The Final Days of Abbot Montrose: As Asbjorn Krag Mystery by Sven Elvestad aka Stein Riverton – #BookReview – #historicalthrillers

Before there was Nordic Noir, there was Sven Elvestad.

Book Blurb:

The Final Days of Abbott Montrose by Sven ElvestadIt is an evening in early May when the quiet of Montrose Abbey is shattered by the sounds of shouting and broken glass. When the police arrive, they find the abbey library ransacked and bloodstained. Broken furniture and a burning carpet bear witness to a violent struggle. And the abbot himself, the scholarly Abbot Montrose, is missing. Only a torn fragment of his cassock remains, caught in the wrought-iron fence surrounding the abbey.

The police, the press, and citizens of this northern city fear the worst. What could have befallen the missing abbot? Has he been murdered? Abducted?

As world-renowned Detective Asbjørn Krag and his partner, Detective Sirius Keller, begin to unravel the tangled knot of clues left behind, they find themselves in the city’s infamous Krydder District, “where the dark doorways are as close together as rat holes in an old warehouse.” The more answers they find, the more questions seem to pop up.

This well-constructed, evocative and witty mystery by Sven Elvestead, also known as Stein Riverton (for whom the Norwegian Riverton Prize was named), will keep you guessing until the very last page. 

His Review:

Abbott Montrose is missing and there is blood in his residence. Officers 12 and 314 are first on the scene and suspect foul play. They had arrived at the residence very quickly after the whistled alert and saw someone running from the home. As they entered the living room they encountered many pieces of overturned or broken household furnishings and blood droplets on the floor. Money and other valuables are missing

The Final Days of Abbot Montrose by Sven elvestadAsbjorn Krag and Detective Keller are assigned to the case. Scraps of paper left that were clues to the possible perpetrator. One read of the payment of 30 kroner to a gardener for 6 days work, but the detectives immediately felt the gardener was not involved in the crime. A piece of the abbot’s vestment was found on the cast iron fence around his property and hinted to an apparent abduction.

The clues left at the crime scene led the two detectives to believe the thugs might be local. The investigation turned up more unsolved deaths and created various forks in the trail of investigation.

Confounding the investigation are clues that continue to preclude that the Abbot has indeed met his demise as he would have contacted his Bishop and others of his well being and whereabouts. A letter is found in the Abbots’ handwriting that affirms he is okay, but the letter is so crumpled and maltreated that the detectives are certain that he would not have treated a missive in this manner. Surely the Abbot wrote the letter under duress!

The detectives continue to suspect that the Abbot has met with foul play. Another unexplained death happens in the city and the resultant thinking is that indeed the Abbot has been injured or killed.

The detectives involved seem to have their case being solved on the backs of other murder victims. I began to question the ability of the two detectives to solve the crime or for that matter solve any crime! This is a slow burn Nordic Noir and the pace and apparent ineptitude of the detectives made it difficult to stay engaged. 3.5 stars – C.E. Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book through a request by the publisher that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Three point Five Stars 3 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Historical Thrillers, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: Kazabo Publishing
ASIN: B07GTGWMXK
Print Length: 214 pages
Publication Date: August 24, 2018
Source: Publisher
Title Link: The Final Days of Abbot Montrose [Amazon]
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Sven Elvestad - authorThe Author: Sven Elvestad, aka Stein Riverton, was born in Fredrikshald, Norway, in 1884 and is the author of over 90 books. Jo Nesbø calls him “A great writer and the father of the Norwegian crime novel” and, even today, the Riverton Prize is awarded annually to the best Norwegian crime story. In addition to writing acclaimed mysteries, Sven Elvestad was one of the most famous Scandinavian journalists of the early 20th century. Well known for his exploits, he once spent an entire day locked in a lion’s cage and was the first foreign journalist to interview Hitler. –This text refers to the paperback edition.

[Goodreads] Sven Elvestad (1884 – 1934) was a Norwegian journalist and author. He is best known for his detective stories, which were published under the pen name Stein Riverton.

©2021 – CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

The German Client: A Bacci Pagano Investigation #6 by Bruno Morchio – a #BookReview – International Mystery & Crime

Bestselling Italian author Bruno Morchio releases his debut for English readers. 

Book Blurb:

The German ClientPrivate investigator Bacci Pagano can’t resist taking the bait when his new client dangles a check with too many zeros. He should have known that where there’s bait, there’s always a hook. 

In a hospital corridor, private investigator Bacci Pagano is keeping watch over Jasmìne Kilamba. If she lives, her testimony will shatter a  notorious human trafficking ring. Seemingly out of nowhere, he is approached by an elderly German named Kurt Hessen who is searching for his Italian half-brother. Despite his better judgment, Pagano accepts the job.  So many things, good and evil, happened when the Nazis occupied Genoa in 1944, what did it matter now? But it matters very much to someone and Pagano finds himself plunged into a world of old secrets and new lies in this wartime thriller where the bill for the sins of the past has come due . . . with interest. 

Originally published in Italian as Rossoamaro, The German Client elegantly intertwines a wartime thriller about Nazi-occupied Genoa with the gritty realism of Pagano’s current investigation in what La Repubblica called “a masterful tale.”

Nominated for a National Book Award, The German Client spent five weeks on the Corriere della Sera best seller list and won the Azzeccagarbugli Prize for Best Mystery. 

His Review:

A WWII mystery wrapped up in a modern-day saga. Italy is in the latter days of the war and has been demoted from a German Ally to an occupied country with the Germans refusing to withdraw. Italy and its’ people are forced to assist the Third Reich in any way they can. The characters are well developed and the collaborators are feared and hated by the average populace. Check-points are manned with German military who have very itchy trigger fingers.

The German client by Bruno MarchioKurt Hessen is a late war baby who is suffering from a terminal disease. He is looking for a brother he did not know he had. Detective Pagano is hired by Kurt to find this long-lost brother. Apparently, there is a sizable family inheritance that should go to the only surviving son of Mr. Hessen. Should the brother not be found, the money will go back to the state.

The author skillfully weaves the story through two time periods. It is masterfully done and I found myself appreciating the drama between a young Italian girl and an older German officer. Weaving the nearly 65 year split between the end of the war and current day adds to the mystery. The topper is the fact that the last name of the young girl is not known to the detective. Detective Pagano refuses the assignment outright but the dying man is insistent. He grudgingly takes on the task.

A real eye-opener is the continued mistrust of the protagonists and the former members of the resistance. In 1944 the war for Italy was coming to an end. The Germans were not going to retreat quietly. Secrets of the resistance and the partisans are raw wounds that carry forth to this day. Because of the animosity there is no real assistance from the population to help solve the mystery. Every bit of information is dragged out from those that remember. Many simply refuse to discuss the case or the time period.

The ending is a surprise that I did not see coming! The flow of the story reminds me of a taffy pull. Just when you think you have an inkling of an outcome the author skillfully changes direction. The ending is totally unexpected. The destruction of cities and industries by the Allied bombing made me sympathetic to the plight of the Italians.

CE WilliamsThe only quibble I had was the continuous use of places existing during WWII with no map or way to identify the locality.  I suggest that anyone with a desire to learn history and feel the pain of war on the civilian population read this book. It is emotive and you will not be disappointed. Thanks to Chiara from Kazabo Publishing for my complementary copy. These are my honest and unbiased opinions. 4.5 stars – CE Williams

Book Details:

Genre: International Mystery & Crime, War Fiction, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Kazabo Publishing

  • ASIN : B082LZL7WG

Print Length: 204 pages
Publication Date: February 17, 2020
Source: Publisher request
Title Links: The German Client [Amazon]

Also find the book at these locations:

Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Add to Goodreads Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Bruno Marchio - authorThe Author: Bacci Pagano, “the noir detective with the heart of gold,” is Bruno’s signature creation. Bacci is an Italian institution. Featured in over 15 novels, Vanity Fair called Pagano, “one of Italy’s most beloved characters.” In the words of one major Italian newspaper, “Bacci Pagano is a fixture in the Italian imagination. One grows fond of Bacci. After reading a few of these novels, you find you can no longer do without him.”

Bruno Morchio lives in Genoa, Italy, where he worked as a psychologist. He has won two literary prizes for the mystery genre, the Azzeccagarbugli and the Lomellina in Giallo Prizes, and was a finalist for the Bancarella, the Scerbanenco and the Romiti Prizes.

FACEBOOKhttps://www.facebook.com/bruno.morchio

AUTHOR WEBSITEwww.brunomorchio.com

©2020 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams