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Books 122 & 123: Echoes from the Dead and The Devil's Star

Book 122: Echoes from the Dead
Author: Johan Theorin, 2007. Translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, 2008
Genre: Crime Thriller. Mystery.
Other Details: Trade Paperback 396 pages

On a foggy autumn day in the early 1970s, 5-year old Jens disappears on the island of Öland. He is never found. Twenty years later his mother, Julia, is still struggling to come to terms with her son's disappearance. Then she receives an unexpected phone call from her estranged father, Gerlof, a retired sea captain who still lives on the island. He tells her that the postman has delivered a package containing a child's sandal, which he is sure had belonged to Jens.

Julia returns to the island and learns that Gerlof and his elderly friend Ernst Adolfsson, have been investigating Nils Kant, a man with a long history of murder and brutality, whom they suspect was involved in Jens' disappearance. But Nils Kant died in the 1960s years before Jens disappeared, even though he remains a scapegoat for the local people who attribute every nasty incident on the island to him. Julia reluctantly is drawn into the investigation and slowly begins to reclaim her life. This present day story is interwoven with the story of Nils Kant from childhood onward.

This is a complex mystery that is skilfully executed with strong characterisations and an atmospheric setting. The novel has the typically Scandinavian slow pace and detailed narrative. which drew me into a relationship with its characters and setting. Just fantastic.

It was awarded the 2007 Best First Mystery Novel 2007 by the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers and the 2009 CWA New Blood Dagger.

Book 123: The Devil's Star (Detective Harry Hole Book 05)
Author: Jo Nesbø, 2003. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett, 2005.
Genre: Police Procedural. Crime.
Other Details: Paperback. 503 pages.

Oslo based Detective Harry Hole is completely off-the-rails following on from events in the previous two books Redbreast and Nemesis. He is on notice to quit the force for his unacceptable behaviour and drinking. Then a young woman is found murdered in her flat. One finger has been cut off, and beneath her eyelid a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five pointed star is found. Harry is assigned to the case working alongside Tom Waaler, his long-time adversary. Five days after the first murder, a man reports his wife missing. When her severed finger is found wearing a ring mounted with another star-shaped red diamond, it seems Oslo has a serial killer on its hands.

Nesbø delivers another complex and totally engaging crime thriller with a satisfying conclusion to this three-book plot arc.

Although this title was the first of the Harry Hole series published in English, currently it is only available in the USA as an import. However, the earlier books are available and this one will be published there in hardback in March 2010.
Tags: crime fiction, mystery, police drama, translation
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