Studio Sex (1999) written by Liza Marklund with translation by Kajsa von Hofsten is also known as Studio 69 elsewhere in the world. This is the first book in the Annika Bengzton series. It’s not available in the US at the time of this writing. There are a total of 8 books in the series and the author doesn’t write them in chronological order. Availability in digital is spotty and costly. My thoughts overall: somewhat entertaining yet uneven novel. Full details below for those interested.
I’m very interested in reading Scandinavian crime fiction at the moment. It’s the main reason why I set up this blog. So, a lot of the books I read and review here will probably not be available in the U.S. Having said that, I’ve been interested in reading Liza Marklund since I first heard about her books last year. She’s been mentioned in most if not all the mystery forums I lurk in. Only when I saw that she co-wrote a book with the ubiquitous James Patterson on The Postcard Killers (that ranked #1 on the NYT bestseller list last year). I made it my business to read her this year. Camilla Lackberg is next.
Liza Marklund’s protagonist in this series is crime reporter, Annika Bengzton, who works for the Kvällspressen tabloid newspaper in Stockholm. She’s a young, ambitious journalist who’ve moved from the county to the big city in order to build a successful career for herself. Annika gets that opportunity when she receives an anonymous tip from the hot line aka the Creepy Calls line about a dead body found in Kronoberg Park. Continue reading
Play Dead (2004) by Anne Frasier is a very atmospheric, tautly written suspense novel. It’s been digitally restored on Kindle for $3.99. I decided to do a quick reread and lo and behold it still reads well today. The first scene is a shocker. Truly it is. You have no idea what this author has in store for you.
Homicide detective Elise Sandburg has an unusual background. When she was born she was left in a cemetery. This story further fuels talk about her family history which includes a background filled with voodoo and black magic. Of course, Elise knows none of those things but it is a significant part of her heritage and now plays a major part in her most baffling case. She’s partnered with David Gould. He is a man described as being “on the brink.” Talk about angst, David has it in spades. He’s grieving. He’s doped up and can’t function. To solve their current case, David makes the decision to abruptly stop his therapy so that he can focus on finding a suspect utilizing a toxin that paralyzes his victims, giving the illusion of death, while they are still breathing and conscious. Continue reading
The Leopard (2011) or as it’s known in Norway, Panserhjerte, is written by Jo Nesbø and translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett. It’s the sixth entry in the series to be translated. The first translated book in the series is The Redbreast. To discuss why I love Jo Nesbø would take all day. Simply put: he’s a brilliant writer whose stories are set on a global playing field. Fact is, he gives you more than your standard police procedural.
Starting from the opium dens in Hong, Kong to the war ravaged Congo in Africa. The action in here is almost non-stop. The protagonist, Harry Hole, is a maverick detective with an alcohol addiction. That handicap doesn’t stop him from doing his job well though. Thing is, Harry loves being a cop. It’s in his blood. To quote from the book:” He couldn’t care less about personal prestige, he only wants to catch the bad guys.” Yep.
The aftermath of the Snowman case has left Harry emotionally and physically scarred. Since the last book, he quit his job to live in Hong, Kong. For him, there’s nothing left back home save his father and sister. Meanwhile, back in Oslo, another serial killer has struck and the detectives there are struggling to solve it. Supposedly this is a serial killer inspired from the Snowman case. Police HQ hunt up Harry because they need him back in Oslo. Continue reading
The Devotion of Suspect X (2011) written by Keigo Higashino and translated by Alexander O. Smith. Keigo Higashino is a bestselling mystery novelist in Tokyo and this book has won him several awards and critical acclaim in the US and abroad. This is a police procedural with the added element of psychological suspense. It is my understanding that this is a apart of a series. Thankfully, it stands alone well. The author’s bibliography indicates that this is only title translated in the US thus far.
The beginning of the novel starts off kind of weak. This is one of those stories whose strengths lie not with the beginning but with the middle and end. The focus isn’t so much on finding the killers. We know who they are already. The focus for the reader is to try to unravel the details behind the cover-up. We want to see if the culprits will get away with the facade they have erected to protect them. The story is a great mind puzzle if you will. It is a mystery that will probably grab your attention like it did mine and won’t let you go until you reach the last page. Continue reading
The Night Season (2011) written by Chelsea Cain. This is the fourth book in the series featuring damaged cop, Archie Sheridan and his nemesis, Gretchen Lowell or as the media has dubbed her, the Beauty Killer. To sum up my thoughts on the The Night Season: riveting beginning, boring middle with a lackluster ending. More details below for those interested.
The novels continue to be set in Portland, Oregon and Heartsick is the first in the series. Gretchen Lowell had left bodies all across state lines before she was caught. The percentage of known women serial killers is statistically low. That stat made the FBI’s best profiler miss catching her. Archie has been in her clutches twice and has survived but barely. He’s been on a cocktail of meds just to keep up appearances but three years later, Archie has kicked almost all of his bad habits and Gretchen is in prison. Even behind bars she still manages to keep Archie emotionally tethered to her. The two have this really strange, messy, twisted, complicated relationship that made for some good reading. In this entry in the series, Gretchen is in the background and a new killer has emerged. There’s never a shortage of predators in the city of Portland. Continue reading