Monthly Archives: November 2011

Midwinter Sacrifice by Mons Kallentoft

Published by Hodder & Stoughton

Earlier this year, thanks to Hodder & Stoughton, I had the pleasure of meeting Swedish crime writer Mons Kallentoft at the aptly named Bleeding Heart restaurant in London – a perfect setting to eat drink and discuss all things dark and murderous.

I was a little disappointed to find that, once again, here was a crime writer who, whilst able to put some very nasty imagery on the page, was a genuinely really nice guy and dedicated family man.  He told me that he does sometimes have to shut himself away in his writing room, but that his children are very accommodating and leave him be when he closes the door or puts his headphones on to set to writing his ice cold dark fiction.

The cover artwork for the novel is, in my humble opinion, one of the most startling and horrific images seen on a crime book jacket this year.  The frozen lower legs and feet with the trees in the background instantly telling a story and putting me in mind of the vampire movie ‘Let the Right One In’.  It’s probably the only book jacket I’ve held this year that I’ve wanted to hide away from my children as it was bound to raise questions as to what the story was about.  In truth, this is one I’ll certainly recommend they read when old enough to do so.

Whilst it might be argued that we’ve certainly had a fair share of new Scandinavian Crime authors in the last couple of years, once again here we have another very welcome and worthy addition to the ranks.  The central character of investigator Malin Fors is a very involved and involving character, with her baggage of distant husband, wayward daughter and being first on the scene to find the body of a man hanging in the woods.  Rumours abound that the killing may relate to a cult, to some local animal killings and an event known as the Midwinter Sacrifice and sends Fors on an investigation into a family who may shelter some very dark secrets and may unlock the puzzle.

Comparisons to the character of Sarah Lund in the runaway success tv series ‘The Killing’ would be very fairly placed and, for me, Fors is also not dissimilar in her life/work balance and situation to Mankell’s Wallander.

Kallentoft writes his female lead very well, and he writes this gripping tale extremely well.

More please and soon.

Winter’s coming and I need another of these to settle down to read whilst the snow falls outside my window.


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The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Published by Harper Collins.

I’m a bit of a sucker for most books which make some comment or have the most tenuous link to the Jack the Ripper murders and have already read the best of these from this year’s batch: Now You See Me by SJ Bolton.

Having said that, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson came as a very pleasant surprise to me.  With a blurb by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments) and cover art which suggested a more romantic YA title, this first ‘Shades of London’ book manages to traverse the divide between YA and mainstream adult fiction very nicely indeed.  Despite the book’s opening with young Louisiana High School student, Rory Deveaux, settling into her London boarding school dorm and all of the ‘getting to know you’ banter between her and the other girls, this early forties male found the tone and the story very entertaining as Rory finds her way through her early days at school against the backdrop of what appear to be a series of copycat Ripper killings.

And then, Rory becomes directly involved in the case, being the only person to witness a man who appears to be the killer, despite the fact that nobody else with her saw the man who passed right by her.

She begins to discover that nothing is quite as it seems, dorm-mates might not be who they claim to be, and the Police – well, they are something else entirely.  Rory has skills she is unaware of until the ripper killings begin to reveal them to her, and the Police – or the Ghost Police (the Shades) – want her to help them put a stop to the slaughter that appears the work of a phantom.

The Name of the Star delivers both as a nice twist on a modern Ripper tale and as a new supernatural crime book which spells great things ahead for a series and will make you consider those foggy London streets this winter in a disturbing new way.


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What’s going on?

What’s going on? – you may well ask….

Well, mainly I’ve been laid up with rotten cold/cough/man-flu/whatever but has left me somewhat felled over recent weeks.

I’ve also got underway on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and have nearly 10,000 of the required minimum 50,000 words for November under my belt so far, before work stuff got in the way – back to that soon.

Very pleased to have my Stephen King 11.22.63 review posted on the great We Love This Book website – you can see it here.

Back soon – hopefully.

All best


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