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Posts from the ‘crime fiction’ Category

18
Jan

#Mystery Gaudy Night

Magdalen Bridge, Oxford University (…last scene in the book)

 

JANUARY

11. Gaudy Night (Lord Peter Wimsey, #10) by Dorothy L. Sayers by Dorothy L. Sayers Dorothy L. Sayers

Finish date: 13 January 2022
Genre: novel wrapped in a mystery
Rating: D
Review:

Bad news: The first chapters are all about a bevy of young women meeting at a 10 yr class reunion at Oxford University. There’s no suspense…no tension…no push to propel the plot! Where is the hook?

Bad news: I was NOT given what I expected. I wanted a “scratch your head” puzzle…who is trolling all these academics with threats?
The center of the story….is NOT the poison-pen letters…but Harriet Vane’s issues with marriage!

Good news: Literary challenge – Each chapter is introduced by a quote by an Elizabethan poet/writer and I had fun researching the words mentioned and tied to find the connection Sayers intended to make with that particular chapter.

Bad news: Unfortunately….this literary adventure fizzled out. The clues about the book are so deeply embedded it lofty poetic allusions….I lost interest. This is just not something I was looking for in a mystery.

Examples:

Sir Philip Sidney – (1554-1586) ch 1 – “Thou blind man’s mark, thou fool’s self-chosen snare….” (desire is the snare).
So if desire is a swamp we become lost in, then virtue is the brilliant and guiding sun that leads us out of the it. Once you finish the book this idea could be applicable to the relationship between Harriet Vane and Lord Wimsey)…but you’ll have to get through some soporific (23 chapters) to understand this high moral, intellectual value Sayers wants to give us.
Not what I’m looking for in a mystery!

Robert Burton (1577-1640) ch 2 – “’Tis proper to all melancholy men…”
Burton treats suicide as an outcome of melancholy, depression. One character we NEVER see unfortunately “blows his brains out” ends. Again you must slog through the book to find out who! Not my idea of building tension throughout the book. I read this and asked myself “Who is this character….?”

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) ch 3 – “…They do best who, if they cannot but admit love…”

Is love and marriage are worth…the sacrifice? Need she (Harriet Vane) sacrifice her brain to achieve keeping a husband and a home? “…washing, cooking, feeding the cattle and digging potatoes…these things take the edge of the razor.” (ch 3).

W. Shakespeare (1564-1616) ch 4 – “…Thou canst not, love, disgrace me half so ill,…

Harriet Vane fears the proposed bond of marriage to Lord Wimsey will not be one of of equals.

Personal: If you want to dream away and enter the gothic and hallowed grounds of Oxford University …this is your book. If you want a thrilling, dazzling mystery that will keep you up thinking “whodunnit?” …this is NOT your book. I tired to stay engaged…I tried not falling asleep…I tried to give Dorothy Sayers (one of the Queens of Golden Age English mystery) the respect she deserves but I could not. I did discover Lord Wimsey is the great sleuth….NOT Harriet! He narrows down the list of suspects responsible for poison-pen messages while Harriet sits shell-shocked in the corner of the room!
IMO this would have been a good novel…just a love story and leave the mystery element on the “editing floor”.

 

16
Jan

#CF Kolymsky Heights

Siberia...

JANUARY

10. Kolymsky Heights by Lionel Davidson by Lionel Davidson Lionel Davidson

Finish date: 10 January 2022
Genre: CF
Rating: F-
Review:

Bad news: I found it deadly boring, but I was determined to finish it and after skimming lots of pages (the middle section…completely!!) I managed to get to the moderately exciting last 50 pages. The characters had zero depth, the plot completely implausible, and the writing to be flat. It took “Raven” (main character Johnny Porter) 250 pages to get from Nagasaki-Murmansk 3757 nautical miles on a tramp boat (28 days)….it felt like a lifetime.

Good news: ZILCH!

Personal: I found myself drifting off mid-sentence as the descriptions became ever more elaborate and lengthy. In general, this book was just too long, offering pages of minute details just information on top of information, but not the connection to me as a reader. I would rather do my dirty dishes then read this book! This was a source of invigorating hair-shirt agony.

#TOTAL waste of my reading time….

14
Jan

#Nordic noir The Hunting Dogs

Setting for The Hunting Dogs – Vestfold, Norway

 

JANUARY

9. The Hunting Dogs by Jørn Lier Horst by Jørn Lier Horst Jørn Lier Horst

Finished date: 11 January 2022
Genre: Nordic noir
Rating: B+
Review:

Motives: Lust and…concealment (1 murder is committed to conceal another murder!
Irony: Wisting’s police badge and gun are taken away. Wisting investigates murder case while he himself is being investigated!

Bad news: I jumped into the middle of the William Wisting Nordic noir books (this is the 3rd book in the Wisting Mysteries)….and the case itself in The Hunting Dogs is stand-alone, much of this story’s impact relies on our connection to its characters, and having a bit of background exposure to them will make readers all the more invested in their fates.

Good news: Wisting series (season 1) is streaming on Netflix!

Good news: Title: Police work in an unconscious process like hunting dogs following the scent (pg 91). …like other hunting dogs, they had followed the warmest scent without further thought. (pg 166)

Good news: The hook…
JonasR had received a phone call 14:17 hr that casued him to call a lawyer and arrange a meeting….7 hours later he was dead. The first pages capture my attention, this is why Nordic noir writers are so successful…the hook!  But the book just keeps on giving….so many chapters end with cliffhangers. This is excellent CF writing!

Good news: The book juxtaposes a race against the clock (deadline for newspaper story (Wisting’s daughter is a journalist), tense stakeout trying to catch an ex-criminal (Haglund planning his next murder?) ….in one chapter with a by-the-book interview in a dreary room at Internal Affairs (is Wisting charged with tampering the evidence in Haglund’s conviction?)…the juxtaposition invites the reader to look more closely at the possible relationship between these two situations!!

Good news: The book is divided into 84 chapters!! Yes, 320 pages in 84 chapters and that is a good thing because I read pages like potato chip bites! Chapters are long enough for a quick read (during commute..between household chores) and an excellent place to stick the bookmark. But a funny thing happens when I have a place to pause……I just keep reading!

Personal:
I cannot for the life of me understand why this book did not win Petrona Prize 2015!
The Silence of the Sea was the winner for the judges….but I thought it was poorly written. Jorn Lier Horst is an exceptional Nordic noir writer and would recommend his books to any CF lover or reluctant CF reader like me!

12
Jan

#CF The Silence of the Sea

 

JANUARY

7. The Silence of the Sea by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

Finish date: 09 January 2022
Genre: CF
Rating: D
Review:

Bad news: The motive in this book was greed. That does not spark my interest. I want the book to be a white knuckling roller-coaster ride….a race against time (kidnapping for example)
not this long dragged out killing off crew members one-by-one on a glamorous yacht mid Atlantic.
Characters were not captivating…just not. The dialogue turned clumsy and the story line became less and less believable too melodramatic (..oh, the last chapter… who green-lighted that?)

Good news: Main character Thóra Gudmundsdóttir (investigating lawyer)…her personal life was kept to a bare minimum in the book.

Personal Not a fan of thrillers, CF or mystery so I read them…and that is it. Why do I buy them you wonder? Sucked into a good review, a prize winning CF and I’m just curious if the book meets the grade. Has the required standard been met to render it prize winning. IMO this book did not live up to the Petrona Prize 2015 for a CF set in Scandinavia or written by a Scandinavian author.

I would like to leave this review with a recommendation for one of the most unpredictable suspense novel I have ever read. I read it in 2014 and it still haunts me.
Alex (Verhœven, #2) by Pierre Lemaitre by Pierre Lemaitre Pierre Lemaitre.

On a lighter note….I couldn’t fall asleep last night so instead of counting sheep I tried to name all the characters in The Silence of the Sea . I feel asleep at 23…and counting!

22
Apr

#NSW Premier’s Award 2019 shortlist Chris Hammer

 

  • Author: Chris Hammer
  • Title: Scrublands
  • Published: 2018
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin
  • Genre: Aussie Noir
  • Trivia: 2019 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist
  • Trivia: 2019 ABIA Awards shortlist General Fiction Book of the Year
  • Trivia: 2019 Indie Book Awards shortlist
  • List of Challenges 2019
  • Monthly plan
  • @NSW_PLA
  • @AllenandUnwin

 

Quickscan:

  1. In Riversend, an isolated rural community
  2. ….afflicted by an endless drought,
  3. a young priest does the unthinkable, killing five parishioners
  4. before being taken down himself.
  5. Journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in  in town.
  6. He is assigned to write a feature story
  7. a-year-after-the-crime” how people are coping with this tragedy.
  8. Some townsfolk don’t believe the priest was a child abuser.
  9. Some people were in love with him.
  10. Martin is here to get “the story behind the story”!
  11. Was Byron Swift a mass murder…who cared?

 

Strong point: The heat….is a character in this book!

  1. Great descriptions of the furnace wind
  2. …the blowtorch streetscape!
  3. Martin, journo visiting town, drapes a once-damp
  4. …towel around the steering wheel.
  5. …difficult it is to drive with burning fingers!

 

Strong point:  narrator audio book  Rupert Degas

  1. Rupert Degas is spot on!
  2. The voices of the characters that  he creates
  3. drive this complex story.
  4. The voices he creates are distinct.
  5.  — the local derro (Aus slang for vagrant)
  6. grizzled beard, streaked with grey, rheumy eyes
  7. receptionist at local Black Dog Motel
  8. His female voices are the best I have heard a male produce!
  9. …be prepared for the Aussie accent…wonderful!
  10. I have never heard anything like him.

 

Conclusion:

  1. What can I say?
  2. No spoilers…not a single one
  3. because you have to experience
  4. the twists and turns as I did.
  5. Strong point: Like us, characters grow, change,
  6. ..make mistakes and learn (or don’t).
  7. Strong point: there was NO obvious foreshadowing
  8. ….I was stunned by every revelation because the
  9. characters can be very unreliable!
  10. Nothing felt predictable.
  11. Strong point: the setting is an active part in the plot twists!
  12. Hammer uses the setting to build suspense
  13. …2 huge fires and the fight to survive
  14. ….what is hidden in a locked room at the hotel?
  15. …what happened in the church on the day of the shooting?
  16. There is just so much to like in this book.
  17. It is a ripping read
  18. ….and the audio book brings (13 hr 17 min)
  19. the story alive!
  20. …voices of  Harley Slouch, Codger Harris.
  21. I’ve read 4/6 nominees for New Writing Prize.
  22. Reading Flames this week but
  23. …this book is MY CHOICE
  24. to win UTS Glenda Adams Prize for New Writing
  25. in the NSW Premier’s  Literary Awards 2019.
  26. The winner will be announced 29 April 2019.
  27. #BestCrimeFiction
  28. This is in the top 10 of all the mystery books I have read!

 

17
Dec

#CF Finland Kati Hiekkapelto


Conclusion:

  1. Crime fiction….it is always about the quality
  2. …of the writing.
  3. I found Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s books rivieting.
  4. The Inspector Barlach Mysteries:
  5. The Judge and His Hangman and Suspicion
  6. His books are great examples of mystery writing:
  7. A crime is committed—almost always a murder—
  8. and the action of the story is the solution of that crime:
  9. determining who did it and why, and obtaining some form of justice.
  10. Kati Hiekkapelto? …crime fiction
  11. This was the contest of wills between the
  12. detective and the killer who is on the loose
  13. …mixed with a multicultural back round (Serbia – Finland).

 

Last thoughts:

  1. I found nothing baffling in this CF book….
  2. just another formulaic in which
  3. cop and the killer trade knockout blows.
  4. #Disappointed
30
Jun

Slow down…

 

  1. I can collect all the LISTS in the world.
  2. I can join a million reading challenges.
  3. But a book all comes down to my mood.
  4. At the moment…I’m in a rant  mood.

 

  1. I’ve been so disappointed with a few classics on
  2. Modern Library’s  list of best 100 novel…so dejected.
  3. Who puts three James Henry books on  the list
  4. one was more than enough?
  5. Light-weights….
  6. The Postman Always Rings Twice,
  7. From Here to Eternity, Kim, Catcher In The Rye
  8. USA by Dos Passos and The Magnificient Ambersons
  9. …are good but not TOP 100 novel-ish.
  10. So I have decided to replace the Books I Dread
  11. with some books  I really want to read.
  12. Terry Pratchett was a very wise man…..

 

 

  1. I took the time to think for myself and choose books
  2. Some are diamonds…some are glass…
  3. but most important
  4. ….they are all books I want to read

 

Science fiction:  Fahrenheit 451 – R. Bradbury

  • I always thought that science fiction was just mumbo-jumbo.
  • How wrong I have been.
  • In 1953  SF moved from magazines to the novel genre.
  • There was a market for these books filled with veiled
  • commentary on the times.
  • Bradbury touches on  destruction of culture (book burning by Nazis)
  • public’s addiction to TV, the power of advertising and McCarthyism.
  • This is just the first SF book I will read.
  • I want to learn about all that I have been missing!

 

Science fiction:    The Left Hand of Darkness – Ursula Le Guin

  • I hope Ursula Le Guin wins the Nobel Prize one day.
  • It should be soon because she is 88 years old.
  • What is her strength?
  • She gives us a view from the other side…
  • showing us that that our perception of reality may be incomplete.
  • The author M. Chabon says Le Guin gave 21st C writers new tools
  • to work in the “borderlands,” the place where the fantastic enters literature.

 

Biography:  Orwell – M. Shelden

  • I found this book by accident.
  • Again…dreading books by George Orwell I thought
  • if I learn more about the man….reading his books would be easier.

 

Fiction:  1984 – G. Orwell

  • Ironically after reading the introduction to the  Orwell the biography
  • 1984 is a the only book from my ‘dread’ list that
  • …I am keeping on my list.

 

Fiction:    The Slow Natives – T. Astley

 

Short Stories:   several collections

  • I need a quick read  while
  • …drinking my morning coffee with the cats.
  • Short stories  have  never lost their artistic value
  • …but I seldom read them!
  • I am going to choose stories from several collections:
  • The New York Stories  – Edith Wharton
  • The Early Stories – John Updike 1/103
  • Complete Stories of – Dorothy Parker
  • The Rendezvous and other Stories – Daphne  du Maurier
  • Collected Stories – Katherine Mansfield
  • Complete Stories of – Flannery O’ Connor
  • The Collected StoriesWilliam Trevor

 

Crime fiction:    several choices

  • I will try yet again to read more crime fiction.
  • Le Carré – The Perfect Spy
  • Len Deighton – Berlin Game
  • Rex Stout – Some Buried Caesar – READING
  • Olen Steinhauer – An American Spy
  • D. Sayers – Strong Poison

 

Non-fiction:

  • I have several books written ‘about books, authors and plays’.
  • In the past I never allowed myself the time to read them.
  • Now it is time…to slow down and enjoy these books.
  • Approaches to Teaching the Plays of August Wilson – S. Shannon, S. Richards
  • Introduction to the American Short Story – M. Scofield
  • The Figure of the Detective – C. Brownson
  • Seamus Heaney – H. Vendler
  • The Politics: in Shakespeare’s History Plays – U. Kizelbach

 

Magazine:  The New Yorker

  • I have been reading this magazine since grammar school.
  • The literary content was beyond me at the time
  • …I just loved the cartoons.
  • Now every week the magazine arrives…and I ignore it.
  • Why?
  • No time to read it….I say to myself.
  • Now I’m making time to…
  • enjoy one of the best magazine in the world!
  • Issue 26 June 2017 – READ  cover to cover –  03.07.2017

 

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor terry pratchett quotes

 

  1. I find the slower I go…the more I want to do!
  2. Terry Pratchett said something that really stayed with me:
  3. “So much universe…so little time.”
  4. Clive Jones  poems Sentenced to Life is a book I cherish.
  5. In his title poem he said:
  6. “No birds touch down in the trees without me seeing them.
  7. I count bees.”
  8. A True lesson in slowing down…
  9. and end of rant.
12
Apr

The Wednesday Club

  • Author: K. Westö
  • Title: The Wednesday Club
  • Published: 2013
  • Trivia: Westö won Finlandia Prize (most prestigous literary award in Finland) 2006
  • Trivia: The Wednesday Club is short listed for
  • Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year
  • Petrona Award 2017

Quick scan:

  1. Psychological landscape of a
  2. …man, Claes Thune,  besieged by obsession.
  3. Lonely and introspective, …Thune has long
  4.  felt an hostility toward  his best friend, Robi Lindemark
  5. for ‘stealing’ his wife Gabi.
  6. Thune finds himself contemplating…… ??

What is imaginative about Westö’s writing?

  1. He uses for one of the main character’s (Matilda Wiik)
  2. an alter-ego  to create tension.
  3. Westö  includes many allusions to art (Picasso), writers (Söderberg), politics
  4. (Finnish Civil War, far right Lapua Movement, Red and White Guards, prision camps)
  5. philosophy (Kant) and sports (Paavo Nurmi, Volmari Iso-Hollo).
  6. Obviously there  is much to learn in this book
  7. …besides a thrilling story!

What purpose does an alter-ego have in the story ?

  1. Miss Milja (revenge) is Matilda’s Wiiik’s  alter-ego.
  2. There is another voice Matilda does not recognize (reason)
  3. It allows a Matilda to escape reality.
  4. Reason:
  5. Ch 7 ‘Matilda keep that man at a distance’
  6. CH 7 ‘Get away from here’
  7. Revenge:
  8. CH 7
  9. “…stay, he will come…sooner or later.
  10. And THEN let things happen
  11. …make a move and wait for a counter move”
  12. The reader is now so puzzled….you have to keep reading!

Conclusion:

  1. I am not a fan of crime fiction
  2. …but this book kept me reading all day!
  3. I still have to read the rest of the short list Petrona Award 2017.
  4. In my opinion this book is better than
  5. my first reading choice for short list:
  6. The Dying Detective (L. Persson)