The fabulous blog I Will Read Books has written a nice review of Asa Larsson’s latest dark and exciting thriller The Black Path:
Åsa Larsson is back with a new Rebecka Martinsson crime thriller, The Black Path. Actually, this is part three in the series and Until thy Wrath be Past was part four. For some reason, which I should look into, Quercus has decided to publish them in reverse chronological order.
Anyway, as I enjoyed the part four I’m in debted to Quercus Books for providing me with a review copy of The Black Path as well. Not indebted enough to be lenient, obviously. . .
What makes The Black Path such a refreshing read is Åsa Larsson’s characters. Although the series is called The Rebecka Martinsson Investigations, the book is as much about almost everyone involved. Åsa Larsson not only tells what the characters are doing now, but also what they did in their past to end up in their current situation.
This often goes as far back as their childhood. It’s effective, makes you feel you know the characters quite intimately. All these flashbacks to the past does slow down the story, but Åsa Larsson does get the balance right, maintaining the momentum of the plot.
Having said that, I’m glad not every writer shares so much of the past of every character. . .
Head on over to I Will Read Books for the review in full.
Such is the fitting epithet bestowed on Åsa Larsson by Mr Barry Forshaw in his review in the Independent last week of her latest crime blockbuster in translation, The Black Path:
There is a piece of sleight-of-hand at the beginning of this novel by Swedish crime queen Åsa Larsson.
It is a tactic which both wrong-foots the reader and imparts some vivid local colour. A man is sitting fishing on a spring evening in Torneträsk. At this time of year, residents make the trip to a secluded area where the ice is more than a metre thick, riding snowmobiles, and towing their “arks” behind them. These arks are small fishing cabins with a hole in the floor through which the fishermen drill into the ice, and sit inside warmed by a gas stove.
But the fisherman in The Black Path, translated by Marlaine Delargy, is unlucky. Stepping outside in his underwear to relieve himself, he watches in horror as his ark is whipped away by a storm. He knows he will die unless he finds another. Finding a deserted one, he breaks in; he sees a blanket on the bed and pulls it off. Underneath lies the body of a woman, her eyes frozen into ice.
At this point the reader realises that this stunningly described chapter is, in fact, a clever revision of one of the oldest clichés in the crime thriller lexicon: the discovery of the corpse that sets the plot in motion. But those who have read Larsson’s The Savage Altar will know that every element of her work is always granted an idiosyncratic new twist. While many Nordic crime writers are content to locate their bloody deeds in suburban cities not unlike those of Britain, Larsson is always looking for the more off-kilter setting.
Read the full review
But this is just the latest in a flurry of glowing notices for perhaps the strongest book in the series . . .
“Another enormously successful Swedish import, Larsson is a remarkably good writer who has been well served by her translator” Literary Review
“Torture, corruption and perversion: there is no shortage of naughtiness in Åsa Larsson’s The Black Path . . . A superior example of Scandinavian noir” Sunday Telegraph
“Larsson’s chilling insight into the worst of human nature cannot be faulted” Irish Examiner.
“A compelling read . . . this series is really amongst the cream of recently translated Scandinavian crime fiction” Eurocrime
The Black Path is available now in hardback and from September in paperback,
The shortlist for the 2012 Crime Writers’ Association International Dagger was announced on Friday at Bristol’s CrimeFest, and two of the books on the list — one third of them, that is — were MacLehose Press books.
Åsa Larsson, who was present at the announcement, has been shortlisted for the second time for Until Thy Wrath Be Past (trans. Laurie Thompson) (The Savage Altar was one of the six in 2007), which Valerio Varesi has made it two years in a row with The Dark Valley (trans. Joseph Farrell), the second of his Commissario Soneri novels to be published in English. His first, River of Shadows, was shortlisted for the 2011 award. The full list reads as follow:
The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli
I will have Vengeance by Maurizio de Giovanni, translated by Anne Milano Appel
Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Åsa Larsson, translated by Laurie Thompson
Trackers by Deon Meyer, translated by T K L Seegers
Phantom by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett
The Dark Valley by Valerio Varesi, translated by Joseph Farrell
Whispers from Sweden inform us that Åsa Larsson’s Til offer at Molok (The Sacrifice to Moloch) is riding high at number one in the book charts. It is the fifth novel in Larsson’s series of Rebecca Martinsson/Anna Maria-Mella investigations. We will be publishing The Black Path, the third novel in the series, in hardback in June, and Larsson will be appearing at Bristol’s CrimeFest in May.
Meanwhile, Icelandic author Jon Kalman Stefánsson, of whose landmark trilogy only Heaven and Hell is as yet available in English, has been nominated for the Italian Premio Gregor von Rezzori – City of Florence, a literary award that honours foreign fiction, named for the author of The Snows of Yesteryear, Memoirs of an Anti-Semite and The Czar of Czernopol. Fingers crossed for Mr. Stefánsson.
We begin with the paperback of Daniel Pennac’s wonderfully prognostic book, School Blues – which has caught the attention of both the Economist:
“. . . Describes what faces a school dunce when the teacher before him cannot recall what it felt like to be ignorant . . . Playfully written . . . “School Blues” joyously combines the profound with the seemingly trivial. It gently reminds readers how ignorant it is to have forgotten what it felt like to have but little knowledge.”
And the Sunday Business Post:
“What makes a good teacher? In this reflective and philosophical account, Frenchman and former teacher Daniel Pennac suggests his own theories for this timeless conundrum, in a drily humorous, yet impressively cohesive way. Translated from the French by Sarah Ardizzone, as a manual preaching mutual understanding in the classroom, this is hard to beat. Essential reading for any teacher.”
The Vintage and the Gleaning has made it into the September review pages of the Irish Tatler:
“Written with an authentic voice and infused with beauty, brutality and sadness, this is a compelling observation of men, women and country. A remarkably accomplished debut novel that is unputdownable.”
The paperback of Claudie Gallay’s The Breakers, has been reviewed in the Guardian this weekend:
“ . . . the recursive prose is subtly hypnotic, mimicking the obsessive circularity of mourning and the tendency of insight to be always belated . . . the effect is oddly intriguing.” Chris Ross
Librarian, Aileen Smedley, picks Jacques Bonnet’s outstanding book about books, Phantoms on the Bookshelves for the Lytham St Anne’s Express:
“It is witty, entertaining and slightly intimidating in its breadth. Well worth a read for anyone passionate about books.”
Journal by Hélène Berr has been reviewed in the South Wales Evening Post:
“A harrowing account but an incredibly important piece of writing.”
Jake Kerridge has reviewed Until Thy Wrath Be Past in this weekend’s Telegraph:
“Larsson’s laid-back style makes her unflinching probing of icy depths of the human heart all the more chilling”
Whilst in the blogosphere a senior member of the Royal Navy reviews Until Thy Wrath Be Past for the website dedicated to members of the British army:
“Set in contemporary rural Sweden the author has created a variety of detailed characters each with a richly painted background … The story unfolds at a quick pace and seems straightforward but there are one or two twists that I didn’t expect which make for great reading. Sadly, despite being 300+ pages in hardback this is a very quick book to complete. Good news for some but I enjoyed it so much I wanted it to continue. In fact the storyline was so good I could see this making a really good feature film. A good book and one I enjoyed so much so that I’m going to hunt out more from the author, to that end I’m giving this book 4 out of 5.”
Yet another review for Until Thy Wrath Be Past, this time found on Winston’s Dad blog:
“I’ve read other Nordic crime books over the last few years and this one needs to sit near the top of the pile . . . The crime is realistic – which is more than I can say of some of the other Nordic crime novels I’ve read. I enjoyed reading female leads that I could get on with as a male reader . . . So much better than Harry Hole [Jo Nesbø’s main character] for me. Yes she is the ‘other’ Larsson but Rebecka [Martinsson] is not another Lisbeth Salander, she is a new face for Nordic crime.”
And the Book Bag also gets in on the Åsa Larsson action, with their review:
“The words ‘third book’ might give you cause for concern, but don’t worry. I have to admit that I, too, was an Åsa Larsson virgin. I suspect that there are spoilers for the earlier books in Until Thy Wrath Be Past . . . but it works perfectly well as a standalone. It’s a good story and a neatly-turned plot which can’t help but pull you in. I knew where the story was going but the evolving detail of the background and exactly who has instigated the murders caught me by surprise. Martinsson makes an excellent protagonist too – intelligent, physically courageous and very much her own woman – and an elegant contrast to Mella with her insecurities.”
And last but not least the paperback of The Road continues to be reviewed across the papers. This time in the Daily Express (5 stars):
“From satire to comedy and tragedy this is a fantastic collection translated into English for the first time. Including Stalin’s purges and the Holocaust, these short stories and articles are accompanied by introductions that put Grossman’s life into context.”
And the Sunday Times:
“. . . his vivid dispatches, some newly translated for this superb collection, retain a freshness that only the finest journalism can. The 11 short stories also collected here show a writer of infinite variety, and the bulk of them will enhance his reputation . . . his is a powerful voice of conscience.”