Archive for March, 2010

South African crime novelist Jassy Mackenzie hit the ground running with her 2008 publication, Random Violence, featuring gutsy PI Jade de Jong. Set in contemporary Johannesburg, the novel earned local acclaim. South Africa’s Sunday Times declared that this debut “excels in its ability to translate our propensity for violent crime into a clever plot that could take place only in South Africa. Just released in the United States, Random Violence earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly, with the critic terming it a “triumphant debut,” and further noting, “Readers will wish Jade a long fictional career.”

Mackenzie’s 2009 title, My Brother’s Keeper, a finalist in the Best Paperback Original category of the International Thriller Awards, is another gritty novel featuring a psychopathic villain and also set in Johannesburg, but this one does not feature Jade. Mackenzie reprises her resilient PI in Stolen Lives, in which Jade is hired as a bodyguard by a wealthy housewife whose husband has disappeared. That novel is scheduled for a 2010 publication in South Africa.

Jassy, welcome to Scene of the Crime, and thanks for coming on board to investigate spirit of place in crime fiction. (more…)

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Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, Icelandic crime novelist, joins us today on Scene of the Crime. The author of numerous children’s books, Yrsa has also written a popular crime series featuring lawyer and single mother of two, Thóra Gudmundsdóttir. Of the five that have been poublished in her native country, two have thus far appeared in English translation, Last Rituals and My Soul to Take. The third, Ashes to Dust, appears this summer in English.

Yrsa’s books have won critical acclaim not only in Iceland, but also abroad. Publishers Weekly finds her work “engaging,” and further states that the author “keeps readers guessing.” Similarly, the London Observer calls her work “both frightening and funny – a terrific trick if you can pull it off.”

Welcome, Yrsa, to Scene of the Crime. (more…)

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Some people envision moving to a Greek island as the ultimate dream retirement plan. Jeff Siger went there to reinvent himself, leaving behind his lucrative New York law practice to set up his writing desk on the island of Mykonos. And with great results. The first two books in his Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series, Murder in Mykonos and Assassins of Athens, have found worldwide readership and reached the top of the Greek bestseller lists.

Writing of the first novel in the series, Murder in Mykonos, a Publishers Weekly critic noted, “Kaldis’s feisty personality and complex backstory are appealing as well, solid foundations for a projected series.” A Kirkus Reviews contributor also found that book “a surprisingly effective debut novel.” Booklist declared Siger’s second novel in the series,Assassins of Athens, “International police procedural writing at its best.”

Scene of the Crime caught up with Jeff in New York, on an extended book tour. Jeff, thanks for taking time from your promotional efforts to talk with us about the importance of setting in your novels. (more…)

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Dan Waddell is assisting Scene of the Crime today in its investigations into setting and fiction. Waddell, a Londoner, is a former journalist, the bestselling author of Who Do You Think You Are? that accompanied the BBC series on genealogy, and, most importantly for us, the author of the crime series featuring Scotland Yard’s Detective Chief Inspector Grant Foster and his genealogist assistant, Nigel Barnes. The two made their debut in The Blood Detective, in which a century-old crime comes to haunt the present. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted of this work, “Waddell’s adept characterization and pacing make for an exciting start to a new series.” A Booklist contributor concluded, “Let’s hope Waddell can find many more genealogical excuses for Barnes to assist the police with their inquiries.”

Waddell did not disappoint; Blood Atonement once again pairs Foster and Barnes in the hunt for a serial killer. A Library Journal reviewer found this offering an “outstanding thriller,” while a Booklist contributor dubbed it a “definite winner.”

Dan, welcome to Scene of the Crime, and thanks so much for sharing your thoughts about the spirit of place in your crime fiction. (more…)

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Shamus Award-winning author I.J. Parker joins Scene of the Crime today to talk about her series of novels featuring Sugawara Akitada, who works as a minor official in the Ministry of Justice in Heian Kyo, capital of Japan in the 11th century. Akitada copes with this boring position by solving mysteries both low and high, from homicide among the peasantry to crimes that take him to the doors of the Imperial Palace.

“You couldn’t ask for a more gracious introduction to the exotic world of Imperial Japan than the stately historical novels of I. J. Parker,” wrote a reviewer for the New York Times. And other critics have agreed. A Publishers Weekly contributor, writing in a starred review, noted, “Parker gives her protagonist an emotional depth that raises her to the front rank of contemporary historical writers.” Another Publishers Weekly writer thought Parker “deftly combines an action-packed plot with convincing period detail to bring 11th-century Japan to life.”

Ingrid, thanks much for taking time away from your research and writing to chat with Scene of the Crime about the spirit of place in your work. (more…)

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Today we travel to Thailand to examine the work of writer Timothy Hallinan, author of the Poke Rafferty series, set in Bangkok. Hallinan has divided his time between Los Angeles and Southeast Asia for almost thirty years.  He is the author of six private-eye novels set in Los Angeles and four Rafferty thrillers: A Nail Through the Heart, The Fourth Watcher, Breathing Water, and, coming this summer, The Queen of Patpong.

“Hallinan’s prose will engage readers,” declared a critic for Kirkus Reviews of the third book in the series, Breathing Water. A Booklist reviewer noted of the same work, “The dialogue crackles, the sense of one of the world’s edgiest cities is sharp, and the plight of the poor, especially the children, is moving.” Of The Fourth Watcher, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted in a starred review, “Stellar. Smooth prose, appealing characters and a twisting, action-filled plot make this thriller a stand-out.”

Tim, it’s a real pleasure to have you on Scene of the Crime. I appreciate you taking the time to talk about the use of setting in your work. (more…)

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Today we are fortunate to have Michael Genelin—author, lawyer, and international consultant on governmental reform. Michael is the author of three novels in the crime series  featuring police commander Jana Matinova: Siren of the Waters, Dark Dreams, and coming this summer, The Magician’s Accomplice.

Genelin takes the reader into a part of Europe that most are unfamiliar with: Slovakia—yes the Slovakia that was once part of Czechoslovakia. The Washington Post called his second novel “a seething cauldron of crime, corruption, political hypocrisy, and violence.” Canada’s Globe and Mail also had high praise for that work, dubbing it “a gripping novel of psychological suspense with a truly original central character.”

Michael, thanks so much for talking with Scene of the Crime.

First, can you describe your connection Slovakia. How did you come to live there or become interested in it? And, if you do not live on site, do you make frequent trips there? (more…)

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Kjell Ola Dahl has been called the Henning Mankell of Norway. The author of eleven highly acclaimed police procedurals, most of which feature Oslo detectives Frank Frølich and Chief Inspector Gunnarstranda, Dahl was introduced to English-speaking readers with his 2007 novel, The Fourth Man (originally published in Norwegian in 2005). Since then other books in the series have been published, including The Man in the Window in 2008, and The Last Fix, 2009, which won Norway’s prestigious Riverton-prisen for Best Norwegian Crime Novel of the Year, and was nominated for a raft of other literary awards.

Known for his psychological insights and questioning of modern society, Dahl writes tight police procedurals with more than a touch of wry humor injected. His character Gunnarstranda has reached something of an iconic status in Norway with his comb-over and grumpy attitude. Equally important in the novels is the setting. Oslo, Norway, is Dahl’s domain, and he brings to the city an insider’s keen eye for detail and nuance.

Kjell, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with Scene of the Crime about your work and the importance of place in it. (more…)

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