New UK paperbacks for January

Blue heaven uk Blue heaven uk The start of 2011 seems to bring the prospect of masses of books being published. I am not sure if this is a relief or not, after the paucity of December, given the number I already plan to read. I think on balance it is reassuring. I wonder if 2011 will be the year that The Bookseller has monthly new ebook (all formats) announcements? For the time being, we in the UK can look forward to quite a few printed new paperbacks in January. Because the new design of The Bookseller does not allow as much space as previously for the preview features, when there are a lot of books they are not described in much detail. The predicted top-sellers, in particular, are mentioned very briefly: Caught by Harlan Coben, The Shadow of Your Smile by Mary Higgins Clark, Dark Blood by Stuart MacBride, The Killing Place by Tess Gerritsen and a few others including the obligatory JP.

Under "ones to watch" is a thriller by James Hayman called The Cutting (Penguin), said to be the first in a series featuring former NYPD Michael McCabe. However, as this book is about a serial killer "harvesting" the hearts of beautiful women, I shan't be reading it – sounds like bore as well as gore to me. Another grim one is also first in a new series (publisher: Arrow) Kill Me Once by Jon Osborne (an author's name that made me look twice), "a big, new American thriller launch, dual-narrative, FBI female cop and killer, all very involved, very damaged characters and lots of gory murders".  Probably not one I'll be picking up either.

Perhaps more appealing to me until the blurb got to the dreaded "s…k…" words is The Whisperer by Donato Carrisi (Abacus), "gripping international crime meets literary fiction, perfect for Stieg Larsson fans to move on to I'm told. [sic] It won numerous prizes in its native Italy…. a serial killer debut with some most unexpected twists."

Under the "crime and thrillers" category is Michael Robotham's latest, Bleed For Me (Sphere), a popular author with whom I have parted company over his unacceptable (to me) treatment of women (mothers) and young girls in his last novel. There is also Accused by Mark Giminez (Sphere). I have only read one by this author, his debut, which was quite easy going in John Grisham style. Blue Heaven by C. J. Box (Corvus) is also out in paperback, and one I recommend, as is The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt (Corgi), one of her Gotland series which I enjoyed very much. Other crime novels out in paperback in January that I have not read but might are Death Toll by Jim Kelly (Penguin), one of his Shaw/Valentine series; Beyond Reach by Graham Hurley (Orion), a Joe Faraday novel; and The Company of Shadows by Ruth Newman (Pocket), which has just received a very good write-up at Reviewing the Evidence and which I shall definitely read (her debut, Twisted Wing, won the Long Barn Books first novel award). Deborah Crombie's Necessary as Blood (Pan) is another Gemma Jones story. This author, after starting out very well indeed, became too Elizabeth George-like for me but I might try her again as I have just about recovered from the one about the Scottish distilliaries. There is a sad lack of translated fiction among the crime novels featured here, apart from the book by Mari Jungstedt (originally written in Swedish), and the one by Carrisi. 

There are a couple of "adventure/conspiracy" titles: Matt Hilton's Cut and Run (Hodder), the fourth Joe Hunter novel; and Scott Mariani's The Lost Relic (Avon) – billed as "Dan Brown's territory with an Italian setting"! Also lots of historical novels, one of which looks particularly interesting, Snow Hill by Mark Sanderson (Harper), set in 1936 London and about "the gay underworld, corrupt police and a trail of corpses. It's a clever debut and the start of a trilogy." Another intriguing title is The Brothers Boswell by Philip Baruth (Corvus), set in Georgian times with a killer stalking James Boswell and Samuel Johnson. After all the Jane Austen (et al.) mash-ups with zombies and so on, I am at a loss to know what the next fad will be, but clearly the inventiveness of authors is not diminished on the basis of some of these descriptions.

 Not strictly crime, but I thought I'd mention that This Perfect World by Suzanne Bulger (Pan) is out in paperback in January, a debut about  a young mother whose world is turned upside down by the plight of an old school classmate whom she had bullied. This is one I certainly plan to read.

Started reading: Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay

Neverlookaway The generous publisher Orion has sent me an advance copy of Linwood Barclay's latest novel, Never Look Away. I am completely hooked. A review will follow in due course, but in the meantime I'd like to share an excerpt and the trailer, made by the publisher.

The overriding concern now, with declining revenues and readership, was survival. The paper had always kept a reporter in Albany to cover state issues, but now relied on wires. The weekly book section had been killed, reduced to a page in the back end of Style. The editorial cartoonist, tremendously gifted at lampooning and harpooning local officials, was given the heave-ho, and now we picked up any number of national, syndicated cartoonists who'd probably never even heard of Promise Falls, let alone visited it, to fill the hole on the editorial page. Oh yeah, the editorials. We used to run two a day, written by staffers. Now, we ran "What Others Think", a sampling of editorials from across the country……..Various city committees had a live Internet video feed. Why send a reporter? Why even pay one to watch it from the office? Why not get some guy in Mumbai to watch it, write up what he sees, then email his story back to Promise Falls, New York? 

Sad stuff, but all too true. Michael Connelly (in The Scarecrow) and The Wire (Season 5) have movingly described similar declines in Los Angeles and Baltimore, respectively. Here, Linwood Barclay made me just as mad. 

On a different but related tack, the video trailer (not watched by me) follows. Enjoy!

I am hoping that the next 300 pages of this book are as exciting as the compelling first 100 – so far, no gore, no horrors, no murders, no sleaze  -  just a good story, great tension, and pure excitement. I will let you know more, when I have finished it.

More about Anne Holt and 1222

Holt Having written a couple of weeks ago about Anne Holt's upcoming novel 1222 (due to be published in the UK by Corvus in December, in a translation by Marlaine Delargy), I was pleased to read an interview with the author in last week's (24 September) Bookseller (p. 23). Unfortunately, the title of the profile is "Scandi sensation" but that is the worst bit.

Wisely, and despite the opening paragraph of the article trying so hard to do the opposite, Anne Holt "is keen not to jump on Larsson's bandwaggon, pointing out the differences between his style of crime writing and her own, which is more typically Scandinavian. 'He wrote in more of an American style, very tough, brutal stories. The rest of us who have been translated into English – Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum and myself – write in more of a social realistic/political way, in the Sjowall and Wahloo tradition.' "

Now I don't want to pick holes in an argument, and I have enjoyed Anne Holt's three novels so far translated into English, but I would characterise these precisely as American-style thrillers – much of one of them is set in the USA, another features a serial killer of children, and the third is about the kidnapping of the US president when she visits Norway. All feature the FBI and profiling. I appreciate that 1222 is perhaps different from these, concerning a different protagonist and being likened to Agatha Christie in style. But if this Agatha Christie appelation is appropriate, then it is Yrsa Sigurdardottir I would invoke, not Sjowall/Wahloo!

Further, I would say that S. Larsson relies very heavily on the Martin Beck series in his last novel, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Recently reading The Terrorists, the last of the Sjowall/Wahloo series of ten novels, I was very struck by the parallels and realise how much S. Larsson had taken and developed themes from that novel. Another contemporary author who could be included in that particular aspect of S. Larsson is, as pointed out by Norman of Crime Scraps, Liza Marklund (particularly her latest translated novel, Red Wolf).

Anne Holt brackets Mankell, Nesbo and Fossum (with herself), yet I'd say these authors are very different! Fossum writes introspective, dark but deceptively simple fables. Mankell and Nesbo write police procedurals, the former with a gloomy detective and the latter with a more cheerful one, but Nesbo's are really thrillers, with ornate and ghoulish set-pieces (I would call him as brutal as S. Larsson, on his day). Larsson's three novels, as I wrote the other day, are all rather different from each other. Roslund/Hellstrom have many similarities with the final novel; Karin Alvtegen's Missing with the middle book, and the first one perhaps reminds me a bit of Johan Theorin. But the point is, each author varies his or her books, and one author cannot be simplistically compared with another.

Turning to the new book, 1222, Anne Holt says that it is a homage to Agatha Christie and is her attempt to write a classic locked-room mystery with a "tempo that is more contemporary". Unfortunately, it is the eighth in the Hanne Wihelmsen series, so there is a lot of back-story that English-language readers are going to miss out on – but not for long as apparently Corvus plans to publish the first seven novels in the series next year, together with the Vik/Stubo series which were first published here by Sphere. Regarding Hanne, Anne Holt says that "creating a believable person who is very far from yourself is what I find most intriguing about being an author."

Holt says "The most frustrating thing about crime fiction is when you enjoy the book all the way and the end just falls apart. So what I do is write the end first. I spend four weeks writing the last 10 pages, which then act as a kind of lighthouse." Intriguing! I am very much looking forward to 1222.

Anne Holt graduated from the University of Bergen with a degree in law, and from 1984 to 1996 was a journalist for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, police attorney in the Oslo police department, and a lawyer running her own practice. Her first novel was published in 1993. From 1996 to 1997 she was the Norwegian Minister for Justice

Notes on the authors mentioned here:

Holt, Nesbo, Fossum are Norwegian. Sigurdardottir is Icelandic. S. Larsson, Marklund, Mankell, Roslund/Hellstrom, Theorin and Alvtegen are Swedish.

Housekeeping note: archive complete, but for how long?

I think that I have now completed the installation of my old Vox blog (a.k.a. my book review archive) onto this blog, now that Vox has closed its doors and will indeed be disappearing from Thursday. 

My book review archive is now here. You can get to it by clicking on the appropriate link at the top of this blog (just under the header) or at the sidebar. 

What took the time was not exporting the blog itself but re-categorising all the posts. I've now completed this task so you can read book reviews by region (country or continent), genre, and other categories of interest, such as whether the book is translated, or won an award.  You can receive any of these as an RSS feed by clicking on the icon on the top of the category archive you have chosen. A full archive of all my reviews, by date and category, is here.

While slogging through this work, I learned that Six Apart, the company that makes Typepad (this blog platform) and Vox (the defunct one) has been acquired by SAY media. Although the old and new owners assure Typepad bloggers that the service will continue (I hope it does as we pay for it), the emphasis of the new company will be on monetisation, that is, people who want to put ads on their blogs in the hope of making money out of them. As this isn't my cup of tea, I am now seriously considering a back-up blog on Blogger (I have a couple of old blogs there that I could revive). There are only so many back-up archives one can have, though, and retain a modicum of sanity.

Book Review: Any Man’s Death by Hazel Holt

Any mans death Any Man’s Death by Hazel Holt
Allison and Busby, 2009

In a change of pace from my recent reading, I’ve just completed this novel (via the library) by the refreshing Hazel Holt. Any Man’s Death appears to be the nineteenth in this series about Sheila Malory, of which I’ve read quite a few, but not for some years. This title launches straight in and no explanation is given of Sheila’s circumstances, so a new reader might not immediately realise that she is a writer, animal-lover and  lively widow who has a rather conventional lawyer son, Michael, and  a best friend, Rosemary.  She encounters many murders among the villages on the south coast of England, and solves them in brisk fashion.

Any Man’s Death follows this formula, and it’s a light, diverting read. The book is set in the village of Mere Barton, near to Sheila’s home. While she’s visiting friends there, someone suggests that it would be nice if there were to be a history of the village in book form, in common with other local villages. The retired district nurse, Annie Roberts, a busybody who organises everyone and is chair of all the committees, zeroes in on Sheila and persuades her to undertake the task. Hence Sheila visits most of the residents, to a man and woman the comfortably-off middle class, in order to collect their photographs and memories of the old days. Most of them, however, are people who’ve made or inherited money and moved to the village, often to retire, as it is nowadays too expensive for families who have lived there for generations to afford. This is all we hear of the less-well-off, though – the book is firmly about the vicar, the MP, the horsey landowner, the ladies of the manor and the owners of the village shop (now an upmarket delicatessen); it is not sullied by cleaners, cooks or bottle-washers, nor does it concern anyone young. 

Soon, inevitably, someone dies, and Sheila is convinced it is not by accident. She believes that her research may have uncovered a secret that somebody wants buried, so for the rest of the book she continues to meet and interrogate the cast of characters, in the guise of having sherry with them or inviting them for cream teas in local cafes. 

Despite the “otherworldliness” of this novel – are or were things ever as described here? – it’s a pleasant, undemanding read with plenty of amusing little observations, such as the shock experienced when coffee is served in a mug rather than a cup. (The Wire this is not.) The formulaic quality means that the only character with any life is the charming Sheila, so it is a bit hard to feel engaged in who committed the murder or why – it could be any one of the characters and it is really of little consequence to the reader’s emotions as to which one it turns out to be (if any). The author does not take much opportunity to convey past ways of life and compare them with the present, as she might have done given the theme of the book. And the plot, such as it is, depends too much on Sheila finding previously overlooked pieces of paper among her collections, and so on. Nevertheless, if you don’t mind setting aside reality, the friendly, confiding and chatty tone of the novel will while away a spare hour or so easily enough.

Hazel Holt's blog and website.

Hazel Holt at Allison and Busby's website.

Hazel Holt's novels at

Swedish crime fiction is not all like Stieg Larsson

Millennium Ever since the phenomenal, and continuing, success of the Millennium Trilogy by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson, we have read numerous articles in newspapers and on the internet likening the output of other Swedish, or Scandinavian, authors to him. Increasingly, "blurbs" on or about newly published novels are explicitly likening the book in question to S. Larsson (recent examples include Jo Nesbo's The Snowman (Norwegian), Yrsa Sigurdardottir's Ashes to Dust  (Icelandic), Ake Edwardson (Swedish), Camilla Lackberg (Swedish) and Roslund/Hellstrom's Three Seconds (Swedish). I am sure there are lots of other examples.

 Let's put aside the obvious fact that an author from a region of the world does not by default write books that are clones of other authors from that region (is Martin Amis the next Jane Austen or James Patterson the next Edith Wharton?).  Let's also put to one side the publisher's motivation to attempt to emulate S. Larsson's commercial success by likening its own titles to his novels.

What are we left with? What elements do "define" S. Larsson and hence could be used to liken other novelists to him?  I'll list ten here but welcome further suggestions or contradictions.

1. Exciting plots with many themes: thriller, political cover-ups, financial scandal, Nazis, serial killer, thugs, drug dealers, lesbians, spies, police corruption, sex, detective agency, blackmail, evil doctors, tortured family history, bikers, gore, devious lawyers, bad businessmen, lots of very nice and principled women – it's all there. 

2. Unusual and highly sympathetic female central character who has been very badly treated so is justified (in the reader's mind) in a search for vengeance.

3. Campaigning journalism (what I call the nostalgia ticket!). Journalists expose financial, political and other wrongdoings, and the world cares. That is so nice, I wish the world really was like that, and I like being able to imagine that it might be – hence one appeal, for me, of these books.

4. The goodies are good and the baddies are bad.  The lack of shades of grey is not particularly appealing to me but I think it helps to make the books more widely commercial.

5. Each book is about the same characters yet is distinct by having a different theme. Book 1 is a locked-room mystery; book 2 is a fugitive drama; book 3 is a political spy thriller in the Le Carre mould.  This is the structure of other successful series, most notably the Martin Beck novels of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, that is, a tried and tested recipe for success and a classic structure that readers can recognise while enjoying the unusual settings.

6. Masses of detail, eg how to put a magazine together, or open an offshore bank account, that the average reader will not know about and which appeals to the "inner nerd".

7. The curiosity factor. The author's necessarily enigmatic life seems to fascinate people and make them want to read his books.

8. The books are written at an "easy reading" level while not being dumb. Hence they appeal to a broad readership.

9. The books have been made into films, which often boosts sales.

10. The books have won awards and been bestsellers in other countries before being published in English, which encourages people in the English-speaking world to try them.

I am sure there are other factors in the Larsson make-up, but the above ten are the ones that immediately occur to me. By this count, a standard crime novel such as a police procedural series does not qualify for comparison. Jo Nesbo is perhaps a little closer in that his police procedurals also have strong thriller, gory and historical elements, but to my mind there is no more in common between the two authors than there is between Larsson and a standard US or UK (or any) thriller involving a police investigation. And Yrsa Sigurdardottir? No point of comparision, apart 3 seconds perhaps from the fact that Liesbeth and Thora are both women. (But then, so is Kinsey Millhone or Hannah Scarlett.)

Perhaps the novel published after the Millennium Trilogy that comes the closest to it is Three Seconds by Roslund and Hellstrom. The cover has a big red banner across the bottom, stating in capital letters "The new crime sensation from the publishers of Stieg Larsson".

Factors in common:

It is long

It is one of a loose series, this time about a seriously depressed, ageing policeman and his colleagues and other contacts (eg a prosecutor).

It is very thrilling with a scorching pace, while being replete with minutiae about things the average reader will not know about.

It concerns corruption in many institutions and at  the highest levels, and lots of it. Paranoia is rife.

There is no equivalent to the morally upbeat and forceful characters of Liesbeth Salander and Mikhael Blomqvist, but the character of Piet Hoffman is certainly well drawn and intriguing. I think the reader is supposed to like him more than I did.

Part of it takes place in a prison.

The English publisher is almost the same (MacLehose/Quercus for Larsson, Quercus for Roslund/Hellstrom).

Er, it is Swedish.

Book Review: Silent Counsel by Ken Isaacson

Silent Silent Counsel by Ken Isaacson
Kindle, or Windermere Press (hardback).

I used the opportunity of my new Kindle to read this novel, which has been on my list for a while. I love legal thrillers and this one is well up there, combining a clearly expert knowledge with a crackingly fast plot on the theme of attorney-client privilege. 

At the outset, a hit-and-run driver in New Jersey, USA,  kills a young boy while doing excessive speeds on a residential street in his latest sports car. Vince Saldano, the driver, is a well-to-do businessman, and (portrayed as) relatively decent, hence he feels guilty for not stopping. He decides to visit a lawyer, Scott Heller, to find out whether there is any chance that he could deal with the prosecutor for a reduced sentence.  He takes the unusual step of asking Scott to promise not to reveal his name while Scott is negotiating with the DA’s office. Scott is unsuccessful in negotiating a plea bargain, and to the frustration of the police, says he cannot reveal his client’s identity. Soon, Scott himself is facing court action to question the legality of his stance.

Part of the plot of this exciting novel concerns Scott’s moral dilemma, and his increasing sense of nightmare as the fallout of Vince’s strategy spirals out of control. Another part of the book focuses on the personal costs of the crime, both to the parents (particularly the mother) of the dead boy, and to Scott’s own wife and young daughter, who are unsympathetic to his position. Soon, he and his family begin to understand the emotional effects of Vince’s action and the consequences of Scott’s decision to protect the man’s identity.

There are so many twists to this novel that it is hard to review it without giving away any of its clever secrets. The final chapters, in particular, provide punch after punch and had me clicking away madly (as I did not have any actual pages to turn!). Occasionally the author provides a few educational paragraphs about some arcane aspect of law or IP addresses, but that’s fine by me. I really liked his juxtaposition of the legal and procedural after-effects of a crime, together with its terrible human cost.  I don’t suppose this book will sell as well as John Grisham, but it is easily as good, if not better, and I can highly recommend it.

Amazon page for this book, including kudos from several  well-known crime authors and reviewers.

Other reviews of this book by Harriet Klausner, Powell's books and Jen's Book Thoughts.

Author's website.

Crime-fiction publishing in Argentina

The current (17 September 2010) issue of The Bookseller carries a feature on the upcoming Frankfurt Book Fair (6-10 October), with a special emphasis on Argentina, a country in which 82.5 million books were published in 2008; 20,038 new titles were published in 200; and 4 per cent of new books are published in translation; and where there are 660 specialist bookshops. (Stats according to The Bookseller.)

Five Argentinian authors will be meeting delegates to the FBF, including Claudia Pineiro, a journalist and scriptwriter whose novel Thursday Night Widows was published in the UK last Argentina year by Bitter Lemon Press, and whose next, Forever Yours, will be out here in 2011; and Guillermo Martinez, author of The Oxford Murders (Abacus) and other novels.

Although there is apparently a strong reading culture in Argentina, economic calamities have had a negative effect, not least on import of books and on library, school and other institutional budgets. Martin Schifino, a writer, publisher and translator who lives in Buenos Aires (I've read his translations of Water-Blue Eyes by Domingo Villar and At Close Quarters by Eugenio Fuentes, for example), describes the decline of the city's book-publishing industry, which for many years was ranked with Barcelona and Mexico City as one of the leaders of the Spanish-speaking world, but now can't compete with Spain. For most Argentinian authors, Schifino suggests that "cracking the Spanish market" is the main goal, as the country's own market can't sustain writers.

Bitter Lemon Press is singled out for its track-record in publishing many of the small list of Argentinian writers in print in the UK. The company was set up in 2003 to publish crime fiction and thrillers from overseas. Next year, six of the 50 titles on its list will be by Argentinian authors. Francois von Hurter, founder of the press, is quoted as saying "We love noir and we love dramatic locations, but we decided to give Scandinavia a miss because that's been done to death with the likes of Larsson and Mankell. So we looked at Latin America instead, and as we cast about, Argentina kept coming up. Buenos Aires is a totally seductive place and there's such an ebullient literary scene. It's a city of bookshops – like Europe in 1935."

Bitter Lemon's authors include the aforementioned Claudia Pineiro, as well as Rolo Diaz, Ernesto Mallo (who was recognised via the German translations of his work) and Sergio Bizzio (via rave reviews of French translations). 

Argentinian books I have reviewed include Thursday Night Widows by Claudia Pineiro, translated by Miranda France (Bitter Lemon);  No-One Loves a Policeman by Guillermo Orsi, translated by Nick Caistor (MacLehose/Quercus); and Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo, translated by Jethro Soutar (Bitter Lemon).

Any recommendations for good Argentinian crime fiction that is available translated into English would be most welcome!

Vague attempt to answer eight questions

A propos of my previous post, because it has taken me all week to read Three Seconds by Roslund and Hellstrom (a three-hour, never mind second,  reading blitz this afternoon, Saturday, has put it to bed but the review has yet to be written), I am a bit short of subject-matter for this blog's usual daily post right now. Never fear, Jose Ignacio, whose excellent blog is called The Game's Afoot,  has come to the rescue with a meme that I think I may be able to do, called Eight Questions.  I am currently a refugee from the X-Factor, banished from the room I was quietly reading in earlier, so I will have a go at answering the octet:

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?

I would like a pair of boots with an engine that would let me fly. Or, just to be able to fly without the boots, if we are talking superpowers.

2. Who is your style icon?

Is this a person whose style I admire? Hmmm…..J. K. Rowling.  She's intelligent, successful, kind, talented, individual, has thought-through (processed) opinions and is "unspun". And, of course, she is a mother.

3. What is your favourite quote?

It is a tie.

John Lennon: Life is what happens while you are making other plans. 

Kenny Dalgliesh: This is as good as it gets. 

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

I am always surprised and delighted when people at work pay me compliments of various kinds. I also very much value people who compliment my book reviews and/or blog posts, by their kind comments. Occasionally I hear a compliment from one of my daughters and I think these rare treats probably mean the most.

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player right now?

None. But I seem to be listening to a lot of other people's Muse just at the moment, not unrelated to their recent gig.

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

I have to be a morning person whether I like it or not. But if I did not have to be, I'd be a night owl.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

Cats, though I cannot have one because of others in the house who are allergic to animal hairs. This is a great pity as I am very fond of cats and admire the species and its values.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name.

A female version of "Patronus", from J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels. (Though the eagle-eyed will spot a typo.) A Patronus is one's mystical alter-ego. Harry's was, of course, a stag.

In the middle of reading: Three Seconds

Roslund Unusually for me, I have spent since 12 September (i.e. all week) reading the same book (it's been a busy week with even less spare time than usual). Even more unusually, I'm only now half way though it. The book is Three Seconds by Roslund and Hellstrom, translated by Kari Dickson, and is published in the UK by Quercus on 30 September. The publisher has kindly sent me an advance copy, and when I have finished  it I'll submit a review to Euro Crime.

The book is extremely exciting, and was winner of Sweden's crime novel of the year. Although it is long, at 500 pages, it does not feel long while reading it.  The publisher's description:

"Piet Hoffmann is the best undercover operative in the Swedish police force, but only one other man is even aware of his existence. After a drug deal he is involved in goes badly wrong, he must face the hardest mission of his life – infiltrating Sweden’s most infamous maximum-security prison. Detective Inspector Ewert Grens is charged with investigating the drug-related killing. Unaware of Hoffmann’s real identity, he believes himself to be on the trail of a dangerous psychopath. But he cannot escape the feeling that vital information pertaining to the case has been withheld or manipulated. Hoffmann has his insurance: wiretap recordings that implicate some of Sweden’s most prominent politicians in a corrupt conspiracy. But in Ewert Grens they might just have found the perfect weapon to eliminate him. Intelligent, gripping, brutal, Three Seconds is the new thriller from Roslund and Hellström, the heirs apparent to Stieg Larsson and Henning Mankell as the masters of Scandinavian crime."

There is also a video trailer, which I have not watched myself (partly in case there are any spoilers –  even though I'm half-way through, you never know!).

About the authors:
"Award-winning journalist Anders Roslund and ex-criminal Börge Hellström are Sweden’s most acclaimed fiction duo. Their unique ability to combine inside knowledge of the brutal reality of criminal life with searing social criticism in complex, intelligent plots has put them at the forefront of modern Scandinavian crime writing." Their website is here.

There are and are going to be a lot of books coming out now that are likened to Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, not least this one. However, on this occasion the comparison is somewhat justified, as there are several elements in common between the novels. There are fewer similarities to Henning Mankell, I think, as Three Seconds (so far) is much more of a thriller than Mankell's novels that I've read.

Roslund and Hellstrom have had two books previously translated (or published, anyway) in English, The Beast and The Vault (a.k.a. Box 21). I've read the latter; my review of it is here. It is very dark and cynical. The Beast is reviewed at Euro Crime by Mary Wilde.