Magdalen Bridge, Oxford University (…last scene in the book)
11. by Dorothy L. Sayers
Finish date: 13 January 2022
Genre: novel wrapped in a mystery
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.
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”.
10. by Lionel Davidson
Finish date: 10 January 2022
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….
Setting for The Hunting Dogs – Vestfold, Norway
9. by Jørn Lier Horst
Finished date: 11 January 2022
Genre: Nordic noir
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!
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!
7. by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
Finish date: 09 January 2022
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.
by 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!
- Author: Kati Hiekkapelto
- Tite: The Hummingbird
- Published 2013
- Trivia: TBR since 2015
- List Challenges 2018
- Monthly planning
- Crime fiction….it is always about the quality
- …of the writing.
- I found Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s books rivieting.
- “The Inspector Barlach Mysteries:
- The Judge and His Hangman and Suspicion“
- His books are great examples of mystery writing:
- A crime is committed—almost always a murder—
- and the action of the story is the solution of that crime:
- determining who did it and why, and obtaining some form of justice.
- Kati Hiekkapelto? …crime fiction
- This was the contest of wills between the
- detective and the killer who is on the loose
- …mixed with a multicultural back round (Serbia – Finland).
- I found nothing baffling in this CF book….
- just another formulaic in which
- cop and the killer trade knockout blows.
- 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
- Psychological landscape of a
- …man, Claes Thune, besieged by obsession.
- Lonely and introspective, …Thune has long
- felt an hostility toward his best friend, Robi Lindemark
- for ‘stealing’ his wife Gabi.
- Thune finds himself contemplating…… ??
What is imaginative about Westö’s writing?
- He uses for one of the main character’s (Matilda Wiik)
- an alter-ego to create tension.
- Westö includes many allusions to art (Picasso), writers (Söderberg), politics
- (Finnish Civil War, far right Lapua Movement, Red and White Guards, prision camps)
- philosophy (Kant) and sports (Paavo Nurmi, Volmari Iso-Hollo).
- Obviously there is much to learn in this book
- …besides a thrilling story!
What purpose does an alter-ego have in the story ?
- Miss Milja (revenge) is Matilda’s Wiiik’s alter-ego.
- There is another voice Matilda does not recognize (reason)
- It allows a Matilda to escape reality.
- Ch 7 ‘Matilda keep that man at a distance’
- CH 7 ‘Get away from here’
- CH 7
- “…stay, he will come…sooner or later.
- And THEN let things happen
- …make a move and wait for a counter move”
- The reader is now so puzzled….you have to keep reading!
- I am not a fan of crime fiction
- …but this book kept me reading all day!
- I still have to read the rest of the short list Petrona Award 2017.
- In my opinion this book is better than
- my first reading choice for short list:
- The Dying Detective (L. Persson)