PanThe Sunday Times (UK)... [Osman\'s] habit of patting his characters on the head for knowing about cryptocurrency is as patronising as the assumptions he claims to be challenging ... even more detached from reality than the previous two ... It does, however, contain a spectacular giveaway in the shape of an observation from another minor character, an improbable DCI called Chris ... Chris has inadvertently put his finger on one of the series’ most significant flaws, which is the absence of any moral framework. Violent crime might be messy at times, but Osman’s plots quickly move on to the next thing, which could be a heist or (as here) a death threat to one of the main characters. Even that evokes little anticipation because it’s obvious that, in this world of magical unrealism, they are all going to survive for the next adventure. Hence the books’ other serious drawback, the persistent lack of any sense of jeopardy ... Crime writers are understandably reluctant to dispatch their fictional detectives, but there are other ways of creating suspense. None of these features in Osman’s novels. His villains are neither credible nor threatening, and the appearance of a cheery new character who used to be the KGB station chief in Leningrad feels particularly unfortunate in view of events in Ukraine.
PanThe Times (UK)Osman has stuck to a winning formula with his new book, setting it in the upmarket retirement village in Kent he invented for the first ... The Man Who Died Twice is an easy read ... Osman seems strikingly keen on ticking all the diversity boxes, but it sits oddly in what can only be described as a tediously old-fashioned caper. What is clear after reading both novels is that Osman is a very much a one-trick pony, whose trademark is subverting expectations about the elderly in a series of attention-grabbing asides ... He is essentially writing soap opera, and there is nothing wrong with that, but his characters are paper-thin ... There is no doubt that Osman is a phenomenon, but that says more about the relationship between celebrity and publishing than it does about his writing. I suspect these are novels for readers who do not normally like crime fiction — and there appear to be plenty of those.
RaveThe Times (UK)Iceland is a small country with one of the world’s lowest murder rates. Yet this nation of 365,000 people has produced two world-class crime writers, Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir. Now Ragnar Jonasson’s magnificent new novel, The Mist, confirms that they have been joined by a third ... [Hulda] is a moving character, a smart woman whose intelligence isn’t appreciated by her colleagues, and her bitter experience at work gives her a rare empathy with the victims of crime ... It doesn’t matter if you haven’t read the other books...because The Mist works as a spine-chilling mystery in its own right ... one of the most astonishing plots in modern crime fiction ... The Mist is a triumphant conclusion to the trilogy and makes Iceland’s pre-eminence in the crime genre even more marked ... With its short winter days and extreme weather, the country has always placed a high value on storytelling, both in the form of novels and in its age-old sagas. Icelanders grow up on these stories, which, like crime fiction, are full of betrayals and family conflicts, and may offer a clue as to why a nation that has so few murders is able to produce such superb crime writers. And Jonasson is up there with the best.
Soji Shimada, trans. by Louise Heal Kawai
PositiveThe Times (UK)... hugely entertaining ... has echoes of [Shimada\'s] iconic debut, The Tokyo Zodiac Murders ... a brilliant and satisfying conclusion.
PositiveThe TimesSusan Hill’s The Comforts of Home opens with a shock for fans ... Hill’s cool observation of her characters doesn’t imply any lack of sympathy, and Serrailler’s struggle to come to terms with the recent past is thoughtfully done.
RaveThe TimesVal McDermid’s Broken Ground opens in 1944 with a couple of men burying something in an isolated area of the Highlands...when the granddaughter of one of the men turns up, clutching a map left behind when he died, she finds something buried far more recently ... McDermid’s novels about cold cases have solid plots and fascinating forensic detail.
PositiveThe Times (UK)Paretsky is brilliant at juggling strands, but the 19th Warshawski novel is also a panoramic vision of Chicago at a time when the city is so polarised that decent people don’t know who to trust.