Crime Fiction in Translation | May 1, 2013

Library Journal Reviews starred review Aspe, Pieter. The Square of Revenge. Pegasus Crime. Jun. 2013. 304p. tr. from Dutch by Brian Doyle. ISBN 9781605984469. $25. F

The small medieval Belgian city of Bruges is not the most exciting place in which to be a detective. There are plenty of tourists and the pickpockets who target them, but not a lot of criminal intrigue. Then one early Sunday morning in the most quaint and exclusive part of the city, beat cops stumble upon the Degroof jewelry store with its windows smashed. Upon closer inspection, most of the jewelry is missing from its shelves and the only tangible clue is a piece of paper with Latin words drawn into a square. The weary, middle-aged DI Pieter Van In is assigned the case along with the new and bright new DA Hannelore Martin. Together they will uncover the personal scandals of three generations of the Degroof family and learn more about religious sects and monastic orders than either of them would have guessed was possible. And with each discovered secret comes another outrageous act of violence, with another small square of Latin writing found somewhere at the crime scene. VERDICT The best-selling European series that follows the criminal trials and personal tribulations of Flemish Detective Van In makes its U.S. debut with this fun read. Containing its fair share of mayhem and intrigue but with little blood spilled, the novel maintains a fast pace, a light touch, and a joy in the telling. Highly recommended for mystery lovers of all types and ages.—Jennifer Rogers, J. Sargeant Reynolds Comm. Coll. Lib., Richmond, VA

Kallentoft, Mons. Summer Death. Emily Bestler: Atria. Jun. 2013. 464p. tr. from Swedish by Neil Smith. ISBN 9781451642544. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451642568. F

In the second entry in Kallentoft’s series (after Midwinter Blood), Swedish DI Malin Fors is anxious to sink her teeth into a difficult case. Sweden is experiencing a heat wave and crime seems to have slowed, but Fors soon gets what she wants: sexual abuses, tortures, animal killings, murders, and an unknown serial criminal. Unfortunately, she also endangers her teenage daughter as the result of a press-conference statement. The weather slows down the investigation but also contributes to the solution. VERDICT Voices from the victims, whether dead or alive, are confusing at first, and some readers may find that this interferes with the procedural aspect of things. This is a male author writing from the perspective of a female character and, at times, Fors’s voice does not feel right. However, Kallentoft has written a page-turner that is not for the faint of heart. Crime fiction fans and those who enjoy the works of Stieg Larsson and Håkan Nesser might want to try this title.—Frances Thorsen, Chronicles of Crime Bookshop, Victoria, BC

Nesbø, Jo. The Redeemer. Knopf. May 2013. 320p. tr. from Norwegian by Don Bartlett. ISBN 9780307595850. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307596734. F

Do not expect this book to continue the story line from Nesbø’s 2012 best seller, The Phantom (ninth in the Harry Hole series.) Fans will have to wait longer to discover the fate of Harry after his shocking encounter with a murder suspect. Instead, this story, published three years and as many books earlier (2009) involves the murder of a young Salvation Army employee shot at point-blank range during a Christmas season street performance. Bad weather grounds the gunman in Oslo and gives him time to realize, after reading news reports, that he has killed the wrong man. Excellent plotting, lots of twists, deception, and a comprehensible villain contribute to the rapid pacing as the iconic Nordic detective and his colleagues race to find and stop the assassin before he kills again. This could almost be considered a police procedural except that Hole rarely follows procedure even when commanded to do so by his new supervisor. VERDICT Recommended for the many fans of Nesbø as well as for readers who appreciate maverick, intuitive detectives who fight the system almost as often as they fight crime.—Deb West, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA