Month: October 2022

Deceit – Jónína Leósdóttir


Deceit - coverTitle
– Deceit

Author – Jónína Leósdóttir (translated by Quentin Bates & Sylvia Bates)

Published – October 2022 (in English translation)

Genre – Crime fiction

Deceit is Leósdóttir’s first book to be published in English, the translation brought to us by the partnership of publisher Corylus Books and author/translator Quentin Bates. It’s the first book in a new Icelandic crime series about detective Soffía and her ex-husband, Adam, a psychologist who helps the police during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s been interesting to see how the pandemic has been treated in fiction (both written and on TV). In this instance the author is tackling it head on and using the early days of the pandemic and lock-downs as the setting. Iceland is usually a location that isolates its characters and the early days of COVID only emphasises this.

The main character is Adam – his work has been largely halted by the pandemic and he’s paranoid about catching COVID; he’s asked by his ex-wife, Soffia, to help when a number of small but malicious actions are discovered. The depleted police force is used as part of the premise for asking for Adam’s help and he manages to stick with the investigation right through to the climax. They have a tense relationship and some of their backstory is revealed during the course of the book – they are opposites (which they say attract).

The investigation ramps up as a variety of other incidents occur, despite the lockdown, and the consequences become more sinister.

The characters all bring something to the story although I have to confess that I found the extended family that becomes embroiled in the investigation hard to keep track of. There were a few instances where I felt I had cottoned on to an aspect of the story that the author was aiming to hide – which made me feel quite pleased with myself – although I may be overstating my perceptiveness!

The title is a theme that runs through the whole of the book and applies to most of the characters. In fact one of the few people not hiding an aspect of themselves is the brash and abrupt Soffia.

As ever the translation was in safe hands – Quentin Bates is, first and foremost, an author in his own right – which means that the book is seamlessly translated.

It’s good to see that this is the start of a series, I would certainly like to read more about Soffia and Adam.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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Deceit - poster

Two reviews – Martin Walker

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that I’m a big fan of the ‘Bruno, Chief of Police’ series by Martin Walker. I managed to forget that I had two new titles on my kindle from NetGalley which then came as a lovely surprise, only for me to read them in the wrong order.

Both reviews are below – in the order of publication.

71tSF7vhzgLTitle – The Coldest Case

Author – Martin Walker

Published – 2021

Genre – Crime fiction

Bruno has a bright idea to help JJ solve a case that has haunted him for 30 years. After seeing the lifelike reconstructions of skulls in the Museum of Prehistory in Les Eyzies, Bruno thinks that the skills would help to identify the victim using the skull that JJ has hung on to – to that end he enlists the help of a young graduate who can recreate the face of the murdered man. Reigniting interest in the case has surprising implications in the present day.

There is a thread to the story about a secret document and the sharing (or not) of the information between different security services. I have to say that I really didn’t follow the ins and outs of this!

While all of this is taking place an intense heatwave brings the threat of fire to the region – something Bruno helps to plan for and then has the opportunity to perform some heroics when the worst happens.

The book features the usual mix of local politics, wide circle of friends, horses and dogs and, of course, the food and cooking.

I did enjoy the story but there were a few slightly discordant notes for me. The first was the complexities of the political issues surrounding the secrecy document.

The second was that while a fair proportion of the story involved the reconstruction of the dead man’s skull, in the end it all seemed immaterial to the solution to the case.

Finally there was a connection between the two threads that was either stretching credibility or I failed to see the logical connection.

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71eUF63rYlLTitle – To Kill a Troubadour

Author – Martin Walker

Published – June 2022

Genre – Crime fiction

In this instalment Bruno is involved in organising a local a folk music festival which will feature “Les Troubadours” from the Périgord. Their latest song is ‘A Song for Catalonia’ – at a time when the Spanish government is keen to clamp down on the idea of Catalan independence. The song goes viral when the song is banned in Spain – attracting some unwanted attention for the members of the group.

The second investigative thread to the story occurs when a wrecked car is found on a back road and a specialist sniper’s bullet discovered inside it. Concerns about an assassination attempt appear to be closer to home when it’s discovered that the car was reportedly stolen on the Spanish frontier.

While all of this is going on Bruno is asked to help his friend, Florence, after her former husband is released from prison. It comes as news to Bruno that Florence had been abused by her husband and he enlists the help of all and sundry to try to help protect Florence.

What this shares with ‘The Coldest Case’ is a lot of historical information given within the course of the novel which feels a bit like overload. I did enjoy the story – with the inevitable cosy-ish crime feel that you get from the ‘Bruno’ series, however there have been stronger books.

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