International Dagger shortlist 2012

It is a little more than a month since I last posted my speculation about the shortlist for the CWA’s International Dagger award this year – an award which is given to a book published in translation in the UK for the first time between June 2011 and May 2012. Since that post, I’ve reviewed two more of the eligible titles, The Dark Valley by Valerio Varesi, tr Joseph Farrell, and Night Rounds by Helene Tursten, tr Laura Wideburg. Just as well, as it turned out, because The Dark Valley is on the shortlist, and I’d already read and reviewed the rest!

The shortlist, which was announced at Crime Fest on Friday 25 May, is here (click on book’s title for my review):

Andrea Camilleri – The Potter’s Field tr. Stephen Sartarelli Italy
Maurizio De Giovanni – I Will Have Vengeance tr. Anne Milano Appel Italy
Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past tr. Laurie Thompson Sweden
Deon Meyer – Trackers tr. K L Seegers South Africa
Jo Nesbo – Phantom tr. Don Bartlett Norway
Valerio Varesi – The Dark Valley tr. Joseph Farrell Italy

I picked the books by Asa Larsson and Deon Meyer for my own suggested shortlist, but apart from those two I suggested four other titles:

The Caller by Karin Fossum, tr Kyle Semmel Norway
Dregs by Jorn Lier Horst, tr Anne Bruce Norway
Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason, tr Anna Yates Iceland
The Quarry by Johan Theorin, tr Marlaine Delargy Sweden
(hon mention) The Summer of Dead Toys by Antonio Hill, tr Laura McGloughlin (Euro Crime review pending) Spain

So which is my predicted winner? Based on my own predicted shortlist’s overlap with the real shortlist, it is going to be Until Thy Wrath be Past or Trackers. I find it impossible to choose between them, as they are so different: the former is a crime novel and the latter a thriller. So I am going to cop out and call it a dead heat!

All my posts on the International Dagger award.

About this year’s shortlist at the CWA website, including the judges’ reasons for choosing these titles.

April reading report

In April, while the country endured continuous heavy rain as illustrated, I reviewed 16 books: three for Euro Crime; two for Bookgeeks and eleven here at Petrona. Only four of these are translated books, to my shame. Six are from England; one is set in England but written (originally) in German; three are from the USA; and one each is from Italy, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Ireland and Australia. Of the 16, six are by authors who are new to me. And of the 16, seven are by women and nine by men. I think four of the total are debuts.

Which of these to nominate for my book of the month? My favourites according to the ranking scale are Hour of the Wolf, The Mistake, Phantom, Broken Harbour, The Potter’s Field and Defending Jacob. It is very hard to choose a winner out of these very different and highly enjoyable novels, so if you have time and haven’t read them all, I recommend that you do! Defending Jacob and The Mistake show grippingly the personal costs involved when the law tramples over apparently happy families. Broken Harbour is an excellent police procedural set in Ireland, depicting the desperation of a ruined economy. Phantom is the usual edge-of-the seat ride for former Oslo detective Harry Hole. The Potter’s Field is one of the strongest entries in the marvellous Sicilian series about Inspector Montalbano, and Hour of the Wolf is again, one of the best books in the classic Scandinavian series featuring the irritable yet very funny retired Inspector Van Veeteren and his erstwhile colleagues. Both of these final two books are darker than some of their predecessors. I am sorry, but I just can’t choose one “best read” from these! And many of the rest of my April reading were good, solid and engaging crime novels.

April’s reading list, with links to my reviews:

Euro Crime:
Hour of the Wolf by Hakan Nesser, tr Laurie Thompson (Sweden) 4/5
The Other Child by Charlotte Link, tr Stefan Tobler (Germany, UK setting) 3/5
The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri, tr Stephen Sartarelli (Italy) 4/5

Bookgeeks:
Defending Jacob by William Landay (USA) 4/5
Stay Close by Harlan Coben (USA) 2.5/5

Petrona:
Force of Nature by C J Box (USA) 3.5/5
Lifeblood by N J Cooper (England) 3/5
Broken Harbour by Tana French (Ireland) 4/5
Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah (England) 3/5
Revenge of the Tide by Elizabeth Haynes (England) 2/5
The Loyal Servant by Eva Hudson (England) 2.5/5
The Mistake by Wendy James (Australia) 4/5
White Heat by M J McGrath (Canada – Ellesmere Island/high Arctic) 2.5/5
Phantom by Jo Nesbo, tr Don Bartlett (Norway) 4/5
Killer Instinct by Zoe Sharp (England) 3/5
A Dark Redemption by Stav Sherez (England) 3/5

As usual, check out Mysteries in Paradise for other bloggers’ “book of the month” selections.

Bookgeeks: Defending Jacob by William Landay

I recently received a very kind invitation from the website Bookgeeks (@bookgeeks) to review books for them. I’ve agreed to contribute occasional reviews, beginning with Defending Jacob by William Landay, “a compelling contribution to the legal crime-fiction genre” as I summarised it. My review begins:

Newtown, Connecticut, is a showcase for post-suburban USA, combining a small-town rural atmosphere with cultural and social gentility. It is full of professionals who, when it comes to starting a family, have fled from Boston or New York for a slightly more affordable dream of space, safety and prosperity. But what lurks beneath the surface?

To read the entire review, please visit Bookgeeks. I’d be delighted if you’d like to leave a comment about the review, either here or at Bookgeeks.

I’m showing two covers of the book here: above is the UK edition (which I read); below is the US edition. I prefer the US cover by a long way.

Bookgeeks is a comprehensive website for readers of all types of books. The reviews themselves are divided into categories, each with its own RSS feed: crime & thrillers; contemporary fiction; non-fiction; fantasy, SF & horror; historical fiction & classics; comic & graphic novels; and poetry & literary criticism. As well as reviews, the site features regular interviews, columns and competitions. Bookgeeks is part of something called the Bookswarm network, which among other things has a crime writing website called Bookdagger, providing news and features about crime fiction, as well as more competitions. The well-known crime-fiction author Martin Edwards writes Bookdagger’s monthly crime column, which is always worth reading.

Bookgeeks: my review of Defending Jacob by William Landay.

Best new-to-me authors in 2012 #1

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise has started a meme in which bloggers are asked to write about their favourite “new to them” authors whose books they have read in the first three months of 2012.

So far this year I have reviewed 18 books by such authors: George Arion (Romania), David Belbin (UK), Reed Farrel Coleman (USA), Maurizio di Giovanni (Italy), William Deverell (Canada), Y A Erskine (Australia), Keigo Higashino (Japan), Ewart Hutton (UK), Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson (Iceland), Anya Lipska (UK), Jassy Mackenzie (South Africa), Peter May (UK), Claire McGowan (UK), Ron McMillan (UK), Jenny Roberts (UK), Gillian Slovo (South Africa), S J Watson (UK) and Betty Webb (USA). Of these 18 books, I think that 11 are debuts and the remaining 7 are by authors who have written other books previously that I hadn’t read. My 2012 book review listing is one click away from my reviews of books by each of these authors.

My “new to me” authors award for the first quarter of 2102 is a tie: Y A (Yvette) Erskine for The Brotherhood and Anya Lipska for Where the Devil Can’t Go. Both of these are in one sense police procedurals, but both add a distinctive twist to the genre and both provide a great sense of place and atmosphere. Both these authors are debut novelists: of the books I read by established authors who are new to me, I’d choose Peter May for The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man, both of which I read this quarter. Honourable mentions to The Flatey Enigma by Ingolfsson, Bone and Cane by Belbin, Desert Wives by Webb, Good People by Hutton and Trial of Passion by Deverell. Among the rest, there are only a couple I really didn’t like, so I’m encouraged to keep trying new (to me) authors’ books.

See my post on new-to-me authors read in 2011.

See Mysteries in Paradise for other book bloggers’ choices.

March reading report

In March I reviewed 15 books, four at Euro Crime and the rest at Petrona – the list is below with a ranking out of 5 for each. I continue not to do well with translated books, as there are only three in this batch (Iceland, 1; Italy, 1; Sweden, 1). Gender balance is a little more even, with seven male authors and eight female – of the 15, nine authors are new to me*.

It’s a tie for book of the month for March. Against expectations, I found Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson’s The Flatey Enigma, tr Brian Fitzgibbon, an absorbing and memorable read; and I loved Anya Lipska’s debut novel set in London and Poland, Where The Devil Can’t Go. These authors are both new to me. In third place is Dark Angel by Mari Jungstedt, tr Tiina Nunnally, probably best enjoyed if you have read the previous five books in this series set on the Swedish island of Gotland. The ending lets the book down a bit, but the rest of it is full of fascinating character sketches and glimpses into family and social dynamics.

Euro Crime:
Blood Falls by Tom Bale 2
“…those who like Lee Child’s novels will find much to like here, as Joe is a similar sort of character to the nomadic Jack Reacher, being forced to operate under society’s radar as well as representing the fight of good against apparently impregnable evil.”

*I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio de Giovanni 2.5
“… a welcome addition to the pantheon of Italian crime fiction. The book is written with great assurance, beautifully translated by Anne Milano Appel.”

Dark Angel by Mari Jungstedt 3.5
“This Gotland-set series has really hit its stride; the sixth outing for Inspector Anders Knutas and his colleagues is a riveting read.”

*Random Violence by Jassy Mackenzie 2.5
“The book continues with these dual themes of Jade’s investigation and quest for revenge, but its main strength is its depiction of the violent, heaving, overcrowded, booming Johannesburg.”

Petrona:
*Bone and Cane by David Belbin 3
Labour MP and ex-con separately investigate Nottingham-based possible double miscarriage of justice, as an old love affair re-ignites.

*Trial of Passion by William Deverell 3
First in series about lawyer Arthur Beauchamp, who retires to Garibaldi Island (Canada) and takes on what he thinks to be his last case, in which a female law student has accused her mentor of rape.

The Litigators by John Grisham 3
From small-scale to large-scale, lawyers behave with varying degrees of integrity in two very different cases.

The Flight by M. R. Hall 2.5
Coroner Jenny Cooper gets to the bottom of why a commercial airliner crashed into the River Severn.

*The Flatey Enigma by Viktor Arnar Ingolfsson 4
An unidentified body found on a beach starts a tale of academic intrigue and past crimes, set mainly on the Icelandic island of Flatey in the 1960s, where a mediaeval book of myths contains a yet-to-be-solved conundrum.

*Where the Devil Can’t Go by Anya Lipska 4
Excellent debut novel set in London’s Polish community and in Poland itself, as a detective tries to solve a crime, and a fixer searches for a missing girl. Assured and well-written.

*The Fall by Claire McGowan 2.5
Two women witness a crime and become friends while the boyfriend of one of them stands accused. More romantic-domestic drama than crime novel.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline 3
Journalist tries to discover why the photo of a missing boy looks identical to her adopted son.

*An Honourable Man by Gillian Slovo 2.5
Dissection of a marriage set against the fall of Khartoum in the 1860s.

Cradle to Grave by Aline Templeton 2.5
DI Marjory Fleming investigates multi-crimes in Galloway, Scotland, as tempests rage and past events come back to haunt several characters.

*Desert Wives by Betty Webb 3
Searing indictment of Mormon marriage practices in Arizona/Utah, as young girls are indoctrinated and worse. Excellent campaigning novel whose serious themes somewhat overwhelm the crime plot.

For more March reading choices from book bloggers, see the round-up “book of the month” post at Mysteries in Paradise.

Scoring system: 5: excellent; 4: very good; 3.5: better than good; 3: good; 2.5: not quite as good as good; 2: average or not distinctive; 1: not recommended (usually not reviewed). This scoring system isn’t perfect as I seem to find it very difficult to award books a 5 or a 1. I am also never sure what rank to give books that are ripping reads but which would not win anything in the “literary merit” stakes!

Plot summary or review?

I have been told by someone on Amazon* that my reviews are plot summaries, not reviews. Having read a few of my old reviews with this comment in mind, there is some merit in this view. Therefore, from this point on, I’ll try to make my reviews less like plot summaries and more like reviews.

Yet what makes a useful review? I define “useful” here as helping the reader to determine whether to read the book. I checked the reviews of the person who made this remark, and note that his reviews are largely opinion of various aspects of the book in question. To me, this means one learns more about the reviewer than the book – I find it hard to judge whether to read a book if “random reviewer” states a view on the writing quality, the plot, etc, rather than giving the reader some degree of objective information (which I do not think is found in the official “blurb” of the book, as in crime fiction these blurbs tend to summarise key, late plot points and so remove suspense and even in some cases any point in reading the book). The person who criticised my reviewing style has a far higher ranking as an Amazon reviewer than I do, though admittedly this ranking comes from other readers checking a box to indicate that the review was helpful.

Previously, in writing a review, I have:

- provided a taste of the story, usually the start of it, so as not to give anything significant away.
– highlighted any strengths, for example in the writing style; conveying of location, emotion and atmosphere; characterisation; distinctiveness (ie lack of formula); pace
– commented on the success of the plot in the context of crime novels in general
– said if I think the author has succeeded in what he/she has set out to do, if I think I know
– compared the book to the author’s previous work, if relevant
– provided a few links to other reviews and relevant information, for example specific background about the topic of the book.

Now, I’m not sure what to do. Presumably I need to reduce the amount of time spent on the first item in my list and spend a correspondingly greater time on the other points. Based on this person’s reviews, I also need to make mine much shorter.

——–
*Amazon UK, my review of The Lewis Man by Peter May.

Scandinavian crime fiction: the book

I am always pleased to see that the two “most viewed” posts here at Petrona each week continue to be the two short reviews I wrote last year about Norwegian and Swedish crime fiction. I am so glad that people are interested in books from these regions and, it is to be hoped, go on to read some of them. My posts, of course, are brief, so potential readers are only getting a small snapshot from them.

Help for them is now at hand. Barry Forshaw, the UK’s main expert on crime fiction, has written a book called Death in a Cold Climate: a guide to Scandinavian crime fiction (Palgrave, 2012). I was very kindly sent a copy by the publisher, Palgrave, and have recently reviewed the book at Euro Crime . From my review:

DEATH IN A COLD CLIMATE is the perfect book for those who have sampled and enjoyed a little Scandinavian crime in fictional form – Stieg Larsson, perhaps, or Jo Nesbo – and who want to find out what more the region has to offer. Barry Forshaw is the best-known “talking head” in the UK on crime fiction, and here he provides a short monograph which takes the reader on a whistle-stop tour round Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Finland, showcasing mostly authors who are writing today, but mentioning a few older names in the process.

Many excellent authors are discussed in this book, not only by Barry Forshaw but in informative, substantial excerpts by the book’s authors and translators. It is truly fascinating to read Sarah Death, Don Bartlett, Marlaine Delargy, Laurie Thompson and others in their own words, on how they go about their work and how they make the end product read as authentically as possible.

I highly recommend this book as a good summary of the output of some of the main authors writing today in the Nordic countries. The contents provide an effective introduction to many authors, so will probably be enjoyed more by those who have not read many of their books, rather than by those who are already very familiar with them.

For comprehensive bibliographies, in written order (rather than translated order, which is often very different, unfortunately), I recommend the Euro Crime database. Links to the Nordic countries are here: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

More details about the book at the publisher’s website.

Crime Scraps Review on the reasons for the success of Nordic crime fiction.

Other reviews of Death in a Cold Climate: The Independent (by translator Anna Paterson), Financial Times (by author Mons Kallentoft), Bookgeeks (Mike Stafford), and Martin Edwards. There are two knowledgeable reviews on Amazon that I enjoyed, by Brian J. Cox and Simon Clarke.

Shotsmag Confidential: Barry Forshaw on “becoming an authority” on Scandinavian crime fiction.

SinC25: Erin Kelly, #10 (and final) post of expert challenge

Having completed the Sisters in Crime book bloggers’ easy and moderate challenges, I have with this post reached the end of the expert challenge! The task:

write ten blog posts about works of crime fiction by women authors. For each, mention three similar women authors whose works you would recommend.

I’m choosing Erin Kelly for my last post. Her second book The Sick Rose is a suspense novel told from the point of view of two characters, in two different time frames. Yet unlike many books that use the “switching time” device, Kelly writes with discipline and focus. Hence there is a strong framework for the story she tells to be revealed gradually to the reader. Kelly’s first book, The Poison Tree, was mainly set in London and concerned some young people who spent a lethal summer living in a big house owned by the father of two of them. The Sick Rose* is set in two contrasting areas of London for its earlier time frame, but in the present the action occurs in Warwickshire – at a castle not unlike Kenilworth, and in the town of Leamington Spa. Rather than recommend three authors who write similar novels to Kelly (who could be Ruth Rendell as Barbara Vine, Morag Joss and Tara French), I am going to highlight three authors from, and who write about, the same midlands region of the UK, which is somewhat unfashionable in international, and even national, terms.

(*The Sick Rose is retitled as The Dark Rose in the USA, which is incomprehensible as the author explains the meaning of “the sick rose” during the book.)

Catherine O’Flynn has written two wonderful novels set in Birmingham. The first, What Was Lost, is a very different kind of detective story, a very sad one, featuring England’s first (real-life) enormous shopping mall and its effect on the lives of the characters. Her second book, The News Where You Are, has a detective story element (again very “different”), and conveys the same sense of sadness in human relationships. One of its themes is of the architecture of Birmingham, widely derided nowadays as a soul-less “concrete jungle” but in the eyes of its architect a marvellous vision of the future. The architect is loosely based on the visionary but misunderstood John Madin, who died earlier this year. Here is a Guardian profile of the author, written just before this novel was published.

Diane Janes set her first novel, The Pull of the Moon, in the countryside round Birmingham and Hereford. The main character, Kate, grew up in the city, went to college there, and as the novel opens is enjoying early retirement. The novel tells of a traumatic experience one summer in Kate’s youth. Janes’s second novel, Why Don’t You Come For Me?, is an excellent suspense novel in the Karin Altvegen mould, set a little further north in the Lake District.

Judith Cutler lived and worked in Birmingham for many years. Her first series of novels featured Sophie Rivers, a teacher at a college in the city. She has also written several other series, some of which are set in the region.

My previous posts in the SinC25 challenge.

The Sisters in Crime 25th anniversary challenge was started by Barbara Fister. Thank you, Barbara, for the fascinating journey – even though I completed it after the end of the official 25th anniversary year!

SinC25: Simone van der Vlugt, #9 post of expert challenge

Having completed the Sisters in Crime book bloggers’ moderate challenge, I am now working hard on the expert level and believe the end is almost in sight! The challenge:

write ten blog posts about works of crime fiction by women authors. For each, mention three similar women authors whose works you would recommend.

Reading Rich Westwood‘s recent Euro Crime review of Shadow Sister reminded me of the Dutch author Simone van der Vlugt, whose two novels that have been translated into English are both very enjoyable, in a dark, suspenseful way. Shadow Sister (translated by Michele Hutchinson, my review at link) is about twins, one a schoolteacher and the other a photographer. Their different attitudes to materialism, men and the job market first strike one about these young women, but gradually we come to see how their past life when children has affected them. One of the nice things about this book is the unreliable perception of reality, depending on which twin is narrating the story.

The Reunion is the other book by this author that has been translated (again by Michele Hutchinson) and published in English. Again, there is an unreliable, possibly unstable, narrator, Sabine, recently returned to work after a bout of depression. Gradually, we come to learn more about Sabine’s life and past, and it is not pleasant.

Rich’s Euro Crime review of Shadow Sister touched upon the ordinary lives of the characters. He writes: “Its setting in suburban Rotterdam may as well be suburban Slough, and its Further Education college, shopping mall, and nightclubs could be situated in Leicester, Hull or Stoke. The characters are teachers, photographers, software engineers and teenagers, all people that you might find in your local town centre next Saturday lunchtime.” This made me wonder, in the context of this challenge, what other books by women authors use the ordinariness of setting to cover up distinctly non-ordinary secrets, secrets that gradually are revealed? I have to think of three such authors….

Jessica Mann‘s The Mystery Writer is in one respect about an ordinary character (“Jessica Mann”) who is in Cornwall researching a book about a (true-life) disaster of World War 2 – the sinking of the ship City of Bernares as it was carrying evacuees from the UK to Canada. She witnesses the attempted suicide of a woman, which is the start of the gradual revealing of many family secrets and previously hidden crimes, in a very clever set of plots.

Esther Verhoef, another Dutch author, tells the story of Margot Laine in her novel Close-Up. Margot is an ordinary salesperson who has to cope with being dumped by her husband after seven years of marriage, including being looked down on by her own parents and being stood up by a girlfriend when she attempts to take a holiday to cheer herself up. Soon, the insecure Margot is being wooed by a very handsome man, a celebrity artist — but what does he see in her, and what happened to his first wife? Margot is increasingly sucked into a maelstrom that is very far from ordinary.

School is a place that is much the same the world over, one might think. In Yaba Badoe‘s debut novel True Murder, young Ajuba is trying to get over her mother’s death. She lived in Ghana but has been placed by her father in an English school in an attempt to provide her with a “normal” life. There, Ajuba is befriended by Polly Venus and hence gets to meet the Venus family in the school holidays. Another situation that becomes distinctly abnormal as the pages turn!

My previous posts in the SinC25 challenge.

The Sisters in Crime 25th anniversary challenge.

SinC25: Laura Wilson, #8 post of expert challenge

Having completed the Sisters in Crime book bloggers’ moderate challenge, I am now working hard on the expert level. The challenge:

write ten blog posts about works of crime fiction by women authors. For each, mention three similar women authors whose works you would recommend.

Laura Wilson is well-known in the UK both as an author of crime fiction and as a reviewer of crime novels for The Guardian. She wrote half a dozen suspense novels, mostly historical, between 1999 and 2006, but here I want to mention her series about London policeman Ted Stratton, as an example of a historical series that, in examining social and political trends over a period of time (the Blitz to the 1960s), does not get bogged-down in the past in the way that many historical novels can tend, rather self-consciously, to do.

Stratton’s War (2007): “The plotting is excellent, dovetailing perfectly with the excitingly tense World War Two background. The constant personal frustrations of Stratton and Diana, as the truths they separately uncover are suppressed for the “greater good” or for the war effort, or for the retrospectively quaint (but no doubt accurate) imperative to preserve the status quo of the class structure, make the book far deeper than a genre novel.
Part of the pleasure and poignancy of this book is the objectivity and frankness that this talented author can bring to bear on events of nearly 70 years ago. For 30 years or so after the war, novels of this type were still, on the whole, covered with a veneer of propaganda and, although exciting, were often too black-and-white to seem realistic or involving. Laura Wilson examines all the issues: social, sexual and political, with a clear-sightedness that provides real insight to the modern reader. This is an admirable novel, both as a good piece of historical crime fiction, but also as a social and emotionally telling commentary on the snapshot of time in which it is set.”

An Empty Death (2009): ” I enjoyed this novel as much, or perhaps even more than, Stratton’s War. The earlier novel focused on events that could only have taken place in the context of the war, whereas An Empty Death is a timeless mystery that is given added interest and excitement by taking place during such unusual times. I am not usually a fan of historical novels, nor of books set in World War Two, but the apparent authenticity of the many domestic, professional* and general details in this novel, as well as its triple plot, soon had me absorbed. The characters seem so genuine: so often when one reads a contemporary novel set in the past, the characters seem to act knowingly about the future, or to have attitudes that anticipate the modern era. There is none of that here, the author simply presents her characters as of their times, which is very effective.”
(*I have since been corrected on an aspect of this point by Norman of Crime Scraps.)

A Capital Crime (2010): “Laura Wilson has written an excellent novel in A Capital Crime. Her invented characters, whether central or tangential, are completely realistic and of their time yet with a subtle overtone of present-day perspective. Her observations of the social mores of the day are acute, and her cast-list (with the exception of the criminal) sympathetic yet unsentimental. Her settings are beautifully detailed and convincing throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and so much hope that it will not be too long before the next episode in the life of DI Ted Stratton.”

I now have to name three women authors who write in a similar vein. This is quite a challenge to me as I don’t read much historical fiction (I read a great deal of it in my teens and then had enough, rather like science fiction), but I’ll try:

Aly Monroe has so far written three books about Peter Cotton, The Maze of Cadiz (which I’ve read), Washington Shadow and Icelight (which I haven’t yet). Like Laura Wilson’s, these novels begin in the Second World War and continue after it, but the protagonist is a military intelligence agent.

Jacqueline Winspear set the main part of her first Maisie Dobbs novel in 1929. There are nine books to date about this psychology-oriented, ex-nurse investigator with her own business, but I’m afraid I have read only the first of these. In that novel, the themes of the effects of war (in this case, the First Word War) on civilian society and on those involved in it, were very much to the fore.

Andrea Maria Schenkel‘s first two novels, The Murder Farm and Ice Cold (both translated by Anthea Bell), are much grimmer affairs about the myths of war and the brutal crimes committed by those caught up in the maelstrom. They are also relentless depictions of claustrophobic German societies and attitudes, in which in each brief novel the reader can only surmise the war’s cause and effect.

My previous posts in the SinC25 challenge.

The Sisters in Crime 25th anniversary challenge.