Kjell Eriksson: Stone Coffin, Ann Lindell Mysteries #7 Sunday, Nov 27 2016 


Kiel Ericsson’s brings Ann Lindell her toughest case yet in Stone Coffin, which was shortlisted for the Prize for Best Swedish Crime Novel.

Trying to figure out her personal life takes up Lindell’s thoughts when they’re not concentrated on her work, making her realize how small her circle of support really is. Her newest case is no exception: a mother and her young daughter are ruthlessly run down on the road on their way to put flowers on the grandmother’s Uppsala grave.

When the victim’s husband disappears the same day, the partner in a pharmaceutical company becomes the prime suspect in his wife and daughter’s murders. Yet they can’t seem to locate him.

What does his recent purchase of property in the Dominican Republic show? Was he planning to run away with his mistress?

As Lindell picks her way through lies and obfuscation, her personal life throws her a curve ball that upsets her emotions and her reasoning.
It doesn’t help that as she and her team investigate, they seem to be hitting brick walls–until slowly, through their dogged pursuits, a pathway clears to find a murderer.

With his usual psychological insights and detailed plot, Ericsson’s newest cements his tag line on the cover from Swedish great Henning Mankell: “Kjell Eriksson’s crime novels are among the very best.”

Hakan Nesser: Hour of the Wolf Tuesday, Nov 8 2016 

Fans of the Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery series might have wondered what author Hakan Nesser had up his sleeve when the Chief Inspector took retirement.

That question is answered in Hour of the Wolf, a mystery where the reader is quite aware Whodunit but the question becomes: can the police find him?

It’s a rainy night when a young man is hit by a car, killed instantly, and the drunk driver slowly deludes himself that there’s nothing to be gained by turning himself in to the police.

It’s a moral question that has far-reaching implications as the police investigate with few leads. The man thinks he has made his peace with his decision when the case drops off the police radar and the news. A few weeks later he even starts a new love affair.

Then he receives the first blackmail letter. He was seen.

The unraveling of the payment turns into a second, far more devastating murder that involves the former Chief Inspector. With his replacement, Reinhart, now running the case, Van Veeteren is forced to take a back seat but is unable to keep himself from investigating on his own, with good reason.

It is difficult to explain more of this many-leveled plot without giving it away. This is nordic noir at its best: with the complex portrait of the inner thoughts of the killer as his mind continues to deteriorate; with the numbed feelings of those affected by the killings and how they must work through their grief to feel again; with the threads of an investigation that appears to be going nowhere until suddenly the pieces fall together.

Fans of Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer series will want to track down this title for that same kind of introspective police procedural. It should be noted that this was first published in Swedish in 1999 and has taken this long to be translated for US readers. Don’t wait any longer to read this intelligent and brooding novel that will have you reaching for the others in the series.

Brad Parks: The Girl Next Door Sunday, Jan 20 2013 

Parks’ third mystery featuring journalist Carter Ross is a filled with the wry humor of the protagonist that makes The Girl Next Door a delight to read.9781250013408

Set in the neighborhoods of northern New Jersey, Parks shows the dichotomy of the different areas he has Ross visit in his tenure on Newark’s Eagle-Examiner,  and the different attributes and customs that go along with each one.

Here’s Ross describing his personal attitude after years of experience : “As a newspaper reporter, I’m required to move in all strata of society. I get to observe human behavior everywhere, from the meanest housing projects to the gilded symphony hall. And what always strikes me is that when you strip away the superficial differences in clothing, setting, and dialect, groups of people everywhere are more or less the same . . . most of us are just trying to find a way to fit in.”

Reading the paper’s obituaries leads Ross to come across the death of Nancy Marino, a “girl next door” forties-something carrier for his own paper. When he decides to write a feature story about an everyday woman who dies too young, Ross naturally heads to her wake to meet her family and to hear the stories of this common woman.

So he’s more than surprised and quickly intrigued when one of Nancy’s sisters insists that the hit-and-run accident that claimed Nancy’s life was not an accident at all, but a cold-blooded murder. Adding to his interest is the appearance at the wake of his own newspapers publisher, the smarmy Gary Jackman, who refuses to give him an interview but has an arugment  with another man attending the wake that Ross overhears.

The reporter’s investigation reveals the never-married Nancy held down two jobs while caring for her elderly mother, who lived a few blocks away. Besides being a paper carrier, she worked part-time as a waitress at a local diner and was shop steward for her carrier’s union.

Ross digs into the case, convinced he’s on the right road to find Nancy’s murderer. He’ll get in trouble in far too many places at once, including with his boss and editor, who is his infrequent girlfriend, Tina Thompon. He’ll also become saddled with an intern who reads Emerson and Thoreau and is planning a thesis on Philip Roth, one of New Jersey’s hometown boys.

Parks’ creation is articulate and a pleasure to read; his characters are quirky and colorful. And best of all, his plotting twists and turns as it delves into the gritty world of some of the not-too nicest characters and neighborhoods of New Jersey. And some of those are the friends Carter Ross will depend on when he needs a helping hand.

Filled with action and unexpected turns, it’s difficult at one point to figure out how Ross will come out on top of this one. Keep reading.