Jorn Lier Horst¬†– Three Times the Fun!


I discovered Jorn Lier Horst while reading the Petrona Prize shortlist. Boy, was I blown away by The Caveman! I quickly started reading his other novels, balancing my eagerness with keeping a couple to read later in the year. The novels are published out of order in English translation so you always get little background summaries at the start which manage to avoid any spoilers. My brief comments on each of the novels below probably don’t do the novels justice but I am pushed for time and all three are filled with lovely plot details that you will want to discover yourselfūüôā

The Caveman

Only three houses away from the policeman’s home, a man has been sitting dead in front of his television set for four months. There are no indications that anything criminal has taken place. Viggo Hansen was a man nobody ever noticed, even though he lived in the midst of a close-knit community. His death doesn’t hit the headlines, but there is something about the case that catches the attention of William Wisting’s journalist daughter, Line, and she decides to write a newspaper article with a different twist for the festive season: the portrait of a completely anonymous and obscure person whose death goes unremarked and unmourned.

This is a genuine page turner that has the perfect blend of small town Scandi noir with big FBI investigations. Line’s independent investigation works really well alongside the police investigation. This is one of my favourite novels of the year so far. If you like crime you won’t be disappointed. A worthy winner of the Petrona Award.


The Hummel case has bothered William Wisting for more than six months. The investigation into what happened when taxi-driver Jens Hummel disappeared has been fruitless, and he has to endure criticism. A crucial discovery directs suspicion at Dan Roger ‘Danny’ Brodin. The problem is, however, that Danny is already in prison, convicted of another murder. Wisting is accustomed to building up a solid case for the prosecution, but this time things are different. Now he has to use all his expertise and experience to unpick a case that other people already believe to be over and done with.

This is Lier Horst’s most recent novel to be published in English. It felt a lot slower that The Caveman, perhaps a bit more introspective like a Karin Fossum novel or Beck. I enjoyed it and expect it to make the Petrona shortlist next year. However, for me I felt it lacked a bit of punch as Wisting seemed a bit more aged in this novel and was investigating a case retrospectively.


A police report of a shoe containing a severed foot washed up on the sand introduces CI William Wisting. Soon a second is washed up, but it is another left. Has there been some kind of terrible accident at sea? Does it indicate the killing and dismembering of two victims? Is there a link with the unsolved mystery of a number of disappearances in the Larvik area in recent months? In this gripping police procedural, Wisting gradually gets to the bottom of the mystery with the help of his all too human colleagues and his journalist daughter, Line.

Another great page turner, a bit closer to The Caveman in pace than Ordeal. Line was investigating an interesting story and the novel had the right amount of reflections on human nature that you would expect in a Scandi crime novel. The end was a little more more dramatic than I expected but definitely not over the top.


Overall – Is Jorn Lier Horst Scandi crime’s best kept secret? I think so!


Peter James and DS Roy Grace


I read a lot of reviews for Peter James earlier this year when his latest DS Roy Grace novel was published. I am quite a methodical reader and decided to start at the beginning and read a lot of Dead Simple while travelling to and from Cambridge a few times over the summer. Peter James tells a good story and I can see why he has such a cult following!

Dead Simple

It was meant to be a harmless stag-night prank. A few hours later Michael Harrison has disappeared and his friends are dead. With only three days to the wedding, Detective Superintendent Roy Grace – a man haunted by the shadow of his own missing wife – is contacted by Michael’s beautiful, distraught fiancee, Ashley Harper. Grace discovers that the one man who ought to know Michael Harrison’s whereabouts is saying nothing. But then he has a lot more to gain than anyone¬†realises.

I was a little concerned about how much I would enjoy the stag night antics and prank. However my fear that it would all be a little cliched and forced were completely unfounded and I quickly got into the story. Boy, could I feel the claustrophobia at some points! While I’m reading a lot more crime these days I’m certainly not a connoisseur but I could easily see how DS Grace is a unique character and adds to a busy genre. Peter James has put a lot of thought into his lead character. I liked his genuine interest in mystics and fortune tellers as well as the story of his missing wife. I’m glad I decided to read the books in order as the story about Sandy’s disappearance is obviously going to be a slow burn and I don’t want any spoilers. This book also treats the reader to a Wolf Creek-esque strand which I loved.

Looking Good Dead

Tom Bryce did what any decent person would do. But within hours of picking up the CD that had been left behind on the train seat next to him, and attempting to return it to its owner, he is the sole witness to a vicious murder. Then his young family are threatened with their lives if he goes to the police and from that moment the killing of the Bryce family becomes a mere formality – and a grisly attraction. They are looking good dead.

Another great story that I read quite quickly. Some of the explanatory paragraphs seem to be taken directly from book one but it didn’t matter to me as having read the first novel I didn’t need to know these details again. Obviously after the success of book one Peter James has branched out a bit more with the number of characters and hasn’t included so much detail about the psychics and Sandy’s disappearance which are my favourite parts! I must say that I do like Cleo though.

Not Dead Enough

On the night Brian Bishop murdered his wife he was sixty miles away, asleep in bed at the time. At least that’s the way it looks to Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, who is called in to investigate the kinky slaying of beautiful socialite, Katie Bishop. Roy Grace soon starts coming to the conclusion that Bishop has performed the apparently impossible feat of being in two places at once. Has someone stolen his identity or is he simply a very clever liar?¬†

On the balance, another great book. I sort of solved the crime towards the end as I could see where it was going but on the plus side there is a huge Sandy sub-plot. Yay!


Overall, this is an enjoyable and easy to read crime series that you’ll get the most out of if you read in order. The first book has been the best as you can see how much love Peter James has used in crafting Roy Grace. I suspect I’ll be up to date with the series by the end of the year (book twelve) as I’m already on to book five.


Reading Round Up – May-September 2016

Well, it has been quite a few months, hasn’t it? I knew I’d neglect this blog during most of May and June as that is always the busiest time of the year for me. I thought I’d get right back on to it but the summer here in London has been glorious which has kept me outside a lot, and a house move and bathroom reno have not helped the situation much.

So, again I look to the bloggers who always post regularly with great admiration – I know it’s not a competition but I¬†do envy those who keep their blog going all year round.

However, I have been reading my usual four or so books a month. I’ve read some amazing books and to catch up on reviews they are going to have to be short and snappy. I’m sure the authors will understandūüôā Hopefully I can still do justice to them all.

Two main trends have emerged in my reading these past few months – I’m mostly reading crime fiction, and I am drifting further and further away from the recently published books with all the hype. Neither of these are necessarily a bad thing!

Now for two belated comments on prizes:

Petrona Award

This is the first time I have ever read a full shortlist and I was so lucky that there was not one weak link in the list. I picked Jorn Lier Horst’s The Caveman as my winner. I managed to get this prediction out on Twitter before the prize was announced and lo and behold it was the winner. It’s a fantastic crime novel so I was thrilled.

Miles Franklin

I was hugeley excited when A.S Patric’s Black Rock White City made the shortlist, and even posted about why it should win. I was worried it may not have been the version of Australia the judges were looking for but luckily it was. Congratulations A.S Patric – one year on and your novel still affects me.

Pick of the Month/s

Out of all 13 books in the image above – The Caveman by Jorn Lier Horst. I couldn’t put it down and it introduced me to a new author who had 4 other books for me to read!

Coming Up

13 short and snappy reviews coming your way!

I also hope to get my Japanese Lit challenge underway.



Literary Connections: Scandi Twists


I had a great time watching Follow the Money. How much more Scandi can you get – a crime story about big business, alternate energy sources and wind farms. This makes me want to read Gunnar Staaleson’s We Shall Inherit the Wind which is a crime novel with a wind farm setting.


My favourite character in Follow the Money was Nicky. Would anyone disagree with this? How fantastic he was from Jutland like my Department Q hero, Carl Morck.

Jorn Lier Horst, where have you been my whole life? After binging on Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series last year, I’ve been searching for a new series to be obsessed by. Now I have met William Wisting.¬†My sincerest apologies to Karin Fossum – ¬†The Drowned Boy¬†was next on my reading list but I fear I will be sidetracked by Lier Horst and Norway for the next few weeks…


April 2016 Reading Round Up

I only read four books this month but they were all wonderfully enjoyable so I don’t feel left wanting as I do some months. I had hoped to finish my Australian Women Writer’s Challenge this month but am still one book short of the Franklin level (10 books). Hopefully this will be rectified next month!

AWW Bingo Challenge

I was really excited this month to launch the Australian Women Writer’s Bingo Challenge. With the help of Elizabeth, Sue and a few others in the team, I’ve put together two Bingo Cards that keen AWW readers can try and fill in before 31 October. Books from 1st January can be included and there will be prizes for both Australian and international participants. Looks like I now have a target of 18 AWW titles to read in order to fill in both cards!

Miles Franklin Longlist

This is the first year in a while that I like the sound of most books on the Miles Franklin Longlist. I am pleased by this as I must say that the Stella Prize Shortlist didn’t necessarily excite me this year although there were a few on the longlist that I still want to read. Anyway, while I have only read two titles on the MF Longlist I was so thrilled to see AS Patric’s Black Rock White City selected that I wrote a post¬†about how fabulous the novel is and how I feel it would be an incredibly deserving winner. As the SMH summarises the novel brings European modernism to the Australian suburbs. Go Graffito!

Bookish and Non-Bookish Posts

I had great fun this month with Book Spine Poetry – I wish I had time to write more!

I was so excited after my 12 month and final laser eye surgery check that I decided to write a post about my experience and the wonderful service I received. It meant I had to branch out and create a new ‘other’ category for my blog. Fittingly, I then discovered that this was the 200th post I published! (Thank you Accuvision for my wonderful vision and my ‘new pair of glasses’ – cryptic!).

Operation Read My Own Books

As it is most likely I will be moving house later this year, I am forcing myself making an effort to read read some of the many novels on my bookshelves, particularly those that I have already moved with twice in the last decade.
I did make a very small dent in the pile but as I loved The Women in Black so much I plan to keep my copy so I can read it again. I never hold on to books so this is really challenging my instinct to run it down to the charity shop!

Pick of the Month

If you can’t guess, it is Madeleine St John’s The Women in Black. I loved every page!

women in black


Coming Up

I hope to read some of the crime novels I’ve not yet read on the Petrona shortlist.¬†Curling up with one will make perfect Bank Holiday Monday reading. In fact, there are some on last year’s shortlist that tempt me too. Any recommendations?



An Endless Supply of Misfortune: A Spring Betrayal

spring betrayal#A Spring Betrayal by Tom Callaghan

This was one of the rare times I¬†have been¬†bit cheeky and contacted the publisher for an advance review copy as I adored the first in the series and couldn’t wait until the publication date! What follows¬†is my honest review.

Inspector Akyl Borubaev’s Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is a lawless post-Soviet metropolis rife with corruption and vice. Several children’s bodies have been found buried together – all tagged with name bands. In his search for the truth behind the brutal killings, Inspector Borubaev has¬†no one to turn to outside his sometime lover, the beautiful undercover Uzbek agent Saltanat Umarova.

A Spring Betrayal is the second book in Tom Callaghan’s Kyrgyz-set crime series. It is quite the action packed police drama in an unfamiliar setting and I enjoyed reading it. I particularly love the setting as it combines untouched natural beauty with drab Soviet poverty.

The disservice Tom Callaghan has created for himself is that his first novel A Killing Winter is so spectacular it would be hard for anyone to surpass, including himself! The first novel provided a laser sharp insight into the social problems that plague Kyrgyzstan and while A Spring Betrayal looks at problems associated with orphanages, international adoption and child exploitation it misses the bullet that made my heart sad in the first novel.

As you can see, I am now starting to write like a melancholic Kyrgyz, just as Callaghan does so well. I don’t know much about Kyrgyzstan but Callaghan seems to capture the mood of a nation perfectly. His writing is filled with precision and in one turn of phrase he can hauntingly describe an example of child abuse and exploitation that really affects the reader. The author also writes so well that you stop questioning why Borubaev and Saltanat are ‘off the grid’ and on their own mission for so long, the safe houses and weapons stashes as it is full of action and short-ish chapters that often end on a cliffhanger.

In this novel there is more action over social substance and in some ways it is more insular with the intense focus on Borubaev and Saltanat’s hiding and mission. Both of these points indicate to me that the author may have been on more of a timeline and couldn’t distill everything he felt about Kyrgyzstan and its people into this novel. I also felt there were too many references to the first novel and Borubaev’s lamenting for his wife became a little repetitive and shallow towards the end.

As a stand alone novel A Spring Betrayal is great but I couldn’t help¬†comparing it to the earlier novel.

Will I read book 3 in the series? Absolutely. Original, interesting crime.