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Reviews

June 2005

Arnaldur Indridason – Silence of the Grave

“…this is certainly a European writer who will find himself a league of fans in a very short space of time. Certainly one to watch!”

Synopsis:
The story opens with a bone being discovered in the hands of a one-year old baby girl. From that moment on, a crime that was committed sixty years earlier is opened up and the investigation begins in earnest. From the discovery of where the bones were originally found, we are lead by the hand through the investigation, which has fallen under the jurisdiction of Detective Erlendur. It is a case that takes us all the way back to the second World War when the British and the Americans both occupied Iceland to combat the onslaught of Hitler’s troops.

With his team, who seem to be very disgruntled about looking in to a sixty year old crime, they finally come to the solution as to how the bones were found at the burial site in the first place. Finally, an old secret can be released.


Review:

Jar City, (now bizarrely re-titled as ‘Tainted Blood’) the first in the Reykjavik series, was one of my favourite crime novels of 2004. So I was really looking forward to Silence of the Grave, the second book by this writer to be translated in to English. I was not disappointed. At the same time, it is a very different kind of novel from the first one. This novel deals more with the social aspects of the protagonists’ lives in the 1940’s and the present day, rather than at the actual murder. Throughout the book, there are two narratives. One shows the present day investigation and the other tells of a family’s struggle during the war years. It also highlights in graphic detail the hidden war that is waged in family homes behind closed curtains. The scenes of domestic violence are very vivid. Although it touches onto the reason why the father is the abuser, it is never fully explored. What it does show is how it affects the immediate family members who are caught up in the violence.

At the same time as the investigation, Erlendur’s daughter has been attacked and is in hospital in a coma. This novel is very much about family; and shows how it can be either cast aside or group together to survive. Again, like the first, the novel flowed very easily from the page. I read it at breakneck speed and although it did not have a totally unexpected ending, I was very satisfied with the solution. I will not draw comparisons with Henning Mankell, but this is certainly a European writer who will find himself a league of fans in a very short space of time. Certainly one to watch!

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating


Sue Walker – The Reunion

“This is a fabulous book! If you are a real crime aficionado I am sure you will devour this book in one sitting.”

Synopsis:
1977: A group of dysfunctional adolescents are grouped together in a place called The Unit. Once they are giving a bit of freedom a heinous crime is perpetrated and remains undetected for some years. But the crime has tainted all who knew about what had happened…

2004: Many years later… and members of this group start dying. Does it relate to that nightmare all those years ago? The truth is slowly bubbling towards the surface. One of the group feels it is time for the events that happened on that terrible night to be revealed. Innes Haldane, who was living at The Unit, has tried hard to forget her time of incarceration. Although she wasn’t involved with the incident, she is now being forced to find out what is happening to her fellow inmates. What was it that changed the whole atmosphere in The Unit?



Review:

If you are going to buy one book this summer to take with you on the plane, then this is it! Thoroughly gripping and brilliantly written. It drip-feeds you just enough information to make you think about the story and to keep you flicking through those pages. The plot flips from 1977 to 2004 with ease and there are interesting additions like medical reports and newspaper clippings throughout. The layout and feel of the novel is very much like Minette Walters when she first entered the crime scene.

This is a fabulous book! If you are a real crime aficionado I am sure you will devour this book in one sitting. I look forward to Sue Walker’s next novel, The Reckoning, out very soon.

Reviewed by C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating


John Connelly - Black Angel

“This is a very dark, grim, Gothic tome, which grips the reader! The complex storyline leads inexorably towards a tense, climatic ending that both thrills and satisfies.”

Synopsis:
Charlie Parker is celebrating the christening of his new daughter, Samantha. He is happy with his new life. Or is he? During the party an elderly woman arrives looking for his psychotic friend, Louis. This woman is Louis’ Aunt and she enlists his help to track down her daughter who was working as a prostitute. Charlie, Louis and Angel go off to find out what has happened to Louis’ cousin, Alice.

What they find is a group who believe they are angels who were banished from Heaven and made to walk the earth for all eternity. As quoted from The Book of Enoch, one angel ripped himself in half so he would have company as he walked Earth. This angel, known as the Black Angel, was captured in a silver casing and has been hidden away for centuries. A group calling themselves The Believers have spent centuries finding The Black Angel and wish to unleash him upon the world so that they would dominate all on Earth. It is up to Charlie and Louis to make sure that this doesn’t ever happen.


Review:

Louis’ cousin, Alice, gets accidentally caught up in the world of The Believers. They believe she has something they are looking for. This item is part of a map that will lead them to the unknown location of The Black Angel. The novel takes us into another side of society that most of us would never know existed. It is the silent world of the macabre where entrepreneurs sniff out and buy artefacts of the occult for their growing collections.

This book includes true facts about bones and the decoration of these bones in certain ossuaries across the world. There is a lot of factual material in this book and you can tell that John Connolly has really done his homework! Readers have to pay attention otherwise they may miss something of importance. This is a very dark, grim, Gothic tome, which grips the reader! The complex storyline leads inexorably towards a tense, climatic ending that both thrills and satisfies.

Reviewed by C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating


David Lawrence - Cold Kill

“I will now be seeking out the other Stella Mooney novels as this one was so enjoyable. If you have never read David Lawrence before, I would recommend you start now!”

Synopsis:
Cold Kill sees the return of Detective Sergeant Stella Mooney, trying to track down a serial killer who is terrorising the streets of London. The case seems all but over when Kimber, hands himself into the police and confesses to killing the women. Evidence seems to confirm Kimber’s guilt when after searching his property they find photos, hair clippings and stories of each of the women.

Stella Mooney has her doubts that Kimber is guilty, which still poses the question, who is? If Kimber isn’t guilty of the murders, is he still somehow involved?


Review:

Stella Mooney is a Detective Sergeant working in the Metropolitan Police. This story finds her trying to solve a series of murders. Despite evidence showing that Kimber is guilty, Mooney feels there is more here than meets the eye. The plot is sometimes convoluted, but none the less, easy to follow and exciting to read.

This was my first introduction to David Lawrence and Stella Mooney and I was impressed with both the plot and the characters. The amusing dialogue and realistic characters lend themselves to the overall end product, which was a thoroughly gripping read. I will now be seeking out the other Stella Mooney novels as this one was so enjoyable. If you have never read David Lawrence before, I would recommend you start now!

Reviewed by H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating


James Siegel - Detour

“This book is full of twists and turns which keep you guessing to the last page. It comes highly recommended if you enjoy a thriller full of suspense.”

Synopsis:
After five years battling infertility, Paul and Joanna decide to adopt a baby girl from an orphanage in Columbia. This is meant to be the happiest time of their lives. Instead they are beset with problems and Paul has no choice but to break the law to ensure that he gets to see his wife and child again.

Paul has no knowledge of the political situation in Columbia, apart from the fact the most officials can be bribed. He does not know who to trust. So with no option, he does as he is told. Far from resolving his problems, they are now only just beginning…


Review:

Paul is an ordinary man, with an ordinary job and an ordinary life. A life that is thrown into disarray when he tries to adopt a child. Going to Columbia with his wife to collect their adoptive daughter was the worst move they could make. Soon after they arrive they realise that something is very wrong. Unsure who is working for them and against them, Paul and Joanne try everything to ensure that they and their new daughter can get home to America.

This second book from James Siegel is as gripping as his first. A master of suspense, he keeps the reader on edge and unable to put the book down. The main characters are real and likeable. They seem like people you would meet in day-to-day life, which makes then easy to identify with. This book is full of twists and turns which keep you guessing to the last page. It comes highly recommended if you enjoy a thriller full of suspense.

Reviewed by H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating


Greg Iles - Blood Memory

“This book has plenty of complex story lines to get your teeth into and really well defined characters. It is a psychological thriller with a dark and brilliant storyline. Definitely worth a read!”

Synopsis:
Cat Ferry is a forensic ordontologist, working with the New Orleans Police Department to study bite marks that are left on victims during brutal attacks. However, Cat’s life hasn’t been an easy road. Despite being born with money, past issues have caused to her become an alcoholic. She is haunted by the murder of her father. Now, after finding out she is pregnant, she realises that her relationship with a married detective is all but over.

The latest series of murders in New Orleans leads the Police Department to call on Cat to assist them. While working on these cases her past is coming back to haunt her, bring back old memories and dreams. Cat is no longer able to distinguish between dreams and reality and she knows the only way she will survive all of this is to find out what is really troubling her. But is she strong enough to do it?


Review:

Cat Ferry certainly isn’t your typical leading character. From a privileged childhood to alcoholism. She is deeply troubled and her troubles multiply as she discovers that she is pregnant. This leads her to quit drinking and face her demons. However, no one is going to make this easy. Sometimes the past is often best left buried and undisturbed. But Cat knows that once she starts down this road she is unable to stop until she reaches the end.

Cat is having dreams, but she is not really sure if they are only dreams. Is she remembering what happened to her as a child? Could this explain why she is the person she is now? She is also still dealing with the death of her father which happened twenty years ago. Was he murdered? And if so, who killed him?

This book has plenty of complex story lines to get your teeth into and really well defined characters. It is a psychological thriller with a dark and brilliant storyline. Definitely worth a read!

Reviewed by H.A.

CrimeSquad Rating


Jon Fasman - The Geographers Library

“This is an unusual book with an interesting structure. The two parallel stories combine with epic scope and extraordinary detail.”

Synopsis:
In a small Connecticut town an Estonian history professor is found dead in suspicious circumstances. Paul Tomm, a reporter on a small-town local paper, is set the task of writing an obituary. His journey to discover any facts at all about the dead man leads him on a convoluted and dangerous path towards the truth. However, the truth is stranger than he could ever have imagined…

Running parallel to the story we discover the historic background and more recent history of a group of 15 objects stolen centuries ago from a mysterious geographer’s library. Over time, the objects have been scattered around the globe. As the story progresses we gradually form a picture of the power of these objects and witness the disasters that ownership brings to many lives. Someone is ruthlessly collecting the objects back together again. Why… and how does all this connect to the death of a professor in Connecticut?


Review:

If this is another book hailed as “the next Da Vince Code” it falls somewhat short of the mark. The story is woven in parallel chapters detailing the story of the professor’s death and the tales behind each individual object. For much of the book the reader waits in vain for the stories to connect. By the time they do start to marry (very late in the book!), the reader is completely swamped with details about the objects and so burdened with unusually named characters and far-flung places that it is hard to make sense of it all.

The characters in the main story of the professor’s murder are well drawn and the reader is given just enough information to keep turning the pages. However, the denouement is something of a let down. This is an unusual book with an interesting structure. The two parallel stories combine with epic scope and extraordinary detail. It is certainly worth a read!

Reviewed by A.C.

CrimeSquad Rating