THE MISTAKE was the first story from Iceland-based Kiwi author Grant Nicol that I've read. It won't be the last. Diving into this novella on a train jTHE MISTAKE was the first story from Iceland-based Kiwi author Grant Nicol that I've read. It won't be the last. Diving into this novella on a train journey in the UK, I found myself completely absorbed by Nicol's prose and storytelling. Hooked early, intrigued throughout.
Set in Nicol's adopted hometown of Reykjavik, THE MISTAKE has a simple but very effective set-up. There's been a brutal murder. There's a clear prime suspect - the very troubled man prone to blackouts who claims he just stumbled across the body. A cop and a bereaved father both want justice, but of vastly different kinds. Several people, all with secrets, collide.
Nicol does a superb job taking this premise and layering in a lot of complexities and intrigue. Beyond the "just what really happened - did Gunnar Atli do it or not?" hook, we are taken down a number of rabbit holes, as Nicol guides us into the darker parts of Icelandic society. Prostitution, treatment of the mentally ill, domestic troubles, crime and justice. Nordic Noir with a strong emphasis on the NOIR.
This is a very good crime tale.
Part of Number 13 Press's monthly series of high quality crime novellas, THE MISTAKE is small but perfectly formed. 150 pages that pack quite a punch, and leaves the reader reeling at times.
Being a novella, there isn't room for a massive amount of character development, but I felt that Nicol did a good job bring some depth to those involved; they were more than ciphers or caricatures, even if it is a very plot and atmosphere-focused tale. There's a real creepy sense to THE MISTAKE, a story of things going badly wrong in a world where bad things happen, beneath the snowy and peaceful veneer of Iceland.
Reading THE MISTAKE almost reminded me of those classic horror movies, which were brooding and creepy more than bloody and slasher-like. Absorbing, atmospheric, and suspenseful - powered by dark situations getting even darker as events unfold. Where the worst things happened off-screen, and were left to our imaginations, fuelling that gut-clenching psychological fear rather than blood-filled splatter and visuals.
Nicol is a talented storyteller who takes us on a short, but very good, ride....more
It may have been Stieg Larsson who skyrocketed Swedish crime fiction to widespread global notoriety in recent years, but keen readers of the genre knoIt may have been Stieg Larsson who skyrocketed Swedish crime fiction to widespread global notoriety in recent years, but keen readers of the genre know the Scandi-crime gold strike has always run richer and deeper than his tattooed girl. Since Sjöwall and Wahlöö’s ground-breaking ‘Martin Beck’ books in the 1960s-1970s, there just seems to have been something in Scandinavia’s water. An elixir blending literary talent, social discourse, ‘peaceful ‘settings, and jarring violence. A well-spring of talent.
Camilla Lackberg veers more towards the classic Christie-esque village murder mystery style than many of her grittier contemporaries, but like Dame Agatha herself, Lackberg is insanely popular: one of Europe’s bestselling authors of any genre, her books have even outsold Larsson’s seemingly ubiquitous Millennium Trilogy in Sweden.
For good reason.
While Lackberg can definitely craft intriguing plots, the true heart of her novels is the domestic lives and relationships between her characters, particularly writer Erica Falck and police detective Patrik Hedstrom and the people closest to them.
In Buried Angels, the eighth instalment in a series set in the picturesque fishing village of Fjällbacka, Erica and Patrick juggle various home and work dramas while being drawn into strange happenings on the island of Valö, where a local woman has returned decades after her entire family mysteriously disappeared without a trace. Arson and the discovery of blood under the floorboards (re)opens investigations old and new, as Lackberg weaves an intriguing story that spiderwebs through several dark periods from Sweden's past.
To put it in TV or film terms, you'd say Buried Angels is a little more Midsomer Murders or Murder, She Wrote... than Silence of the Lambs. It is an engaging and enjoyable read that will particularly appeal to fans of the cosier end of crime fiction. ...more
NYPD cop Jacob Kanon has been chasing a pair of vicious killers across the capitals and holiday hotspots of Europe, killers who kick-started their murNYPD cop Jacob Kanon has been chasing a pair of vicious killers across the capitals and holiday hotspots of Europe, killers who kick-started their murderous spree by butchering his daughter and her fiancée in Rome. Before each murder, a postcard is sent to the local newspaper, and when Stockholm-based crime reporter Dessie Larsson receives the latest missive, she and Kanon team up to try to stop the killers once and for all.
Unfortunately for readers hoping that the co-authoring of award-winning Swedish crime queen Liza Marklund will add some of the depth and substance apparent in many Swedish crime novels, Patterson’s by-now formulaic and breezily-plotted style filled with relatively thin characters clearly dominates the partnership here.
While you’ll want to know what happens, there is far too much telling rather than showing; everything is spelled out for the reader and there is little subtext, resulting in an insubstantial feeling. What passes for attempts at character development are generally clumsy or cliched, and the authors' hand is often obvious. The characters say things for the benefit of the reader, rather than them being organic from the story or character. There is no depth here.
While Patterson still has some talent for page-turning plots, there are many other thriller writers out there just as good (in fact, many better) at plot, while also providing much much more when it comes to character, setting, social issues, and dialogue etc.
Like fast food, the page-turning Postcard Killers may briefly satisfy, but soon afterwards you’ll be left feeling hungry again, unsatisfied and wanting something more. Something different, and better. ...more