The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau by Graeme Macrae Burnet @Arcadepub @GMacraeBurnet

Source : Netgalley     

Publication: Arcade Publishing on 27 October 2017

Manfred Baumann is a loner. Socially awkward and perpetually ill at ease, he spends his evenings quietly drinking and surreptitiously observing Adèle Bedeau, the sullen but alluring waitress at a drab bistro in the unremarkable small French town of Saint-Louis. But one day, she simply vanishes into thin air. When Georges Gorski, a detective haunted by his failure to solve one of his first murder cases, is called in to investigate the girl’s disappearance, Manfred’s repressed world is shaken to its core and he is forced to confront the dark secrets of his past. The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau is a literary mystery novel that is, at heart, an engrossing psychological portrayal of an outsider pushed to the limit by his own feverish imagination.

 

Graeme Macrae Burnet writes beautifully and that’s what sets this novel apart from the crowd. With exquisite detail, he lays out the ordered, humdrum life of Manfred Baumann, a 36 year old bank manager in the sleepy small French town of Saint-Louis near the Swiss border. Manfred would rather eat food he dislikes than disrupt the pattern of his life and thus draw attention to himself.

He dresses in the same boring suits, eats at the same bistro every day and orders the same food. He drinks his wine in the evenings in the same bistro and his carefully constructed and fastidious life follows a pattern that seldom varies. Even his somewhat functional sex life, conducted wholly without attachment, is accorded a place in his routine. His companion drinkers in the bistro with whom he has a nodding acquaintance after years of patronage, casually allow him to play cards with them one evening a week, but even then the convention is that he waits to be invited. He is the eponymous Outsider and the echoes of Camus are strong in places.

Though he strives to affect detached indifference, he is curious about the bistro’s waitress, Adele in whom he sees a languorous dormant sexuality which makes him both curious and somehow uncomfortable.

When Adele suddenly disappears, Manfred finds himself caught up in the speculation over her disappearance and it is not long before the detective assigned to the case, Gorki, begins to treat it as a murder.

Gorski is haunted by a past failure, a case he failed to solve when he was in his twenties and just at the start of his career. A teenage girl was murdered in a wood and though someone was convicted of her murder, Gorski has never been satisfied that they had the correct result.

With lovely echoes of French noir in a Simenon novel, Gorski begins to look at all the people Adele came into contact with, and it is not long before his gaze falls on Manfred.

Manfred, overly given to being concerned about what people think of him, struggles to tell Gorski the truth about his movements, and thus the  mystery begins to entangle both characters in a twisted path which cannot do other than lead to tragedy.

As Manfred’s carefully constructed life slowly disintegrates under Gorski’s scrutiny, the secrets of his past and his present become one big lie he struggles to hold on to.

I really enjoyed this book because of its literary antecedents, its psychological complexities and the fabulous characterisation of time, place and people.

Beautifully done and with a nice afterword, which really must be read as part of the novel, this is a gem of a book.

Graeme’s third book, The Accident on the A35 also published this month, features the same detective Gorski in the same part of France.

The Disappearance of Adele Bedeau is re-published by Arcade Publishing on 27 October 2017

Amazon

About Graeme MacRae Burnet

Graeme-Macrae-Burnet-345x237

Graeme is the Author of the Year – Sunday Herald Culture Awards 2017

He is the author of three novels, The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau (2014) , the Man Booker shortlisted His Bloody Project (2015), and The Accident on the A35 (October 2017). His Bloody Project is to be published in over 20 countries including Germany, the US, Russia, China and France.

He has appeared at festivals and events in Edinburgh, Los Angeles, Adelaide, Macau, Estonia, Moscow, Cheltenham, Berlin, Paris, Glasgow, London, Ullapool and many more. If you’d like to book him for an event, you can get in touch on Facebook or Twitter or through his publisher, Saraband. He is part of the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Database, which can help with funding for events in Scotland.

Graeme was born in Kilmarnock in Scotland and now lives in Glasgow. Previously he has lived and worked in Prague, Porto, Bordeaux and London. He has an MA in English Literature/Film Studies from Glasgow University and an M.Litt in International Security Studies from St Andrews.

 

 

Monster In The Closet (The Baltimore Series Book 5) by Karen Rose

A mother is dead, and now her killer hunts the child that witnessed the brutal crime…

Private Investigator Clay Maynard locates missing children for clients, but has nearly given up hope of finding his own daughter, cruelly stolen from him by his ex-wife twenty-three years ago.

Equine therapist Taylor Dawson has chosen to intern at Daphne Montgomery-Carter’s stables so that she can observe the program’s security director – her father, Clay Maynard. Trying to reconcile the wonderful man she’s getting to know with the monster her mother always described, Taylor never expects to become the target of a real monster, the man who murdered the mother of the little girls she works with at the stable. Neither does she expect to fall for Ford Elkhart, Daphne’s handsome son, who is dealing with his own demons. As family and friends gather for a wedding, Taylor starts to imagine a permanent life in Baltimore.

But not if the real monster gets to her first…

 

It’s a long time since I read a Karen Rose book, though I used to devour her Vartainian novels as soon as they came out, and I chose this one because Karen was coming to Bloody Scotland and I wanted to get up to speed on what she was writing at the moment.

Karen always writes a fast and engrossing book, but this one just failed to catch alight for me. Her characters are as ever, warm and engaging, and the relationships start off full of complexity and interactions come laden with misunderstandings, but of course everything works out in the end.

That, for me, is the problem with this book. From the beginning you could tell what was going to happen, how the love story would play out, what happens to the children, Jazzie and Janie Jarvis who are hiding from their mother’s killer and how the violent encounters with the killer would end.

There was just no suspense and instead the warm and comforting blanket of a love story wrapped in sugar and deep fried in butter; sweet and sugary but with a distinct lack of spice in the middle, making this concoction altogether too bland for me.

Perhaps my tastes have changed, but the Karen Rose I remember had much more edge. I struggled to care about the characters in this book and almost didn’t bother too finish it because I knew how it would pan out.

Overall, this time, I was disappointed. I think this will please the diehard Karen Rose fans, but it just wasn’t for me.

A Monster in the Closet was published by Headline on 1st June 2017

Amazon                            Waterstones

About Karen Rose

karen1

Internationally bestselling, RITA-award winning, author Karen Rose was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC. She met her husband, Martin, on a blind date when they were seventeen and after they both graduated from the University of Maryland, (Karen with a degree in Chemical Engineering) they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio. Karen worked as an engineer for a large consumer goods company, earning two patents, but as Karen says, “scenes were roiling in my head and I couldn’t concentrate on my job so I started writing them down. I started out writing for fun, and soon found I was hooked.”

Her debut suspense novel, DON’T TELL, was released in July, 2003. Since then, she has published more than fifteen novels and two novellas. Her twentieth novel, EDGE OF DARKNESS, will be released in 2018.

Karen’s books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, USA Today, London’s Sunday Times, and Germany’s der Spiegel (#1), and the Irish Times, as well as lists in South Africa (#1) and Australia!

Her novels, I’M WATCHING YOU and SILENT SCREAM, received the Romance Writers of America’s RITA award for Best Romantic Suspense for 2005 and 2011. Five of her other books have been RITA finalists. To date, her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

A former high school teacher of chemistry and physics, Karen lives in Florida with her husband of more than twenty years, two dogs, and a cat.

 

 

 

Snare by Lilja Sigurðardóttir translated by Quentin Bates @OrendaBooks @AnneCater @Lilja1972 #Snare

 

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies. Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Oh I really did enjoy this book very much indeed. Its a delight to take part in the blogtour for a book which I am sure will become a massive success.

Sonja and Adam have not long emerged from a bitter divorce; one in which Sonja was caught in the marital bed with Agla, a colleague of Adam’s in the banking industry.

Now Sonja has been left with no income, no house, and worst of all, she has lost custody of her only son, Tomas, whom she can now only see once a fortnight.

Now living in rented accommodation, Sonja is desperate to get her son back, but she knows that to do that she will have to have a secure income and a permanent residence, but all of those seem very far away for this young mother who was Tomas’ main carer and whom Tomas misses a great deal.

With no obvious way out, Sonja is despairing until she is offered a lifeline. Not without danger, but lucrative enough to get her back on the housing ladder if she can play her cards right, Sonja embarks on her new life as a smuggler, inventing a whole new persona for herself and risking everything to reunite her with her son on a full time basis.

But life is never quite that simple, especially when you are a middle class housewife trying to deal with the criminal underworld, and Sonja soon finds herself trapped between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

This is the book’s central storyline and how it plays out is both tense and fascinating. Watching Sonja being sucked in ever deeper as she struggles to try and retain even a vestige of control of her life is chilling and the risks to which she is exposed are very harrowing indeed.

Meanwhile, Agla, with whom Sonja was originally entangled, is experiencing many difficulties of her own. Not only is she being investigated for bank fraud following the Icelandic bank crash, but she is also very conflicted about her relationship with Sonja. She loves the sex and being with Sonja, but she is embarrassed by their relationship; she cannot admit to wanting Sonja.  Between the stress that the investigation is causing and the relationship, Agla is drinking way too much and her relationship with Sonja is somewhat frazzled and occasionally tempestuous.

Bragli is nearing retirement age. He is so close in fact, that his superiors keep suggesting he leaves, but his work is the only thing that keeps Bragli going, outside of the constant visits to his ailing wife, who is being cared for in a home as a result of dementia. All he wants is to be able to look after her properly, as he worries that the care she is getting may not be as gentle as it should be.

The cat and mouse game followed by Sonja and Bragli forms another credible part of this easy to read story. Written in fairly short chapters, Snare is an incredibly pacy book, in which the translation effortlessly carries you from one person’s perspective to another.

It’s a very straightforward read, but also quite different to anything I have read recently and I thoroughly enjoyed it, in particular watching Sonja as a daring and quite dauntless protagonist who will stop at nothing to hold on to what she loves most.

Snare is the first book in the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, and I am now champing at the bit to read the others.

Highly recommended.

Snare is published by Orenda Books on 1st October 2017.

Orenda      Waterstones     Amazon

 

About by Lilja Sigurðardóttir

Lilja2.jpg

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series, hitting bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja has a background in education and has worked in evaluation and quality control for preschools in recent years. She lives in Reykjavik with her partner.

Follow the blogtour here:

snare blog poster 2017

 

Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler @bonnierzaffre @AuthorLizLawler

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table. The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.

The choice he forces her to make is utterly unspeakable.

But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.

And then she meets the next victim.

So compulsive you can’t stop reading.

So chilling you won’t stop talking about it.

 

Apparently this book is the No 1 Best Seller in the Amazon category of Anaesthesia Nursing, which is only slightly more terrifying than the actual book.  Don’t Wake Up plays to all my darkest fears and is an edge of the seat psychological thriller.

A fast paced read, this book sent shivers up and down my spine as the medical and psychological torture inflicted upon the victims is really chilling.  Dark and intense, the story focuses on Alex an independent young doctor with a stellar career, who finds herself the victim of a horrifying attack, but what is worse is that no-one believes her and she is gradually ostracised by her friends and colleagues.

Isolated and afraid, she has no idea how to convince the police that she is telling the truth. Worse than that, as more deaths occur in the hospital, Alex herself becomes the focus of the police investigation.

I enjoyed the storylines around the police investigation and the tension between the cops, though there was one police officer who I thought was a bit too stereotypical. Lawler does a good job of showing Alex’s mental state deteriorating as she fruitlessly tries to convince everyone around her that she isn’t making the whole thing up.

Easy to read and with a compelling premise, I enjoyed this book. It doesn’t especially stand out in this genre, but when you want something that is going to unsettle you as well as keeping you transfixed, this debut novel is just the job. I will look out for more from this author.

Don’t Wake Up is published in paperback by twenty7 on 5th Oct. 2017

Amazon                                           Waterstones

 

About Liz Lawler

liz-lawler

Born in Chatham and partly raised in Dublin, Liz Lawler comes from a large family where she shared underwear and a place at a table for meals with her thirteen siblings. Liz has been a nurse for over twenty years in a hospital emergency department, a flight attendant and a manager of a five-star hotel. She now lives in Bath with her husband and Don’t Wake Up is her debut novel.

You can follow Liz on Twitter

Quieter Than Killing @sarahhilary @katieVEBrown @Headlinepg

It’s winter, the nights are dark and freezing, and a series of seemingly random assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out onto streets of London. When Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by someone who knows her. Then a child goes missing, yet no-one has reported it. Suddenly, events seem connected, and it’s personal.

 Someone out there is playing games. It is time for both Marnie and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. Keeping quiet can be a means of survival, but the effects can be as terrible as killing.

 

I have been a massive fan of Sarah Hilary’s D.I. Marnie Rome series since her first book, Someone Else’s Skin (which won the Theakston Crime novel of the Year in 2015). That’s why I rushed to sign up for the blogtour because I want everyone to have the opportunity to read and enjoy this series.

This is D.I. Marnie Rome 4 and if you haven’t yet read the others, do yourself a favour and get buying now – you will not regret it.

Marnie Rome’s parents were murdered by her foster brother, Stephen Keele, in their home. He is serving a life sentence for their murder, but Marnie is haunted by the need to know what drove him to it.

Six years later, her parents’ house, let out because she cannot bear either to sell it or to live in it, has been ransacked and both the tenants have been subjected to a severe beating. It seems all too likely that Stephen Keele is behind it, but Marnie needs to know why. Though she is, of course, not investigating the case, still she needs to understand what has happened. This crime is deeply personal to her.

At the same time, Marnie’s partner, D.S. Noah Jake and his live in partner, Dan, are worried about Noah’s brother, Sol. Sol has been too closely involved with some of the teenage gang culture in London and Noah is really worried about keeping Sol on a crime free track.

Hilary creates beautifully drawn characters. You like and respect Marnie Rome and feel just how buttoned up she is. Noah Jake is such a great character, too that you will him to succeed and be happy.

Quieter Than Killing is set during a harsh London winter and we are again in run down council estate territory. As with Hilary’s first three Rome books, each book stands very well on its own, but read seriatim, they form an uncomfortable picture of our fractured society where predators are able to feed on alienated youngsters because deep down, so few of us actually care about the lives of the dispossessed and society does not have the resources to deal with them. I recently read a report from the Child Welfare Inequalities Project which showed that young people from the most deprived 10% of neighbourhoods are almost 20% more likely to be on the child protection register. This, then, is Hilary’s territory.

There have been vicious attacks on three released convicts, and Finn, a child, has gone missing, all leading to a tense and thrilling plot which leads Marnie closer to a disturbing truth. Each victim has been punished in a way that reflects the crimes for which they were imprisoned, so when one of the victims dies, Marnie and Noah speculate that they may be looking for a vigilante killer.

The devilish thing about Sarah Hilary’s books is that she raises a lot of questions and sparingly supplies some answers. So, just as you think you are getting closer to understanding what Marnie’s backstory really is, you find once again that you have more questions than revelations, though what we do find out is explosive. But this is a book where Marnie’s story takes centre stage and while she reveals very little to us, when she visits her foster brother, now in Cloverton, an adult prison, he is getting colder and crueller over his need for her to face what he sees as his ‘truth’.

When Noah is attacked with a baseball bat (Sarah Hilary, how could you?!) while investigating the disappearance of someone related to the cases, he thinks he recognises his attacker.

Meanwhile, a prisoner inside Cloverton is beaten up and when Marnie goes to seek answers, she finds out a lot more than she bargained for. It seems that Keele may be connected to the vigilante attacks and then she discovers that there is a shared experience between her and Stephen Keele that she was unaware of, but which connects them intimately.

To add to Marnie’s woes, her lovely boss, Tim Welland, is on sick leave and DCS Lorna Ferguson is brought in. Ferguson is an ambitious woman and Marnie has to carefully negotiate her way round her new boss as the case takes on a deeply personal angle.

There are lots of tense and dramatic twists and turns as the novel reaches its climax, so much so that I could feel my stomach clenching at the end of the book.

Quieter Than Killing is a superbly crafted book. Beautifully written, with characters you care about, it is an exceptional crime novel and Hilary’s best yet. It is a riveting read that is almost explosive in the tension it creates.

I can’t praise these books highly enough. They are all, in my view, 5 star reads, and if I could I’d give this one 6 stars.

Quieter Than Killing is published in paperback by Headline on 5th October 2017

Amazon          Waterstones

About Sarah Hilary

sarah

Sarah Hilary has worked as a bookseller, and with the Royal Navy. Her debut, SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN, won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015 and was a World Book Night selection for 2016. The Observer’s Book of the Month (“superbly disturbing”) and a Richard & Judy Book Club bestseller, it has been published worldwide. NO OTHER DARKNESS, the second in the series was shortlisted for a Barry Award in the US. Her DI Marnie Rome series continues with TASTES LIKE FEAR (2016) QUIETER THAN KILLING (2017), with COME AND FIND ME out in April 2018.

Follow Sarah on Twitter at @Sarah_Hilary

 

See what my colleague reviewers think of Quieter Than Killing by following the posts on the blogtour

BlogTour

Sleeping Beauties by Jo Spain @Hannah_Robbo @quercusbooks

The inspector frowned and examined the earth under the trees. As he scanned the glade, his stomach lurched. One, two, three, four. Five, counting the mound of earth disturbed under the tent. Somebody had cleared the earth of its natural layer and sown their own flowers

In five places

Five graves

A young woman, Fiona Holland, has gone missing from a small Irish village. A search is mounted, but there are whispers. Fiona had a wild reputation. Was she abducted, or has she run away?

A week later, a gruesome discovery is made in the woods at Ireland’s most scenic beauty spot – the valley of Glendalough. The bodies are all young women who disappeared in recent years. D.I. Tom Reynolds and his team are faced with the toughest case of their careers – a serial killer, who hunts vulnerable women, and holds his victims captive before he ends their lives.

Soon the race is on to find Fiona Holland before it’s too late. . .

If you are a fan of well plotted, decently paced police procedurals, then you will really enjoy this book.

The regular characters of Tom, Ray and Laura are warm and likeable, the newly promoted boss rather less so, and the crimes they have to solve are difficult and gruesome in a way that contrasts beautifully with the sleepy rural Ireland setting of most of this book.

Though there are two previous books involving Tom Reynolds and his team, each works perfectly as a stand-alone and can be read in isolation.

Fiona Holland has gone missing and while the police search for her in the woodlands of Glendalough they make a grim discovery. Five graves, with the bodies of five women are found and it soon becomes apparent that these women were the victims of a serial killer.

The women have a number of things in common; each has the same flowers planted above her grave; each was given the same gift and each had a certain reputation in their locality. After DNA matching, it seems that Fiona’s body was not amongst the dead, and this, along with other evidence, makes the police wonder whether Fiona might yet still be alive.

What helps to make this a fascinating book is the way in which the old fashioned rural setting throws up the kind of prejudices and misogyny that you hope died out years ago. Yet in this setting, these attitudes are not only alive and well but worryingly are present in some parts of the Garda whose actions have sometimes been influenced by the reputations of women who have gone missing, leading to delays in investigations and sometimes they are ignored altogether. This is a terrible indictment of attitudes to women in contemporary society, but sadly rings quite true.

The way in which this plays out is a nice parallel to the interplay between Tom Reynolds and his ‘modern’ ‘progressive’ boss – who is rather more concerned with image than substance and it is therefore satisfying that it is good old fashioned policing that saves the day.

There are some personal sorrows too in the lives of Tom and his wider family and team, and these make for a poignant counterpoint to some of the misogyny elsewhere in the story.

Overall a good and satisfying read.

 

Sleeping Beauties was published by Quercus on 21st September 2017

Amazon                            Waterstones

About Jo Spain

jo spain

Jo Spain has worked as a party advisor on the economy in the Irish Parliament. Her first novel With Our Blessing was shortlisted in the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition in 2015. And went on to be a top ten bestseller in Ireland. Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and their four children.

 

 

Shadows by Jackie McLean – Cover Reveal @JackieJamxx

A body washed up on Arbroath beach echoes a previous murder. Now a third woman is missing. For DI Donna and her new team, it’s personal. 

When DI Donna Davenport is called out to investigate a body washed up on Arbroath beach, it looks like a routine murder inquiry. However, it doesn’t take long before it begins to take on a more sinister shape.  There are similarities with a previous murder, and now a woman who is connected with them goes missing.   For Donna, these events become personal, and added to the feeling that she’s being watched, she is convinced that Jonas Evanton has returned to seek his revenge on her for his downfall.  Fearing they may be looking for a serial killer, the trail leads Donna and her new team in an unexpected direction.  Because it’s not a serial killer – it’s worse. 

Moving from Dundee to the south coast of Turkey and the Syrian border, this is a fast-paced novel about those who live their lives in the shadows and those who would exploit them.

I don’t usually do cover reveals, but I have recently been impressed by a number of writers in the Thunderpoint publishing enterprise, and it’s great to introduce writers to a wider audience.  Jackie’s  previous book, Toxic,  was shortlisted for the Yeovil Literary Prize in 2011 and Jackie has also been longlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize.

417iayjjzrl-_sx322_bo1204203200_(1)

Toxic is a great read. It is set in the university city of Dundee, where life and all its complications are proceeding much the same as usual. The recklessly brilliant DI Donna Davenport, struggling to hide a secret from police colleagues and get over the break-up with her partner, is in trouble with her boss for a fiery and inappropriate outburst to the press. DI Evanton, an old-fashioned, hard-living misogynistic copper has been newly demoted for thumping a suspect, and transferred to Dundee with a final warning ringing in his ears and a reputation that precedes him. And in the peaceful, rolling Tayside farmland a deadly store of MIC, the toxin that devastated Bhopal, is being illegally stored by a criminal gang smuggling the valuable substance necessary for making cheap pesticides. An anonymous tip-off starts a desperate search for the MIC that is complicated by the uneasy partnership between Davenport and Evanton and their growing mistrust of each other’s actions. Compelling and authentic, Toxic is a tense and fast paced crime thriller.

About Jackie McLean

Jackie lives in Glasgow with her partner Allison and their dog Loopy.  She has a varied background, including being a government economist, a political lobbyist, and running a pet shop.  She is in and out of prison a lot (in her current job with social work services).  Toxic is her first crime novel, introducing DI Donna Davenport, and was shortlisted in the Yeovil Literary Prize before publication by ThunderPoint Publishing Ltd.  The sequel, Shadows, is about to be published, and she has begun work on the third book in the DI Davenport series (Run).  She runs Get Writing Glasgow, which is a kind of weight watchers for writers, hosted by Waterstones at Braehead.

https://www.facebook.com/WriterJackie/

Twitter @JackieJamxx

So…..are you ready for the cover of Shadows yet???

Shadows cover

Shadows is published by Thunderpoint Publishing on 19 October 2017 

You can pre-order it on Amazon

Tidelines Festival, Irvine #tidelines @tidelinesfest @orendabooks @michaeljmalone

In another lifetime, I used to be a regular visitor to the Harbour Arts Centre in Irvine, which then was home to the lovely Borderline Theatre Company. So it wasn’t hard to find my way back to this very pleasant space, located on the front of Irvine’s harbour. I found myself humming as I approached…Irvine, I’m in Irvine, and my heart beats so that you would hardly know…. Anyway, I was of course there for the Tidelines Book Festival, a festival which can fairly lay claim to having a first class programme of authors. I was only there for the Saturday, but the festival actually lasts for three days and puts on events for a wide range of readers, both adults and children.

As I arrived, lots of children had just come out of a session led by Mark Smith entitled ‘Slugboy Saves the World’ and it was great to see so many little superheroes who had clearly really enjoyed their session.

Pleasantly located, with a very nice café in the heart of the centre, what better way to spend a day than in the company or readers and writers?

First up on my list was the exceptional Su Bristow, whose book, Sealskin, based on the legend of the Selkies, was such a huge hit when it launched at the end of last year.

Interviewed by Alison Craig, Su was fascinating and quite enthralling when she talked about what inspired her to write Sealskin and how her own life experiences had contributed to the themes of the book.

I loved this book so much that even though I have it on kindle I just had to buy a hard copy and get Sue to sign it – that’s how good it is.

MESUBRISTOW
Me with Su Bristow

But I’m not going to expound on this in any depth, because Sharon Bairden has already done so on her blog – and as her ability to share is limited right now, I’m going to suggest that you nip over and read her account of the session at her blog Chapter in My Life.You can purchase Sealskin here : Orenda Books    Amazon      Waterstones

nasty

The second session I attended was for a book I’d been keen to know more about since its launch and as I hadn’t been able to attend the Edinburgh Book Festival session, it was a real delight to be able to attend a discussion about Nasty Women, published by 404 Ink and originally published as a crowdsourced enterprise.

The title, is of course, taken from that horrible Trump quote about Hillary Clinton.

img-0983.jpg

It was both a joy and an inspiration to listen to Jonatha Kottler and Laura Waddell talk about their experiences of writing for the book which is a selection of writing by women on what it means to be a woman in today’s world. Both Laura and Jonatha were full of praise for the passion and inspiration of the editors behind the project, Laura Jones and Heather McDaid and how every woman who worked on the book very much felt that it was a collaborative project.

Each woman came from a different perspective and each wrote about quite different things, but all felt very supportive of each other and the project as a whole.

Laura Wadell’s piece is very much about what a Scottish working class girl faced when she wanted to try and break into the world of the arts and media – and in her case, publishing, something she has now achieved very successfully, but which in the 21st Century was a lot harder for her than you might imagine – in what is supposed to be, but clearly is not, a classless society.

As Laura says; “It is not our stereotype and it is not, for the most part, our reality……a lack of stories told from our perspective has lent itself to dull, flattened portrayals that do not reflect the reality of diversity

Jonatha’s essay is entitled ‘Fat in every language’ and she spoke engagingly and with humour on being larger than whatever the norm is. But living comfortably in your own skin and not for the expectations of others, is what her piece is about, alongside the reality of how fat people are commercially exploited.

Nasty Women covers a range of voices and a whole host of different and diverse experiences, from experiencing racial divides in Trump’s America, to sexual assault, Brexit, pregnancy and more. These are the women who share their real experiences and hold the truth to account in the midst of a global society where inequality and intolerance is bubbling to the surface.

This is why I think Nasty Women is a really important book for me, and as Margaret Attwood said on the cover why it is “an essential window into many of the hazard strewn worlds younger women are living in right now’.

I’m really looking forward to dipping into this one. You can buy Nasty Women here: Waterstones           Amazon

IMG-0988

My final session of the day was just delightful. Three of the nicest men in crime fiction were chatting about Nordic Noir.

Gunnar Staalesen, the grandfather of Nordic Noir and celebrating 40 years of writing about his protagonist, detective Varg Veum, was paired with the massively talented Thomas Enger, writer of the Henning Juul books.

Both were in conversation with our own Michael J. Malone, whose House of Spires has just been published. All three are published by Orenda Books, so you just know that they are all going to be exceptionally well written.

Gunnar Staalesen began writing at the age of 17 and published his first book at 22 – an experimental novel inspired by the work of Jack Kerouac.

What really introduced him to the idea of being a crime writer though was the work of Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, to whom he is very quick to pay a fulsome tribute. Reading the Martin Beck books introduced him to the possibilities of writing crime and he began to read and be inspired by the books of Chandler, Ross McDonald and Dashiel Hammet.

He credits Sjöwall and Wahlöö as the writers who really began to stir the interest of academics and newspapers alike and sparked off the interest in Norwegian crime. Then, in 1974, Norway’s biggest publishing house held a competition for a new crime novel and Gunnar entered and came second.

This led to the publication of his two police procedurals, published in paperback, not hardback as was usual for other genres, but that had the happy fortune of making his books more instantly affordable.

Then he came up with the idea of translating the idea of the American P.I. into a Norwegian setting and thus Varg Veum was born.

Thomas Enger was only 4 when Gunnar published his first book! Thomas’ father was a teacher who really wanted his son to read the classics, but that didn’t really interest him and when he read his first crime novel at the age of 15/16 he knew he had found his genre and was hooked for life.

He read the books of Gunnar Staalesen and Henning Mankel as well as many others. He saw that others had found a way of telling their stories through crime novels and that a good crime story could be a way of seeing ordinary society through the stories, utilising language and that crime literature could be just as good as any ‘serious’ literature.

As Staalesen says, throughout time from Dickens onwards, people want to hear big stories well told, whatever the genre.

Enger is writing a series of 5 books about the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly, skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of 24-hour news.

Enger’s protagonist lost his son in a fire in their apartment. Each Henning Juul book can be read as a stand-alone in that each has its own mystery or mysteries, but throughout each book is the running theme of Juul searching for his son’s killer.

Enger has built a fair bit of himself into his protagonist; both are journalists, both compose music and Juul lives in an apartment not at all dissimilar to Enger’s own. But there are of course serious differences, not least that Juul is quite grief stricken over the loss of his son. His wife, Nora, has managed to get back to work and in doing so has been able to process her grief and move on, but Henning spends two years and a lot of Aquavit just staring at the walls.

Enger does though like to mix humour with his darkness to temper the effect of the blackness.

So what is it about Scandi Noir that grabs us so firmly? Perhaps, the authors speculated, it is the fact that they create their fiction over a series of long, dark wintery nights which whisper their melancholy?

Or maybe it is the fact that nature is always present around them. Whether in Staalesen’s Bergen or Enger’s Oslo, there is always a view of nature to surround you.

Enger agrees that it great that fantastic authors have put Scandinavian writing firmly on the map, but points out that it can also create unrealistic expectations especially hrough the marketing. So the temptation to call a new voice ‘the next Jo Nesbo’ is huge, when of course the new authors style and voice may be very different indeed.

It was a fantastic discussion, lightly and ably chaired by Michael Malone and was a great end to a brilliant day.

IMG-0989

My huge thanks to Tidelines and to Michael Malone for their help and to all the authors who I was able to meet and chat to – you are all fabulous.

Thomas Enger’s recent book Cursed is here: Orenda  Amazon  Waterstones

Gunnar Staalesen’s recent Wolves in the Dark is here: OrendaAmazonWaterstones

Michael J. Malones House of Spines is here:Orenda  AmazonWaterstones

Put Tidelines in your diary for next year. You won’t regret it.

Grantown-on-Spey CrimeFest 2017 – The Wee Crimefest

When Bloody Scotland is over and your thoughts turn to where to get your next crime fix, where do you go? There are, of course lots of book festivals out there, and great new ones arriving every day, such as Noireland.

But if you are looking for something that no other crime festival can give you, a more relaxed and close up and personal approach to crime writing, there can be no better place to look than Grantown-on-Spey in the Highlands of Scotland.

The programme has now been unveiled and I am pure dead chuffed that Caro Ramsay has written an article for this blog on what makes The Wee Crime Festival, now in its fifth year, quite so special.

So over to you, Caro:

220px-CaroRamsay2009

‘The Wee CrimeFest 2017’ at Grantown-on-Spey, Highlands

There are crime writing festivals and there are crime writing festivals.

And then there’s the Wee festival up at Grantown on Spey. Bouchercon, in Long Beach, California, has its charm (and sunshine), Bloody Scotland may have a torchlight procession and the McIlvanney Award, but Grantown has a dark, misty charm all of its own.

It is quite simply unique with its friendliness and intimate setting.

The location, tucked away in the Spey Valley at the foot of the Cairngorms, lends itself to dark deathly deeds during long cold nights of merriment, laughter… and the odd dram or two. It’s a ‘wood burning stove and poison in the porridge’ kind of festival.

For me though, the village lost a lot of its charm when the Gorilla disappeared off the high street (don’t ask).

Crime writers who have attended have enjoyed the individuality of the events and the intimacy of the venues so much that it’s now an annual fixture in their busy diaries. All brought together by she who goes by the name of ‘Wee Marj’.

The festival normally takes place around Halloween, which lends itself to the surreal plotting of the murder of the Kardashian clan over an excellent smoked salmon and scrabbled egg breakfast.  I turned up one year in fancy dress and the only person who noticed was my mother in law.

This year, the festival is closer to Guy Fawkes night, so I’m bringing my fire extinguisher. I know what Douglas Skelton and Michael Malone can be like. I’m taking no chances…

And then there was the magnificence of Carry On Sleuthing, ‘Death On The Ocean Wave’. At one point the audience were crying with laughter at Michael’s Yorkshire accent. Or just crying to get out.

This year sees the inaugural performance of Carry on Sleuthing 2, ‘Murder at the Knickerage’. I’ve read the script. It’s funny.

And in amongst all that we’ll be discussing all things criminal – murder and mayhem, shooting and stabbing – everything a fan of crime fiction could want. So, come along and enjoy it. You won’t be disappointed.

Caro Ramsay

You can see the full programme here

 

The Devil’s Wedding Ring by Vidar Sundstøl translated by Tiina Nunnally

On Midsummer Eve in 1985, a young folklore researcher disappears from the village of Eidsborg in the Telemark region of Norway.  Exactly thirty years later, the student Cecilie Wiborg goes missing. She too had been researching the old, pagan rituals associated with the 13th-century Eidsborg stave church.  And then Knut Abrahamsen, a former police officer from the area, is found drowned in the nearby Tokke River, a presumed suicide since his pockets were filled with stones.

Hearing of the death of his former colleague and friend, private investigator Max Fjellanger feels compelled to leave his long-time home in Florida and return to his native Norway to attend Knut’s funeral. Even though they haven’t spoken in more than three decades, Max is not convinced that Knut killed himself.  There are details about the circumstances of his death that just don’t add up. And there seems to be a link to the case of the missing researcher in Telemark, which the two of them had worked together—until threats from a corrupt sheriff put an end to the investigation and to Max’s career on the police force.

This time Max is determined to find out the truth. Reluctantly he finds himself drawn into a dark universe in which ancient superstitions, religious cults, and sinister forces are still very much alive. And the stave church, with its famed wooden statue of Saint Nikuls, is at the center of it all.

Finding an unlikely partner in Tirill Vesterli—a university librarian and single mother who is obsessed with crime novels—Max is plunged into a menacing world of ghostly monks, severed pigs’ heads, and mythic rites, all somehow connected to Midsummer Eve, which is fast approaching. As Max and Tirill quickly learn, it’s a misconception that the past is past—the truth is that it’s never over.

 

Max Fjellanger left Norway and the Norwegian Police force 30 years ago, ashamed of a decision he made which he knew then was a cowardly act and which he has spent his life regretting. He immigrated to Florida where he set up a detective agency, which has now grown sufficiently to enable him to simply oversee work, rather than get his hands dirty.

In Florida he met and married his wife Anne, but he is recently widowed. When Max hears of the death of his former colleague, Knut Abrahamsen, he decides to return to Norway and attend the funeral.

Both Max and Knut had been involved in the search for Peter Schram, a folklore researcher who disappeared on Midsummer Eve. Schram was never found and this is the case that has followed and haunted Max ever since. When he meets Knut’s wife his suspicions about Knut’s cause of death are aroused and he decides to stick around to see what he can find out.

Vidar Sundstøl is not a writer I know of, but his story had me hooked in from the beginning. Richly atmospheric, with a real sense of place and small town life, his book is populated with characters you want to know more about.

He expertly takes the core of the town’s folk legend and weaves it into the heart of his crime thriller. Here we find the stories of ancient Norse gods worshipped by the townspeople for centuries; traditions steeped in mythology and legend and very real, contemporary crimes.

In a small town, it is hard to stay under the radar, and Max soon begins to realise that he is the target of some hostility, but whether because he is poking his nose in where it doesn’t belong, or because he is stirring up unwelcome truths is not clear to begin with.

Early in his enquiries, he meets Tirill Vesteri, a single mother to Magnus and an avid crime reader. Tirill has her own theories about a woman who disappeared in the town around midsummer; theories which the police have roundly dismissed. But when Max encounters Tirill at her work in the local library, he realises that his two cases have something in common with the third disappearance, that of Cecilie Weiborg.

Together they begin to piece together the different stories. Max uses his research and investigative skills and Tirill puts into practice what she has learned from years of studying detective fiction. Here the reader can so easily put themselves in Tirrill’s place, and work side by side with her detective. They work pretty well together and their various skills enable them to bounce ideas off each other on the way to solving the mystery. These are fascinating characters with whom it is easy to identify and together they make a formidable team.

The action takes place in the Telemark region of Norway, where the main source of income is farming, and central to the story is the old stave church. A stave church is a medieval wooden Christian church whose name derives from the buildings’ structure of post and lintel construction, a type of timber framing where the load-bearing ore-pine posts are called stafr in Old Norse.

The stave church of Eidsborg is a real place with hundreds of years of history, folklore and culture in its eaves. It was easy to imagine that tales of ghostly monks and walking statues would have permeated the town and I loved the way that stories of pagan rituals entwined with academic study to create a fascinating, taut and suspenseful tale.

I was engrossed in the story and really enjoyed the characters of Max and Tirill as they struggle to make sense of what they know.

 

Highly recommended and a quite different take on my usual Nordic Noir fare.

 

The Devils Wedding Ring is published by the University Of Minnesota Press on 26th September

 

Amazon                                           Waterstones

 

 

About Vidar Sundstøl

Vidar Sundstøl

Vidar Sundstøl won the prestigious Riverton Prize for the Best Norwegian Crime Novel for The Land of Dreams, the first volume of his acclaimed Minnesota trilogy, published in the United States by the University of Minnesota Press. The other two volumes are Only the Dead and The Ravens. Sundstøl has lived in the United States and Egypt, and now resides with his family in Telemark, the setting for The Devil’s Wedding Ring.

 

Tiina Nunnally is an award-winning literary translator. She was appointed Knight of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for her contributions to Norwegian literature in the United States.

Bookliterati Book Reviews

'I declare there is no enjoyment like reading!" Jane Austen

EmmabBooks.com

Book Reviews by Emma b Books

The Curious Ginger Cat

Books, travel etc.

The Reading Closet

Books, adventure and cups of tea!

STAGE LEFT

Love, theatre and ideas

findingtimetowrite

Thinking, writing, thinking about writing...

mybookishblogspot

Just books, more books and some other stuff too

Mrs. Peabody Investigates

International crime fiction, TV and film

Book Bound

For the love of words…

Always Need More Books

Books...need I say more?

Fantastic Reads

Lover of all things bookish 🖤

Curled Up With A Good Book

Honest Book Reviews, Meet the Author, Blog Tours, Cover Reveals & More!