In the truly chilling sixth entry in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series (after Someone To Watch over Me), a luxury yacht sails into Reykjavik harbor andIn the truly chilling sixth entry in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series (after Someone To Watch over Me), a luxury yacht sails into Reykjavik harbor and crashes into a jetty; it’s soon discovered that there is no one on board. The crew of three and the passengers, a married couple and their young twin daughters, seem to have vanished into thin air, but there is no evidence of foul play. Lawyer Thóra gets involved when the grandparents of the missing family ask for her assistance in gaining legal custody of their toddler grandchild who was left in their care when her parents and siblings flew to Lisbon to pick up the yacht. As Thóra investigates, a body washes ashore further up the coast. Is it from the Lady K? And where is Karítas, the young wife of the yacht’s former owner? Adding to the reader’s growing sense of unease are the flashbacks to the family on the yacht. What starts out as a happy holiday cruise slowly turns into a voyage of terror. At times the suspense is so unbearable that the Thóra scenes come as a relief. Although the final twisty reveal is a bit clunky in the exposition, the last chapter will break your heart. Verdict This spooky, haunting thriller, which won the 2015 Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year, will grab the attention of readers who enjoyed Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/201......more
In his fourth (and hopefully not final) seasonal outing (after Everyone in Their Place: The Summer of Commissario Ricciardi), the Neapolitan inspectorIn his fourth (and hopefully not final) seasonal outing (after Everyone in Their Place: The Summer of Commissario Ricciardi), the Neapolitan inspector investigates the death of a scugnizzo, or street urchin, whose body was found sitting in the cold rain at the foot of a staircase, guarded only by a small dog. The corpse shows no signs of violence, and Ricciardi, who has the ability to see a murder victim’s final moments, is stumped. “He instinctively looked around and saw no trace of ghostly images: the child’s death couldn’t have been a violent one; perhaps he’d frozen to death, or starved, or succumbed to some disease.” Yet Ricciardi senses something is off and decides to pursue the case despite objections from church officials (a local parish priest had been caring for the boy) and his own sycophantic boss, who wants to make a good impression for the impending state visit of Benito Mussolini. Meanwhile, the two women in Ricciardi’s life pursue him in very different ways. Verdict Shugaar’s elegant translation captures the chilly melancholy of a city, a people, and a country gripped by a bleak autumn, economic depression, and political repression. The green-eyed Ricciardi is a fascinating and complicated sleuth, haunted by his “gift,” but this time his quest for justice leads to a devastating, heartbreaking conclusion. A superb novel for fans of Italian noir. http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/201......more
How can you resist a crime novel that includes mysterious cults, cocaine-addicted young women, and a high body count? The plot of Dashiell Hammett’s THow can you resist a crime novel that includes mysterious cults, cocaine-addicted young women, and a high body count? The plot of Dashiell Hammett’s The Dain Curse makes absolutely no sense, but I’m loving the insanity. It’s as if Hammett wrote it in a drug-induced haze, or a drunken stupor. The book was published in 1928 (Grosset & Dunlap), and it’s good to see the Golden State hasn’t changed much: "They brought their cult to California because everybody does, and picked San Francisco because it held less competition than Los Angeles…They didn’t want a mob of converts: they wanted them few but wealthy."
Griffiths’s sixth Ruth Galloway mystery (after A Dying Fall) opens with the forensic archaeologist attending an annual memorial service for the unknowGriffiths’s sixth Ruth Galloway mystery (after A Dying Fall) opens with the forensic archaeologist attending an annual memorial service for the unknown dead of Norwich, England: “the bodies thrown into unmarked graves, the paupers, the plague victims, forgotten, unmourned….” But one of those outcast dead, whose remains Ruth uncovered during a dig at Norwich Castle, may be the notorious Mother Hook, hanged in 1867 for the murders of five children. Now her discovery has propelled the reticent Ruth to appear on the TV show Women Who Kill with her publicity-seeking boss and a very attractive American historian who believes Mother Hook to be innocent. At the same time, DCI Harry Nelson, Ruth’s former lover and the father of her toddler daughter, is investigating a mother whose three infants died under suspicious circumstances. His case is further complicated when a kidnapper dubbed the Childminder snatches two children. Verdict Griffiths’s leisurely paced mystery is more of a character study than a pure whodunit; she sprinkles plenty of red herrings that lead nowhere and the ending feels a bit rushed and forced. The novel’s strength lies in the author’s sympathetic exploration through her lead protagonists’ complicated personal lives of the nature of parenthood and family life. And she sets it all against the stark beauty of Norfolk’s salt marshes. [A March 2014 LibraryReads pick.]—Wilda Williams, Library Journalhttp://reviews.libraryjournal.com/201......more
Ensconced by her forceful publisher Nigel in a rundown villa in the Italian town of Bomarzo, writer Daphne DuBlanc (Marilyn Mosley is her nom de plumeEnsconced by her forceful publisher Nigel in a rundown villa in the Italian town of Bomarzo, writer Daphne DuBlanc (Marilyn Mosley is her nom de plume) is stuck for an idea for her next Edna Rutherford mystery. It doesn’t help that she has smoked the last of the hashish she secretly brought from Paris. “Without inspiration I could not write. What was needed was a new batch of signatures, those curious messages our waking life sends us from our unconscious, which I have come to see as promptings from the muse, and even as a spiritual guide for my own existence.” But as she begins to explore the villa, which is filled with priceless artistic treasures, and the neighboring 16th-century sculpture garden known as the Monster Park, Daphne finds signs and clues—a broken head of a china doll, a pearl button, an ancient map—to deeper mysteries about this strange place and its inhabitants: the gatekeeper Manu and his daughter Amelia, Professor Firestone, an American art history scholar writing about the Monster Garden, Clive, a novice painter, and even the down-at-heel aristocratic Nigel. VERDICT Deftly mixing fascinating art history and murder with an exotic atmospheric setting (the Bomarzo garden actually exists), dramatic historical period (1928 fascist Italy), and fully fleshed characters, Lappin (The Etruscan) has written a hallucinatory gothic mystery in which no one is as they appear. Daphne is a most memorable, if a bit unreliable (thanks to her opium habit), narrator. Readers looking for an intelligent summer mystery will find much to savor here. http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/201......more
On a June night, a pleasure boat is found drifting on a bay in the Stockholm archipelago; its only passenger is a young woman who drowned although herOn a June night, a pleasure boat is found drifting on a bay in the Stockholm archipelago; its only passenger is a young woman who drowned although her clothes are dry. The next day a well-dressed man is discovered hanging from a lamp hook in his apartment, an apparent suicide. There seems to be no connection between the cases until Insp. Joona Linna identifies the victims. The dead woman is the sister of Penelope Fernandez, a well-known peace activist, and the hanged man is Carl Palmcrona, a government official in charge of approving Sweden’s arms exports. Now Joona must race to find Penelope before a ruthless killer does. As in The Hypnotist, Kepler (a husband-and-wife writing team) displays a sharp talent for intricate multistrand plotting and nail-biting suspense. The scenes of Penelope and her boyfriend trying to escape their single-minded pursuer on a remote island are almost unbearable in their gripping tension, yet the reader can’t stop turning the pages. Unfortunately, the gothic creepiness and shocking violence turn cartoonish when the villain is finally confronted in an unbelievable and ridiculous denouement that comes out of a bad James Bond movie. Still, fans of Swedish crime fiction may enjoy, although they will hate themselves for wasting precious vacation reading time after finishing this disappointing thriller. (my review from Library Journal, Xpress Reviews 7/6/12)...more