David Hewson

Devil’s Fjord – David Hewson

Title – Devil’s Fjord

Author – David Hewson

Published – 2019

Genre – Crime fiction

This is a bit of a change in location for David Hewson, a mystery set in the Faroe Islands with all the hallmarks of ‘scandi noir’.

Newly-appointed District Sheriff Tristan Haraldsen and his wife Elsebeth are looking forward to a peaceful semi-retirement in the remote fishing village of Djevulsfjord on the stunningly beautiful island of Vagar. But when two boys go missing during the first whale hunt of the season, the repercussions strike at the heart of the isolated coastal community.

I have to say it’s not a read for the faint-hearted as Haraldsen’s first real duty in his new community is to take part in the ‘grind’ – a very bloody whale hunting tradition. Haraldsen is at the heart of the hunt and the reader isn’t spared any of the more unpleasant details. It’s during this action that there is an incident between Haraldsen and one of the boys which Haraldsen believes may have triggered their flight.

The couple are outsiders, giving them a slightly different perspective on what the locals take for granted, and this is a community with a lot of secrets that they’re not keen on sharing.  He and his wife are also pretty naive, expecting more of an idyllic retreat than a hard-working fishing village. When the two boys go missing Haraldsen feels that he’s to blame and takes a personal interest in the search for them. One of those brought in to work on the search is policewoman Hanna Olsen, although she has her own agenda. When the authorities feel enough has been done in the search Olsen and Haraldsen put their heads together to mount their own investigation.

The book delivers the usual mix of investigation and culture that I enjoy in Hewson’s Nic Costa series – albeit set in a more harsh and unforgiving environment. It also has a slower pace, more in keeping with translated / scandi fiction. An enjoyable read, especially if you’re normally a reader of scandi or nordic noir.

Many thanks to the publisher for the NetGalley.


The Savage Shore – David Hewson

Title – The Savage Shore

Author – David Hewson

Published – 2018

Genre – Crime fiction

This is one of the books I was most looking forward to in 2018, a continuation of the Nic Costa series which saw the last book (Fallen Angel) published in 2011. I had been enjoying the series and worried that we’d heard the last of Costa and his colleagues, so I was thrilled to hear that another book was coming.

The team that you would be familiar with if you’ve read the earlier books are in Calabria, in the south of Italy and far away from their comfort zone. They are there to try to arrange the extraction of the elusive head of the ’Ndrangheta, the Calabrian version of the Mafia, who is also offering up the overlord of the Costa Nostra – the most wanted man in Italy. The assignment is cloaked in secrecy, including the reason behind the man’s approach to the police and his intention to turn state’s witness. The high-stakes and sparse information don’t make this a comfortable assignment.

Costa is required to go undercover with the man’s family and must prove himself in a number of ways before he will be accepted by those in the ’Ndrangheta. This offers a few thrills and is a test of Costa’s metal. Once he has been accepted the story twists and turns as the opportunity comes for the authorities to make their move.

While Costa has the main part of the story there is an interesting aside for Peroni, who strikes up a friendship with a young widow running a small waterfront cafe. It seems that organised crime affects every one in the community and true to character Peroni risks the group’s cover to step in.

Background to the history of the location and the ’Ndrangheta is provided by extracts from the fictional ‘Calabrian Tales’ which weaves its own set of myths and legends alongside the rise of the Bergamotti family, their traditions and their values.

I’ve always enjoyed reading this series of books and Costa has been an interesting character to follow as he has developed. He takes his role-play a little too seriously and there are some thought-provoking incidents while he is undercover and towards the end of the story.

I really enjoyed the mix of thriller/mystery, the unusual location and the historical aspects to the story, and I thought these worked well using the extracts of text rather than having a character ‘telling’ lots of information. The place and people offer a glimpse of a way of life that’s long gone for most people and the vivid writing easily conjures up this new location. There are even a few meals thrown in for good measure (not quite to the level of Camilleri, but mouth-watering nevertheless).  And it’s always good when a book you’ve been looking forward to delivers.

Many thanks to the publisher for the Net Galley.




Crime fiction I’m looking forward to reading in 2018

This is a personal look at the books I’m looking forward to reading next year. There are a few debuts, a few series that I really should catch up on and the climax to one specific series that I just can’t wait for!

First on the list must be Turn a Blind Eye by Vicky Newham which is due to be published on 5 April 2018. I first met Vicky not long after I started blogging and we have been friends since. When I first met people as a blogger I seemed unusual in being someone who was only interested in reading books with no desire to become a writer myself. Over the intervening years I’ve seen many of these bloggers become published authors (people like Sarah Ward, James Law, Steph Broadribb) and it’s been a long wait for Vicky! The good news is that she will be published by HQ books (part of Harper Collins) so she should get lots of publicity and support. They’ve already done a great job on the cover! 

The book does sound intriguing too “When the head teacher of Mile End High School is found brutally murdered, DI Maya Rahman is called in to the East End community – an area buzzing with energy, yet divided by its own multiculturalism. Maya must battle ghosts from her past and navigate East London’s cultural tensions to find the perpetrator before they kill again.”. As a fan of police procedurals this is right up my street and Vicky is bringing in an extra dimension with a Bangladeshi female detective and a Tower Hamlets setting.

Not only did HQ by the rights to two books but TV rights sold to Playground Entertainment so fingers crossed that this develops into something we get to see on screen too.

Next on the list is another debut – this is Strangers on a Bridge by Louise Mangos and is due to be published in August 2018 by HQ Digital, again part of Harper Collins. Louise is another debut author that I’ve met at a number of crime fiction events. Despite having an agent she made her ‘pitch’ to HQ via a tweet when they were asking for authors to do just that and following the tweet they made contact with Louise and she subsequently signed to them. Who says social media is all bad?

A psychological thriller the blurb is ‘While running near her home in Switzerland, English-born Alice stops a man jumping from a notorious suicide bridge. He mistakes Alice’s euphoric relief as budding affection, and he begins to stalk her.’ While the premise sounds intriguing I definitely don’t read enough books set in Switzerland so I’m looking forward to a bit of armchair-tourism too.

I didn’t post a roundup of my reading highlights  for 2017 – there were a couple of reasons for this. First my blog was pretty neglected in the first half of the year with a house move coinciding with a period at work that was both busy and stressful. I’ve done about the same amount of reading as I normally would but it’s been too time-consuming to get all the reviews posted on my blog. But I also felt that there weren’t any absolutely ‘five-star’ standout books in what I’d read. I did ask around on Facebook for some suggestions of what I might have missed and I’ve also had a look at many of the other ‘best of 2017’ lists. Taking all of this into account and scouring the lists on Crime Time I made sure to ask for Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke for Christmas and I’m pleased to say that Santa did his stuff. The only hold up may be the fact that as a hardback I shan’t want to take it to work on the train as I like to keep my books in pristine condition!

I’ve always tried to read books in the correct series order and if I have started a series from the beginning I don’t want to skip a book and miss something important. There are a couple of series that I’ve got behind on and I really need to catch up. I feel a particular affinity to these as I read and reviewed the debuts on my blog. Firstly there’s Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series. I’ve read the first three books in the series but missed out on the fourth and can see some reviewers have already received copies of the fifth book, so I need to get myself the two missing titles and squeeze them in to my reading next year.

1. Someone Else’s Skin (2014)
2. No Other Darkness (2015)
3. Tastes Like Fear (2016)
4. Quieter Than Killing (2017)
5. Come and Find Me (2018)

Another series that I have followed from the beginning is David Mark and his Aector McAvoy series. I miss reading about Aector and I must catch up. More for the shopping list…

1. The Dark Winter (2012)
2. Original Skin (2013)
3. Sorrow Bound (2014)
4. Taking Pity (2015)
4.5. A Bad Death (2015)
5. Dead Pretty (2016)
5.5. Fire of Lies (2016)
6. Cruel Mercy (2017)
7. Scorched Earth (2018)

There is a third set of books to add to this and I did make an exception and read some of this series out of order. It’s the Nic Costa series by David Hewson. When David stopped writing this series set in Italy I didn’t feel any pressure to fill in any gaps but with a new book due out in 2018 I shall have to get my skates on to catch up. I have posted reviews on my blog for The Fallen Angel which was the last Nic Costa novel and Carnival for the Dead which was a spin off from the series. You can read more about David’s announcement on his blog.

There is also a series coming to an end which although I shall be sad to see it finish I am REALLY looking forward to reading the final instalment. This is the Frieda Klein series from Nicci French. I wasn’t sure how a move from standalones to a series of eight books would work but I shouldn’t have worried. The series has been excellent – one you really should read from the start to get the most out of the books. But July will see the final book published and I shall be rushing to read it because I would hate to see a spoiler!

 1. Blue Monday (2011)
2. Tuesday’sGone (2012)
3. Waiting for Wednesday (2013)
4. Thursday’s Children (2014)
5. Friday on My Mind (2015)
6. Saturday Requiem (2016)
aka Dark Saturday
7. Sunday Morning Coming Down (2017)
aka Sunday Silence
8. Day of the Dead (2018)

So what have ai missed? What books are your must haves or must reads for the next year?

Carnival for the Dead – David Hewson

Title – Carnival for the Dead

Author – David Hewson

Published – January 2012

Genre – Crime fiction

I don’t think it’s a secret that I am a huge fan of David Hewson’s writing, and I have been eagerly awaiting the latest installment in the “Costa” series. For me the joy of reading one of these books is the combination of excellent prose,  a complex puzzle and often a hint of something more mysterious. It’s a relief to say that Carnival for the Dead doesn’t disappoint.

Carnival for the Dead is a variation on a theme, featuring forensic pathologist Teresa Lupo as the central character rather than the more familiar Nic Costa. The book sees a return to Venice (the setting for the earlier title in the series “The Lizard’s Bite”) as Lupo travels there with her mother following the mysterious disappearance of her  favourite Aunt, Sofia.  When Sofia’s apartment yields no apparent clues as to her whereabouts Lupo becomes concerned that something sinister has happened. She decides to stay in the apartment while she undertakes to search for her, quickly sending her mother home.

Her search is aided by a serious of cryptic stories which are mysteriously delivered to Sofia’s home. Although they have a “supernatural” feel to them they also bear an increasingly uncanny resemblance to her ongoing search for Sofia. But who is sending them? Is it Sofia, or someone who wants to help, and why can’t they just come forward and speak directly to Lupo?

With the rest of the usual team unavailable to help her, Lupo accepts the help of Alberto Tosi the (now retired) city pathologist, believing that he will have some influence with the local police. Unfortunately Carnival means the police are too busy to help with Lupo’s “mystery”, so she and Tosi attempt to carry on the investigation without them, even when there is a murder which Lupo believes is somehow connected to Sofia’s disappearance.

Venice is as much a character in this tale as Lupo herself. Set in February (the time of the Carnival) this isn’t the city most tourists will see – it’s cold, in fact there’s snow and ice, it’s dark and the masks and costumes of those taking part in the Carnival itself add to the sinister atmosphere.

I know that there is a suggestion that this may be the last in the “Costa” series, but I sincerely hope that isn’t the case. There are plenty of authors who have pursued a series for far too long, but Hewson has shown that applying a different perspective on the stories is an excellent way to ensure the reader’s continued interest.

A story with well-observed characters, a gripping mystery and all in the atmospheric setting of Venice – what more could you ask for!

Score – 4/5 (or 4.5 if I allowed half marks!)

The Fallen Angel – David Hewson

Title – The Fallen Angel

Author– David Hewson

Published – Feb 2011

Genre – Crime

I have only discovered David Hewson fairly recently, and when offered the opportunity to read a proof copy of the soon to be published “The Fallen Angel” I wasn’t going to say no.

When the sins of the past echo the crimes of the present – Detective Nic Costa faces his hardest case yet. When British academic Malise Gabriel falls to his death from a Rome apartment, detective Nic Costa rapidly comes to realize that there is much more to the accident than he had first thought. It also becomes apparent that Malise’s family – mysterious and tragic daughter Mina, stoic wife Cecilia and troubled son Robert – may be keeping vital information hidden. Nic becomes obsessed with the case, and is especially intrigued by Mina’s story which seems to be linked with the sixteenth century-legend of a young Italian noblewoman, Beatrice Cenci. As the investigation deepens, Rome’s dark and seedy side is uncovered, revealing a web of deceit, treachery and corruption. Costa realizes that the key to the truth lies with the Gabriels. Why are they so unwilling to co-operate, and who, or what, is the reason for their silence?

This is the latest in the Nic Costa series of Hewson’s contemporary roman crime thrillers. If you haven’t come across this series, Costa is an unusual character to take the lead in a detective novel – a young(ish) Italian detective with a sensitive side and an appreciation of his roman heritage.

The book gets down to business pretty quickly, with the death of a British academic who has been living in Rome with his family. Investigation of the mysterious death stalls when his family seems to be reluctant to contribute to the investigation, however Costa develops a friendship with the dead man’s daughter which provides him with an insight into their relationships.

A feature of Hewson’s books is the blending of modern Rome with historical aspects – in this case the story of the Cenci family in the 16th century with murder, intrigue and ultimately papal justice. There seems to be an echo of this old legend within the modern-day mystery, and the preoccupation of the characters with the past is an important feature of the story. The author obviously knows the city well & has done his research as he brings the story to life on the hot and dusty streets of Rome, but without letting the setting get in the way of the narrative.

The development of the investigation depends upon relationships – both unravelling the relationships within this family and the relationships of the team of detectives, but at the end of the day this is a complex but cracking, well–paced detective story.

Don’t be put off if you haven’t read previous books in the series (although you should!) – there’s enough background along the way to fill in any gaps.

Score – 4/5