Friday, September 28, 2007


In order to take my mind away from the harshness of the real world to the blissful escapism of crime fiction I have devised a little quiz to keep you busy until my next post and review.

Which writers wrote these passages about a crime scene? And from which of their books are they taken?

1) "If a herd of buffaloes had passed along there could not be a greater mess."

2) "the scene of crime looked as if a herd of hippopotamuses had been trotting about there for hours."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I really don't understand the publishing industry. Perhaps someone could explain to a simple amateur blogger the treatment dished out to Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole series.

I read The Devils Star earlier in the year and my review is at:

This was number 5 in the series; I am now reading The Redbreast [review on Eurocrime shortly] which apparently is number 3 in the series.

In March next year The House of Pain is to be published in English and this seems to be number 4 in the series.

If the other books were below par and The Devils Star was outstanding I might understand the order, but The Redbreast was voted the best ever Norwegian crime novel. On top of this the winner of The Glass Key Award for the best Nordic Crime novel in 1998 was Flaggermusmannen, the first Harry Hole.
I just don't get it, why not translate them in the correct order?

Monday, September 24, 2007


All fans of Andrea Camilleri should not miss the fantastic food sites at Bricole and Champaign Taste. A real treat for gluttons, gourmands, and crime aficionados thanks to Lisa and Simona.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I post one of my photographs occasionally to prove how well travelled I was before family commitments restricted my holidays to Hay on Wye, and you try to work out where it was taken.
It isn't Hay on Wye......

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Those discerning people at Bitter Lemon Press announce a new treat for 2008.

"Italy’s best crime writers present nine gripping, often darkly humorous short-stories with settings ranging from Milan to Palermo by way of Rome and even Guadeloupe. The mafia is not just Sicilian but also Albanian, Croatian and Chinese.

These brilliant tales do not feature psychopathic cannibals or obscure power mad sects but ordinary criminals: a drug-addled cosmetic surgeon, inept blackmailers and various other low-lifes lusting after easy money.
Author Information Authors include Italy's best crime writers Ammaniti, Carlotto, Camilleri, Lucarelli, Fois and others. De Cataldo is the editor of the 'Crimini' anthology, a best selling crime writer and an essayist and playwright.

The Translator Andrew Brown is well known for his translations of great classics such as Flaubert's 'Memoirs of a Madman', Zola's 'For a Night of Love'and Machiavelli's 'Life of Castruccio Castracani'."


Thanks are due to the prime Petrona for the news that Stieg Larsson's Millennium series is to translated into English and published in the correct order next year.

Stieg Larsson was a great fighter against racism in Sweden, and unfortunately he died of a massive heart attack in November 2004.

His novels have won both the Glass Key for best Nordic Crime novel, and the BÄSTA SVENSKA KRIMINALROMAN in 2006. The fact that we will get these translations so soon after their original publication in Swedish is very good news, and there is still a wealth of Scandinavian crime fiction untranslated for us non -linguists.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


You can read my review of Days of Atonement by Michael Gregorio at:

It seemed an approriate time of the year to read this very intelligent example of historical crime fiction.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


The Past is a Foreign Country by Gianrico Carofiglio is the brilliant almost poetic story of a young law student's decline into a dark amoral pit, combined with an ancillary tale of the hunt for a serial sex offender.

The story of the law student Giorgio is told in the first person narrator style used in the Guerrieri books. The other strand of the novel features a young carabinieri Lieutenant Chiti and this is told in the third person.

I wonder how much of this book is autobiographical because Carofiglio writes with such clarity that he takes you right inside the character of Giorgio. The blurb calls Carofiglio's style spare and compulsive, I would describe it as lean yet lyrical.

We know that the two seperate strands will coalesce at some point in the story, and this is achieved with a simplicity that feels unforced and completely natural.

It is 1989 and Giorgio the 22 year old law student becomes involved at a party in a fight with some enforcers. The intended victim is the charismatic Francesco who is very grateful for Giorgio's help, and they become friends.

Francesco expertly charms Giorgio into his world of gamblers and beautiful women. He shows him magic tricks with cards and explains how he cheats at poker and seduces women. Giorgio becomes his partner in deceit as they make large amounts of money off the gullible, the rich and the not so rich who happen to believe poker is a game of chance.

Giorgio dumps his law studies, his girl friend and is alienated from his parents. He is tempted by the lifestyle, the easy money and by a bored forty year old married woman named Maria.

Short chesnut hair. Tanned skin. Not pretty, but with large, unsettling grey-green eyes. Taller than me. Quite a bit taller than me. About thirty-five, I thought as I looked at her, trying to think of a reply. I was to learn later that she was forty.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Chiti proceeds with his investigations in a systematic fashion hoping that the women who have been assaulted will provide information and a description of the attacker.

Giorgio begins to lose control of his life as Francesco suggests a holiday in Spain. They drive to Valencia accompanied by the music of Springsteen, Dire Straits, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Francesco's heavy metal. The motive for this trip is somewhat more sinister than seeking the sun on the beaches of Spain.

The blurb promotes Francesco as one of crime fictions most seductive anti-heroes. It is the quality and depth of Carofiglio's characterisation and writing that makes this dishonest slimey creep a candidate for anti-hero. His control of Giorgio is both disturbing and an example of the psychological peer pressure that blights the younger generation.

Carofiglio has been able to move beyond his Guido Guerrieri character and still write such a fine gripping page turner that he makes me impatient for his next book.

This novel won the Premio Bancarella [whose first winner in 1953 was Ernest Hemingway] and is currently being made into a film.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Thanks to Lisa at Champaign Taste , a brilliant foodie site, for this culinary homage to Andrea Camilleri.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


You can read my review of The Fugitive by Massimo Carlotto at:

It is story of his time on the run and in prison, and was the first book written after he recieved a presidential pardon.

Friday, September 07, 2007


'Polish author, travel writer and intellectual whose best-selling novel described a grisly murder has been jailed for 25 years for committing the crime he had so vividly portrayed. The killing of Dariusz Janiszewski in 2000 was notably gruesome. The victim – a successful, popular professional – was humiliated, starved and tortured, before having his hands bound with a rope that was looped around his neck in a noose.
When fishermen scooped the body out of the river Oder, it was stripped to shirt and underpants and the limbs had been distended and bore marks of torture. The police had no leads and after six months the search for a culprit was abandoned.
But the murderer could not resist gloating over his cleverness. During the investigation, anonymous emails were sent from South Korea and Indonesia to Polish television's equivalent of Crimewatch, describing the killing as "the perfect crime".' from The Independent read the full article at:

I was intending to post about the frequent use of real life crimes by crime fiction authors.
But it seems Krystian Bala went one further than authors such as Sjowall and Wahloo, Val McDermid, Laura Lippman, Patricia Cornwell and others, he actually committed the murder he wrote about in his novel Amok.

He was sentenced to 25 years so even if it becomes a bestseller outside Poland he won't be around to enjoy the proceeds for a long time.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


I must not post too many photos of glorious Devon as it might make people living in big cities somewhat jealous. While all this wonderful weather is reducing my blogging and reading time.

But in the pipeline for the next couple of weeks are a review of The Past is a Foreign Country by Gianrico Carofiglio, and some thoughts on crime fiction based on real crimes.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I have just come back from watching the latest Jason Bourne blockbuster at Exeter's new multiplex cinema, the Vue. The film is very thrilling, and once you get used to the fact that most of the camera work seems to have been done by someone who hasn't had their morning fix, really enjoyable. I will never worry about taking a blurred photograph again, jerky camera work is clearly the in thing.
I have always admired Matt Damon's acting since I saw him as Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr Ripley and as John Grady Cole in All the Pretty Horses. He has to do minimal acting in this action movie but what he does he does well.

The general plot of the film is that the CIA is bad, bad, bad, and will eliminate anyone to cover its tracts, even Guardian newpaper journalists, and its own operatives.

The cinema screen in the Vue is enormous, the seats comfortable, banked sensibly so that the view of the screen is good for everyone, and the sound excellent.

This is a big surprise as the outside of the building and the internal facilities are more in keeping with a prison than a cinema.

It is a well known fact that Hermann Goering's Luftwaffe did less damage to the Exeter skyline than recent building developments, but there is only one stall and one urinal for men on the ground floor of this architectural disaster. I wonder if the cinema design had been handled by a class of media studies students who forgot the toilets, and they had to be squeezed in at the last moment.
So if you are going to the Vue in Exeter don't leave anything to the last moment.


1. Norway
2. Iceland
3. Australia
4. Ireland
5. Sweden
6. Canada
7. Japan
8. USA
9.= Finland, Netherlands, Switzerland
12. Belgium, Luxembourg
14. Austria
15. Denmark
16. France
17.= Italy, United Kingdom
19. Spain
20. New Zealand

This is the list of the top twenty countries in the world rated for their quality of life. A few surprises here with Italy way down at 17=, Denmark at 15, and the United Kingdom ahead of Spain and New Zealand.

I was about to consign this study to the category of "deranged academia at it again", when I realised the reason for this order.

The top 5 Norway [Jo Nesbo, Karin Fossum], Iceland[Arnaldur Indidrason], Australia [Peter Temple,Gary Disher], Ireland [Ken Bruen, Declan Burke and others], and Sweden [Henning Mankell, Karin Alvetegen, Kjell Eriksson, Ake Edwardson, Liza Marklund, and Hakan Nesser] have produced some of the best crime fiction in the world over the past few years.

But no way should Italy [Andrea Camilleri, Massimo Carlotto, Carlo Lucarelli, Gianrico Carofiglio] be rated that low down.

Obviously more study is required as to what parameters were used, especially as so many people from the UK move to Spain.

The UK usually comes in trailing last in these sort of studies just behind the USA and very far behind the Scandinavians. This is possibly because not all of Britain is as beautiful as Devon, with Dartmoor and two beautiful coasts. No I am not being paid by the tourist board, it is true.