Sail Of Stone By Ake Edwardson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles, Simon & Schuster, 402 pages, $17
On and on they come, those excellent Scandinavian novels. Sail Of Stone, the sixth in the Detective Erik Winter series, set in Gothenburg, Sweden, is just about as good as crime fiction gets. Edwardson, knows how to build character and develop a story. He may not have a Lisbeth Salander, but he does have the brilliant detective Aneta Djanali.
Johanna Osvald wants help. Her father has disappeared on a trip to Scotland. He was chasing the ghost of his own father, lost at sea in 1939. But someone in Aberdeen has sent a cryptic message; Johanna’s father followed and is now, she is convinced, missing.
While Winter heads to the fishing ports to help Johanna, Djanali is following her own missing person. Neighbours of Annette Lindsten reported screams and a beating. When Djanali shows up, a hidden woman refuses to let her in and insists she’s fine. Djanali follows up with another visit. The woman is gone and two men claiming to be her father and brother are packing up her house. Annette is safe at home, they insist.
When another address turns up, with another “father,” Djanali is convinced there is some serious crime here.
As with Winter’s family, Edwardson uses Djanali’s history to build character. Born in Sweden to parents from Burkino Faso, she is forever inside the white world and outside, just as she is in Africa. The trope of a child of two worlds works really well in this exciting series. The translation is terrific and the language flows beautifully.
The Flight By M.R. Hall, PAN Macmillan, 351 pages, $19.99
I am completely hooked on this superb series featuring British coroner Jenny Cooper. This is the fourth book and quite simply the best.
Cooper is called to a horrific airline crash in the Severn Estuary. There were no warnings of the sudden end of Flight 189. A number of important people were on board and it may be that there was sabotage.
Cooper finds her only real entry to the mystery in the body of 10-year-old Amy Patterson. Amy’s body washed ashore with the other wreckage but Cooper doesn’t believe she died in the crash. How she survived and died is the answer to the mystery, but people in high places don’t want answers and Cooper has to use all her considerable intelligence, tenacity and the powers of her office to bring justice to the dead.
Another Time, Another Life By Leif G.D. Persson, translated by Paul Norlen, Pantheon, 404 pages, $32
The first two thirds of this sequel to Between Summer’s Longing And Winter’s End move right along, but somewhere in the last bit, as Persson’s story moves from the local to the secret police in Sweden, he loses his way. This isn’t a bad book, but it is a disappointing sequel to a good one.
Once again we have Inspector Anna Holt, Bo Jarnebring and a story based loosely on historical events. In 1975, Holt is a rookie cop when terrorists take over the West German embassy in Stockholm. The event goes sour, the embassy blows up, killing everyone, including the terrorists. The crime is never solved.
Fifteen years later, Holt is investigating a murder. Her supervisor, a bigoted time-server, buries the case, claiming the victim was gay and murdered by a male prostitute. This case, too, is never solved.
A decade later, Holt has another death on her hands and this will lead back to the links between the terrorists, murder and long-buried secrets. Unfortunately, Persson loses his thread by the final third.
The Glass Room By Ann Cleeves, PAN Macmillan, 374 pages, $19.99
DI Vera Stanhope is a British original. She hangs in the ’hood, enjoys homebrew with the neighbours, keeps an eye on things. When one of the gang disappears, Vera feels honour-bound to bring her back. The trail leads to the safest of places – a cushy writer’s retreat – but there’s a murder and Vera’s pal is holding the knife. As Vera hunts for a motive, a meaning, a clue, another body drops.
This is one of Cleeves’ best Stanhopes. The series has been dramatized by ITV, so Vera will soon be on telly.
The Corpse with the Silver Tongue By Cathy Ace, TouchWood, 232 pages, $14.95
Lovers of puzzle plots should meet Professor Cait Morgan, heroine of this new series by Cathy Ace. Morgan is a Welsh-Canadian criminologist who specializes in profiling, and, in fine fashion, the first case she has to solve is death at a dinner party; she’s a suspect.
Ace makes the most of her fascinating professor and also with the South of France setting. There’s a missing gold necklace, supposedly cursed, lots of clues, not much blood and some nifty ratiocination. A writer to watch.
The Vanishing Track By Stephen Legault, TouchWood, 282 pages, $18.95
This third and best in the Cole Blackwater series takes on the housing crisis in downtown Vancouver as residents of low-rent hotels are evicted to make way for condo towers. The evicted become homeless and homeless people are disappearing. Cole is one of the few people, including a dedicated street nurse and a newspaper reporter, who care. If Cole is to find out what’s happening to the poor, he’ll have to face some deep demons of his own.