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The Lady from Zagreb (Bernard Gunther, #10)The Lady from Zagreb by Philip Kerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 10th Bernie Gunther novel from Phillip Kerr. Bernie Gunther is a former Berlin detective who gets sidelined during the Nazi regime in Germany. He is a man who more often than not treads his own path usually comes at personal cost. What makes the Phillip Kerr novels so interesting is the blend of fact and fiction. Bernie Gunther is woven in and around real events from the Nazi era. The earlier novels were set firmly in the pre-war and during the war. However, the hero Bernie Gunther has slowly aged across the series. The evolution of the series now has Bernie Gunther living in a post WWII world where he inevitably encounters people from his past.
In this volume Bernie’s mind is cast back in time whilst in the cinema watching a famous actress. In an imaginative plot Joseph Goebbels features as a tormentor of Bernie. The atrocities that were committed in what us modern Croatia by the notorious Ustaše militia. Throughout this there is time for a wartime romance which is the subject of his reflection. Buried in all of this is a detective novel all very satisfying.
I am an unashamed fan of Phillip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels. The is one more that I am aware of and possibly another in the pipeline.

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Jack of Spies by David Downing

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Jack of Spies (Jack McColl, #1)Jack of Spies by David Downing

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to confess to being a David Downing fan I have read all the ‘Station’ novels and enjoyed the attention to historical detail. In some ways Jack of Spies featuring Jack McColl as our hero follows the ‘Station’ series. Set amongst the turmoil and political machinations that in train prior to World War One.
Our hero Jack McColl is working semi officially for British intelligence. The story touches on British – German relations prior to WW1 and has hour hero cruising across the Pacific from China to the US. He is ostensibly a car salesman selling an expensive English vehicle and shipping the demonstration vehicle from town to town. This allows him movement and a comfortable life.

There is an intriguing link to Irish nationalism and unionism in the US. His love interest also cuts across his world of espionage and Irish independence. A life complicated by love.

I enjoyed this read and found the blend of historical fact and fiction engaging and realistic.
When I was reading this I was hoping that there would be more and I am pleased to have discovered there are in fact 2 more books already published.

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The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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The Marco Effect (Department Q #5)The Marco Effect by Jussi Adler-Olsen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed The Marco Effect great holiday reading. I have been reading the department Q novels in sequence. This is the 5th in the series and is a well-crafted with the addition of the usual convoluted plot. The Marco effect begins in Africa with a sudden death and before we know it there are senior Danish bureaucrats sweating at their desks.
The focus then switches to beggars on the streets of the Danish capital Copenhagen. What is described is a sophisticated gang of beggars controlled by ruthless family members.
Eventually our hero Carl Mørck comes into the picture. His team which consist Assad and Rose are a quirky bunch. The troubles of the team relate back to the previous volume but are explained enough if you haven’t read any previous instalments of Department Q. Mørck continues to battle with his superiors.
All in all another satisfying instalment of Department Q. Perhaps it would be better if I could read The Marco Effect in its native Danish.

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SWAG Elmore Leonard

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SwagSwag by Elmore Leonard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A quick and easy read a great caper. Two men meet one with a foolproof idea to get rich quick the other brought along with the promises of riches. They live by a set of predetermined rules which are meant to make them smarter than other criminals.

The lifestyle that they quickly become accustomed to is what becomes their undoing. Really easy to read and fast paced perfect holiday reading A short sharp review.

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The Purity of Vengeance (Department Q, #4)

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The Purity of Vengeance (Department Q, #4)The Purity of Vengeance by Jussi Adler-Olsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Purity of Vengeance is the fourth in Juri Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series. Like its predecessors darkness abounds . As with other novels the plot is twisted and has its origins as you would expect with a cold case team. This time touching on the rise of minor parties with extreme views and steeped in eugenics. I have come to quite enjoy this series and I am pleased that there are more to come. I have already started the next in the series.
Carl Mörck and his motley crew are in the thick of it again. Carl fighting accusations from his past fending off his ex-wife and the confused state of is his domestic arrangements. Then there is Assad his mysterious assistant who despite no apparent police training has skills and connections. However he does dodge anything to do with his personal life. Last but not least there is the bombastic Rose who rounds out the team. Her personality is always a test for Carl.
The Purity of Vengeance really does draw on the cruelty of the past. A time when the state was only too happy for troubled young women to be dealt with behind the walls of institutions or as in this case the walls are a stretch of water. I would Imagine that most “western” countries did similar things to those of low intelligence , mentally ill or with behavioral disturbance. The vulnerability of these young women is very well portrayed in Purity of Vengeance.
The unravelling of one woman’s life is amazing and a fantastic read five stars from me. I can’t give the plot away you’ll just have to read it yourself. There are films based on these novels but I have held off watching them until I’m way ahead with the novels.

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Redemption (Department Q, #3) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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Redemption (Department Q, #3)Redemption by Jussi Adler-Olsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my third Department Q novel and so far the best in the series. I am trying to read them in order. I am really enjoying the series by Jussi Adler-Olsen.The title in Danish that loosely translates as a note in a bottle from P, which sets the scene for the story. This is another cold case story that is not on the files at Department Q. A convoluted and at time disconnected story involving groups that are separate from mainstream society and therefore isolated.
There is the usual antagonism between Carl Mørck and his right hand man Assad. Then there is the ongoing tensions with Rose the admin person and a replacement called Yrsa. There are all the usual antagonisms with the upper echelons with Mørck and Assad.
The case itself involves a man who has more layers and alibis than can be imagined. His dual life is extraordinary as are his methods, which he employs. It is difficult to write about the story without straying into the plot.  Victims picked to inflict the most terrible pain on their parents.Suffice it to say fans of the Nordic style will be pleased.

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Time of Death by Mark Billingham

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Time of Death (Tom Thorne Novels)Time of Death by Mark Billingham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another cruise read and starting at the end of the series because that what was on offer. I was vaguely aware of the Inspector Thorne TV series starring David Morrissey but had never read any of the books by Mark Billingham. Time of Death was very enjoyable and convoluted enough to keep me turning the pages.
Tom Thorne and his girlfriend Helen Weeks also a police officer are on a short holiday’ Whilst away they see a new story about an abducted girl in the village where Helen grew up. After seeing the mother of the abducted girl Helen Weeks is moved to go to the village to support her. Reluctantly Tom agrees to go along  thus ending their holiday.
The story set in the village is almost claustrophobic, police all over the place and the intrusive tabloid press. This along with Helen Weeks trying reconnect with the village that she left a long time ago.
I won’t focus on the crime itself for that you will need to read Time of Death for yourself. I did enjoy the read and may never have looked at if I hadn’t been on holiday.

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The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen

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The Keeper of Lost Causes (Department Q, #1)The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I must confess that it was the title of this book that attracted me the in the first place “The Keeper of Lost Causes”. This is the first in a series by  Danish author Jussi Adler-Olsen about a fictional cold case department called Department Q. . Readers of this blog will know that Scandinavian crime fiction is my favourite.
The Keeper of Lost Causes focuses on Copenhagen detective Carl Mørck. He he’s been sidelined  from homicide after a case that went horribly wrong for him and his colleagues. Carl Mørck is irascible and difficult to get along with as we have come to expect from fictional detectives. The new gig is to run the newly created Department Q for cold cases. His first case concerns Merete Lynggaard, who vanished five years ago. Everyone says she’s dead and that it’s a waste of time. He thinks they’re right.
The interactions between Carl Mørck and the other member of Department Q provides some humorous relief to the tense story. I’m looking forward to the next instalments because if the first is anything to go by it will be a great series.

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Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty

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Rain Dogs (Detective Sean Duffy, #5)Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a new series to me DCI Sean Duffy in Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty. This is the fourth or fifth installment in the series. I started writing this in the middle of the Pacific whist on a cruise. At home I have this and discovered that this is the 5th in the series by Adrian McKinty. The backdrop to the story is the troubles in Ireland the time 1980s. Central to the story is the death of a young reporter is seemingly impossible circumstances. She is found inside a locked castle with the only other person inside being the caretaker is it murder or suicide.
Aside from the ever present reminders of “the troubles” with references to the IRA and a the protestants there is a contemporary reference. There is a link to the modern operation Yewtree involving pedophiles and the most infamous of all Jimmy Saville. His inclusion is quite bizarre but the novel does touch on historical sex crimes.
I found Rain Dogs  fast paced and a very enjoyable read. There are enough twists and turns to keep the reader engaged. The book is peppered with lots of great one liners which breaks up some of the tension between characters. I will be tracking down the previous installments.

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Into Oblivion by Arnaldur Indriðason

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Into Oblivion (Inspector Erlendur)Into Oblivion by Arnaldur Indriðason
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second inspector Erlendur novel and as far as I can see this completes my reading of this series having started with the third book in the series. Well that is what I thought but after reading Crime Lovers guide to Inspector Erlendur this novel and its predecessor are in fact prequels. The article implies that the author Erlendur Indridason decided to revisit his character Erlendur and explore his beginnings. I can say that have been very pleased about this the previous installment Reykjavik Nights felt like I was back in the saddle.
Oblivion doesn’t disappoint either a body discovered in a lake  frequented by people taking advantage of a lake for therapeutic reasons. The investigation proceeds slowly as they  become stalled by American military personnel. What becomes apparent is the Icelandic people’s dislike of the American presence and the discord that it causes. There are many references to local food and material shortages. This is all compounded by an illicit trade in cigarettes alcohol and illicit drugs.
As is the method of Erlendur novels there is a cold missing persons case that he investigates in his spare time. The unravelling of the missing persons has parallels to the contemporary investigation. In this novel contemporary is 1970’s Iceland.
Of note is Erlendur’s relationship with his boss. Erlendur is conservative and from the country and he likes traditional food boiled sheep heads and fermented shark. That is not for the faint hearted .
I won’t spoil the outcome but I enjoyed this novel. There is according to Crime Lovers another novel written in 2011 that is being translated into English, here is hoping.

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