Tuesday, 4 June 2013


It is week 9 on my Crime Fiction Alphabet journey hosted by Kerrie at her Mysteries in Paradise blog. It is the turn of the I’s and I’m scratching around to put a team out for this week’s challenge. Usually I can pull six players from the heaving racks of my bookshelves, but this week I have to settle for four members only; one of which could by no means possible be classed as a crime fiction author. John Irving – do you really want me to disqualify him on the basis that he doesn’t write crime? In my opinion it would be criminally negligent not to mention him or to at least read one of his books in your reading lifetime.

Izzo, Indridason..........2 unread

Jean-Claude Izzo – Total Chaos

I bought this and the other two in the Marseille Trilogy maybe six or seven years ago. I was a wee bit tired of continually reading US-based crime fiction, so cast my net a bit closer to home and a sprinkling of French noir. I ought to get to it sometime this decade with a bit of luck!  


Jean-Claude Izzo's . . . growing literary renown and huge sales are leading to a recognizable new trend in continental fiction: the rise of the sophisticated Mediterranean thriller. . . . Caught between pride and crime, racism and fraternity, tragedy and light, messy urbanization and generous beauty, the city for [detective Fabio Montale] is a Utopia, an ultimate port of call for exiles. There, he is torn between fatalism and revolt, despair and sensualism."-The Economist

This first installment in the legendary Marseilles Trilogy sees Fabio Montale turning his back on a police force marred by corruption and racism and taking the fight against the mafia into his own hands.
Arnaldur Indridason – Arctic Chill
I read one of his first three books in the series a fair few years ago, and picked up and read The Draining Lake a few months ago. Having knocked my OCD tendencies for six by reading the series out of order, I plan on reading this one next, then continuing on with the later books before dropping back to the beginning. No doubt life and many other books, will disrupt my planning.
On an icy January day the Reykjavik police are called to a block of flats where a body has been found in the garden: a young, dark-skinned boy, frozen to the ground in a pool of his own blood. The discovery of a stab wound in his stomach extinguishes any hope that this was a tragic accident. Erlendur and his team embark on their investigation with little to go on but the news that the boy's Thai half-brother is missing. Is he implicated, or simply afraid for his own life? The investigation soon unearths tensions simmering beneath the surface of Iceland's outwardly liberal, multicultural society. A teacher at the boy's school makes no secret of his anti-immigration stance; incidents are reported between Icelandic pupils and the disaffected children of incomers; and, to confuse matters further, a suspected paedophile has been spotted in the area. Meanwhile, the boy's murder forces Erlendur to confront the tragedy in his own past. Soon, facts are emerging from the snow-filled darkness that are more chilling even than the Arctic night.
Irving, Izzi.........2 enjoyed

John Irving – A Prayer For Owen Meany


I read this either late 80’s or early90’s whilst working long twelve hour shifts in a bakery. The brief accompanying blurb, doesn’t actually sell the book to be honest. Funny, sad, tender and moving, I’m not afraid to say Irving had me in tears reading this. Absolutely, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt – one of my Top 10 books of all time. His “Garp” book was similarly stunning in my opinion but “Owen Meany” shades it for me.  

Owen Meany hits a foul ball while playing baseball in the summer of 1953 that kills his best friend's mother, an accident that Owen is sure is the result of divine intervention.

Eugene Izzi – The Take

I picked this up in the early 90’s and absolutely loved it.  Chicago hoods, tough guys, Mafiosi, guns, drugs, cops......everything you could want in a book and more. I tracked down all of his other books probably not for another 10 years or so, because not many were published in the UK. He had a few out under the Nick Gaitano moniker as he was in dispute with his publisher at the time. I’ve note read them all, but this one remains a firm favourite with me.

Ex-cop, safecracker Fabe Falletti plans to retire--after one more score. But when he and his partner break into a condo and find a beautiful corpse, a million Mob dollars and a stash of cocaine, Fabe must run a super-slick scam to avoid the Mafia, Chicago's drug world, and the cops.

On a sad note, some years later I found out he had died somewhat bizarrely at the age of 43. I was upset to think he had gone at such a young age and in such strange circumstances – see the entry from Wikipedia below. It’s strange how the death of someone you’ve never met can affect you.  

On December 7, 1996, Izzi was found hanged, his body dangling outside the 14th-story window of his writing office in downtown Chicago. When his body was discovered, Izzi was wearing a bulletproof vest. In his pockets, investigators found brass knuckles, a can of "disabling spray" (likely mace or pepper spray), and a computer disc containing an unfinished manuscript.

Although officially ruled to be suicide and his family accepted the coroner's verdict,the strange manner of Izzi's death and unusual items found with his body have led to numerous conspiracy theories. Among these were claims that Izzi had infiltrated a white supremacist group and was planning to detail their activities in a future book.In addition, the bizarre scene is said to resemble one portrayed in the unfinished manuscript.



  1. Col - I really do hope you get the chance to read Arctic Chill and the other novels in this series. I think it's one of the best Scandinavian series there is.

    1. I hope so too Margot. I would place him above Persson and definitely Lackberg from my recent Scandinavian reading experiences.

  2. I read Total Chaos a couple of years ago and liked the book but did not want to continue the trilogy because it was too gritty and dark. I have since revised my decision, and would persue the remaining books if I ran across in my book buying. Arnaldur Indridason I plan to try soon. John Irving: I agree that I should read some John Irving, and maybe this would be a good one. Re Izzi, not so sure about him, especially when I am already overflowing with lists of new authors to try. Maybe someday.

    1. Tracy, I would definitely try Indridason if you get the chance. Irving is excellent but you might be straying into long book territory! Izzi, from your current/recent reads might not be your thing, but I wouldn't put you off trying him.

  3. Yes! Owen Meany! One of the finest books of all time, I couldn't agree with you more, in my Top 10 too...