Friday 6 July 2018


A few more reads from the region and a couple each from Iceland, Finland and Denmark...

Lilja Sigurdardottir, Antti Tuomainen, Arnaldur Indridason,  Matti Ronka, Peter Hoeg and Leif Davidsen


Matti Ronka - A Man with a Killer's Face (2017) 
Not an author I know anything about. Written a few years ago (2002)  but only published in translation last year.

According to his dossier in the archives of the Soviet Special Forces (in which he once served), Viktor Karppa has the look of a killer . Except he really isn't one, notwithstanding his ability to sever a man s windpipe with his hand. Despite his messy, ambiguous past, Karppa now has an orderly life as an entrepreneur in Helsinki, and likes it just fine that way. His new girlfriend Marja, an academic, also prefers things as they are tranquil and uncomplicated. Karppa helps members of the downtrodden Ingrian community Russian-speaking ethnic Finns who have emigrated from their native Russia back to Finland adjust to their new surroundings. Thus his dream of a quiet life is regularly thwarted by Finns and Russians on both sides of the law who know too much about him. When he accepts a well-paid case to locate an antique dealer s missing Estonian wife, Karppa discovers the woman is also the sister of a notorious gangster. So begins his descent into an international criminal underworld with all the trimmings: drug lords, former KGB operatives and sundry other heavy characters. Suddenly nothing is as it was not least with Marja, who has become all too aware that her man s line of work is unlikely to bode well for a healthy relationship...

Lilja Sigurdardottir - Snare (2017)
Looks like my cup of tea, I think there's a follow on coming out later this year - Trap.

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath the Icelandic financial crash.

Set in a Reykjavik still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajokull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Antti Tuomainen - The Healer (2013) 
Another on spec punt.

One man's search for his missing wife in a dystopian futuristic Helsinki that is struggling with ruthless climate change

It's two days before Christmas and Helsinki is battling a ruthless climate catastrophe: subway tunnels are flooded; abandoned vehicles are left burning in the streets; the authorities have issued warnings about malaria, tuberculosis, Ebola, and the plague. People are fleeing to the far north of Finland and Norway where conditions are still tolerable. Social order is crumbling and private security firms have undermined the police force. Tapani Lehtinen, a struggling poet, is among the few still able and willing to live in the city.

When Tapani's beloved wife, Johanna, a newspaper journalist, goes missing, he embarks on a frantic hunt for her. Johanna's disappearance seems to be connected to a story she was researching about a politically motivated serial killer known as "The Healer." Desperate to find Johanna, Tapani's search leads him to uncover secrets from her past. Secrets that connect her to the very murders she was investigating...

The Healer is set in desperate times, forcing Tapani to take desperate measures in order to find his true love. Written in an engrossingly dense but minimal language, The Healer is a story of survival, loyalty, and determination. Even when the world is coming to an end, love and hope endure.


Peter Hoeg - Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow (1993)
Classic, I've heard people rave about this for years but not actually taken the plunge yet.

A little boy falls off a roof in Copenhagen and is killed. Smilla, his neighbour, suspects it is not an accident: she has seen his footsteps in the snow, and, having been brought up by her mother, a Greenlander, she has a feeling for snow.

Arnaldur Indridason  - Arctic Chill (2008)

On of the most accessible Scandi authors I've found.

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.

Leif Davidsen - The Woman From Bratislava (2009)
Enjoyed something else by him a year or two back - Lime's Photograph

Kosovo, spring 1999 and the impossible happens: a NATO plane is shot down. Someone - perhaps a Dane - has leaked information to the enemy. Meanwhile Teddy, a Danish university lecturer visiting Bratislava, is called upon by a woman who claims to be his half-sister, and reveals that their father, thought dead since 1952, in fact lived on for years.



  1. You do have some fine choices here, Col. The Indriðason series is excellent, and I liked the Tuomainen very much. I'll be interested in what you think of the Høeg. It's not a 'typical' crime novel (if there even is such a thing).

    1. I like Indridason but struggle to squeeze him in to my reading. I quite like the look of all of these to be honest - no regretful purchases here!

  2. Aha! One that I have read - Miss Smilla, which I liked very much.

    1. I haven't come across anyone with a bad word to say about it.

  3. Like Margot, I enjoyed the Tuomainen and have generally enjoyed Indridason, although I've read only a couple. (There's a great movie around of Jar City, if you trip over it.)

    I gather the Hoeg is better in the US translation (Smilla's Sense for Snow) than in the UK one, which latter is the version I read and that you have, despite the fact that the UK title is by far the more evocative of the two. (Apparently Hoeg interfered with the UK version.) I accordingly have the US translation on my shelf for when I get to it!

    1. I'll keep an eye out for the film, having read the book.
      I'll have to make do with my copy of the Hoeg, I can't be buying it again!

  4. Thanks for the list, Col. But these will have to wait.

    1. Elgin, they're waiting on my pile as well, so no problem.

  5. I knew I had not commented here. I just recently purchased a copy of Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow, and it is the UK edition. I had read it years ago in the US edition and liked it .... I want to read it again. Hope I like this translation. The Leif Davidsen book sounds good.

    1. I ought to bite the bullet and try and read Smilla this year or early next. I've been avoiding it for a while. I did enjoy the other Davidsen book I read, but haven't yet taken the plunge on this one.