Thomas Quick: the making of a serial killer, by Hannes Råstam [audiobook]. Read by Peter Noble. Rearsby, Leics.: WF Howes/Clipper, 2013.
In 1992, Thomas Quick confessed to the murder of a missing eleven-year-old boy, while Quick was receiving treatment in a secure mental hospital. Over the following nine years, Quick confessed to another 30 murders. Hannes Råstam, an investigative journalist, became fascinated with Quick's case and eventually met Quick in prison in 2008. What came out of the interviews and Råstam's investigations was, if anything, more frightening than the murderer himself, and raised questions about the Swedish legal and psychiatric systems. Råstam himself died the day after delivering the manuscript, but the ramifications of the case, and of this book, continue to be felt in Sweden. This is an absolutely fascinating book.
Burial rites, by Hannah Kent. London: Picador, 2014.
Agnes Magnúsdóttir is condemned to die for the murder of two men; before her beheading, she is boarded out on a district inspector's family. Margrét, the mother of the family, is terrified before Agnes arrives, but they gradually develop an understanding as Agnes works in the household. Agnes has been able to choose a confessor, Thorvárdur Jónsson (Tóti); what eventually comes out of their conversations is unexpected. This book gives a powerful picture of the sheer hard slog of life in Iceland in the early nineteenth century, as well as being a fascinating riff on actual events - Agnes exists in Iceland as almost a folkloric character, but very little is known of her as a women.
Who in hell is Wanda Fuca? by GM Ford [audiobook]. Read by Jeff Harding. Whitley Bay: Chivers/BBC, 2007.
The first of the Leo Waterman books. Leo is engaged by a local mobster to hunt for Caroline Nobel, an heiress with a history of extreme environmentalism. When one of the small army of homeless men Leo has assembled to help search is found dead, there's more than one case to be solved; and staying on the lawful side of the fence isn't always possible. Ford's tone is light, and funny; and works extremely well with Harding's reading... Sadly, the cassettes for this were in pretty awful state, and I missed the explanation for the title and had to Google it later (it's a Mondegreen for Juan de Fuca, an area of outstanding natural beauty off the coast.)
Still life, by Louise Penny. London: Headline, 2005.
The first of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache books. Shock and fear tranform the village of Three Pines, Québec, when a former school teacher is found dead in a clearing near her house, an arrow through her heart. Gamache is called in with his team, and begins to get to know the people in the village, from the dead woman's neighbours Clara and Peter, both artists, to the gay couple who run the local bistrot. As Gamache investigates more thoroughly, long-dead secrets start to emerge. There's also a very interesting situation with an extremely unsympathetic policewoman who just doesn't seem to be able to get the hang of her job... Am about to start reading these in order...
Next to die, by Neil White. London: Sphere, 2014.
I think this must have come from a charity shop in Seaham Harbour earlier in the summer... Joe Parker is pleased to take a client away from his previous employer, but then finds that it's a man facing trial for the murder of his girlfriend and their baby. Meanwhile Joe's brother Sam, a detective, is investigating a related crime and the two brothers are quickly in conflict with each other. In the background, a constant presence, is the murder of the brothers' sister Ellie fifteen years before, and increasingly, fear for the little sister they still have. Really tightly plotted; I guessed what was happening 50 or so pages before the brothers did, but there's always an interest in being proved right!