Nov 20, 2010


taken from Euro Crime  
by Maxine Clarke

THE SNOWMAN is a complex, intellectually satisfying plot with many twists and turns. I half-guessed what was behind one aspect of it, guessed wrong on another, and failed completely to spot a third. Every time events seemed to be explicable, something else happens to cause further confusion - and these constant wrong turnings are so well dovetailed together in such an exciting manner, as flaws in the logic of one outcome lead directly to the next phase of the chase, that this book really is impossible to put down. Not once, but time and again, we are forced to re-think what we thought was true, as the author shows events from a range of views and cleverly reveals just enough to stay several steps ahead of the reader.

The novel is superbly translated by Don Bartlett, who conveys the author's naturalistic, humorous style - and perhaps most importantly, Nesbo's sensitivity to the human condition, to fathers' relationships to their children, and to the random cruelness of biology. It's always hard to point to flaws in a crime novel in case one gives away too much to those who have not yet read it, but as usual with this author, I found the main climax over-elaborate, and spotted one or two other slight inconsistencies. I am also surprised that Harry remains so trusting of people, both in his home and at work, given what's happened to him in previous novels.

But never mind - this book is fantastic. It really is a must-read, not least putting to rest the unfair cliche that Scandinavian novels are all about doom and gloom - but mainly it's just a brilliant police procedural novel, whose plot and characterisation can't be beaten. Do yourself a favour and read it.

Nov 14, 2010

RED WOLF by Liza Marklund

taken from the Nordic Bookblog by Peter

Red Wolf is the fifth book in Swedish crime fiction writer Liza Marklund’s series featuring reporter Annika Bengtzon. It is set in the middle of a very cold spell during the Swedish winter. Annika is still recovering from the traumas suffered in The Bomber, and still struggles with anxiety.

Now she has arranged a meeting with a journalist up in the northern Swedish town of Lulea about an old case of terrorism – a terrorist attack on a military airport named F21 by a group that called themselves The Beasts. However, when she arrives in Lulea to meet him, she is told that the journalist has been killed in a hit and run accident. It doesn’t take Annika long to find out that he has been brutally murdered.

Annika Bengtzon, an experienced crime reporter, suspects that the murder is linked to an attack against a nearby air base in the late sixties – the case she came up there to talk about. She makes a few small findings and starts to pursue them. And as more people are killed she uncovers evidence that links the killings: A mass-murderer is one the loose in Sweden. Seemingly one of the terrorists that were involved in the attack on F21 – a man who has since fled to France, and who is a known assassin – has now returned to Sweden and is behind the brutal murders. He was the leader of The Beasts and used to be code-named Dragon. READ MORE....

Nov 12, 2010

Shakespeare's sonnets by Don Paterson

taken from the

Shakespeare's sonnets are synonymous with courtly romance, but in fact many are about something quite different. Some are intense expressions of gay desire, others testaments to misogyny. Wary of academic criticism, Don Paterson tries to get back to what the poet was actually saying.

William Shakespeare
Detail of a painting of Shakespeare, claimed in 2009 to be the only authentic image made during his life, dating from about 1610 – but since questioned. 

The problem with reading Shakespeare's sonnets is the sonnets themselves, by which I mean their reputation. Much in the same way as it's almost impossible to see the Mona Lisa as anything but a parody of itself, or hear Satie's Trois Gymnopedies without the feeling that someone's trying to sell you something – a bar of chocolate perhaps – it's initially hard to get close to the sonnets, locked as they are in the carapace of their own proverbialism. "A Shakespeare sonnet" is almost as much a synonym for "love poem" as "Mona Lisa" is for "beautiful woman". When something becomes proverbial, it almost disappears; and worse, we're allowed to think we know it when we really don't.

The sonnets are close to being one such cultural cipher. If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have been breezily confident that I knew a fair number of them reasonably well, and had a few by heart. Then there was the literary dinner party. A hideously exposed bluff prompted me to re-examine my avowed familiarity. (Lesson: only bluff at parties where you can immediately walk to another, darker, part of the room – so you're not obliged to remain in your seat, blushing through the cheese course.)

At least I wasn't alone. Twain's definition of the classic, "something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read" is well known, but I might also add, less memorably, that a classic is a book you can safely avoid reading, because no one else will admit they haven't either. READ MORE....

Nov 9, 2010

Steal These Books

taken from the

Published: December 16, 2009

Like many teenagers, I went through a brief shoplifting phase, pilfering a Maybelline Kissing Potion, a pack of Adams Sour Apple Gum and, as my final heist, a Toffifay candy bar. But I never would’ve considered stealing a book. Books, I believed, were sacred.

Apparently, not everyone shares this idea. With the recession, shoplifting is on the rise, according to booksellers. At BookPeople in Austin, Tex., the rate of theft has increased to approximately one book per hour. I asked Steve Bercu, BookPeople’s owner, what the most frequently stolen title was.

“The Bible,” he said, without pausing.

Apparently the thieves have not yet read the “Thou shalt not steal” part — or maybe they believe that Bibles don’t need to be paid for. “Some people think the word of God should be free,” Bercu said. As it turns out, Bibles are snatched even at the Parable Christian Store in Springfield, Ore., the manager told me, despite the fact that if a person asks for a Bible, they’ll be given a copy without charge.

But this holiday season, the Good Book is hardly the only title in danger of being filched. At independent bookstores, thieves are as likely to be taking orders from Abbie Hoffman’s “Steal This Book” as from Exodus.

Fiction is the most commonly poached genre at St. Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village of Manhattan; the titles that continually disappear are moved to the X-Case, safely ensconced behind the counter. This library of temptation includes books by Martin Amis, Charles Bukowski, William S. Burroughs, Raymond Carver, Don DeLillo and Jack Kerouac, among others. Sometimes the staff isn’t sure whether an author is still popular to swipe until they return their books to the main floor. “Amis went out and came right back,” Michael Russo, the manager, told me.

At BookPeople in Austin, titles displayed with staff recommendation cards are a darling among thieves. “It’s so bad lately that I feel like our staff recommendation cards should read: ‘BookPeople Bookseller recommends that you steal ________.’ Apparently the criminal element in Austin shares our literary tastes, or are very prone to suggestion,” Elizabeth Jordan, the head book buyer, wrote in an e-mail message. READ MORE.....

Nov 4, 2010

HYPOTHERMIA by Arnaldur Indrisdason

published in Canada by Random House

review by Maxine Clarke at Euro Crime

HYPOTHERMIA is among the very best of the books I've read this year. It's the sixth of the author's Erlendur series to be translated into English; it is truly a mature, masterful and utterly fantastic book.

It's a story stripped bare to the bone. A young woman, Maria, commits suicide at her holiday cottage on the shores of Lake Thingvellier. About 30 years ago, Maria's father Magnus fell from his boat and drowned in the same lake. Ever since then, Maria has been extremely close to her mother, Leonora, still living with her even after graduating from university and her marriage to a doctor named Baldvin, who moved in with the two women after his wedding to Maria. Leonora died of cancer two years before the book opens, during which time Maria gave up her job to nurse her mother, constantly at her side. Everyone assumes that part of the reason for Maria's suicide was her inconsolable loss.


Nov 1, 2010


review by The Bookbag

Albino, unusually-named, half-Inuit, half-Irish and owner of an enormous estate, nobody could call Light a run-of-the-mill child. But things are about to get considerably more unusual for this newly-orphaned girl. With a father mysteriously missing in the Arctic for long enough to be declared dead and a funeral to organise, you would think she had enough on her plate. But within days, she's been followed by a mysterious man, attacked by a rogue bird of prey in her own garden, survived a kidnap attempt by men with cat's eyes, rescued by another man with the head of a shark, and entered into a death-pact with a shadow that's two hundred years old. And that's not to mention an old family retainer who appears to know more than he's letting on...

... Time for a trip to the Arctic to face the evil Frost and find her father, then!