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Cozy mystery set in Thailand

Colin Cotterill is a young  English writer who has spent much time abroad, including a stint in Laos with UNESCO.  His first mystery series starred septuagenarian Siri Paiboun, a French-trained doctor who is the chief medical examiner in 1970s post-war Ventiane, the capital of Laos.  Dr. Paiboun’s medical knowledge and forensic skills are useful in solving mysteries.  But his paranormal power—he communicates with the dead through dreams—is a handy supplement.  Although crime and corruption are depicted, this clever and funny series falls solidly into the cozy genre.  Recently Cotterill has begun a second series set in Thailand featuring an attractive thirty-four year-old woman as its central character. Jimm Juree would rather be in Chiang Mai working as a crime reporter for the Daily Mail.  But she is drawn to rural south Thailand because her eccentric family runs a tourist camp there.   These are even lighter in tone than the Siri Paiborn series and have been compared to McCall Smith’s #1 Ladies Detective series.  The second title Granddad, There’s a Head on the Beach was published in June, 2012 by Minotaur.

–posted 6/25/2012

Posted June/26/2012

Norwegian Mystery series

http://www.esequels.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/round-norway.jpgNorway is second to Sweden in the production of mystery series, at least judging by those that have made their way to our shores.  Here is an updated list of the major authors and their series.  Please let me know if you spot any omissions.

Dahl, Kjell Ola

K.O. Dahl’s novels feature a mismatched pair of Oslo policemen:  Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda is short and short-tempered.  He is a widower with false teeth and thinning hair and he doesn’t suffer fools gladly.  Though he respects and uses modern forensic tools like DNA analyses, his methods are traditional.   He relies on close interrogation and informed suppositions. His assistant, Frank Frolich, is the easy-going, overweight and usually put-upon partner.  Gunnerstranda’s acerbic comments and the interaction between the two detectives create a touch of droll humor.  These suspenseful and atmospheric stories are less likely to feature thugs and drug lords than some other Scandinavian mysteries.

1.  The Last Fix (2010)

2.  The Man in the Window (2009)

3.  The Fourth Man (2008)

4.  Lethal Investments (2012)

Enger, Thomas

Thomas Enger is a young journalist, composer and novelist living in Oslo.  His first two mysteries in the Henning Juul series have won high praise. When we first meet him, Juul is struggling to recover from a tragic house fire in which his young son Jonas was killed.  He is determined to prove to himself and his colleagues that his emotional trauma and facial scars will not prevent him from returning to his work as a successful crime reporter.  Engaging on many levels, these books are fast-paced and suspenseful.

1.  Burned (2011)

2.  Pierced (2012)

3.  Scarred  (2014)

Fossum, Karin (Provincial Norway)

Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer novels take place in rural communities north of Oslo, making them different from the city settings favored by Anne Holt, K. O. Dahl and Jo Nesbo.  Konrad Sejer is a middle-aged widower when we first meet him—thoughtful and kind and a bit melancholy.  His young assistant Jacob Skarre is grateful to be working and learning from such a successful, experienced policeman. His proficiency increases with each case.   As the series continues, Sejer worries about his daughter and her adopted son from Somalia and eventually he meets an attractive woman who returns his affection.   Fossum’s first published work was a book of poems, so the crisp and colorful prose of her crime novels is not surprising.  Her experience working in hospitals with addicts and the mentally ill, gives authority to her portrayal of the sad and demented characters at the heart of her novels.  Though Fossum has been called the “Queen of Crime, her Sejer novels are psychological suspense, rather than mysteries.   Broken (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) is a stand-alone novel.  Eva’s Eye, published in the U.S. in  2013) was the first Sejer book Fossum wrote.

1.  Don’t Look Back (2002)

2.  He Who Fears the Wolf (2005)

3.  When the Devil Holds the Candle (2006)

4.  The Indian Bride (2007)

5.  Black Seconds (2008)

6.  The Water’s Edge (2009)

7.  Bad Intentions (2011)

8.  The Caller (2011)

9.  Eva’s Eye (2013)

9.  The Murder of Harriet Krohn (2014)

Holt, Anne

Anne Holt is one of the most successful Norwegian crime writers.  Trained as a lawyer, Holt has worked in broadcasting as a journalist and anchor woman.  She also spent two years working in the Oslo police force before opening her own law practice.  She has written five novels in the Vik/Stubo series.  Johanne Vik is a Norwegian-American psychology professor and former FBI profiler. She is the divorced caretaker of a mentally challenged six-year old. Adam Stubo is an Oslo police inspector who is recovering from the deaths of his wife and young child.  Together they are a formidable team.  Holt has also written a series of eight crime novels starring lesbian police officer Hanne Wilhelmsen.  Scribner seems to be releasing them in the U.S, but not in the correct reading order.  1222 (Scribner, 2011) is the second book in the series.  The Blind Goddess (Scribner, 2012, published in Norway in 1993) is the first.  It introduces Hanne and tells how she became paralyzed. All of Holt’s mysteries are well-written and suspenseful.They feature fully drawn characters and plenty of Scandinavian atmosphere.

1.  What Is Mine (2006)

2.  What Never Happens (2008)

3.  Death in Oslo (2009)

4.  Fear Not (2019)

5.  Flimmer (2010)

Horst, Jørn Lier

Horst has worked as a policeman in Larvik (65 miles southwest of Oslo) since 1995 and now holds a position as the head of investigations.  His first mystery was published in 2004, and has been followed by five more books in the Inspector William Wisting procedural series. Wisting heads the CID at Larvik. He is an experienced policeman familiar with the dark side of human nature.  He is a careful and concerned investigator and a good-hearted person respected by the members of his team.  Wisting is a widow with two grown children.  So far only Dregs, the sixth book in the Wisting series, has been published in English translation.

1. Key Witness (2004)

2.  Disappearance of Felicia (2005)

3.  When the Sea Calms (2006)

4.  The Only One (2007)

5.  The Night Man (2009)

6.  Dregs (2010)

7.  Closed for Winter (2011)

Kjærstad,  Jan

Kjærstad has written a string of novels, short stories and essays and was editor of the literary magazine Vinduet (The Window). He has received a number of prizes, the most important being the Nordic Council Literature Prize, which he received for his trilogy about Jonas Wergeland, a famous television producer whose documentaries take him to dangerous and exciting locations.  The series starts as an anonymous biographer tells of Wergeland’s adventures and how he arrives home one day to find his wife dead on the livingroom floor.  The second book delves more deeply into Wergeland’s life, both past and present.  In the third book, Wergeland tells his own story.  This is not your average crime story.  Sounds a bit like a long Norwegian version of Camus’ The Stranger.

1.  The Seducer (2006)

2.  The Conqueror (2009)

3.  The Discoverer (2008)

Nesbo, Jo

Harry Hole is a hard-boiled detective, Norwegian style–tall and blonde.  His boss describes him as the best investigator and the worst public servant in Oslo’s Crime Squad.  Harry is a dogged investigator always ready to spring into action, sometimes leaving his girlfriend on hold.  He fights alcoholism with the help of a rather droll counselor.  Author Jo Nesbo quit his job as a stockbroker to concentrate on writing crime fiction and sing in a popular Norwegian rock band.  The Redbreast was chosen by Norwegian book clubs in 2004 as the “Best Norwegian Crime Novel Ever Written”.

1.  The Redbreast (2007)

2.  Nemesis (2009)

3.  The Devil’s Star (2010)

4.  The Redeemer (2009)

5.  The Snowman (2010)

6.  The Leopard (2011)

7.  The Phantom (2012)

Rygg, Pernille

Igi Heitmann is a research psychologist living in Oslo with her transvestite husband and 4-year-old daughter.  When her father, a former policeman and private investigator, is killed in a hit-and-run accident Igi gets drawn into her first investigation. A memento of a strange woman is found among his papers and Igi wants to meet her, but when she arrives, the woman has been murdered.

1. The Butterfly Effect  (1998)

2. The Golden Section  (2003)

Scheen, Kjersti

Scheen is a prolific author of more than thirty books, mostly for young people. She has written an award-winning series addressing issues such as anorexia nervosa and teenage sexuality.  Final Curtain (Arcadia, 2004) is the first novel of a series starring middle-aged private eye Margaret Moss who lives with her daughter in Oslo and drives an old Renault.  Margaret, whose various work experiences include acting, has decided to become a detective so she can be her own boss.  She is an engaging and humorous character whose sleuthing is a bit eccentric, but effective in the end.  Only the first book listed below is available in the U.S.

1.  Final Curtain (1994)

2.  No Applause for the Killer (1996)

3.  Englemakerne (1998)

4.  The Seventh Sin (2000)

5.  Similar to the Load (2003)

Skredderberget, Asle

Skredderberget has created  a detective named Milo Cavalli who is half Norwegian and half Italian.  In an article in the Winter 2014-5 issue of “Mystery Readers Journal”,  Skredderberget writes that Milo has a “vast family fortune from his Italian side of the family and a background as a financial analyst in Oslo,”  which make him a sunny, confident, devil-may-care investigator.   Alas, the two books about Milo, Soft as Metal and Painkiller, have not yet been published in the U.S.

Staalesen, Gunnar

Staalesen’s Varg Veum, a private eye in the city of Bergen, is modeled on Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler’s classic American hard-boiled detective.  Divorced and living on a shoestring, Veum never has quite enough work to keep him busy.  But his persistence and methodical, low-key style of inquiry usually pay off.  His experience as a former child protection officer has made him especially sensitive to the plight of neglected and abused children. While Bergen is not in the  Los Angeles or even the Stockholm league of criminality, it does have its share of thieves, perverts and hoodlums as well as domestic strife.   Norwegian author Staalesen has published more than 40 books, and has been translated into 12 different languages.

1.  Yours Until Death (1997)

2.  At Night All Wolves Are Grey (1986)

3.  The Writing on the Wall (2002)

4.  The Consorts of Death (2009)

5.  Cold Hearts (2012)

–posted by Janet Husband, 6/15/2012

Posted June/16/2012

New series by Ann Holt

Anne Holt is one of the most successful Norwegian crime writers.  Trained as a lawyer, Holt has worked in broadcasting as a journalist and anchor woman.  She also spent two years working in the Oslo police force before opening her own law practice. She has written five novels in the Vik/Stubo series.  Johanne Vik is a Norwegian-American psychology professor and former FBI profiler. Adam Stubo is an Oslo police inspector. Together they are a formidable team.  Holt has also written a series of eight crime novels starring lesbian police officer Hanne Wilhelmsen.  Scribner seems to be releasing them slowly in the U.S, but not in the correct reading order.  1222 (Scribner, 2011) is the second book in the series.  The Blind Goddess (Scribner, 6/2012, published in Norway in 1993) is the first.  It introduces Hanne and tells how she became paralyzed. All of Holt’s mysteries are well-written and suspenseful.  They feature fully drawn characters and plenty of Scandinavian atmosphere.

–posted 6/17/2012

Posted June/15/2012

Zoe Ferraris

Here is an interesting new series by American author Zoe Ferraris.  Her protagonist, Katya Hijazi, is one of the few women working in the coroner’s office in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.  She refuses to accept the submissive role customary in the sexually segregated world of the Saudis.  Her work as a laboratory technician draws her into unofficial investigations, especially in cases of murdered women that the authorities would prefer to ignore.  Ferraris, who spent a year living in Jeddah with her Palestinian Bedouin husband, portrays the dysfunctional relations between men and women in a conservative Islamic society. Her novels are interesting for their insights into Saudi culture and customs as well as their suspenseful story line.  Kingdom of Strangers (Little Brown,6/2012) is the third book in the series.  It deals with the disappearance of  an illegal Filipino woman and the discovery of 19 dead female bodies found in the desert outside Jeddah–all with their hands cut off.

–posted 6/15/2012

Posted June/15/2012

New Amos Walker

Burning Midnight (Forge, 6/2012) is the 22nd novel in the Amos Walker detective series. Amos is a classic hard-boiled private eye operating in modern day Detroit–“the place where the American Dream stalled and sat rusting in the rain”. Shaped by his home-town, Walker is weary, tough, and cynical, but still compassionate. His bachelor flat is in Hamtramck, the Polish section of the city. He deals with the usual inner-city crimes. In Burning Midnight Amos investigates two feuding gangs in Detroit’s Mexicantown: the Zapatistas and the Maldados. But he discovers that the local gang war is connected to a larger, more evil organization. Michigan native Loren Estleman has written over 65 books in six different series in several genres. His first novel was Oklahoma Punk (Major, 1976), later re-titled Red Highway, starred Virgil Ballard–Public Enemy Number One—who breaks out of jail to continue his homicidal career. Among Estleman’s early works are two novels starring Sherlock Holmes: Sherlock Holmes vs Dracula (Doubleday, 1978) and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes (Doubleday, 1979), both originally published under the pseudonym of John H. Watson, purporting to be recently discovered manuscripts. Who would have guessed that Estleman wrote a vampire book in 1978. Estleman’s awards and prizes are too numerous to list. He will receive the Western Writers of America Owen Wister Award for lifetime achievement during the WWA convention’s Awards Banquet in Albuquerque, NM, on June 16, 2012.

–posted 6/14/2012

Posted June/15/2012

Pioneer Australia

Sarah Thornhill (Grove, 6/2012) is the final novel of Kate Grenville’s trilogy about the settling of Australia.  William Thornhill was sent to Australia as a convict and bought success at the expense of the natives.  Now Sarah, his youngest child who is unaware of the brutality in the family’s past, falls in love with a man who is part Aborigine.  Grenville has drawn on her own family history in writing these books.  Her books are a vivid and honest recreation of the violence and social turmoil of pioneer Australia.  Strong and passionate, Sarah proves equal to the vicissitudes she meets.  Grenville’s earlier books have been well-received by both readers and critics.

–posted 6/4/2012

Posted June/4/2012

 
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