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Books 78-80: Three Eurocrime Thrillers

Book 78: The Snowman (Harry Hole Book 07 ).
Author: Jo Nesbø, 2007. Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett, 2010.
Genre: Crime thriller. Police Procedural.
Other Details: Hardback. 488 pages.

On a November night in Oslo, the first snow of the year begins to fall. A young boy wakes up and finds that his mother has disappeared. As he searches for her, he finds wet footprints on the stairs. With a growing sense of horror, he looks out of the window and sees a snowman in the moonlit garden, its black eyes positioned to look up at the bedroom window. Around its neck is a pink scarf - his mother's.

This is the blood chilling opening to Nesbø,'s latest novel featuring maverick detective, Harry Hole as he tracks what he believes is a serial killer preying on women who are married with children.

Nesbø includes elements associated with Nordic crime thrillers, such as social and political issues and the brooding atmosphere of its Scandinavian winter setting. Yet as with his last novel, The Redeemer, he also manages to produce an exciting, gritty, fast-paced thriller to rival any Stateside crime writers. I felt this was the best of his novels to date. Complex and intelligent and almost impossible to put down.

Book 79: A Time of Mourning (Sando Cellini 01).
Author: Christobel Kent, 2009.
Genre: Crime thriller.
Other Details: Large Print Paperback. 455 pages.

This is the first in a series of mysteries set in Florence featuring Sando Cellini, a former police detective who has been forced into early retirement. With his wife's encouragement he has set up as a private investigator. His first case involves the death of Claudio Gentileschi, an elderly Jewish architect, believed to have committed suicide a few days earlier. Gentileschi's wife approaches Cellini as she is not convinced that her husband would have taken his own life. While investigating this death, he is also called upon by the family of an English girl studying art on a summer course after she is reported missing. Cellini soon finds there is an unexpected link between the cases.

An intelligent mystery that takes a gentle circuitous route to its conclusion. Cellini is a sympathetic character, gentle and empathetic and deeply devoted to his wife. The city of Florence makes a wonderful backdrop to the story and is a character in its own right. I look forward to reading more of Kemt's work.

Book 80: The Savage Altar (Rebecka Martinsson 01)
Author: Åsa Larsson, 2003. Translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy, 2007
Genre: Thriller. Murder Mystery.
Other Details: Hardback. 310 pages.

This is the first in another series, this time set in Sweden. Rebecka Martinsson is a tax lawyer based in Stockholm. Rebecka is called back to Kiruna, the town in north Sweden that she left in disgrace some years previously, by her old friend Sanna Strandgard. Sanna's brother Viktor has just been ritualistically murdered in the middle of the charismatic church he founded. Sanna is a fragile soul and needs Rebecca's help as she has come under suspicion from the local police.

This was a very dark thriller executed with skill and which deservedly won Sweden's Best First Crime Novel Award. The snow-bound, claustrophobic setting of the small town served the story well. I look forward to more in this compelling series.
Tags: crime fiction, murder mystery, police drama, thriller, translation
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