It's time once again to review the latest in foreign crime novels--as Rhian mentioned, we're at the shore, and so I had Amazon (sorry, independent bookstore supporters--if you can find somebody else who can get my the British books I crave, I will switch in a heartbeat) send me a few new ones for perusal on the beach.
(And let me say first that I am not actually reading these on the beach. I love the ocean, but I hate the beach--my skin is the color of an oak desk even in January and I don't need a tan. So it's off to the beach for swimming, and back to the air-conditioned rental for books.)
Anyway, I'm reading four new novels, two of which I'll discuss in this post--Hakan Nesser's The Return and The New Ruth Rendell, Not In The Flesh. The Rendell first--this book is the latest Chief Inspector Wexford mystery, and I am sad to say that, while it's pretty entertaining, it does not quite measure up to her best. The supporting cast of this long-running series has become rather cartoonish in this installment, and--in a very, very un-Rendellian mistake--an obvious clue appears halfway through that gives it all away. There are other Wexford books in which this seems to happen, but it's always a trick--the real answer is tucked away somewhere you would never have thought to look. This time, however, it's the real thing, and is something of a disappointment, though I'd pick middling Rendell over a lot of crime writers' best, any day. In addition, I'm not saying Rendell has lost her touch--the last Barbara Vine book was one of my favorites ever. If it's Wexford you want, though, go check out Kissing The Gunner's Daughter or Road Rage.
More satisfying is the Nesser, which I'd had no particular expectation for--the first of this Swede's novels to be translated, Borkmann's Point, was pretty decent, but not among my favorite recent Scandanavian mysteries. This new one is terrific, though. Inspector Van Veeteren, the series' gruff protagonist, is in the hospital having a length of intestine removed, and takes it upon himself to solve the crime from his bed. A man convicted of two murders is released from prison and is soon murdered himself; the subsequent investigation uncovers information that leads Van Veeteren to suspect that the man might be innocent of the first two killings. The book is smart, philosophical, and dryly written, and I was utterly blindsided by the shocking ending.
I just cracked the new Arnaldur Indridason, and have the latest Karin Fossum on deck--the latter is one of my favorite writers currently and I've saved her for last. I'll post about them in the coming days.