Archive for the ‘Crime Fiction’ Category

You Review: Lonely Graves – Britta Bolt

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Reviewed by Elysia Brenner

Lonely Graves by Britta Bolt opens with a literal splash – a body drops in the first sentence, and the rest of the tightly paced opening follows its unlikely progress through Amsterdam’s canals. It’s not a spoiler so much as a favor to warn you that this scene is a flash forward, and you won’t see this body again until you’re about one third of the way through the book. Now you can enjoy the pleasantly leisurely pace with which the book builds toward this moment. You’re welcome.

The story of Pieter Posthumus, a wannabe detective responsible for seeing unidentified bodies to dignified graves (apparently a real thing in Amsterdam), parallels an investigation into a potential terrorist cell in the Moroccan community, and characters’ plotted paths cross repeatedly – often without their knowing. The dialogue is deliciously Noir, but sometimes unconvincingly so –translated to English from the original Dutch with perhaps too much color for your average Amsterdammer. Still, the zippiness of the opening sequence is largely missing from the rest of the novel.

The plot’s steady, somewhat casual pace is actually quite suited to Amsterdam. In fact, the city is the book’s most enigmatic and deeply developed character. Every local will identify with the description of the shifting, turning map of streets that sees you go a different way to work than what you take home. Those from outside the city might, however, feel a little lost at times in the winding streets and cultural details. Plus, as the opener to a trilogy, not all the plot points are tied up by the end.

But the ultimate test of a first book in a trilogy is the question: do I want to read on? And, yes, I am curious about these characters… how their paths will continue to cross and how we might get to know them more deeply. And hopefully, as the next two novels progress (#2 has already been released in Dutch), that zippiness will creep back in. Chances are good, if the decision by UK’s Endor Productions to already snap up the English TV rights to the trilogy can be trusted.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Part 2 is out as Vastberaden in Dutch; no publication date has been set for the English-language version yet.

You Review: Don’t Try to Find Me – Molly Brown

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Reviewed by Sara Raap

I have to be honest here, when I saw that Don’t Try To Find Me by Holly Brown was recommended for those who loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I was intrigued. But does this book live up to Gone Girl, a book that people seem to love or hate, not much in between?

Marley is a fourteen-year-old girl from a happy, normal suburban family. Dad Paul is a control freak, and mom Rachel is a homely wife with a job to keep her occupied. They have no money troubles, they live in a nice former farm in a small town; in short, everything seems to be well.

But then Marley disappears, leaving behind her iPhone, iPad and a note on the whiteboard in the kitchen, telling her parents “Don’t Try To Find Me”. Of course they don’t listen, and Paul starts an online campaign, using Facebook and Twitter and a special website to draw attention to their lost daughter. Rachel seems lost, not knowing what to do or how to react. Soon it is revealed that she has her own secrets, secrets that made her lie to the police about where she was the morning Marley disappeared.

The book follows Marley and what happens to her, and Rachel in her own struggles and search for Marley. The twist in the story is not as shocking (or sick) as the one in Gone Girl, but for me, that made the story more real. Marley is a pretty grown-up fourteen-year-old, maybe a bit too grown-up to be realistic. However, Rachel’s side of the story felt very human and very realistic. Partly this is because of her flaws; she is not a perfect mother or wife. It is also because the other people in the story, Paul and others, react in very human ways. Everybody is flawed but everybody tries their best.

I read this book in one day, it is a quick read. On the one hand that is because it is not very surprising, it is a ‘real’ story. On the other hand, it doesn’t need to be anything else, it is good as it is. I would recommend this book to those readers who like real-life drama, and those who felt that Gone Girl was just a bit too much. I enjoyed this book, and give it four out of five stars.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Read more of Sara’s book reviews on her blog,

An ebook of Don’t Try to Find Me is available here.  There’s also an ebook of Gone Girl.

You Review a Local Author: The Price of Peace – Ron Muyzert

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Reviewed by Sheila Schenkel

It’s Wednesday morning and Dutch diplomat Rob Ginsberg is on his way to the West Bank. He’s on a mission to find out what’s happening with a large sum of money collected on Dutch streets, now that it’s being transferred to a political movement called New Palestine. It’s the beginning of a full-on spooks story.

Khalil Abu Hassan, leader of New Palestine, wants peace. As soon as possible. Peace for the Palestinians, peace with the Israelis, peace for future generations. And yet he’s under suspicion of using the € 75,000 donation for terrorist acts.

Visiting Abu Hassan at Birzeit University, Ginsberg ends up in the middle of the planning of an attack on Israel. As always, the questions are: who’s behind the attack, and when and where is it going to take place? When Ginsberg offers a ride to Abu Hassan’s assistant Lidia Shamas, he sets off on the infamous Path of No Turning Back.

Whilst unfolding the story of the donation, author Ron Muyzert lifts the veil of history, sharing his factual knowledge of Israel and the way its politicians ensure a state of their own. While diplomat Ginsberg’s story is fictional, he learns stories from the past that are real. Muyzert manages to keep that balance. Unfortunately, the characters as well as their dialogues remain a bit wooden.

The Price of Peace could have done with a few side stories. Perhaps the love story of Ginsberg and his Dutch girlfriend could have been given some more depth, or perhaps we could have gotten some more insight into the relationships of his boss Paul Kramer?

That being said, this book makes a very interesting read — especially if you’re at all fascinated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

The Price of Peace was first published in Dutch, as De prijs van vrede, by Uitgeverij Van Gennep (2012).  Ron Muyzert is a senior diplomat in the Dutch foreign service. He served as Ambassador in Bolivia and Cuba. From 2000 to 2003 he was Head of the Dutch Representative Office in Ramallah.  He launched the English translation of his book at ABC The Hague in March 2014.

The Price of Peace is self-published on ABC’s Espresso Book Machine.

All June Crime Prize Draw Winners

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Last month, in honor of June Thriller Month, we had 3 prize draws. Thanks to everyone who took the time to mail in and answer our questions. Congratulations to all the winners, and we hope everyone’s answers (see below) will help you pick out your next favorite book.  :-)

Win a FREE copy of Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King: Paula Imans

Q: In the original version of Misery, what material was to be used for the cover of the book Paul Sheldon has to write?.

A: Paul Sheldon’s skin.  Annie originally wanted to sacrifice her pig Misery, and use the pig’s skin for the book, but by the end of the store the pig is still alive… and Paul Sheldon is nowhere to be seen!

This was the ending of the short story that was never published, but that became the Misery we all know and love (or fear).  A really tricky question for the true King adept.  :-)

Win a Pile of Thrillers:  Alex Hoogendoorn, Saskia de Korte, Saartje Kuijs & Mandy Fischer

Q: What is your favorite thriller (or thriller series) and why?

“What is my favorite thriller (series)? That will be all the thrillers by Nicci French, but especially the Frieda Klein thriller series. Why? Those beautifully written stories with the well-known three or so plot-twists at the end who literally, every effin time, make my jaw drop, looking like a complete fool, those stories made me wanna be a psychologist in the future. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’m definitely going to be one, but every writer needs stuff to write about. They ought to be intelligent, wise, philosophical. That’s what I wanna be, WHO I wanna be.”

“I’ve never read a thriller in my life! I’d like to win these books, because it’s healthy to leave your comfort zone now and then.”

“I don’t know if you would classify the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon as a thriller series, but I experienced them as thrillers. I read them one after the other up through the seventh book and only stopped because I had lots of books on my shelves that I hadn’t read, yet. Maybe I’m waiting until there are a few in a row to read one after another – the way I like them!”

“I read my favourite thriller series while I was studying abroad in Rome. My dad had sent me a package of books and included the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Funnily, they didn’t grab my attention at first and it took me quite a while to get through the first few chapters. My father’s encouraging words: “It will pick up speed”, “It’s just a bit of essential information you need for the rest of the book” and “Believe me, you’ll love it” helped me to not lay it down and never pick it up again.
And he was so very right. I loved it! I spent days in class not being able to concentrate, trying to figure out what had happened to Harriet and asking my Swedish friends (I went to an international school) to help me pronounce the names of people and places. Within the span of two weeks I read all three books. Sitting in front of the Pantheon, on benches in little squares shadowed by trees and on the edges of fountains that not many tourists visited.
When I finished the books I called my dad and asked him if this amazing writer had written any more books and was saddened to find that Stieg Larsson had died in 2004. Now all that is left is to read those three books many more times and to watch the extended Swedish filmversion of Män som hatar kvinnor, Flickan som lekte med elden and Luftslottet som sprängdes.”

“My favourite crime thriller series are the Lily Pascale books by Scarlett Thomas. There are three of them: Dead Clever; In Your Face; Seaside.
I love them because they combine the British tweeness and comfort of Midsomer Murders and Agatha Christie with genuine scares and gore, a cracking good mystery, a reluctant and obsessive heroine, exceptional writing, and unexpected twists and turns.”

“My favorite thriller book series are the Pendergast novels by Preston & Child. I really like the personalities (especially Pendergast and secretly his insane brother too), the interesting subjects and the ghoulish setting. I can’t put these books down when I start them!”

Ebooks available for Frieda Klein 1, Outlander 1, and Millennium Trilogy 1 (and further parts in all these series, too, but generally people start at the beginning!).

Win a SIGNED copy of After the Silence by Jake Woodhouse: Em Angevaare, Mandy Fisher and Enny Muin

Q: What crime fiction book are you reading right now?

“I’m currently reading Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths (for the second time), although I must say I prefer the earlier books in the series.”

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.”

Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy.  Cozy crime FTW!”

“At the moment I am reading Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes.”

“The crime fiction book I’m reading right now is Undone by Karin Slaughter. I’ve been re-reading all of her books before I’ll start the new ones.”

The Anonymous Venetian by Donna Leon.  Took me 20 years to get around to the Guido Brunetti series; glad I finally did.”

Ebooks available for Dying Fall, Gone Girl, and Mr. Mercedes.

You Review: Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Reviewed by Em Angevaare

Maud’s friend Elizabeth is missing, just like her sister Sukey disappeared nearly 70 years ago. She is determined to find out what happened to both women, but she is also in an advanced state of dementia. As soon as a clue presents itself, she must write it down or she won’t recall. But after she’s written them, she frequently can’t remember what her own notes are about… As Maud understands less and less of the world around her, and even her childhood memories grow confused, the reader slowly understands more and more of what has happened.

But this makes Elizabeth is Missing sound more interesting than it turns out to be. The two mysteries are not nearly mysterious enough, their explanation simple and only arrived at so late in the day exactly because Maud cannot keep hold of the relevant information. And that might be an interesting premise, but it is not enough to hang a whole book on. There is also something not quite right about what we are told is going on inside Maud’s head. She is instantly forgetful and mixes things up, and this is very convincingly described. But the reader never gets to hear what her daughter keeps telling Maud, and what she then can’t keep hold of: where Elizabeth has gone. This selective revelation keeps the mystery going, but it isn’t Maud being forgetful, it’s Emma Healey being disingenuous.

What Healey has to say about Alzheimer’s she says well: Maud’s permanent confusion made me think about how I would act in her daughter’s place, and about how frightening it must be to find your own thoughts slipping away like that. But there have been other fictional characters which have done that already and better, like the aging actress in Kate Atkinson’s Started Early, Took My Dog or Will’s mother in Patrick Gale’s Rough Music. And because hers is the only viewpoint we get, and Maud cannot herself appreciate the solving of her mysteries, the books lacks resolution. There is, in the end, still something missing.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

There are ebooks available for Elizabeth is Missing and Started Early, Took My Dog.

Em has self-published three books under the pseudonym Marcus Attwater: The Chapter of St. Cloud, The Gift and The Last Initiate.