroon, Vanessa ran off with a shady gun-runner before giving up her risky lifestyle for a job in the States. Working as an informationist in Texas, Vanessa gathers intelligence for prominent clients. When a wealthy businessman, Richard Burbank, needs help locating his missing daughter in Africa, Vanessa agrees to return. Back in Africa, Vanessa meets up with her ex, Francisco Beyard, and confronts the dangers she left behind.” (Gale Books & Authors)

Syndetics book coverThe reversal / by Michael Connelly.
“The Reversal is a mystery novel by Michael Connelly, author of the Harry Bosch series. When convicted child killer Jason Jessup is set free after new DNA evidence clears his name, lawyer Mickey Haller is determined to prove that Jessup is indeed guilty. He enlists the help of LAPD Detective Harry Bosch to prove once and for all that Jessup is a cold-blooded killer. Unfortunately, time and evidence are stacked against Bosch and Haller–if they aren’t quick enough, Jessup may claim another victim. Connelly is the bestselling author of The Scarecrow and The Lincoln Lawyer.” (Gale Books and Authors)
Also available as an eBook or downloadable audiobook

For more read-alike suggestions, try Books & Authors, a book recommendation tool the library subscribes to. Just type in the name of a book you’ve enjoyed and it will (in many cases) provide you with a list of similar or related reads. They also have recommended title lists for a variety of genres; award winners; book reviews and a search tool where you can choose plot elements and other features you might enjoy in a novel.

See also our previous post on Stieg Larsson read-alikes

Who writes like… Stieg Larsson

If you’ve read the Millennium trilogy (whilst consuming large quantities of coffee and cheese and pickle sandwiches) and want to read something similar next, here are some authors to try:

Karin Alvtegen
Ake Edwardson
Kjell Eriksson
Karin Fossum
Matti Joensuu
Mari Jungstedt
Camilla Lackberg
Asa Larsson
Jo Nesbo
Hakan Nesser
Anders Roslund
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Johan Theorin

Read all these and you’ll be an expert on Scandinavian murder mysteries (for example, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden are all represented here).

More “who writes like” suggestions can be found on the library’s fiction page here.

Ten Books: Iceland

New Zealand and Iceland have some things in common, being small land masses surrounded by miles of ocean with relatively small populations. Like New Zealand, literarily speaking, Iceland is doing rather well for itself, with a Nobel Prize winner (unlike New Zealand – Halldor Laxness in 1955), and a couple of international best-selling contributors to the Arctic murder mystery literary canon.

Here are ten books written by Icelandic writers, or set in Iceland, or in which Iceland is of some importance.

  1. Walking into the night, Olaf Olafsson (2003). Christian Benediktsson is a butler in California haunted by his past and his wife, who he left twenty years previously in Iceland, and to whom he writes letters that he never sends.
  2. Hypothermia, Arnaldur Indriðason (2009). Arnaldur’s excellent murder mysteries often examine issues faced by Icelandic society (genetic disease, immigration etc). In Hypothermia, a woman – seemingly overwhelmed with grief following the death of her mother – is found hanging in her summer house. Jar City (variant title: Tainted Blood) is the first in the series, and was made into an excellent film.
  3. Last rituals: an Icelandic novel of secret symbols, medieval witchcraft, and modern murder, Yrsa Sigurdardóttir (2009). A German student is found dead at a Reykjavik university, and (as the subtitle suggests) torture and witch-hunting is involved, plus some lessons in Icelandic manuscripts.
  4. The pets, Bragi Ólafsson (2008). Dark humour. Emil comes home from overseas and hides under his bed (as you would) when Havard knocks on his door. Getting no answer, Havard breaks in (as you would) and hosts a party, all the while with Emil stuck under his bed. As you read you discover a bit more about Emil and Havard’s acquaintance.
  5. 101 Reykjavik, Hallgrimur Helgason (1996). Belongs most definitely to the slacker fiction genre. Hlynur lives with his mother, is jobless and an expert in wasting his time when his life is upturned by a couple of surprises involving babies.
  6. Quick quick said the bird, Thor Vilhjálmsson (1968, translated 1987). The title is taken from a line in T S Eliot’s Four Quartets.
  7. Iceland’s Bell, Halldor Laxness (2003). Published in three parts between 1943 and 1946, Iceland’s Bell is a historical novel set in 18th century Iceland and Denmark. Jon Hreggvidsson is a fugitive (don’t tell jokes about the king); Snaefridur is a beautiful noblewoman; and Arnas Arnaeus is the manuscript collector who loves her.
  8. The tricking of Freya, Christina Sunley (2009). Within the context of Icelandic communities in Canada, The Tricking of Freya explores family relationships (particularly those of mothers, daughters and granddaughters). The novel is also a bit of an ode to language, particularly the Icelandic language and Iceland has a fair bit to do with the tricking alluded to in the title.
  9. Ice Land, Betsy Tobin (2009). Set in 1000 AD Iceland, and drawing from Norse mythology. The central character is Freya, a god who can fly (cool!), but there are also dwarves, giants, the imminent arrival of Christianity, and the volcano Hekla (volcanoes in Iceland being topical recently).
  10. A Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Jules Verne (1864). Professor Lidenbrock discovers a note in the manuscript of an Icelandic saga in which it is claimed that the entry point to the centre of the earth is in Snæfellsjökull in Iceland, and it (the journey) begins.