A couple of short reviews in an effort to clear the ‘read but not yet reviewed’ stack.
Author – Antti Tuomainen (translated by Lola Rogers)
Published – Oct 2015
Genre – Crime fiction
Finland has perhaps been one of the smaller forces in the wave of Scandi and Nordic noir so it’s difficult to know if this take on crime fiction is typical of the Finnish contribution.
The story is told from an unusual perspective – the premise is that the murderer (responsible for the disappearance of a young woman some twenty years ago) is already known from the beginning of the book. The guilty party is a reclusive millionaire who the police have been unable to link to the woman’s disappearance. Her son Aleksi, now in his thirties, decides to take matters into his own hands and manages to get a job working on the man’s country estate. The story is told from Aleksi’s point of view (and in first person) both in the present and as flashbacks to the time around his mother’s disappearance. As Aleksi tries to unravel the events of the past and find the evidence he needs he is drawn into a relationship with the millionaire’s reckless daughter Amanda.
There are some recognisable themes from ‘Nordic Noir’ with dark characters, isolation playing a key aspect in the tension and some graphic violence. However, I found the writing slow going, a lot of use was made of coincidences and I didn’t care enough about the characters. I am perhaps in the minority, though, as Dark as My Heart was optioned for feature film in 2013 and is in development at Making Movies Ltd, the production company behind the Finnish film Black Ice. The novel has also been voted the best crime novel of the past decade by the readers of a Finnish crime fiction magazine.
You can see a more positive review on Raven’s blog.
Author – Nadia Dalbuono
Published – Jan 2016
Genre – Crime fiction
I was keen to read this book as I’m a fan of crime fiction set in Italy – it can offer a more relaxed approach to police procedurals compared to books set in the UK or USA and of course there is the opportunity to be transported to somewhere more exotic.
The book opens with the apparent suicide of a man discovered hanging from a bridge in Rome close to the Vatican City. The detective assigned to the case – Leone Scamarcio – is concerned that the death echoes the notorious murder of Roberto Calvi (‘God’s Banker’) in 1982. The murder a few days later of a cardinal within the Vatican City and a warning by some mysterious heavies from the ‘US Authorities’ guarantee that Scamarcio is more rather than less interested in getting to the bottom of the death.
What follows is a mix of police procedural and thriller made more complex by the introduction of conspiracy theories around 9/11, the Polish Solidarity party, corruption in the Vatican and acts of terror within Italy. The actual effect of this was to slow down the pace of the investigative part of the plot to expand on the theories with background and explanation and I found it all too detailed and complex to hold my interest.
What I found particularly disappointing about this book was that it felt as if it could have been set anywhere – I prefer my crime fiction to give me a better, more immersive, feel for the country it is set in.
You can see another point of view on the Euro Crime website.
Thank you to the publishers for the review copies.