- Review and Interview
Reviewed by CS
Book: Blood Eagle Craig Russell
is an exciting thriller with all the right ingredients to make this
a great read. It introduces Kriminalhauptkommissar Fabel who is
half German/half Scottish. Fabel comes up against a maniac who butchers
women in the most grotesque way. Their lungs are ripped from the
body in what is found to be an old Nordic form of sacrifice to the
god, Odin. Nasty!
Before the story
begins, Fabel has investigated the murder of a young lawyer, a crime
he was never able to solve. Like other victims before her, the woman
haunts Fabels dreams - begging him to find her killer. Now,
some months later, another victim is found who has been killed in
exactly the same manner as the lawyer. Again, it is a young woman
known only as Monique. Was she a prostitute or someone with a greater
importance? At the same time, there are rapes going on where a victim
who survived the ordeal says that men wearing masks of Odin raped
her. Is this connected with the murders?
a newspaper magnate and his Nazi father, a man called MacSwain who
is also half Scottish/half German. Are they also connected to the
I really enjoyed
this book. It is absolutely not for the faint-hearted who like a
cosy mystery. This book is anything but. It introduces Fabel and
a cast of characters who you can see are going to develop in the
coming series. When something happens to one of the characters I,
for one, was extremely shocked and upset.
There is a Glossary
in the front of the book so you can always check who stands where
in the police hierarchy. This is a book where you will keep flicking
between pages to see who is where and what they represent, but if
you are happy to do this then you will enjoy this journey. I urge
you to buy this book, I am certain that you will not regret it.
Given Craig Russells second book, Brother Grimm, is in the
can Im sure that we will soon be hearing a lot more about
What type of crime writing would you say you write?
is the first in a series of crime thrillers set in Hamburg, Germany.
All of these books feature Hauptkommissar Jan Fabel of the Polizei
you could say what characterizes these books is their geographical,
political, cultural and historical context: something which adds
menace to them and places the English-speaking reader in an environment
which is disconcertingly familiar and foreign at the same time.
All of the books in the Jan Fabel series (I have completed the second
book, Brother Grimm, and I am currently working on book three) explore
dark themes from history, mythology and legend. In Blood Eagle,
for example, Fabel has to race to catch a serial-killer who is replicating
a gruesome ancient Viking ritual of human sacrifice. So, although
the story is 21st century contemporary, the additional darkness
and menace comes from the fearsome image of some kind of new über-Viking
stalking the streets looking for victims.
is a beautiful and enormously varied city. It is considered (by
its inhabitants) to be the most British city outside the UK.
It is also a city of amazing contrasts and a great background for
What type of crime do you prefer? Series or standalone?
All in all,
both as a writer and a reader, I would have to say a series. I think
that in such a psychological area as crime fiction,
you need to get into the head of the protagonist. This said, good
writing is all about achieving that quickly and effectively and
should be achieved within a single book. However, I believe that,
as a writer, a series gives you the opportunity to develop and mature
the principal character; as a reader, it allows you to develop a
relationship with them and understand and empathize with them better.
Have you always had ideas to write a crime novel?
wanted to write a novel, and with my background and I suppose
my psychology crime thrillers were the natural way to go.
What influenced you to write a crime novel in the first place?
I feel it allows you to have a more direct relationship with the
reader. I have said it before: crime readers are an increasingly
intelligent and discerning bunch and they offer the writer a challenge
and an opportunity. You have to stretch yourself as a writer in
crime fiction. The readership demand an ever higher literary standard
and you have to write at the top of your game; but unlike other
forms, you cannot rely on the quality of your writing alone, the
crime reader demands to be engaged, challenged, involved and carried
along by the story.
answer, then, is that crime writing is one of the most exciting
and challenging genres in which to work.
What is your favourite crime read of all time?
tough. Chandler is the governor for me and I would have to say The
Would you describe yourself as a Crime fan and if so, which authors
do you most admire?
I would say
my literary influences have tended to come from outside the crime
genre. Everything from Heinrich Böll to Mikhail Sholokhov.
I am a fan of the American writer Ross MacDonalds Lew Archer
books: the Drowning Pool, The Chill, etc. I like the Swedish writers
Henning Mankell, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. Neil
Speight, who works for my publishers, introduced me to the Dutch
writer Janwillem van de Wetering, and Im currently getting
very much into his Amsterdam-based The Streetbird.
What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
Sean Penns version of Friedrich Dürrenmatts The
Pledge. I am usually a vehement opponent of European novels being
re-located to America, but the substitution of the snow-covered
highlands of Nevada for the original Swiss cantons worked amazingly
well. And, of course, Jack Nicholson turned in a superb performance
as the obsessed murder detective.
Where do you see crime fiction going next?
feeling is that we are entering an exciting new era for crime writing.
I certainly see it as an exciting time to be writing crime fiction,
with a readership who is continually looking for something more,