My Euro Crime book reviews for February – and awards

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As March is now a week old, it is more than time to round up my reviews during the past month at Euro Crime, and of these to select a "book of the month" for February.

The Locked Room, by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, translated from the Swedish by Paul Britten Austin. (The Harper Perennial edition has an excellent introduction by Michael Connelly.) I wrote that the novel "provides delightfully clever plotting in the outcome of the two main investigations, and the moral question of "if the crime does not fit the punishment, does the punishment fit the crime?" leaves the reader with plenty to ponder." This is the eighth of the ten-book Martin Beck series, and I'm quite sad that (as I have read the ninth) I only have one more to go.

Woman with Birthmark by Hakan Nesser, translated from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson. "Not only is the story of this book, if extremely depressing, very well constructed and told, but the great dry humour and byplay between the detectives is hilarious. I can't imagine how the author manages to make the reader laugh out loud so often while telling such a ghastly tale, but he does it."

The Cruel Stars of the Night by Kjell Eriksson, translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerberg. "This author's trademark seems to be to tell the stories of his characters' lives (new ones in each book) alongside those of his detectives (regular series characters) – in such a way that the detectives, even if they solve all or part of a case, never know the full context that we, the readers, have been allowed to witness – an interesting perspective."

The Serpent Pool by Martin Edwards, "written with intelligence by a talented author who is clearly very knowledgeable and cultured, with a mature, gently ironic view of the world. I congratulate Martin Edwards on this superb contribution to what I think is one of the very best crime-fiction series being written today."

I also managed to review quite a few books on Petrona during February, thanks in large part to a week away from work earlier in the month. Via this link, you can find reviews of The Missing by Jane Casey; The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths; Where the Dead Lay by David Levien; The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer; Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Pinerio; and Last Light by Alex Scarrow.

It's very hard to choose a book of the month from these: but after some thought, from my Euro Crime reviews, and the overall winner of "book of the month", I choose The Serpent Pool by Martin Edwards, and for my Petrona reviews I think Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Pinerio is just out in front by a whisker. (The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths is a close runner-up.)