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Monday, 11 August 2014

‘Euro Noir’ by Barry Forshaw

 Published by Oldcastle Books,
26 June 2014.
ISBN: 978-1-84344-245-5

This reference book is a personal guide to European crime in books, film and TV: ‘a user-friendly, wide-ranging snapshot of the best achievements ... of crime not originally written (or played) in English.  It’s divided by country, and there’s a short introduction followed by more detailed entries on notable writers, roughly in chronological order.  Then there’s a description of selected films and TV, by date.  At the back are two appendices with a ‘top ten’ in book and screen per country, and an index. 

It’s most certainly a wide-ranging guide.  Forshaw’s other books include guides Nordic Noir, British Crime Film and British Gothic Cinema as well as British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia.  The book assessments are spattered with anecdotes about the authors, and the prose is lively and readable.  It’s always interesting to read someone else’s comments on a book you know, and it’s full of ideas for new authors to try, or good films to watch.

I wasn’t so sure it was completely user-friendly.  It was organised more as a chatty guide than a reference work, so Simenon, for example, had three ‘chunks’ of text, each with a bold headline, and the headlines themselves were amusing rather than clear or factual.  Other writers got one ‘chunk’ or two. There weren’t many spoilers (warning: this reader’s eyes had read the spoiler by the time her brain had clocked ‘spoiler alert’) but I felt we were given more of the plot than I wanted for a book I might like to read.  I’d also have liked the original title, as well as the translation title, for both book and film (for films, Forshaw generally gave both).

An entertaining guide by a real expert, with a lot of ideas for writers and film/TV to try.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Barry Forshaw's latest books are British Crime Film and Death in a Cold Climate: A Guide to Scandinavian Crime Fiction. Other work includes British Crime Writing: An Encyclopedia, The Rough Guide to Crime Fiction and Guns for Hire: The Modern Adventure Thriller, along with books on Italian cinema and the first biography of Stieg Larsson. His next books are British Gothic Cinema and a study of Thomas Harris and The Silence of the Lambs. He writes for various newspapers, edits Crime Time, and broadcasts for ITV and BBC TV documentaries. He has been Vice Chair of the Crime Writers' Association.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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