I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

25716670  This was a book that was recommended to me on a discussion in Goodreads related to cult themed Nordic Noir reads and I was fortunate that my library had it.

This book hooked me in immediately.  Loved the lead characters, Munch and Mia, and the newbie to their team, a hacker, who is just finding his footing in police work.  The characters are well-developed enough so that the reader can get into their heads, but without slowing down the pacing of the story.

The crime(s) involve six-year-old girls being abducted and killed.  A storyline with a local cult is occurring in tandem to this.  At the same time Munch and Mia are having issues in their personal lives.  All these intricate story lines thread together in the end along with a sprinkling of red herrings to keep the reader guessing.  This was a really good Nordic Noir read and I hope they continue to translate the series.

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The Devil’s Claw by Lara Dearman

32187728  I saw some reviews for this on Goodreads and decided to give it a try.  Set in Guernsey, it has a great deal of atmosphere and that closed in feel that a somewhat isolated, small community setting can give a book.  The protagonist, Jennifer, is an island girl, who left for a career in journalism and now has returned after her pursuit of a story went wrong.  She finds the body of a beautiful young woman on the beach and is unwilling to drop the story.   She shares her research with a local police officer, Michael, and then, as another girl is missing, it becomes a race against time.

There is a lot of tension built here and many red herrings.  I was convinced I knew who did  it and was completely wrong.  There are also references to Guernsey’s history of Nazi occupation and the impact that had on the community.  Themes of suicide, loss of a child, and obsession are explored.

The killer’s voice is heard in excerpts throughout the book beginning in his childhood and continuing up until the end of the book.  They give insight into his thoughts and especially his triggering (or motivating) event.  I enjoyed this thriller and would read more by the author.

The Devil’s Wedding Ring & Where Memories Lie

 

Where Memories Lie is book 12 in the Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series, which I have been reading in order for a while now.   This is a much more Gemma-centric book, Gemma is called to her friend Erika’s house to resolve a WW II related case.  Erika is Jewish and escaped Germany with her husband.  Her father, a famous jeweler, was left behind and perished in the camps.  Gemma’s investigation into a piece of jewelry that has surfaced from Erika’s past, sets off a chain of present day crimes connected to past ones.  Gemma and Duncan get to work together on the interconnecting cases.  As well as dealing with the mystery and investigating the handling of past crimes, Gemma deals with a personal crisis in her family.  An on-point depiction of the push-pull that many working women face.

This was a good read in this series, which is best read in order as the characters grow and their relationship changes over the course of the series.  The ending left me anxious to read the next one and see what happens.

The Devil’s Wedding Ring is from a new to me author, Vidar Sundstol.  I saw this book mentioned on a discussion of cult themed stories in the Nordic Noir  genre, books like Sun Storm, The Hanging Girl, etc.  Max is the sleuth here, a man who in his youth was a police officer in Norway.  He left abruptly upon deciding he was not cut out for the type of police work being done and spent the rest of his life, some 30 years,  in the US working as a private investigator.  He returns to Norway for the funeral of an old friend and finds himself questioning everything about his friend’s death and connections to old crimes, including the one that drove him off the force and out of Norway.

Max is a well drawn character, a man who has lived a good life but now is returning to face the regrets of his youth.  Themes of religion, ritual, sacrifice, fertility,  and regret wrapped in solid investigation.  Nicely paced Nordic Noir read.

 

Hypothermia by Arnaldur Indridason

7896271  This is book 8 in the Inspector Erlendur mystery series.  Themes of loss, regret, and secrets are weaved throughout connecting Erlendur’s personal life and relationship with his ex-wife and daughter, a series of old missing persons cases, and a current suicide.  Erlendur works mainly solo in this book as he is not really on an official case for the most part.  A woman has hung herself and it is found to be suicide, however Erlendur, at the prompting of one of the woman’s friends has to know why.  The area is the same as earlier missing persons cases, definitely cold cases but never closed.  Finally, his daughter is convinced that a meeting between Erlendur and her mother will resolve old issues and give her the family she is craving.

Really well done mystery with lots of interconnected stories and clues from one plot line to the next.  This is not really a traditional police procedural but more of a straight forward mystery.  Erlendur is a great character and stood well on his own without his team to interact with and assist with the case(s).

Death is Now My Neighbor by Colin Dexter

  Just finished this, the 12th book in the Inspector Morse series.  Such a bittersweet read, knowing what I know about Morse and that I have almost reached the end of the series.  I kept putting the book down to make it last longer.  Great character work is displayed in this depiction of Morse and in the “persons of interest” .   Morse’s bad habits are catching up with him and we see foreshadowing of what is to come.  The mystery is intriguing and it is really engaging to watch Morse and Lewis work through it, playing off of one another.  Strange also has a plot line here that is pointing to the 13th  and final book in the series.

The piece at the end brought me to tears and made me commit to rereading the series once I am done.  Very moody writing here, feelings of regret and melancholy tinged with some slivers of hope.  5 star read!

White Bodies & Entry Island

 

I have been a big fan of Peter May since reading the The Lewis Trilogy, a dark, moody series I loved.  This is a different setting and a very different type of book than those.  Sime is a Canadian Detective of Scottish descent, who must investigate a murder on an English-speaking island in a primarily French-speaking part of Canada.  He is unfortunately paired with his ex-wife on the case which is one source of tension.  The wife of the victim is the main suspect and immediately upon meeting her Sime feels a strong sense that he knows her.  His connection seems to deepen and the book connects back several generations to a tragic  love story, which had its roots in Scotland.  This is a murder mystery with a strong historical romance element and an almost fantastical feel with the “lovers across time” theme.

Both storylines were well done and as with The Lewis Trilogy, the writing is very atmospheric with a well-developed sense of place.  I am not generally a historical romance reader but I enjoyed this and liked reading about a time period and events which  I did not know much about.  Well written romantic mystery.  I am going to recommend it to my friends who regularly read historic romance because a lot of them are fans of the Outlander and other Scottish romance novels.  I think fans of those books would find a lot to like here.

White Bodies is this month’s read at the Kindle English Mystery Club.  This is a psychological “thriller” about twins.  Shades of Single White Female (the 80s movie) and Gone Girl are evident here although the author desperately tries to connect to the Patricia Highsmith classic, Strangers on a Train, instead.  Personally I think it is a stretch to compare this  to Highsmith’s writing.  Quite frankly, I think anyone who tries to compare themselves to Patricia Highsmith better be on point.

I can’t really say specifically what I didn’t care for here.  It just seems very Lifetime movie-ish and read like a YA book, lots of immaturity, self-absorption.  I had to hold myself back from skimming somewhere in the middle because it didn’t really hold my attention.  Themes of obsession, mental illness (NPD and Pica in particular), and deception abound.  Two characters that are introduced and are in quite a bit of the book, Wilf and Felix, don’t seem to be fully fleshed out.  Wilf in particular seems to just fill this “a girl NEEDS a man” purpose.

It seems to have quite good ratings, so  others saw something here that I did not or maybe I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this.

 

A Necessary End & The Blood Split

 

Two more library books, A Necessary End is the third book in the Inspector Banks series.  This books begins with an anti-nuke pro-environment rally and ends with a dead copper.  Banks is left to solve the case, with too many suspects and yet no witnesses, and hampered by a dirty dealing Inspector brought in from the outside.  Banks has a history with Burgess and describes him as “..name anyone and Burgess is to the right of them”.

Really good snapshot of the Thatcher era with its  anti-nuke fears in the public,  anti-American air base protests, strikes,  and the beginning of privatization of public services.  Banks is a put in a position of separating his own politics and feelings from his job as he investigates the death of the police officer.  Banks is conflicted on another front as well, his wife is away and Jenny, a woman he had a small crush on in a previous book, is on the periphery of this case.  In the end, the case is all tied up neatly.   A good mystery that was also a picture of a point in time that I remember well as pictures in the newspaper and headlines.

The Blood Spilt is the second Rebecka Martinsson novel.  I read and enjoyed the first one and this picks up where that left off.  Rebecka has been profoundly affected by the events in book 1, to the point she is not really functioning.   She returns with a colleague, to the area of her hometown and gradually gets immersed in a case involving the murder of a female priest, who had a lot of enemies as well as worshippers.  The development of all the key characters in the story are well done and as a reader you can truly see how it all unfolded, leading to tragic ends.

An atmospheric read, with a measured pace, and great character development make for a very good mystery read.