Blog Tour – May 2022 – Kalmann – Joachim B Schmidt (trans – Jamie Lee Searle)

An Icelandic crime fiction book – there’s very little that crimeworm finds more appealing, is there?

No, there isn’t, and as I’ve said before (and I’m far from the only person to say it!) Iceland heavily punches above it’s weight when it comes to crime fiction writers. Although not actually Icelandic (he’s Swiss) Schmidt emigrated there in 2007, so can be granted honorary status in the “Icelandic crime writer file”! And on this evidence, he’s every bit as good as most of the others – and that’s high praise indeed…

So what is going on in Rauferhofn that needs investigation, then?

Well, not a lot generally goes on in Rauferhofn – and in fact, Kalmann is the self-appointed Sheriff of the town, with badge, gun, and boots (to boot!) There isn’t any crime though – until local bigwig and all-round unpopular chap Robert MacKenzie goes missing. Round about the same time, Kalmann finds a large pool of blood up at the local (half-finished) Henge (like Stonehenge, but half-finished!) Cue the arrival of police from Reykjavik – ready to question Kalmann on his find of the pool of blood!

I should probably explain that Kalmann is a somewhat quirky character – he obviously has learning difficulties, and is incredibly big and strong, but his way of seeing the world is rather sweet and often he hits the nail bang on the head with his observations. He clearly greatly misses his grandfather, who taught him about shark fishing – so he can earn a living – and hunting and everything he needs to know to keep a house. The rest he appears to have learnt from American television.

Did you enjoy this new name in Icelandic crime fiction?

I really did – I enjoyed the story, and learning about the various characters who live in the sparsely-populated town of Raufarhofn. Kalmann himself, and his observations, are an utter joy. I really would love to hear from him again – in fact, it would be a crime if Joachim Schmidt didn’t bring him back!

Absolutely not to be missed!

I’d like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things TTours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour, and Bitter Lemon publishing for the ARC. This review consists of my own views and is unbiased.

Author Joachim B Schmidt

Check out the other reviews on the Blog Tour!

BLURB: Kalmann is the self-appointed Sheriff of Raufarhöfn. Day by day, he treks the wide plains which surround the almost deserted village, hunts Arctic foxes and lays bait in the sea — to catch the gigantic Greenland sharks he turns into the Icelandic fermented delicacy, hákarl. There is nothing anyone need worry about. Kalmann has everything under control.

Inside his head, however, the wheels sometimes spin backwards. One winter, after he discovers a pool of blood in the snow, the swiftly unfolding events threaten to overwhelm him. But he knows that his native wisdom and pure-hearted courage will see him through. There really is no need to worry. How can anything go wrong with Kalmann in charge? He knows everything a man needs to know about life – well almost.

Blog Tour – May 2022 – The Murder Rule – Dervla McTiernan

So, a legal thriller – for a long time this has been one of your favourite genres, hasn’t it?

Yep, I absolutely adore legal thrillers, from Scott Turow and early John Grisham onwards, and there are some real belters around now – look at Steve Cavanagh and Gillian McAllister, who have both skyrocketed up there. Dervla McKirwan is heading that way too…this is a cracking legal thriller, set in Maine and based around the Innocence Project, which works on freeing wrongly convicted prisoners.

Tell us a little bit about the book’s plot…

It’s about Hannah Rokeby, who manages to get a place on the University of Virginia’s Innocence Project, as she wants to work on a particular case – that of Michael Dandridge. Her interest in this particular case is revealed when we go back in time, and see the diary of her mother, Laura, an alcoholic, who Hannah has taken care of for much of her life.

Hannah uses some underhand tactics to get on to the Innocence Project, so immediately you know she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. And what she wants is not to see Michael Dandridge released, but to remain in prison – and the reason why is buried deep in the past, and revealed through the diary.

However, as Hannah gets to know the other students, particularly Sean and Camila, she begins to question the ethics of some of her decisions, and ends up questioning some of the beliefs she’s held her entire life.

This is a book of twists and turns, and truth and lies, and it’s a real rollercoaster read – one of these books that keep you turning just, “one more page…”

So you’d recommend this as an exciting read that’ll keep the reader engrossed?

Totally! It’s a very fast read, and on more than one occasion I woke up with it starting to get light, my glasses still on, and this book still on my knee. I think that says it all! Dervla McKirwan knows how to grab hold of you, and my only complaint is the end feels just a tad rushed. But maybe that’s just my disappointment at the book ending! I’ve got a couple of her earlier novels, and reading this ensures I will definitely be digging them out – she’s a talented author, who knows how to spin a yarn!

Don’t miss it!

With thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things TTours, who invited me on this blog tour, and Harper Colllins for the ARC. This is an unbiased review, and the opinions are my own.

Author Dervla McTiernan

Check out some of the other reviews by the fabulous bloggers on this tour!

BLURB: No one is innocent in this story.

First Rule: Make them like you.
Second Rule: Make them need you.
Third Rule: Make them pay.

They think I’m a young, idealistic law student, that I’m passionate about reforming a corrupt and brutal system.

They think I’m working hard to impress them.

They think I’m here to save an innocent man on death row.

They’re wrong. I’m going to bury him.

Blog Tour – May 2022 – Six Days In Rome – Francesca Giacco

Now this is something a little different…some vicarious travel for crimeworm…?

Yes, seeing as with all my medical accoutrements a trip to the doctor’s is a major operation, I thought this may be a wee taste of something different – and, oh my it was!

How so? What made it so good?

It was one of those books you deliberately read slowly, as it’s taken you to a glorious city in a really immersive way – rather like Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil by John Berendt does to Savannah, Georgia (minus the murder trial, though!) As that is one of my favourite books ever, that’s high praise indeed!

After the sudden end of her relationship, Emilia abandons the idea of a romantic trip to the Eternal City and instead turns it into a solo one, and a bit of a soul-searching one at that, aided by John, an ex-pat she meets. She starts to look at her past (and her family and friends), as well as all her possible futures, afresh, aided by her new friend.

The fact she is an artist is reflected by her highly observant character. You do have to be ready for jumps between Emilia’s memories and the present day, but they aren’t difficult to differentiate.

So it really was a bit of a holiday from Scotland then?

It was, wonderfully so! It’s more of a stream-of-consciousness tale from Emilia, rather than the action-packed book I reviewed earlier today, so might appeal to a different audience. But good writing is good writing, and us bloggers get used to different genres – it’s something I think does you good, as I always feel refreshed when I step out of the crime fiction world, adore it though I do. It’s incredible for a first book – beautiful, poetic, immersive; transporting you to another city and another country every time you picked it up.

It’ll definitely appeal to fans of travel writing, and those who loved their travels to Rome or are planning some in the future. A lovely, lovely book, coming out just in time for the summer. I adored this introduction to a highly promising young writer.

Highly recommended!

With thanks to Emily at Headline Publishing Group for inviting me on this blog tour, and for sending me an ARC. This review is my own opinion and is unbiased.

Author Francesca Giacco

BLURB: Emilia arrives in Rome reeling from heartbreak and reckoning with her past. What was supposed to be a romantic trip has, with the sudden end of a relationship, become a solitary one instead. As she wanders, music, art, food, and the beauty of Rome’s wide piazzas and narrow streets color Emilia’s dreamy, but weighty experience of the city. She considers the many facets of her life, drifting in and out of memory, following her train of thought wherever it leads.

While climbing a hill near Trastevere, she meets John, an American expat living a seemingly idyllic life. They are soon navigating an intriguing connection, one that brings pain they both hold into the light.
As their intimacy deepens, Emilia starts to see herself anew, both as a woman and as an artist. For the first time in her life, she confronts the ways in which she’s been letting her father’s success as a musician overshadow her own. Forced to reckon with both her origins and the choices she’s made, Emilia finds herself on a singular journey—and transformed in ways she never expected.
Equal parts visceral and cerebral, Six Days in Rome is an ode to the Eternal City, a celebration of art and creativity, and a meditation on self-discovery. 

Blog Tour – May 2022 – May God Forgive – Alan Parks

A particular favourite of crimeworm’s, this series is – I’m making that clear from the off! Some thoughts on why…

It’s set in Glasgow, erstwhile home of myself for 18 years and my partner’s for the first 38 of his. I was lucky enough to catch the first book in the series, loved it, and have waited avidly for each one to come out since then. There’s so much that’s familiar about the books – I think we all enjoy reading about a setting we know and love. Plus the level of accuracy is really high – names of pubs, shops and restaurants in the mid ’70s are all spot on, according to older friends and family.

Rather like Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain (a book I finally read this week – review to come), Alan Parks had a highly successful first career (his in the music industry in London, working for London Records; Douglas Stuart worked for some big names in fashion in the US). This is a second act, career-wise, and, like Stuart, it looks like being even more successful than his first career. I’ve read him say in interviews that his work, much of which involved making videos for well-known bands, has helped in his writing, as it made him highly observant and detail-orientated. His habit of walking around Glasgow, soaking in the city, also helps – something I used to love to do, too. (And in Glasgow, people love a gab!) I’d definitely agree with it – he knows how to portray the city so accurately in both its ugliness and beauty. And in this one, he’s definitely got his work cut out for him – it’s a busy book…

What’s happening in May 1974 then?

Well, we have more horrendous crimes – each month gets worse! And McCoy’s in no fit state to be investigating anything, in his boss’s Murray’s opinion, having been not long discharged from hospital with his stomach ulcer. However, when an arson attack on Dolly’s Hairdressing Salon in Royston leaves three women and two children, the city is in uproar. With three arrested lads appearing at the High Court amidst ugly crowd scenes and confusion, the van carrying them is ramraided and they are kidnapped. (This reminded me a little of a real-life incident many years ago when a police wagon carrying IRA prisoners is held-up as it’s about to turn into Duke Street to the old prison there, and the prisoners were sprung – they used to say you could still see the bulletholes in the wall of the old prison but I never had a chance to check.) Murray reluctantly lets McCoy investigate on the quiet (or on the qt, as they say in Glasgow.) Wattie has his hands full attempting to investigate the dead body of an unidentified girl in Sighthill Cemetery, but he’s slowly gaining confidence and coming into his own, out from under McCoy’s shadow. If that’s not enough to be going on with, there’s the apparent suicide of Alistair “Dirty Ally” Drummond, a scud mag salesman, who jumps from the top of a men’s hostel – apparently of his own volition, and this investigation lands in McCoy’s lap – he may still have ulcer problems (and no bloody wonder, eh?) but it’s all hands on deck. If that weren’t enough to be going on with, it looks like there’s shaping up to be a gang war between two of the city’s leading gangsters – and nope, for once Stevie Cooper is not one of them!

Phew! All hand on deck indeed!

Oh, that’s not all…one of the kidnapped lads allegedly responsible for the arson attack is found dead, horribly tortured and with a note saying, “One down, two to go.” Given that they were under the care of the police at the time, it’s a race against time to discover where the author two are…

Also, we find out more about McCoy’s background when a face from his distant past makes an appearance. And naturally Stevie Cooper – McCoy’s boyhood protector – is on hand to help out when help from the seedier side of the city is needed.

Let’s hope Harry’s got plenty of Pepto Bismol in his drawer…

How did this rate against the rest of the series?

Parks is getting more and more confident at dealing with multiple storylines, and it’s hugely enjoyable getting to know the characters better. The banter is, as ever in Glasgow, on the “slagging each other off for amusement” side, and is as good as it’s been since the first book. Rarely have I seen a series get so good so quickly. The biggest downside? Waiting until next June for the next book!

Rebus and Rankin may have Edinburgh long under-hand, but head 50 miles west and it’s starting to look like Parks and McCoy’s territory…not that I’m looking to start a book-related gangland war, or anything…;))

An early contender for one of the books of the year (not to mention the McIlvanney Prize…)

With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour, hosted by Random Things TTours, and to Canongate Books for the lovely ARC. This is my opinion and is an unbiased review.

The first five books of the series, and our author Alan Parks

Follow all the other great bloggers on the blog tour of this fantastic piece of Tartan Noir

BLURB: Glasgow is a city in mourning. An arson attack on a hairdresser’s has left five dead. Tempers are frayed and sentiments running high.

When three youths are charged the city goes wild. A crowd gathers outside the courthouse but as the police drive the young men to prison, the van is rammed by a truck, and the men are grabbed and bundled into a car. The next day, the body of one of them is dumped in the city centre. A note has been sent to the newspaper: one down, two to go.

Detective Harry McCoy has twenty-four hours to find the kidnapped boys before they all turn up dead, and it is going to mean taking down some of Glasgow’s most powerful people to do it . . .

Blog Tour – May 2022 – Little Drummer – Kjell Ola Dahl

Another bright shiny new Orenda title – and by the sound of the author’s name, it could possibly be more ScandiNoir, a favourite crimeworm genre…is this right?

It is, and it’s another in the thoroughly enjoyable Oslo Detectives series. Orenda just have the most wonderful connections internationally (as well as some fantastic British books), but it’s particularly in the Nordic/ScandiNoir region they seem to really outdo themselves. However, this book takes place not just in Norway – at least not for Frolich, who ends up in Africa with a new sidekick. Lise is a journalist who has her own investigation ongoing into the same corruption scandal. She’s an interesting new character and ensures Frolich has someone to “bounce off” while abroad as they work on their respective investigations.

Ooh! Evil goings on in high places! There’s nothing better! Fill me in with some more about it…!

What’s initially assumed to be a girl found dead in a car with a straightforward drug overdose leads (one of, at least!) our mismatched duo across the world, into an investigation into a scam involving the distribution of foreign aid, as well as HIV medication, which is so desperately needed in Africa.

Now, when you get this high-up in the web of corruption, the people involved are obviously really nasty, poisonous characters, for whom life is cheap because money is, to them, everything.

Didn’t this remind you a bit of a book you read several years ago?

It did – the wonderful novel, The Constant Gardener, by the much-missed John le Carre (it also shares a title with one of his novels, without a “The” at the start and a “Girl” at the end!) I don’t think any author will take offence to being compared to such a great writer – although from what I recall the entirety of that book took place in Africa (it’s also a great film, starring Rachel Weisz and Ralph Fiennes.)

What else would give you reason to recommend this book?

As ever with Don Bartlett in the role of translator, everything is Anglified smoothly enough so that nothing jars, but the original flavour of the author’s writing doesn’t get lost. There’s also good banter between our investigators. This is a series I’m working my way through, albeit slightly out of order, and I’m really enjoying getting to know the characters.

Corruption on a high scale is something I really find an intriguing subject, and this book really hit the spot for me – a well-written, beautifully paced novel that saw me falling asleep with Kindle in hand on more than one night!

Very highly recommmended!

With thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to participate in this tour and to her and Karen at Orenda Books for my ARC. This has in no way influenced my review, which is unbiased.

Author Kjell Ola Dahl

Please keep following the fabulous Blog Tour!

BLURB: When a woman is found dead in her car in a Norwegian parking garage, everyone suspects an overdose … until a forensics report indicates that she was murdered. Oslo Detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda discover that the victim’s Kenyan scientist boyfriend has disappeared, and their investigations soon lead them into the shady world of international pharmaceutical deals. 

While Gunnarstranda closes in on the killers in Norway, Frølich and Lise, his new journalist ally, travel to Africa, where they make a series of shocking discoveries about exploitation and corruption in the distribution of foreign aid and essential HIV medications. 

When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, all three investigators face incalculable danger, spanning two continents. And not everyone will make it out alive…

Exploding the confines of the Nordic Noir genre, 
Little Drummer is a sophisticated, fast-paced, international thriller with a searingly relevant, shocking premise that will keep you glued to the page.