Smokey the Cat
Helene Tursten

Sixty seconds with Helene Tursten...

Born in Gothenburg, on the Swedish west coast. I am a registered nurse and a licensed dentist (University of Gothenburg). I published my first novel, Den krossade tanghästen, which appeared in English as DECTECTIVE INSPECTOR HUSS, in Sweden in 1998). Since then, my books have been sold to 25 countries.

RTE: Describe yourself in a sentence?

Tursten: I never give up!

RTE: What's the one record you'd take to a desert island?

Tursten: Sarah Brightman´s album “Timeless”.

RTE: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Tursten: A opera star! I loved theater, opera and films. But when I was about eight years old, I realised that I could not sing …

Gregory Galloway

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Tim Major

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December 11 2021

Here we are with the final issue of 2021, a year that for many fell a bit short of its early promise of seeing an end to our pandemic-directed way of life. But the holidays are coming as the holidays always do and whether one celebrates or not, it's hard to resist the general shift in mood. So let us begin with a perennial Christmas offering and a couple of seasonally-punned cosy titles,

Lourdes Venard looks forward to Anne Perry's annual Christmas offering every year. This time, it's A CHRISTMAS LEGACY and the detective is a former maid to the Pitts, who is looking into odd events in a household where the servants are exploited. Lourdes reports that the mystery is readily resolved but that the positive seasonal message is maintained.

Everyone who enjoys cosies appreciates a well-punned title. This year we have Donna Andrews' THE TWELVE JAYS OF CHRISTMAS, reviewed by P.J. Coldren. This represents the 33rd entry in Andrews' bird series but P.J. assures us that while fans of these books will not be disappointed, it also should please any reader who is looking for something that offers a minimum of violence and a lot of fun. Certainly we should have a culinary cosy and Ginger Bolton obliges with DECK THE DONUTS. P.J. says that the series is developing nicely and this is a welcome addition to the Deputy Donuts series.

What may be the final entry in a long and distinguished career was published this Fall with John Le Carré's SILVERVIEW, a short novel, but a complete one, left behind on its author's death. A stand-alone, it provides many of the strengths and pleasures of Le Carré's major works and I thought it was a fitting cap to his extraordinary body of work, one that no admirer of his would voluntarily miss

A LINE TO KILL, by Anthony Horowitz continues the Hawthorne/Horowitz series, taking the detective and Horowitz as his Watson to a Channel island for a classic locked room setting. Rebecca Nesvet thought it was well worth reading and is looking forward to the future activities of this unusual partnership.

Since we've ventured across the sea, we should take a look at Christopher Fowler's LONDON BRIDGE IS FALLING DOWN, starring the redoubtable Bryant & May. Jim Napier enjoyed this immensely. Calling it "quirky, witty, and wonderfully entertaining," he says it will appeal to readers looking for something unique in crime fiction.

One of the issues that crime fiction has broached from the very beginning of the genre is the problem of revenge versus justice. In older fiction, the end of the book also marked the end of the murderer as they were marched off to meet the gallows or electric chair. While the death sentence has not disappeared from the US, it is no longer either inevitable or immediate and it has been abolished in both Canada and Great Britain, as well as in most of Europe. While it existed, the question of revenge or justice was moot, but at present, at least some of those whose lives were sorely impacted by the loss of a loved one are left to wonder if a life sentence is enough. Two novels this time broach this question with varying degrees of success. THE COLLECTIVE, by Alison Gaynor, manages to consider it without forcing a conclusion as she records the experience of a grieving mother who, needing some relief from her pain, becomes part of an underground collective of women who execute the perpetrators of crimes that destroyed their lives and find relief from their own distress by eliminating the source of someone else's. I thought Gaynor brought off a very tricky concept extremely well, while leaving ample room for differences of opinion. THE LAST CHECKMATE by Gabriella Saab takes on a far greater crime. Set in Auschwitz at the end of the war, it's aimed at the YA audience and features a young woman, a former inmate of the concentration camp, who is planning to kill one of her oppressors. Rebecca Nesvet declares it to be an outstanding example of how not to write YA fiction about historical genocide.

Happily, Rebecca had a better experience with a collection of Sherlock-inspired short stories by Lindsay Faye, OBSERVATIONS BY GASLIGHT. The stories are told by minor characters from the canon, which casts a new light on the originals. Rebecca found the enterprise well worth reading.

Further back in time, RIZZIO, by Denise Mina, recounts the murder of the title character, Mary, Queen of Scots' private secretary, by a group of rebels who enlisted the help of young Mary's younger husband to get the deed done. The novel is the first in a new series that will enlist prominent Scottish authors to re-visit the past and re-imagine it. If they come even close to Mina's achievement here, history is likely to become Scotland's favourite subject, in my opinion.

Back on this side of the Atlantic, Paige Shelton's DARK NIGHT details a murder case in a remote Alaskan village in the dead of winter. Lourdes Venard appreciated Shelton's evocation of the isolation and the dark and cold, but thought she might have enjoyed the book more had she read the previous two in the series.

Enough cold and gloom. Let's end where we began with a couple of cheerful cosies. MURDER AT THE LOBSTAH SHACK BY Maddie Day is set on Cape Cod where a crime fiction book group lends a collective hand in solving a murder. Ruth Castleberry calls it "a fascinating mystery with red herrings and plenty of suspense." It also has an entertaining parrot. WHAT THE CAT DRAGGED IN by Miranda James is set in small town Texas but the cat is a Maine Coon and a star, according to P.J. Coldren.

Our guest in the Sixty Seconds spot this week is Helene Tursten, author of among much else the two books in the Elderly Lady series which I turn to when in need of cheering up.

Our friends across the sea have been busy keeping up with what is going on in British crime. You can find out what they thought of it at CRIMEREVIEW.

And so we end another year. Thank you all for coming along and remember, we are always happy to hear from you. Just drop us a line.

We'll be back toward the end of January. In the meantime, we wish you all a happy holiday season and a very happy New Year.


The Editors:


Rebecca Nesvet

P.S. If you wish to submit a book for review, please check here before contacting us. Please note that we do not review self-published books.

Our mascot and masthead is Smokey the Cat. Smokey the cat went to the great playground in the sky on April 29, 2008, at 3:30 p.m. He was about 13 years old, had diabetes and only 11 teeth left. He is much happier now. He will remain as our masthead and mascot.

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