CBTB’s Recommended February 2018 Releases
A new month, a new stack of brand-new crime books waiting to be read! This month is a bit lighter on my recommended reads, but that’s not to say it isn’t without some fantastic crime fiction selections. February 2018 seems to be all about Nordic Noir for me (which isn’t much of a surprise, let’s be honest…) but given the gloomy, chilly weather we’re having here in New York, this month’s new Scandinavian releases are perfectly timed! Along with these brand-new releases, one 2017 release that I absolutely loved is coming out in paperback this month, too - you'll find information on that book linked at the bottom of this post!
Catch up on my 2018 Recommended Releases lists here:
Without further ado - let’s dive into my list of Recommended February Releases!
My Quick Thoughts: There’s nothing like a great Scandinavian crime novel, and Yrsa Sigurdardottir’s THE LEGACY is up there with the best of them. Known as Iceland’s Queen of Crime, Sigurdardottir cements herself as a must-read for fans of the genre with THE LEGACY, the masterful launch of her new Children’s House Series. THE LEGACY is equal parts police procedural and chilling, horror-inspired dive into a family’s darkest secrets—a potent and engrossing combination. If there’s one thing Sigurdardottir has become known for, it’s her truly twisted imagination—and it is on full display here. THE LEGACY is first and foremost a procedural - a story of a police officer working with his team to solve a crime, and a masterfully-plotted one at that. If you love more traditional detective novels, you will feel right at home in the world of the police officers working to solve this case. But within this familiar structure, Sigurdardottir develops layer after layer of darkness, from stomach-turning family secrets to a killer with an M.O. so brutal, it left me breathless. This flair for the dark and dramatic is what makes me love her work so very much—and THE LEGACY is brimming with it. Slow-burning, tense, and utterly engrossing, THE LEGACY launches a fantastic new series sure to earn its author new (and very loyal) readers in the US.
Plot Details: The only person who might have the answers to a baffling murder case is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.
Newly-promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja for her expertise with traumatized young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.
My Quick Thoughts: Sara Blaedel is one of my go-to authors when I’m recommending Nordic Noir books to readers new to the genre. Known for her internationally-bestselling series featuring police officer Louise Rick, Blaedel now launches a new - and totally different - series here in the US with THE UNDERTAKER’S DAUGHTER. Where the Louise Rick books are procedural-oriented, THE UNDERTAKER’S DAUGHTER is character-driven; where the Louise Rick books deliver gritty murder mysteries, THE UNDERTAKER’S DAUGHTER delves into the personal life - and secrets - of its main character. What I loved most about this book was without a doubt its main character, Ilka. Ilka is a Danish woman who comes to Racine, Wisconsin in pursuit of the truth about her father - a man who abandoned her and her mother when she was very young. Blaedel has always been particularly skilled at writing endearing characters, but this talent is on full display in her newest book. CBTB readers know that I am all about expectations: this book won’t work for you if you’re looking for a dark, gritty crime series to devour (try THE LEGACY for that). However, if you typically prefer lighter suspense novels and are more interested in piecing together a woman’s family history than solving a murder, THE UNDERTAKER’S DAUGHTER will be right up your alley.
Plot Details: Already widowed by the age of forty, Ilka Nichols Jensen, a school portrait photographer, leads a modest, regimented, and uneventful life in Copenhagen. Until unexpected news rocks her quiet existence: Her father--who walked out suddenly and inexplicably on the family more than three decades ago--has died. And he's left her something in his will: his funeral home. In Racine, Wisconsin.
Clinging to this last shred of communication from the father she hasn't heard from since childhood, Ilka makes an uncharacteristically rash decision and jumps on a plane to Wisconsin. Desperate for a connection to the parent she never really knew, she plans to visit the funeral home and go through her father's things--hoping for some insight into his new life in America--before preparing the business for a quick sale.
But when she stumbles on an unsolved murder, and a killer who seems to still be very much alive, the undertaker's daughter realizes she might be in over her head . . .
KILLED by Thomas Enger
Orenda Books; February 15, 2018 (UK Publication)
For Readers Who Love: Endearing characters + gloomy, melancholy atmosphere
My Quick Thoughts: Speaking of endearing characters, have you read Thomas Enger’s Henning Juul books yet? KILLED (on sale February 15th in the UK) is the newest - and final - installment in Enger’s heartbreaking crime series about a father searching for justice for his young son, who died under tragic - and suspicious - circumstances. If you haven’t yet read this series, I would recommend reading it from the beginning—each book is tied quite closely with the next, though the publisher of KILLED has included a handy guide to the book’s key characters in this final series installment, which I hugely appreciate! I’ve stuck with this series not only for its gloomy and melancholy atmosphere (which I love), but primarily for its main character Henning. A journalist by trade, Henning’s life is shattered when his apartment is set ablaze one night - and his young son dies in the fire. This series of books begins in the years following that tragic night, and finds Henning trying to uncover the truth about the fire. Over the course of the series, Henning finds himself embroiled with a whole cast of characters in Oslo, Norway, from government officials to drug gangs and more. This series is another strong choice for readers who want to ease their way into Nordic Noir—it’s not as gritty or violent as books by authors like Jo Nesbo or Erik Axl Sund (my top favorite authors!), but it does have Nordic Noir's characteristic melancholy atmosphere and rich character development.
Plot Details: Crime reporter Henning Juul thought his life was over when his young son was murdered. But that was only the beginning…
Determined to find his son’s killer, Henning doggedly follows an increasingly dangerous trail, where dark hands from the past emerge to threaten everything. His ex-wife Nora is pregnant with another man’s child, his sister Trine is implicated in the fire that killed his son and, with everyone he thought he could trust seemingly hiding something, Henning has nothing to lose … except his own life.
Plus: Recommended February Paperback Release
UNRAVELING OLIVER by Liz Nugent
Gallery/Scout Press; February 6, 2018 (Paperback)
For Readers Who Love: Character studies + diving into the mind of a psychopath
My Quick thoughts: UNRAVELING OLIVER was without a doubt one of the most unique and thought-provoking books I read in 2017. This is not your ordinary psychological suspense novel—and that’s a great thing. Nugent’s stunning - and disturbing - story provides an unflinching glimpse into the making of a psychopath. Tracing the development of the story’s central character from troubled childhood to downright disturbing adulthood, UNRAVELING OLIVER delivers a 360-degree view of a man whose remarkably ordinary life holds some truly dark secrets. Don’t go into this book expecting plot twists and turns; Nugent’s writing is focused on a slow-and-steady peeling back of the many layers that have built our story’s psychopath.
Plot Details: Oliver Ryan has the perfect life. Elegant and seductive, he wants for nothing, sharing a lovely home with his steadfast wife, Alice, who illustrates the award-winning children’s books that have brought him wealth and fame. Until one evening, after eating the dinner Alice has carefully prepared, Oliver savagely assaults her and leaves her for dead.
The people who know Oliver can only speculate about the reasons behind his brutal act: his empty-headed mistress Moya, vain and petulant; Veronique, the French chatelaine who tragically lost everything the summer she employed him in her vineyard; Alice’s friend Barney, who has nursed an unrequited love for her since childhood; Oliver’s college pal Michael, struggling with voiceless longings that have shamed him for years. What none of them understands is the dark secret that lies behind his immaculate façade.
The revelations that come to light as the layers of Oliver’s past are peeled away are as brutal as his singular act of violence. His decades of careful deception have masked a life irrevocably marked by abandonment, envy, and shame—and as the details of that life are laid bare, Oliver discovers that outrunning his demons is harder than it looks.
With its insight into the mind of a psychopath emerging from the wreckage of his own misbegotten past, Unraveling Oliver is a chilling page-turner, brilliantly crafted and unexpectedly moving, by a stunning new voice in fiction. Liz Nugent "presents a fresh look at a man hiding his violent personality in this intense character study" (Publishers Weekly, starred review). As powerful as Patricia Highsmith’s unforgettable noir classic, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Unraveling Oliver will enthrall you from its mesmerizing opening line to its equally shocking last page.
Are any of these books on your TBR? Have you read any of them already? I'd love to hear from you! xx A