REVIEW: The White Lioness by Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander #4)

Series: Kurt Wallander

Book Number: 4

Read this book for: realistic police procedure, history – Apartheid, mentions of historical figures, suspense, minimalist writing, Scandanavian/Nordic Noir

Quick Review: Another wonderful addition to the Wallander series; several different but overlapping and suspenseful storylines make this a satisfying read!

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Kurt Wallander is called in to investigate the execution-style murder of a Swedish housewife with a seemingly perfect existence. A series of strange circumstances around her death puts him on the trail of a killer that is poised to cause an entire nation to descend into chaos.

THE WHITE LIONESS is chronologically the fourth novel in the Wallander series, but the third in publishing order, following on the heels of THE DOGS OF RIGA. Although not strictly necessary or central to the plot, some of Wallander’s behaviour is informed by and makes reference to the events of the previous novel, so I would suggest picking that one up first. In comparison to the prior novels in the series, I enjoyed THE WHITE LIONESS more than THE DOGS OF RIGA, but still not quite as much as FACELESS KILLERS.

In THE WHITE LIONESS, Mankell continues his trend of connecting the somewhat sleepy police force in Ystad to major global events through crime. While I have always felt that Mankell’s minimalist writing style was best suited to the clean and occasionally bleak Scandinavian countries, he uses Wallander to great effect as we watch him try to come to grips with the world’s major political issues as they bring problems to his own front door.

Interestingly, as Wallander’s cases become increasingly vast, we get to se more of his inner struggles. His behaviour is increasingly unpredictable, erratic and irrational – although somehow as a reader you can begin to understand his emotional reactions. Every novel opens the door a little further into Wallander’s state of mind, and that fact alone is almost enough to recommend this book on.

As for the plot, this is where THE WHITE LIONESS really shines in comparison to THE DOGS OF RIGA, with multiple interwoven and overlapping plot lines, and layer upon layer of subterfuge. It’s an excellently penned, satisfyingly complex thriller, as well as a great detective story.

I do want to point out that this edition is not perfect; I noticed several typos and defects that would benefit from a closer look by an editor. The minimalist prose is in this book almost exaggerated by the translator – I would love to see it a little more refined. Happily, this did not detract too badly from the enjoyment of reading this novel!

Pick up THE WHITE LIONESS if you are a Scandinavian or Nordic Noir fan, or even if you just love a good thriller! You will not be disappointed.

REVIEW: The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell (Kurt Wallander #3)

 

Series: Kurt Wallander

Book Number: 3

Read this book for: realistic police procedure, Cold War influence, gritty espionage thriller, straightforward plot, minimalist writing, Scandanavian/Nordic Noir

Quick Review: Decent read; while the twists and turns of the espionage element are unsurprising, the gritty details of the day-to-day prevent this novel from becoming unbelievable.

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Kurt Wallander returns in his second novel to investigate two bodies that have washed up in a liferaft. Instead of being able to hand off the case when he discovers they have come from another country, he is drawn into a maze of corruption and politics he is unprepared for. Will his unwilling involvement cost him his life?

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REVIEW: SoHo Sins by Richard Vine

Series: N/A

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: moral ambiguity, twisted and gritty crimes, sexual content, noir, minimalist writing, philosophical moments

Quick Review: A subtle, minimalist portrait of a life lived in a moral grey area – not so much a whodunnit as an exploration of right and wrong – but utterly compelling. So hard to put down!

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Philip and Amanda Oliver are pillars of New York’s SoHo art scene, until Amanda is found murdered in their loft, and Philip – suffering from a degenerative brain disease – confesses to the killing. But he doesn’t remember being in Los Angeles at the time, thousands of miles away. Art dealer Jackson Wyeth is asked to help his friend, PI Ed Hogan, investigate the killing on behalf of Philip’s lawyer. Trying to save his friend Philip from jail time for a crime he likely didn’t commit, Wyeth begins to peel back the layers surrounding the family, and finds depravity there that shocks even him, despite his SoHo lifestyle… Continue reading REVIEW: SoHo Sins by Richard Vine

REVIEW: Lawless and the Flowers of Sin by William Sutton (Lawless #2)

Series: Lawless

Book Number: 2

Read this book for: Victorian London, gritty crime fiction, vice investigations, complex investigations, sexual content

Quick Review: A twisting, semi-historical set of intertwined mysteries, steeped in the repressed but explosive sexual landscape of Victorian London. A somewhat bleak read, but an intriguing one!

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In 1863, Scotland Yard detective Campbell Lawless is assigned the thankless and seemingly impossible task of making an inventory of houses of ill repute and a census of London’s “working girls”. Facing mounting political pressure, Lawless wades into a network of underground dealings beyond prostitution, from erotic booksellers to thieves, and discovers a secret so dark that many will stop at nothing to prevent it coming to light…

Continue reading REVIEW: Lawless and the Flowers of Sin by William Sutton (Lawless #2)

REVIEW: Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson (Dark Iceland #3)

Series: Dark Iceland (Ari Thor)

Book Number: 3

Read this book for: realistic police procedure, contemporary mystery, minimalist writing, traditional whodunnit, Scandanavian/Nordic Noir, journalist investigator

Quick Review: Slightly different from the rest of the series, given that Ari Thor doesn’t do all the investigating, but still a beautifully written and compelling addition to a must-read series. If you’ve read the rest of the Dark Iceland series, pick this one up!

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A man is found near a remote and unoccupied home, brutally and gruesomely killed during the 24-hour light of the Arctic summer. Ari Thor Arason is assigned to help the lead investigators. He throws himself into it, despite being only peripherally connected to the case, partly to distract himself from his problems with his girlfriend. Meanwhile, a journalist who is dealing with her own demons escapes the volcanic ash cloud that hangs over Reykjavik to drive north and begin her own investigation. As they unwind the less-than-legal threads of the victim’s life, neither of them realizes another innocent life hangs in the balance…

Continue reading REVIEW: Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson (Dark Iceland #3)

REVIEW: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #2)

Series: Cormoran Strike

Book Number: 2

Read this book for: realistic investigation, alibi-breaking, literary mystery, enjoyable prose, grisly murder, some lighter moments

Quick Review: Great addition to a very promising series, this book and the characters feel familiar from the beginning. Strike and Robin are old friends to readers, and you should definitely pick this up to learn more about them as they solve another complex and engaging mystery.

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Private detective Cormoran Strike is hired by the wife of missing novelist Owen Quine, who she believes has gone off by himself for a few days as he had done before, to locate him. But something about the case catches Strike’s attention, and the unflattering portraits of many of Quine’s literary contemporaries in his latest novel have made him a lot of enemies. Following a grisly discovery by Strike, he is once again at odds with the police in order to help clear up a seemingly unsolvable mystery in order to save an innocent person from prison.

Continue reading REVIEW: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (Cormoran Strike #2)

REVIEW: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

Series: N/A

Book Number: N/A

Read this book for: uniquely suspenseful thriller, fantastic writing, gripping story, brillian character drama, whodunnit

Quick Review: A unique, brilliant, and utterly gripping thriller that will not let you put it down once you start it. Absolutely add this one to your to-read list – you will not be disappointed!

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A private jet departs Martha’s Vineyard for New York, carrying two wealthy families and one unknown painter. Sixteen minutes later, it plummets into the ocean, the only survivors a four-year-old boy and Scott, the painter. As the histories of the passengers and crew come to light, the ultimate question gets harder and harder to answer: who caused the plane to crash, and why?

Continue reading REVIEW: Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

a mystery lover's exploration of the best reads in the crime genre.

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