It takes tenacity to stay the ride with these Valkyries

2009-12-16 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

The Valkyrie Song

Craig Russell

Hutchinson

CRAIG Russell has gained a reputation as a distinctive and exciting crime writer (Blood Eagle, The ­Carnival Master), an ingenious ­plotter and skilled in the ritual or ­serial-killer genre, grisly but never gratuitously disgusting.

This latest novel is set in ­Hamburg, where an English pop star is found horridly killed in the red-light ­district, in a manner ­reminiscent of the “Angel of St ­Pauli”, a female serial killer active a decade before.

Links emerge with apparently ­unrelated events: a journalist ­murdered in Norway, the death of a Serbian gangster. And there ­appears to be a connection with a long-­forgotten project by East ­Germany’s Stasi, developed during the Cold War: the secret training of a group of female assassins, codenamed Valkyrie.

In charge of the case is Jan Fabel, yet another of those intelligent, ­humane, honourable, likeable, ­rather world-weary and disillusioned fictional detectives scattered throughout Europe and ­Scandinavia these days, with a mean-spirited ex-wife, a bright daughter who wants to join the police, and a beautiful ­lover who wants a commitment he’s so far unable to make.

At least — unlike a lot of his ­rather beat-up colleagues in Scandinavia — Fabel doesn’t drink, nor does he overeat, as do some of his Italian ­confr è res. So he’s pretty much on the ball all the time.

Just as well, as he has to deal, mainly in flawless English, with so many interested parties from ­different countries, and also must cope with the idea of ghastly female killing machines, at least one of whom is a truly worst-nightmare type.

It’s well written and cleverly ­convoluted, with plenty of new ­ideas presented authentically, and Russell has done his Cold War homework well — and also clearly has a genuine affection for the ­modern Hamburg. But, presumably because he was obliged to pad the book out to best-selling paperback length, it’s just too long: so ­ravelled, so complicated, so full of startling revelations, that the reader, first jaded, then wearied, begins to wonder if it’s really worth soldiering on to the end.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.