CTG EXCLUSIVE: Antti Tumainen talks Three Great Novels You Surely Haven’t Read But Might Enjoy If You Did

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Today I’m thrilled to welcome the critically acclaimed Finnish crime writer Antti Tuomainen to the CTG Blog. Antti’s latest novel – THE MINE (translated by David Hackston) is out now in paperback, and as part of his blog tour he’s talking about three books that he recommends …

Recently, on occasion of my third novel in the UK (The Mine) having been published, I have had the pleasure of doing many guest posts about topics such as favorite authors, favorite crime films and so forth. I have enjoyed this and am grateful for the chance. There is something I’d like to add, however. Below you’ll find books that I’ve enjoyed immensely but maybe haven’t crossed your path. Sometimes they have been marginal in the first place, sometimes it’s been a few years since their publication. The list is only three books long which is not fair to all the other brilliant books in my shelves. But if this list gives any of these fantastic novels even one more chance with a reader anywhere, it has served its purpose.

Norman Green: Shooting Dr. Jack

True-to-life characters and a great New York atmosphere drive this cross between a literary novel and a crime novel. The story takes place in un-gentrified Brooklyn and is really the story of one man coming to terms with life and getting straight. This following quote is from near the beginning where the main character Stoney is contemplating his current situation: “He’d never intended it to be this way. Who would choose this? Oh, yeah, I’m gonna go into the city, get blind fucking drunk, blow six hundred bucks that used to be in my wallet and ain’t there now, drive home blasted, already on the revoked list. Pass out on the floor. Really impress the old lady. Jesus.” And it only accelerates from there. Highly recommended.

Kenneth Fearing: The Big Clock

They’ve made two movies from this book. The first is from 1948 with Ray Milland, the second is from 1987 with Kevin Costner titled No Way Out. The book is better than both those movies combined. The set-up is simple and quite fantastic: a man is the main suspect in a murder case in which he is the leading investigator. Kenneth Fearing was also a poet and you can see that in the text. This compact novel is written with skill, finesse and precision. This is also a masterclass in building suspense. Read it.

Tom Kakonis: Michigan Roll

I had never heard of Tom Kakonis until one day I started looking for crime novels that took place in Michigan, USA. The reason for this was that I had been, a long time ago, an exchange student in Michigan, near the city of Grand Rapids, and I thought it would be cool to read something from that area again. I was already familiar with Elmore Leonard and his marvelous Detroit novels and Steve Hamilton’s wonderful Alex McKnight series. To my surprise, I found something new. Well, relatively new. Michigan Roll had been published in 1988. It was only one of three crime novels Tom Kakonis published, at least under his own name. (He wrote two more under a pen name, I think.)

Michigan Roll is filled with great dialogue, rough and real and quirky characters, brutal violence and wonderful settings. Speaking of settings, one of them is Traverse City in Northern Michigan. Which is again another coincidence: my American family had a weekend place, an old farm, near Traverse City. I was there in 1989. The events depicted in the novel take place presumably one year earlier. I never noticed anything. Anyway, a great writer and a great book. Read it if you can find it.

A massive thank you to Antti Tuomainen for chatting on the CTG blog today (and giving me three more books to add to my TBR pile!).

Antti’s latest novel THE MINE is out now – here’s the blurb: “A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. A mine spewing toxic secrets that threaten to poison them all … In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life. A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.”

You can buy THE MINE from Amazon here

And find out more about Antti Tuomainen and his books pop over to his website here and be sure to follow him on Twitter @antti_tuomainen

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CTG EXCLUSIVE: Kati Hiekkapelto author of The Exiled talks her 5 Favourite Crime Writers

 

Today I’m delighted to be joined by the fabulous Kati Hiekkapelto for the latest stop on her Finnish Invasion blog tour. Kati’s latest book The Exiled is out now, and like all great crime writers she is also a big reader – in her post today she talks about the five authors at the top of her list.

Over to Kati …

 

  1. Leena Lehtolainen is probably the most successful Finnish crime writer to date. She published her first novel at the age of twelve, and has written about thirty books (not only crime). Her work has been translated into twenty languages and her career has truly inspired me. Her Maria Kallio series (which includes My First Murder, The Lion of Justice and Copper Heart, amongst others) has been adapted for TV, too. Well worth reading for their stark, very Finnish setting, and labyrinthine plotting.
  2. Åsa Larsson sets her stories in Northern Sweden and that is one of the reasons why her work resonates to me. They are beautifully written stories in cold, harsh Lapland, exploring religious small community life and individuals trying to cope within it – something that is very familiar in Northern Finland, too. But that’s where ‘real life’ ends. There aren’t that many murders committed in either Swedish or Finnish Lapland!
  3. Karin Fossum is, quite literally, a researcher of human mind. Her (extensive, quite wonderful) Inspector Konrad Sejer series takes the form of a police procedural with deep psychological threads. I remember the feeling when I first read one of her books – a big wow, and probably the moment when I began to understand the flexibility and possibilities of crime fiction.
  4. Eva Dolan is a new, young and rebellious voice from the UK. I am tempted to say ‘angry’. I love her style, her characters, her incredible sense of social justice – the whole package. Her Zigic & Ferreira series is set in the Hate Crimes Unit of a police department in Peterborough, and I’m sure she’ll have no shortage of material over the coming years. Classy, beautifully written, confident crime fiction with a freshness that I admire.
  5. Enid Blyton is my childhood favourite, and worth mentioning. I’m sure that the books we read when we grow up are much more influential than we can even imagine. In fact, I suspect that they are as crucial for the imagination as healthy food and PE is for the body. I could list dozens of childhood books and writers that I loved, but Enid Blyton is the one that stands out. I vividly remember George (from The Famous Five), a girl who wanted to be a boy. How revolutionary for that time!

A huge thank you to Kati for stopping by and sharing with us who her top 5 crime writers are. I’m also a huge fan of Eva Dolan, and read many of Enid Blyton’s books as a child. 

Kati’s latest book is The Exiled – here’s the blurb: “Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes? Chilling, taut and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland s most celebrated crime writers.”

You can buy The Exiled from Amazon here

To find out more about Kati Hiekkapelto and her books pop over to her website here and be sure to follow her on Twitter @HiekkapeltoKati 

And don’t miss all the other great stops along the way of The Finnish Invasion Blog Tour …

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The #ThinIce Blog Tour: Icelandic Noir crime writer Quentin Bates talks rough justice

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Today I’m delighted to welcome the charming Icelandic Noir crime writer Quentin Bates to the CTG blog as part of his THIN ICE Blog Tour. For this stop on his marathon tour, Quentin’s talking about the process of writing Thin Ice and rough justice.

Over to Quentin …

It’s not easy to write about Thin Ice. it was started so long ago, also finished so long ago that now I’m deep into another book and the details are starting to get hazy.

Thin Ice was started with the first couple of chapters written and then put aside while I finished something else (Summerchill, the novella that was published last year) and the Thin Ice characters gradually began to take shape in the background. Normally any time I had a long drive is when they’d start to come to life, with details scribbled down at motorway cafés.

It hinged on with Magni, the good-natured, burly, practically-minded former trawlerman down on his luck and lured into making a quick buck as hired muscle for a real criminal. That’s Össur, the wannabe crime kingpin who has the ruthless lack of scruples the role needs but not the brains, which is why he has always been angrily in the shadow of smarter criminals.

The other key characters, Erna and Tinna Lind, the two women Össur and Magni carjack when their escape to the sun goes so badly wrong, took a while to come together and there were a few false starts until the relationships between the four of them, stranded in a closed-for-winter upcountry hotel, started to gel. The alliances and animosities crystallised as hidden talents for survival appeared and the tensions ramped up over a large bag of stolen cash and the knowledge that the underworld as well as the police would be searching high and low for Össur and Magni.

I had written half the book and had no firm idea of how it would all come together before I started writing the police side of the tale. A good copper needs a respectable adversary, and once I had the bad guys in place, the parts played by Gunna and her two sidekicks, Helgi and Eiríkur, slotted in around the willing and unwilling fugitives, right up to the last fifty pages where things start to go badly wrong, or right, depending on your point of view.

I do like a good villain, but a decent villain can’t be entirely bad. There has to be something in there that you can sympathise with, as one-hundred-per-cent evil people with no redeeming features don’t exist. Or do they? Or are they just extremely rare?

Magni’s no genuine bad guy, just someone who agrees to do something stupid after a run of bad luck and a few beers. Össur really is bad, but with a past like his and the old trauma that makes him sweat with fear every time he sits in a car, the reader gets an insight into why he’s as screwed up as he is.

The bad guys are the ones who are fun to write. They can range from outright evil to mildly flawed, with every kind of variation between the two extremes and can go off on odd tangents, while the sleuths need to be fairly sensible – well, most of the time. That’s not to say I’m not deeply fond of my rotund heroine (even though I give her a rough time of it) and her colleagues and family, because I am. But a good villain and a crime is what sets the ball rolling.

I also like a villain who gets away with it. That’s the way things happen in real life as criminals all too frequently get away with the goods and live happily ever after, especially if they can afford good lawyers. I know that’s not to everyone’s taste and a majority of readers like to see justice being done. So while I also like to dish out justice, the form it takes might take you by surprise.

So is there justice in Thin Ice? Do the bad guys get off scot-free or does Gunna get her man? Let’s just say there’s some justice done, but it’s not what you might expect.

THIN ICE is published now. Here’s the blurb: “Snowed in with a couple of psychopaths for the winter … When two small-time crooks rob Reykjavik’s premier drugs dealer, hoping for a quick escape to the sun, their plans start to unravel after their getaway driver fails to show. Tensions mount between the pair and the two women they have grabbed as hostages when they find themselves holed upcountry in an isolated hotel that has been mothballed for the season. Back in the capital, Gunnhildur, Eirikur and Helgi find themselves at a dead end investigating what appear to be the unrelated disappearance of a mother, her daughter and their car during a day’s shopping, and the death of a thief in a house fire. Gunna and her team are faced with a set of riddles but as more people are quizzed it begins to emerge that all these unrelated incidents are in fact linked. And at the same time, two increasingly desperate lowlifes have no choice but to make some big decisions on how to get rid of their accident hostages …”

To find out more about Quentin Bates and his books pop on over to his website at www.graskeggur.com and follow him on Twitter @graskeggur

You can buy THIN ICE from Waterstones here, or from Amazon here

And be sure to check out all the fabulous stops on the THIN ICE Blog Tour …

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#InBitterChill Blog Tour: CTG Reviews In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

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cover image

What the blurb says: “Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.

Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that area closest to you.”

Out this month, Sarah Ward’s debut novel – In Bitter Chill – perfectly captures the hauntingly chilling atmosphere of the best Nordic Noir crime fiction, within a closer to home Derbyshire setting.

This intricate mystery follows Rachel Jones as she tries to piece together why Sophie Jenkins’s mother would commit suicide thirty years after the abduction. Now a professional genealogist, Rachel is no stranger to digging through public records to connect seemingly unrelated information and family histories. She starts putting her skills to use investigating the events around the time of Mrs Jenkins’s death, and in the process unravels a complex web of secrets and lies which have devastating consequences.

Meanwhile, DI Sadler, DS Palmer, and newbie DC Connie Childs are working the case too. As they wade through old case files from 1978 and the facts from Mrs Jenkins’s suicide, they are unable to find a connection. Then a woman is found murdered, and the mystery surrounding the cases deepens – someone is still guarding the secrets of the past, and they’ll kill to do so.

In Bitter Chill is a haunting debut. Beautifully written, with a complex and compelling mystery at its heart, it pulls you deep into the secretive community of Bampton from the first page to the last.

Highly recommended for fans of Nordic Noir and detective crime fiction.

To find out more about Sarah Ward hop on over to her website at www.crimepieces.com/ and follow her on Twitter @SarahWard1

 

[With thanks to Faber for my copy of In Bitter Chill]

 

And be sure to check out all the other fabulous stops on the blog tour …

In Bitter Chill blog tour

Orenda Books News: Cover Reveal – Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen

Today I’m super excited to reveal the cover of Orenda Book’s next novel by best selling author Gunnar Staalesen – WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE – and to tell you a bit about it …

WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE sees the return of PI Varg Veum. In September 1977, Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found.

Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge …

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Gunnar Staalesen has been dubbed “the Norwegian Chandler” and is the award-winning author of over 20 books, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE has been translated by Don Bartlett – the foremost translator of Norwegian crime fiction – who has also translated the books of Jo Nesbo, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Per Pettersen.

I’ve heard fabulous things about this book, and the cover looks really darkly chilling. It will be published in June 2016 – so make a note for next year’s must-read list.

It looks like another cracker from Orenda Books and I can’t wait to read it!

 

Be sure to hop on over to the Orenda Books website to find out more about this and all there other fantastic books at www.orendabooks.co.uk 

#InheritTheWind #BlogTour Guest Post: My Life with Varg Veum by Gunnar Staalesen

We Shall Inherit the Wind cover image

We Shall Inherit the Wind cover image

Today on the CTG blog I’m delighted to be hosting a guest post by best selling crime writer Gunnar Staalesen as part of the #InheritTheWind blog tour.

And so, over to Gunnar

I first met Varg Veum when he was 34 and I was 19 – almost 40 years ago. He had just opened his Private Investigator’s office on the Strand quay in Bergen, and I was working as a press secretary at the local theatre, Den Nationale Scene (The National Stage). Since then I have met him many, many times – at least every other year, in the beginning a little more often – and the result is 17 crime novels and about 15 short stories featuring my hero and good friend. I know him better with every year that passes, and I have no problem foreseeing what he is going to say – or what he will do in certain situations. Today we are both elderly people, I am 67 and he is – well, 72. However, because my books are set in the past, Varg Veum was only 59 in the last novel that was published here in Norway (None Is So Safe in Danger) with the action taking place in 2002, before his birthday. In We Shall Inherit the Wind, he is still a young man – only 56 years old …

Varg Veum is the modern kind of protagonist. He grows older, of course, but age is never a problem for a detective – even hardest-boiled ones. Hercule Poirot was around 70 when he started his career, and I guess Lew Archer must have been in his late sixties when we last met him. In August I will start writing my eighteenth novel about Varg Veum, and I have no plans to finish him off for many years yet. This is dependent upon my own health, of course, but my mother died when she was 94, my grandfather on that side when he was 93, so …

Throughout the years I have grown close to Varg Veum. When I first met him, he was newly divorced and had a five-year-old son. Today his son is a grown-up, and Varg Veum has just become a grandfather. Following his marriage, there have been several women in his life – natural for a freewheeling Private Eye like him – but for the last ten years he has been in a steady relationship with Karin Bjørge, who works at the Public Registration office. They were friends long before they became lovers, and she has become a very important part of this life. This goes some way to explaining the shock he is feeling in the opening chapters of We Shall Inherit the Wind, when something very dramatic has happened to Karin … I will say no more. You have to read the book.

Gunnar with the Varg Veum statue

Gunnar with the Varg Veum statue

I am often asked how much there is of me in Varg Veum, and the truth is that there isn’t much. I am not divorced, I do not drink as much aqua vita as he does, and I am not half as tough and witty as he is. But we are both kids from the same region in Bergen, a bit street-wise and definitely sharing the same view of the world around us, from more or less the same office. And when I drink my glass of aqua vita at the bar in Bergen where you can find Varg Veum’s corner, I always salute him, my closest friend for the last 40 years.

Skål! we say in Norwegian when we lift our glass. Skål, Varg! I say. Happy to have known you, and looking forward to the years to come. Perhaps, Varg, it is you and I who are going to inherit the wind.

A huge thank you to Gunnar Staalesen for making the CTG blog one of the stops on his #InheritTheWind blog tour.

 

We Shall Inherit the Wind is out now in ebook and on the 15th June in print.

Here’s the blurb: “1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he’s made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics. Then, in one of the most heart-stopping scenes in crime fiction, the first body appears…”

To find out more about Gunnar Staalesen and his books hop on over to www.orendabooks.co.uk and follow them on Twitter @OrendaBooks

And be sure to visit the other fabulous tour stops on the #InheritThe Wind tour …

 We Shall Inherit the Wind Blog Tour

 

Brand-new Independent publisher Orenda Books announces first titles

 

Exciting news about some new books to look forward to for crime thriller enthusiasts.

Brand-new independent publishing company Orenda Books, headed up by ex-Arcadia Books’ managing editor Karen Sullivan, have announced their first three authors.

First up is Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson and his books Snowblind and Dark Night. These are the first two books in the Dark Iceland series, which features young policeman Ari Thor, whose first case drags him straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. In the extreme, isolated setting the tension builds as the 24-hour darkness and unremitting snowstorms threaten to push Ari over the edge. Dark Night offers a tension of its own – two bright summer days fail to shed light on the identity of a murderer, as the action swings from Reykjavik to the small northern town of Siglufjörður, and Ari struggles to get his personal affairs in order against the background of an increasingly complex and chilling investigation. The first novel, Snowblind, will be published in spring 2015, to coincide with CrimeFest.

Next up is eco-thriller The Abrupt Physics of Dying, by Canadian-Australian author Paul E. Hardisty. Set in Yemen, The Abrupt Physics of Dying features Claymore Straker, an oil engineer struggling to forget his violent past. Hijacked by Islamic terrorists, Clay is given a choice: help uncover the cause of a mysterious sickness afflicting the village of Al Urush, close to the company’s oil-processing facility, or watch Abdulkader, his driver and close friend, die. As the country descends into civil war and village children start dying, Clay finds himself caught up in a ruthless struggle between opposing armies, controllers of the country’s oil wealth, Yemen’s shadowy secret service, and rival terrorist factions.

And last, but certainly not least, is David F. Ross whose beautifully rendered Ayrshire-set, coming-of-age story The Last Days of Disco draws comparisons with Roddy Doyle and Irvine Welsh.

So make sure you keep up to speed with all Orenda Books’ latest news about their books and authors by following them in the Twitterverse @OrendaBooks