Pre-shortlist update on reading International Dagger possibles

My last update on my progress on reading the books eligible for the International Dagger for 2011 was in February. To qualify, books have to be translated, and published in the UK between May 2010 and June 2011. Karen continuously updates her essential Euro Crime blog post of eligible titles.

These are the books on the list that I had read when I wrote my last post on the subject (links go to my reviews):

The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder , translated by Marlaine Delargy (Sweden)
Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum, translated by Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
1222 by Anne Holt, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Norway)
Operation Napoleon by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Victoria Cribb (Iceland)
Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo, translated by Jethro Soutar (Argentina)
Red Wolf by Liza Marklund, translated by Neil Smith (Sweden)
The Inspector and Silence by Hakan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End by Leif G W Persson, translated by Paul Norlen (Sweden, not reviewed).
Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, translated by Philip Roughton (Iceland)
River of Shadows by Valerio Varesi, translated by Joseph Farrell (Italy)
Shadow Sister by Simone van der Vlugt, translated by Michele Hutchison (The Netherlands)
Silence by Jan Costin Wagner, translated by Anthea Bell (German, setting Finland)
Three Seconds by Roslund-Hellstrom, translated by Kari Dickson (Sweden)
Bunker by Andrea Maria Shenckel, translated by Anthea Bell (Germany)

At that time, my own personal favourites to date (in no special order) were Red Wolf, Frozen Moment and Needle in a Haystack.

Since that February post, limited slightly by UK publication dates, I have read:

Splinter by Sebastian Fitzek, translated by John Brownjohn (Germany, not reviewed)
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Sweden, review submitted to Euro Crime)
The Gallows Bird by Camilla Lackberg, translated by Steven T. Murray (Sweden, review submitted to Euro Crime)
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell, translated by Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
The Leopard by Jo Nesbo, translated by Don Bartlett (Norway)
Blood Sisters by Alessandro Perissinotto, translated by Howard Curtis (Italy)
A Short Cut to Paradise by Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush (Spain, not reviewed)
Rendezvous by Esther Verhoef, translated by Alexander Smith (The Netherlands)
Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar, translated by Sonia Soto (Spain)

Of the remainder, I’ll try to read two more (if available) before the announcement of the shortlist in early May:

Summertime by Mari Jungstedt
Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen

On consideration, I am not planning to read any more from the ‘pool’ but if I haven’t read any on the official shortlist when revealed, I’ll undertake to read them before the winner is announced (which will probably mean I have to read Fred Vargas’s An Uncertain Place!).

So, which are my front-runners now? (Noting that English-language publication dates have changed for some books, eg Johan Theorin’s The Quarry, bumping them into next year’s eligibility criteria).

Well, unlike the past two years, there are no stand-outs. I am going to predict that The Leopard by Jo Nesbo, Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen, Three Seconds by Roslund-Hellstrom and An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas will make the shortlist, on the basis of the many glowing reviews I’ve read in the “mainstream media” and on blogs. My main objection to The Leopard was its unnecessary (but mercifully not many) descriptions of nasty torture; other than that it is a very exciting book though once you have read a few of these you can see how the author’s mind works and second-guess some of the twists. As a mystery, The Leopard has flaws but it is an exciting book with a great central character and sense of local atmosphere. Three Seconds is a thriller and as such I personally would prefer a more measured story such as Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar, but I think Three Seconds has quite a bit of momentum behind it and is an exciting read if a bit unlikely in places (and a bit maudlin in others).

I think that The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell should make the shortlist. It is a deeply absorbing book, and a challenging mystery – though the solution to the “crime” is hastily dealt with. As a portrait of a man’s state of mind as he declines, and of his relationship with his heroic and independent daughter, it is the most human of the eligible books I’ve read.

I would include Frozen Moment by Camilla Cedar on my predicted shortlist. The book is a solid, satisfying mystery, a good police procedural and strong characterisation as well as very atmospheric. Even though it is a debut, it very much holds its own with the other eligible titles on the list.

Many of the other books are good reads, but in my view aren’t really “crime fiction” – for example Rendezvous by Esther Verhoef. Others of the books show their authors writing at less than their best (Anne Holt, Arnaldur Indridason, Jan Costin Wagner, Teresa Solana). Domingo Villar slightly falls into this category for me, as though his second novel is very good, I did not think it had moved on since the first. Similarly Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s Ashes to Dust is a good, solid novel but I found the character of Thora had stalled a bit compared with her very funny first outing. Shadow Sister is a good psychological novel and Blood Sisters is a promising debut. Others on the list are fine books by established authors, but lack that “special” factor (Camilla Lackberg, Hakan Nesser, Karin Fossum, Andrea Camilleri). I enjoyed most of the eligible books I’ve read (some more than others!), but none of them really stands out to me as an excellent crime novel. Red Wolf by Liza Marklund and Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo are good examples of novels about socio-political issues, and are personal favourites of mine, but objectively, I don’t see them as being on a par with some of the previous winners of a crime-fiction award (eg Johan Theorin or Arnaldur Indridason at their best).

So, here’s my predicted shortlist for this year – not necessarily my personal favourites, but a prediction:

Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen (not yet read)
Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell
The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
Three Seconds by Roslund-Hellstrom
An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas (not yet read)

Of these, I’d be happy if any of those that I’ve read wins, though for me Frozen Moment and The Troubled Man are the front-runners on my predicted list.

My previous posts about the International Dagger.

Progress on reading books eligible for the 2011 International Dagger

My last update on my progress on reading the books eligible for the International Dagger for 2011 was at the end of October last year. To qualify, books have to be translated, and published in the UK between May 2010 and June 2011. Karen continuously updates her essential Euro Crime blog post of eligible titles.

These are the books on the list that I had read when I wrote my last post on the subject (links go to my reviews):

The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo, translated by Jethro Soutar (Argentina)
Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum, translated by Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
The Inspector and Silence by Hakan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson (Sweden)
Red Wolf by Liza Marklund, translated by Neil Smith (Sweden)
River of Shadows by Valerio Varesi, translated by Joseph Farrell (Italy)
Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, translated by Philip Roughton (Iceland)
Silence by Jan Costin Wagner, translated by Anthea Bell (German, setting Finland)
Three Seconds by Roslund-Hellstrom, translated by Kari Dickson (Sweden)
Bunker by Andrea Maria Shenckel, translated by Anthea Bell (Germany)
Operation Napoleon by Arnaldur Indridason, translated by Victoria Cribb (Iceland).

Since then I have read:

1222 by Anne Holt, translated by Marlaine Delargy (Norway)
Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder (Sweden, Euro Crime review submitted)
Shadow Sister by Simone van der Vlugt (The Netherlands, Euro Crime review submitted)
Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End by Leif G W Persson (not reviewed as I did not enjoy it much).

And I have hurled away from me into the electronic sink after getting as far as chapter 3:

The Postcard Killers by Liza Marklund and A. N. Other (may not in any event be eligible, depending on whether it was first written in Swedish or something approximating to English)

I suppose I must by now have read enough titles to think about which, if any, are my front-runners. So far, there are no real stand-outs in the list. Most of the books I’ve read are very good, solid novels, but I would not say that any of them have that extra factor that makes them a potential crime fiction classic (as I am sure novels by Johan Theorin, last year’s winner, will be, for example). My own personal favourites to date (in no special order) are Red Wolf, Frozen Moment and Needle in a Haystack, though there is not much in it. There are still some enticing prospects in the titles that have not yet been published, and the glowing reviews so far of The Leopard make me think it is likely to be a strong contender.

Remaining to read –

Splinter by Sebastian Fitzek (Germany, in my Kindle e-reader via the Amazon £1 per-download Christmas promotion)
The Leopard by Jo Nesbo (Norway, in my Kindle e-reader via Amazon’s e-book of the week promotion)
Villain by Shuichi Yoshida (Japan, not yet purchased)

And not yet published in the UK but which I will or may read:

Basic Shareholder by Petros Markaris
Rendezvous by Esther Verhoef
The Quarry by Johan Theorin (publication date moved so may no longer be eligible for 2011)
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell
Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
The Gallows Bird by Camilla Lackberg
Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto
Summertime by Mari Jungstedt
Blood Sisters by Alessandro Perissinotto
An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas
Inquisition by Alfredo Carlitto
Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen
A Short Cut to Paradise by Teresa Solana (updated, thanks to Simon Clarke for pointing out this omission!)

Plus quite a few others, most of which I shan’t read partly for time reasons and partly as they are magical and/or religious-historical, are about serial killers, are said to contain graphic violence, and the like.

My previous posts about the International Dagger.

Progress on reading books eligible for the 2011 International Dagger

It was late August when I last asked myself how I am getting on with the books eligible for the International Dagger for 2011. To qualify, books have to be translated, and published in the UK between May 2010 and June 2011. Karen has recently updated her essential Euro Crime blog post of eligible titles, now up to 48.

These are the books on the list that I had read when I wrote my 21 August post (links go to my reviews):

The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Needle in a Haystack  by Ernesto Mallo, translated by Jethro Soutar (Argentina)
Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum , translated by Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
The Inspector and Silence by Hakan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson (Sweden)

Since then, I have read:

Red Wolf by Liza Marklund, translated by Neil Smith (Sweden)
River of Shadows by Valerio Varesi, translated by Joseph Farrell (Italy)
Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, translated by Philip Roughton (Iceland)
Silence by Jan Costin Wagner, translated by Anthea Bell (German, setting Finland)
Three Seconds by Roslund-Hellstrom, translated by Kari Dickson (Sweden)
Bunker by Andrea Maria Shenckel, translated by Anthea Bell (Germany); review submitted to Euro Crime
Operation Napoleon by Arnaldur Indridason , translated by Victoria Cribb (Iceland); review in draft of a copy via the library.

Books I have on my shelf or e-reader waiting to be read:

1222 by Anne Holt 
The Postcard Killers by Liza Marklund and A. N. Other 

Remaining to read – none of which are yet available on Amazon UK apart from Villain (which is quite expensive):

Basic Shareholder by Petros Markaris
Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder
Villain by Shuichi Yoshida
Rendezvous by Esther Verhoef
The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
The Quarry by Johan Theorin
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell
Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
The Gallows Bird by Camilla Lackberg
Shadow Sister by Simone van der Vlugt
Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto
Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End by Leif G W Persson
Summertime by Mari Jungstedt
Blood Sisters by Alessandro Perissinotto
An Uncertain Place by Fred Vargas
Inquisition by Alfredo Carlitto 

There are around 20 titles left to read if I manage to get through all the above list. 

See  International Dagger, a collection of all the posts at Petrona on this topic. 

2011 International Dagger – list of eligible titles.

2010 International Dagger – list of eligible titles.

The CWA International Dagger pagecurrently featuring the 2010 winner, The Darkest Room by Johan Theorintranslated by Marlaine Delargy.

Petrona's post about the 2010 winner.

The 2010 shortlist, and my reviews of each title on it.

Petrona posts tagged International Dagger.

Euro Crime list of 2011 eligible titles.

Progress on reading books eligible for the 2011 International Dagger

How am I getting on with the books eligible for the International Dagger for 2011, I wondered to myself? Thanks to Karen of Euro Crime, there is a list of the titles at her blog, which she updates as new books are published. To qualify, books have to be translated, and published in the UK between May 2010 and June 2011. As of 2 August, there are 44 eligible titles, and Karen anticipates another 10 to 20 before the eligibility deadline is reached. The full list is at Euro Crime blog.

Books on the list that I have read so far (links go to my reviews):

The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Italy)
Needle in a Haystack  by Ernesto Mallo, translated by Jethro Soutar (Argentina)
Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum , translated by Charlotte Barslund (Norway)
The Inspector and Silence by Hakan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson (Sweden)

Eligible books I have on my shelf to read:

Bunker by Andrea Maria Shenckel
River of Shadows by Valerio Varesi
1222 by Anne Holt 
(I also have The Kingdom of Light by Giulio Leoni, left over from last year's list!)

Books I definitely plan to read (mostly not published yet):

Frozen Moment by Camilla Ceder
Silence by Jan Costin Wagner
Basic Shareholder by Petros Markaris
Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Villain by Shuichi Yoshida
Three Seconds by Roslund-Hellstrom
Rendezvous by Esther Verhoef
Red Wolf by Liza Marklund
The Postcard Killers by Liza Marklund and A. N. Other (possibly)
The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
Operation Napoleon by Arnaldur Indridason
A Place of Blood by Johan Theorin
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell
Death on a Galician Shore by Domingo Villar
The Hypnotist by Lars Kepler
The Gallow's Bird by Camilla Lackberg
Shadow Sister by Simone van der Vlugt
Bandit Love by Massimo Carlotto
Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End by Leif G W Persson

That leaves almost 20 on the list that so far that I may not read due to lack of time or interest, though that could change! I'd certainly like to read A Short Cut to Paradise by Teresa Solana but as I think it is a sequel to A Not So Perfect Crime, I need to read that first. There's one, I Kill by Giorgio Faletti, that I am definitely not going to read on the basis of looking at it in the bookshop the other week.

I have made a category for this blog called International Dagger, which I have applied retrospectively to the posts I wrote about the 2010 and 2009 titles, so they can all be read together by clicking on the link.

2011 International Dagger – list of eligible titles.

2010 International Dagger – list of eligible titles.

The CWA International Dagger page, currently featuring the 2010 winner, The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin, translated by Marlaine Delargy.

Petrona's post about the 2010 winner.

The 2010 shortlist, and my reviews of each title on it.

Petrona posts tagged International Dagger.

The Darkest Room is winner of this year’s International Dagger

TDRoom  I am so pleased to read on Euro Crime blog that Johan Theorin's The Darkest Room, superbly translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy,  has won the International Dagger award for 2010. 

I think this book is wonderful, far more than a standard crime book. The author is extremely talented and combines a good plot with a sensitive observation of character, time and place. Although I read the book some time ago, it haunts me still.

The other books on the shortlist are all excellent, I recommend them all. For me, Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason came next-closest to winning, but on balance I felt The Darkest Room was a more rounded book – though my own emotional identification with the protagonist in Hypothermia is stronger.

My Euro Crime review begins…."THE DARKEST ROOM is a wonderful book, framed as the story of a wooden house, Eel Point, on the coast of the small island of Oland, Sweden – an island where the population is small and the old traditions continue. The house has a long, tragic history associated with the building of the two lighthouses on the nearby rocks, shipwrecks and various residents. The brief stories of these old tragedies are told in short sections interleaving the book's chapters, showing how Eel Point has become regarded today as haunted. The reader is never sure whether the ghosts are real, or to what extent the house's sad, cruel past is influencing current events." Read on here.

I think the judges did a great job in a year when the competition was intense – not only Hypothermia and The Darkest Room, but The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, the superb climax to Siteg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, and 13 Hours, Deon Meyer's adrenalin-packed thriller. Badfellas (Tony Benacquista) and August Heat (Andrea Camilleri) are also noble contenders. 

Now, our next task is to read the novels eligible for the 2011 award, a delightful prospect. Or, if you have not yet done so, you can read the winner and the five other titles that made up the 2010 shortlist. My reviews of all six can be accessed from this post.

Euro Crime list of titles eligible for the 2011 award, which will be updated as new titles are published.

Johan Theorin's English-language website.

International Dagger 2011 – eligible titles

I have some very significant news to report – Karen of Euro Crime has begun her list of books eligible for the 2011 CWA International Dagger award. As ever, Euro Crime and its associated blog are a great source of reading recommendations as well as the Euro Crime database being an incredibly useful 
Cederreference when looking for something to read. Well, I think I may have had my searching task considerably eased by the 2011 list that Karen has begun to compile.

Of the five books published in June 2010, I have read one, The Wings of the Sphinx by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli. Another title, Needle in a Haystack by Ernesto Mallo, is on my shelf to read. And of the seven published in July 2010, I have also read one. The Inspector and Silence by Hakan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson (review submitted to Euro Crime). Two other July titles are eagerly anticipated by me: Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum and Ashes to Dust by Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

August looks fantastic, with some titles I am already keen to read: Frozen Moment by Camilla CederBasic Shareholder by Petros Markaris, Villain by Yoshida Shuichi, and Silence by Jan Costin Wagner. There are also some must-reads for the rest of the season, including newly translated 
Fossum  novels by Liza Marklund, Domingo Villar, Henning Mankell, Roslund-Helstrom, Esther Verhoef, Leif G W Persson, Johan Theorin, Jo Nesbo, Anne Holt, Arnaldur Indridason and Camilla Lackberg. What a wonderfully rosy prospect!

The 2010 CWA International Dagger award has not quite yet been given. The shortlist has been announced (at CrimeFest in May), and the winner will be revealed later this month at the Harrogate Crime Writers' Festival. My money? Johan Theorin (The Darkest Room) or Arnaldur Indridason (Hypothermia). See this Petrona post for the shortlist, links to my reviews of the titles, and my musings on the possible winners – no doubt wildly inaccurate, but we'll be finding out soon enough.

International Dagger shortlist, announced and reviewed

Awards are the name of the game at the moment, with two of the main crime-fiction prizes achieving escape velocity on Friday by announcement of their respective short and long lists. In this post, I focus on one of these awards.

The shortlist for the International Dagger award of the Crime Writers' Association was announced at Crime Fest. The list is available at Euro Crime blog, which contains links to Euro Crime reviews of all six 
Hypothermiatitles. Inevitably there has been quite a bit of buzz about the selections, for example at Friend Feed (please let us know your opinion there!).

Although I did not do a great job at predicting the shortlist (I got two out of six), I think the CWA list is a good one because it is geographically varied (2 novels from Sweden (one mainland, one island!), with one each from Italy, South Africa, France and Iceland), and thematically varied. My mistake on my predicted shortlist was to limit it to "traditional" crime novels. The selections on the actual list all provide a terrific atmosphere and sense of place. They all seem to be translated very ably and with insight into the author's intentions. Here's the list, with an attempted brief summary of each novel:

Tonino Benacquista – Badfellas (translator: Emily Read)
Black comedy and culture shocks as a Sopranos-style family in the US witness protection program settle in to French small-town life.
Andrea Camilleri – August Heat (translator: Stephen Sartarelli)
Inspector Montalbano investigates shady property deals and worse in the last remnants of traditional Sicily in a bitter comedy of life's tragedies.
Arnaldur Indridason – Hypothermia (translator: Victoria Cribb)
Erlendur investigates an apparent suicide, and old and new missing-persons cases, while reflecting on his own past actions and mistakes.
Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (translator: Reg Keeland)
Climax of the Millennium Trilogy as Lisbeth and Michael face down their respective nemeses, culminating in courtroom scenes and subsequent thrills.
Deon Meyer – Thirteen Hours (translator: K. L. Seegers)
Frantic pace as police and criminals pursue an American student through Cape Town over the course of a long day, while other crimes are committed and resources are stretched.
Johan Theorin – The Darkest Room (translator: Marlaine Delargy)

TDRoomShadows of the distant and recent past (maybe even ghosts) infect a young family while a policewoman investigates a series of burglaries on the island of Oland.

 

Which one do I think will win? Well, obviously I am not very good at predictions! Even so, the two choices of mine made previously that are on the actual shortlist are the two books that I think most likely to win, The Darkest Room and Hypothermia, both of which look at changes in a relatively small, isolated (island) community over a period of many years, and the adaptations people and society have made over this time. The device for this survey, in both books, is to look at old, more recent, and new crimes (for crimes, read crises, as none of these events is sensationally described as if it were the point in itself, which I appreciate – rather the crimes are the stimulus to set in motion chains of events which give the authors freedom to reflect). 

I'd be more than happy if either won (or any of the others), but I'd slightly be in favour of The Darkest Room because it covers more themes than Hypothermia, and because it conveys such a terrific sense of atmosphere, menace and a range of perspectives on life and living, by its various characters. Hypothermia's appeal, to me, is mainly the dark and long journey Erlendur is taking into his own soul, which is fascinating to me as I strongly identify with it, but which is perhaps too mono-dimensional in this particular book in the series to fully justify a win. But, that having been said, I think it is an excellent novel in its own right, and along with any of the other 5 novels, would be a worthy champion.


Some other early speculation on the shortlist can be found at Euro Crime blog (lots of suggestions in the comments), International Noir Fiction (where Glenn got three out of six right) and Crime Scraps (plus Norman's reaction to the shortlist).

The full shortlist. with judges' comments (not read by me before writing this post) and other information about the awards are at the CWA website.

Petrona’s long and short lists for the International Dagger award

As my loyal readers may know by now, I have been reading as many as possible of the titles eligible for this years International Dagger prize before CrimeFest, which is when the judges will announce the shortlist. Karen at Euro Crime blog has invited bids for the shortlist.  CrimeFest starts tomorrow and I have read about a third of the possible titles. I'm calling a halt, therefore. Here are the books I've read:

Mikkel Birkegaard – The Library of Shadows   Denmark
Andrea Camilleri – August Heat  *** Italy
Leif Davidsen – The Woman from Bratislava ***  Denmark
Karin Fossum – The Water's Edge ***   Norway
Petra Hammesfahr – The Lie   Germany
Anne Holt – Death in Oslo  Norway
Arnaldur Indridason – Hypothermia ***  Iceland
Camilla Lackberg – The Stonecutter  Sweden
Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest *** Sweden
Deon Meyer – Thirteen Hours *** South Africa
Jo Nesbo – The Snowman  ***  Norway
Claudia Pineiro – Thursday Night Widows ***  Argentina
Andrea Maria Schenkel – Ice Cold    Germany
Gunnar Staalesen – The Consorts of Death ***  Norway
Johan Theorin – The Darkest Room ***   Sweden
Tonino Benaquista – Badfellas     France
Eugenio Fuentes – At Close Quarters ***    Spain
Luigi Guicciardi – Inspector Cataldo's Criminal Summer ***  Italy
Henning Mankell – The Man from Beijing *** Sweden
Dominique Manotti- Affairs of State *** France
Petros Markaris – Che Committed Suicide ***  Greece
Juli Zeh – Dark Matter *** Germany

and, since my last post on this topic:

Poisonville by Massimo Carlotto and Marco Videtta ***  Italy

The Last Fix by K. O. Dahl *** Norway

Mari Jungstedt The Killer's Art (Euro Crime review T/C) *** Sweden

That makes 25 out of a possible 61 books – not brilliant but not too bad. The big problem, as I have noted previously, is choosing a shortlist out of these. Even out of these 25, I would find it very hard indeed to choose a shortlist of, say, six. The standard is extremely high (I have put three stars on the ones I think anyone would find a must read!), and there are only about five titles that I would certainly not include. I am going to have a go at choosing a shortlist here, with the caveat that I could almost just as easily have put about 18 of the above titles on it. It will be amusing next week to compare it with the real thing to see how close I got!

Petrona's shortlist (in no particular order):

The Darkest Room by Johan Theorin (translator: Marlaine Delargy)           (Sweden)
Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason (translator Victoria Cribb)                 (Iceland)
The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt (translator Tiina Nunnally)                      (Sweden)
The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell (translator Laurie Thompson)   (Sweden)
The Consorts of Death by Gunnar Staalesen (translator Don Bartlett)        (Norway)
At Close Quarters by Eugenio Fuentes (translator Martin Schifino)             (Spain)

Of those six, I would choose either The Darkest Room or Hypothermia as the winner. If I were forced to choose between them, I would go for The Darkest Room, with the distinguishing factor being that Hypothermia is quite late on in a series, so the characters to some extent depend on the previous knowledge of the reader. Although The Darkest Room is second in a quartet, it isn't a sequel as such, rather it features some of the same characters, in most cases rather fleetingly.

My overwhelming feeling, on reading these 25 books, is that in almost all cases I have enjoyed, learnt and been moved by the sheer quality and range of themes. This exercise has definitely reinforced my impression that translated fiction is of a generally higher standard than the non-translated fiction I read, as well as providing more varied perspectives and characters. I shall be reading more of it! (See Karen's Euro Crime blog post for more shortlist selections.)

Progress on reading books eligible for the 2010 International Dagger

It is a while (5 March, in fact) since I have posted about my attempt to read as many as possible of the 61 books eligible for this year's International Dagger award – the annual CWA prize for a novel originally written in another language and translated into English. My end-date is the announcement of the shortlist, which will happen at CrimeFest next month (May). 

In my 5 March post, I reported that I had read fifteen of the books, which are listed below, DMatterwith links to my reviews either at Euro Crime or at Petrona. 

Mikkel Birkegaard – The Library of Shadows (review t/c)
Andrea Camilleri – August Heat  
Leif Davidsen – The Woman from Bratislava (review t/c)
Karin Fossum – The Water's Edge
Petra Hammesfahr – The Lie
Anne Holt – Death in Oslo
Arnaldur Indridason – Hypothermia
Camilla Lackberg – The Stonecutter
Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
Deon Meyer – Thirteen Hours
Jo Nesbo – The Snowman (review t/c)
Claudia Pineiro – Thursday Night Widows
Markaris_greece Andrea Maria Schenkel – Ice Cold
Gunnar Staalesen – The Consorts of Death
Johan Theorin – The Darkest Room

Since then, I have read the following eligible books:

Tonino Benaquista – Badfellas
Eugenio Fuentes – At Close Quarters
Luigi Guicciardi – Inspector Cataldo's Criminal Summer
Henning Mankell – The Man from Beijing
Dominique Manotti- Affairs of State 
Petros Markaris – Che Committed Suicide (review t/c)
Juli Zeh – Dark Matter (review t/c) 

This takes my total to 22, that is, about one-third of the total eligible. As things stand, I think the judges have a real problem on their hands, because only three of these 22 are, in my opinion, not likely to make the shortlist. I would be happy to see any of the remaining 19 go forward to the next round! Maybe I have been lucky in the particular books I have read out of the 61 possibles. (Not all of these 61 will have been put forward for the competition by the publishers, I guess, so it is possible that the judges will have an easier task if some of them were not submitted!)

In the meantime, any recommendations from among the remaining 39 books would be much appreciated.

International Dagger update and judges revealed!

Dragon The Crime Writers Association (CWA) has updated its website in anticipation of the Dagger awards for 2010. It is quite hard to find this, but the trick is to go to the "rules" page, which encourages publishers to submit eligible books for each category of award, and scroll down. The category that interests me the most, as it will be no surprise to know, is the International Dagger – which you'll see on the tabs along the bottom of the rules page. I am doing my best to read the eligible titles, in the hope of having some good knowledge of the eventual shortlist, which will be announced at Crime Fest (the 2010 programme is now up at the festival's website).  

Shortlist announcement
On 21st May, 2010 the shortlist will be announced at CrimeFest at a special party hosted by the organisers. To facilitate this, the submission dates have altered slightly so please be aware of the earlier closing date of March 12th, 2010.

What jumps out at me, however, is the pre-eminence of the judging panel. Here it is:

JUDGING PANEL

Chair: Ann Cleeves
Karen Meek
John Murray-Browne
Ruth Morse

Yes, that's Karen! Congratulations to Karen on being selected as a judge. I feel so honoured to know such a renowned person. And naturally, I am looking forward to the shortlist announcement with even keener interest than before.

Previous posts about my attempts to read the books eligible for the 2010 International Dagger:

1 December 2009. I've read 9 of the possible 61 novels, and provide links to my reviews of 8 of these.

16 January 2010. I've read Death in Oslo and The Woman from Bratislava.

13 February 2010. Progress report.

15 February 2010. A review of Thursday Night Widows, one more on the list.

4 March 2010. I've read Thirteen Hours and have started on At Close Quarters.

This brings my grand total up to FIFTEEN (so far – about a quarter of the list):

Mikkel Birkegaard – The Library of Shadows
Andrea Camilleri – August Heat
Leif Davidsen – The Woman from Bratislava
Karin Fossum – The Water's Edge
Petra Hammesfahr – The Lie
Anne Holt – Death in Oslo
Arnaldur Indridason – Hypothermia
Camilla Lackberg – The Stonecutter
Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
Deon Meyer – Thirteen Hours
Jo Nesbo – The Snowman
Claudia Pineiro – Thursday Night Widows
Andrea Maria Schenkel – Ice Cold
Gunnar Staalesen – The Consorts of Death
Johan Theorin – The Darkest Room