onsdag den 31. marts 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 60


This crime novel is a debut and the first in a rather short series.

“Douglas was tied into the blue kitchen chair with several strands of rope. His throat had been cut clean across, right back to the vertebra, his head was sitting off centre from his neck. Splashes and spurts of his blood were drying all over the carpet. One long red splatter extended four feet diagonally from the chair, slashing across the arm of the settee and nearly hitting the skirting board on the far wall.”

The Rules:
If you recognize the quotation, or if you think you are able to guess who wrote it, please post a comment. Just leave a hint, do not spoil the fun by giving too much away. The book will be reviewed on Friday as usual.

Gæt en bog.
Denne krimi er en debut og den første i en forholdsvis kort serie.

“Douglas var bundet til den blå køkkenstol med adskillige længder reb. Hans hals var skåret over helt ind til nakkehvirvlen, så hovedet ikke længere sad helt, som det skulle. Blodet var allerede ved at tørre ind på gulvtæppet. Ét langt stænk strakte sig i en diagonal fra stolen og skar sig tværs over armlænet på sofaen, indtil det næsten ramte fodlisten på den fjerneste væg.”

Reglerne:
Hvis du kan genkende citatet, eller hvis du tror du kan gætte forfatteren, så læg venligst en kommentar. Læg bare et hint i stedet for at ødelægge fornøjelsen for andre besøgende. Bogen bliver anmeldt på fredag som sædvanlig.

tirsdag den 30. marts 2010

A City is a City is a City

When English readers read Scandinavian crime fiction, they sometimes ask for a stronger sense of place. As someone dwelling in the area I cannot help thinking that Copenhagen and Stockholm are cities like any other so what do people expect? (Can´t help it, but I am basically a country person).

Right now I am enjoying a crime novel set in Christchurch, New Zealand. The language is fine and the plot promising.

A taste of Christchurch:

“I drive through the city thinking that Christchurch and technology go together like drinking and driving: they don´t mix well, but some still think it´s a good idea. Everything here looks old, and for the most part it is. People living in the past have set historical values on buildings dating back over a hundred years, and have had them protected from the future. Investors can´t come along and replace them with high-rises and apartment complexes. It´s a cold-looking city made to look even colder in the dreary weather. Everything looks so damn archaic. Even the hookers look fifty years old.”

A fine and well-written description, but to me mainly another city.

How important is the setting to you?
What kind of setting do you prefer? City or country, the exotic forest or the safe and recognizable town?

See my review of Paul Cleave´s Cemetery Lake on Saturday.

mandag den 29. marts 2010

X for Xenophobia


A contribution to Kerrie´s alphabet meme, written by a not very famous writer.

She stretches out her hand towards the tomatoes. Her sleeve brushes gaudy, tropical fruit and her nose twitches at the exotic scents. She checks her shopping list. Baked beans and toast. That was it. She sighs with relief.

She steers towards the shortest queue until she sees the black scarf behind the counter. She changes her direction and aims for a fat, British-looking check-out assistant in a bulging smock.

Then she sees the next one. Right behind her, emitting wafts of strange spices. But a man this time. Brown eyes and dark hands with those weird, white palms. For a second the thought hits her, what would it be like to be touched by those hands?

She almost runs towards the exit with her fruit and veggies. Why did she go shopping so late? Her heels clacking on the pavement, she walks home as fast as she can without looking desperate.

A few minutes later she turns into the gateway back home. Finally safe! The bulb has fused again so it is pitch dark, but never mind, she knows the last steps like the back of her own hand. Her feet tread confidently on the cobblestones until he jumps out of the shadows and puts a strong arm around her neck.

A drunken voice hisses in her ear, “where´s your money?”

Her knees buckle and a taste of blood and bile rises in her throat.

“Let her go.”

“Wha´?”

In a daze of nausea she realizes there are two of them! And then comes the muted whisper which will haunt her for the rest of her life.

“Can´t you see it´s your sister. Let her go.”

lørdag den 27. marts 2010

Jane Casey, The Missing (2010)


This thriller is the British writer´s debut.

The main character, Sarah Finch, lost her older brother when she was eight years old. Charlie walked away from home one afternoon and never came back so her parents, especially her mother, have not been able to get on with their lives.

Many years later, when Sarah works as a teacher, one of her twelve-year-old students goes missing, and Sarah finds her body during her jogging round. Soon she is deeply involved in the mystery, initially because she identifies with the poor parents in their terrible loss, but probably also because her own life as a teacher, cooped up with an alcoholic mother, is not nearly as interesting as investigating crimes. And of course she learns that if you meddle in crime, you will soon be exposed to all sorts of hardship and danger.

The plot is exciting all the way through, and on the whole the characters are interesting, but it seems as if Sarah Finch is not described quite consistently. Sometimes she seems strong and independent, at other points it is difficult to decide if the mother needs Sarah or Sarah needs her mother. My overall impression is that Casey has written a convincing and impressive debut, however, and I am going to watch out for more books from her hand.

The book was sent to me by my book fairy, Maxine.

fredag den 26. marts 2010

The Red Sofa

[Thank you to Ann Cleeves who threw out a red sofa – and inspired me to write the story]

Someone has left a red sofa in our drive. In medias res, so to speak. Is this installation art, or some kind of hoax? With my bag flung over my shoulder, I bend down to scrutinize it.

“What´s that dirty, old thing doing in our drive?” My husband has left his desk to join me, throwing suspicious glances at it over his reading glasses.

“How should I know? It is probably a joke.” While I refuse to take responsibility for the ancient piece of furniture, my memory begins to rummage for something. No, that is just not possible.

Two days later a sprinkle of autumn leaves cover it. The result is beautiful but desolate. Our neighbours have started a whispering campaign, and soon they will unite in rebellion as if I had left a corpse to rot in their well-regulated suburb.

“What are you going to do about that ... that thing? Can´t you call someone to remove it?”

I married an academic, not a handyman, so I suppose it is fair enough practical problems belong to my sphere. I know I should call the council and arrange for them to collect it, but I am growing more and more certain I recognize the monster. Impossible to explain this to my well-regulated spouse, but some superstitious fear prevents me from taking action. I am waiting for his next move.

---------------------------------------------------

Ralph sat down next to me on the red sofa and put a large hand on my thigh. “Come on now. It is you and me, and you know that.”

I tried to move away, but the hand tightened its grip on me. “Gimme a kiss, and we´ll forget all that rubbish.”

“Why won´t you understand that it is over? Over! I am sick and tired of arguing with you. And all those friends you hang out with.”

He inched closer, mouth open. All I could think of was that he reeked of beer and stale smoke. I knew that if he kissed me, I would retch.

“Is there someone else? Is it Mick?” He put up a hurt face but a huge belch destroyed the effect somewhat.

“Don´t you get it? I don´t want to have anything to do with you or any of your mates! My dad will be here in ten minutes.”

“So I am not good enough for the little teacher´s daughter any more? Is that it?” He performed his favourite trick, cleaning his dirty nails with his flick knife, but I had seen it too often to care.

“Mind you, you´ll regret it. I won´t do anything now. But some day, I´ll kill someone you care about. And to remind you who I am and why I did it, I will send you the red sofa.”

-----------------------------------------------

I am sitting on the weather-beaten sofa, wrapping my coat around me. I can feel all the watchful eyes on me behind starched curtains. I have just called the hospital. Again. No news. He is still unconscious and they can´t say which way it will go.

I look at the stained fabric, mapping my six months with Ralph. But surely no one bears a grudge for twenty years. My father is in his late seventies, and we all know his heart is frail. I don´t believe in this voodoo stunt. Still, I cannot pull myself together to do anything. I have begun to punch the number to the council more than once, but my fingers will not obey. His words ring in my ears and the woolly contraption has me in its clutches.

torsdag den 25. marts 2010

Thy´s Day # 10

I am sure you cannot see any difference between
these little miracles
and the ones I posted last spring.

BUT THEY ARE FINALLY HERE
- AND I WANT TO SHARE THEM WITH ALL OF YOU

onsdag den 24. marts 2010

Trick or Treat


Do you remember that I promised to down-size a few days ago? You may wonder what I meant as I have blogged every day so far. Well, at least some of my posts are tiny, and to prove I meant business I am not going to challenge you with a bait-in-the-box quotation today.


The trick seems to work, though. After a very dry period I have written three flash stories in one week (plus marked a bunch of essays – but who wants to hear about that). And I would be very happy indeed if you would take a look at the first story I have sold, Lollipop. Don´t worry, it won´t take you long to read all two hundred fifty seven words.

tirsdag den 23. marts 2010

Elly Griffiths, The Crossing Places (2009)


This novel is the British author´s crime debut, and the first in the Ruth Galloway series. I have the second on my shelf, and I promise to read it before long.

Ms Galloway is a forensic archaeologist in the fictional Saltmarsh outside Norfolk. When the police find some human bones, DCI Harry Nelson contacts her to find out whether they are of archaeological interest or could be the remains of a little girl who went missing ten years ago.

Ruth Galloway is an intelligent and independent woman who enjoys her solitude in the marsh area together with her two cats. Even though the body is clearly an Iron Age girl, her curiosity is aroused when the police show a growing interest in her domain, however, but she doesn´t quite know what to make of the gruff Inspector Nelson.

As if the old case was not enough, another little girl disappears, and the police receive several mysterious letters which may or may not be written by the kidnapper. These letters taunt the police and hint at a burial place in the Saltmarsh, leading them to believe that there could be a connection between the modern-time crimes and the Iron Age customs of sacrificing human beings.

Though the police are helped by coincidence, this is an impressive crime debut indeed! It is hard to find anything else to criticize apart from the fact that the whole book is written in the present tense. The engaging characters and the excellent setting helped me forget this small minus, and I strongly recommend the book!

Elly Griffiths is the pen name of Domenica de Rosa who has written four (non-crime) novels set in Italy. The book was a gift from Maxine. See her review - and be tempted!

mandag den 22. marts 2010

W for Wahlöö


This week´s letter of Kerrie´s alphabet meme is W.

Just a short recommendation of the famous Martin Beck series, written by the Swedish couple Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö in the 1960s and 1970s. Their ´story about a crime´ was written as part of a plan to expose the Swedish welfare state, but whether you are in favour of their political project or not, any crime fan is in for a treat.

And if you take your crime fiction studies seriously, this Scandinavian series is a must.

My personal favourite is the first in the series, Roseanna, published in 1965. They are all solid police procedurals, but in my opinion the last few are the weakest.

søndag den 21. marts 2010

Down-sizing

[Spring flowers of yesteryear]

It is probably a good idea to think about one´s blog once in a while – why am I blogging? Is my blog what I wanted it to be, or are there things I ought to change?

See my post from last year about my goals.

For a long time, I did my best to live up to my own expectations, but for months I have fought to overcome work, family, blog, plus reading and writing fiction. Why not be honest and admit that my programme is too much for me if I want to do it all properly?

Of course I cannot – and will not – give up DJ’s Krimiblog altogether. I enjoy reviewing books, discussing crime fiction, reading your wonderful comments and visiting all your gorgeous, inspiring blogs.

But to get some breathing space I will have to be less ambitious. I will have to be content with fewer posts every week, and I will have to forget the goal I set in January: reading more than 100 crime novels in 2010. There are just too many things I neglect, e.g. my writing and the beautiful spring around me.

lørdag den 20. marts 2010

S.J. Bolton, Awakening (2009)


This thriller is the British writer´s second stand-alone.

“Bennie, looking even smaller than he had in life, lay before me. I didn´t need to touch him to know that he was dead, but I bent and stroked his coarse fur even so. There were a few shallow wounds around his face and neck where he´d injured himself, scrambling to be free as he´d sunk deeper into whatever pond or river he´d been flung. But the sack still wasn´t empty. I moved my fingers and something else fell out. Terribly injured, its body badly mauled and just about torn apart in places, the snake convulsed once before falling still.”

Who has doled out Roman justice? After the prologue, the plot begins when Clara Benning, the local vet and recluse, is called in to save a baby from a poisonous snake in its cot. Miss Benning feels safer around animals than humans, but when snakes of all kinds swamp the neighbourhood, she is forced to accept the assistance of Matt Hoare, Assistant Chief Constable, and Sean North, TV celebrity for his expertise on reptiles.

The story takes place in a village where everybody knows everybody else, except Clara who does her best to stay clear of two-legged creatures because she thinks they stare at her scarred face. So Clara has her own skeleton in the cupboard, just like the village where the dramatic occurrences are apparently related to the Witcher family and to the local church burning down in 1958.

So far all was very well, but here is my mid-way reading report: Clara Benning is being interrogated by two hostile policemen in an unlikely damsel-in-distress scenario, accused of – among other things – having assaulted six healthy, young people. After this cliché I found it hard to concentrate on the plot, and it seems to me that the author did not really know where she wanted to go for several chapters.

The ending is more satisfactory, but the novel did not quite live up to the great expectations I had to Bolton after her fascinating debut, Sacrifice.

As far as I remember, I bought this book myself.

fredag den 19. marts 2010

Val McDermid, A Darker Domain (2008)


Two of my three children snatched this Scottish stand-alone from my shelf before I got round to reading it myself, and afterwards they coaxed me to read it before anything else.

The story begins in 2007 when a young woman reports her father missing – during the miner´s strike in the 1980s! Detective Inspector Karen Pirie takes the case herself even though she should allocate it to someone subordinate, but she has not really got used to sitting at her desk, fiddling with the paperwork of her cold case unit. At the same time her ridiculous superior wants her to focus on a high-profile case about a tycoon´s daughter and grandson who were kidnapped around the same time as miner Mike Prentice left his unassuming home, because an ambitious journalist has stumbled upon new evidence. Karen Pirie is a stubborn and spirited protagonist, however, who knows how to throw her weight about, and the clashes between Karen and her boss are part of the comic relief of this excellent story.

Among the many well-drawn characters I enjoyed a reunion with River Wilde, the forensic anthropologist I came across last year in the not very grave yarn “The Grave Tattoo” (2006). Another strong point was the convincing description of the strike and the consequences it had for the local communities.

This cold-case story is of the same, fine quality as “A Place of Execution” which I reviewed earlier this month.

This book is a generous gift from Maxine who reviewed it last year.

torsdag den 18. marts 2010

onsdag den 17. marts 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 59

[This cute tin belongs to Kelly of Kelly´s Thoughts & Ramblings]

If you have read this novel, you surely remember these lines:

“Your greedy exploitative capitalism is about to be punished. We have your daughter and your grandson. Do as we tell you if you want to see them again. No police. Just go about your business as usual. We are watching you. We will contact you again soon.”

The Rules:
If you recognize the quotation, or if you think you are able to guess who wrote it, please post a comment. Just leave a hint, do not spoil the fun by giving too much away. The book will be reviewed on Friday as usual.

tirsdag den 16. marts 2010

Ruth Rendell, Portobello (2008)


Mini review.

As someone who has loved British crime writer Rendell´s books for ages (more than two decades I believe), it was a matter of course that I had to buy and read Portobello.

“Street markets abounded in the area, in Kenley Street, Sirdar Road, Norland Road, Crescent Street and Golborne Road. The one to survive was the Portobello ... The Portobello has a rich personality, vibrant, brilliant in colour, noisy, with graffiti that approach art, bizarre and splendid. An indefinable edge to it adds a spice of danger.”

Rendell offers a lively and engaged portrait of the Portobello area with many fine characters. We meet Eugene Wren, the secretive owner of a fairly successful gallery who is about to marry Ella, Joel Roseman, a young man who is being haunted by his imaginary friend, and Lance Platt, an unemployed, lazy scoundrel who believes society owes him a decent living.

In spite of the fine language, the vivid setting and some interesting characters, the story did not really grab me. There is enough of a crime plot in it to warrant the label crime story, but it sort of peters out in the last chapters.

mandag den 15. marts 2010

V for van der Vlugt


This week´s letter for Kerrie´s alphabet meme is V.

“The girl gets back on her bike and rides on. The van overtakes her and envelops her in a thick cloud of diesel smoke. She coughs, flaps her hand at the smoke and stops pedaling.

The van tears away, in the direction of the Dark Dunes. The girl thinks about her meeting. She´s having second thoughts now – perhaps she should have chosen a less isolated place.”


In January I read and reviewed Simone van der Vlugt´s first crime novel, or psychological thriller. Van der Vlugt has written children´s books before this excellent crime debut, The Reunion, which was published in 2009. See my review.

I could have tried to read it in Dutch, but I am not sure I am capable of reading a full novel in my fourth language any more so I chose to buy it in English.

If you are in for a fast-paced thriller about bullying and loss, this is a good choice. And if you participate in the Global Reading Challenge and want to try something from the Netherlands, this book may also be the solution.

søndag den 14. marts 2010

Crime Case Full Story


Who knows how disappointed you will be, but this is the story behind Marie Oates´ death (remember, this is the first crime case ever for a group of sixteen-year-old students).

Marie and Daisy Oates grew up together, the beautiful and the intelligent sister. They got on well until Marie realized how fun it was to flutter her long eyelashes at someone else´s boyfriend – and tried this on Daisy´s lover, Robert Browne.

Daisy believed she had found the one and only, and she had just realized she was pregnant. What could she do? She tried to persuade Robert, she considered terminating the pregnancy, she considered killing herself – which is why she stole Robert´s gun. (Robert may have had an idea about this, but as you can imagine, this guy who leaves a pregnant girl at the flutter of an eyelash, does not have enough backbone to report his gun stolen or try to help Daisy).

Unhappy but intelligent Daisy arranges a meeting with her sister “to patch things up”. Empty-headed Marie believes her and buys cream cakes for the reconciliation scene. She opens the door to let in her sister who points the gun at her, knowing that the longer time she stays in the flat, the more traces she will leave behind. She steps forward, trying her best to shoot Marie through the heart while making it look like suicide. But Marie tumbles back and raises her arms in self-defence so the bullet goes through her left arm first.

This does not look good. Daisy tries to keep cool and follow her plan. She places the gun in Marie´s hand and fires a second shot into the wall, leaving Marie´s fingerprints on the weapon.
She locks the door with a handkerchief around her fingers, and she does her best to stay clear of the body on the floor, but nevertheless she steps in a splash of blood in her new Reebok trainers. Daisy is not exactly fashion-conscious so she does not know that these footprints will stick out among Marie´s high heels and stilettos.

In the kitchen she opens the window and jumps down on the grey container in the backyard. Unseen she returns to her hired car, and on her way home she gets rid of the shoes in a container. According to her original plan she was going to return to her flat, but she realizes that the suicide scene will not convince the police for long so she picks up her passport, draws some cash and goes to Gatwick Airport.

Where is Daisy now? Well, your guess is as good as mine.

Thank you to my persistent team of detectives for playing along!

lørdag den 13. marts 2010

Crime Case Round Seven


Wanted: The Bedford police are very eager to get in touch with Ms Daisy Oates of Reading. Ms Oates is in her mid-thirties, 160 cm tall, normal weight, and she has short, dark blonde hair. She was last seen near Gatwick.

DC Tim Kinberg has spoken with Robert Browne who is a tall, well-built soldier. Even in his current state of shock and despondency he seems to be a kind and pleasant young man. After some hesitation he reveals that he had a short fling with Daisy before he met Marie. “Daisy was just ... Well, I am afraid this doesn´t sound so good, but after I had seen Marie I couldn´t ... I couldn´t get her out of my mind again.”

Kinberg asks Robert if Daisy strikes him as a jealous type. He explains that the police have not been able to find Daisy since Marie´s death. “Do you think Daisy thought what you were having together was a serious relationship?”

Robert seems shaken by this information. He admits that Daisy wasn´t very willing to let him go. She has tried to arrange a meeting with him for weeks, and he confesses that he fears she might be pregnant. “I am not sure, but she said something about new responsibilities... Oh, I am so confused. But she can´t have ... She really loved her sister!”

“A final questions, Robert. Did Marie or Daisy own a white pair of Reebok trainers?”

“Trainers? Running shoes? Not Marie, certainly, unless they come with high heels.”

Tomorrow: last round – so what do you want to ask?

fredag den 12. marts 2010

Crime Case Round Six


A brand-new report ticks in from ballistics. Margot Duncan confirms that Ms Oates was killed by a bullet fired by Robert Browne´s gun, a Walther P99. Two shots were fired, one which hit Marie Oates´ left arm, went through a rib and penetrated the left ventricle. It was fired at close range (c 50 cm) with a slightly upward angle. This bullet (showing clear traces of tissue) was dug out of the living room wall c 160 cm above the floor. Another bullet hit the wall c 20 cm above the skirting board, and again the angle seems to have been upward.

The flat seems tidy, and Ms Oates´ expensive watch plus several pieces of jewellery lie about in the living room. Ms Oates does not seem to have done anything to defend herself – apart from raising her left arm immediately before the gunshot went off. As Ms Oates owned more than a hundred pairs of shoes, it has taken some time to established which prints were hers, but DC Kelly Adams has found a clear print of a bloodstained Reebok shoe measuring 23 cm on the kitchen floor.

No trace of Daisy Oates yet. One of Marie´s colleagues, Tina Osborne, claims Marie and Daisy got on well “most of the time, but they had some kind of fall-out a few months ago.” Ms Osborne explains that she and Marie were not close. “I doubt she has ever had a close girlfriend. You like her in the beginning, but then you notice that if there are men in the vicinity she just forgets you exist.” DC Patti Witter asks her if Marie was in any kind of trouble, e.g. money or alcohol. “Trouble? Oh no, she was such a skinflint, and she hardly ever touched alcohol. She said it ruined her complexion. To be honest, she was a bit boring. Everything in her life was about Marie Oates.”

torsdag den 11. marts 2010

Crime Case Round Five


First the flat: DC R.T. Jury reports that semen, hair and skin from the bed come from Robert. This corresponds with Robert´s statement about their weekend activities. He sticks to his explanation about the gun: he has not seen it since he came back from Afghanistan. He may have shown it to a friend or two around that time.

DC Patti Witter reports that the windows are not broken, but one of them has not been fastened. Though Marie´s cakes have not been eaten, she may have had a visitor as there are apparently two sets of footprints on top of Robert´s.

Marie´s mother has not been able to help much. She is shocked and DC Tim Kinberg has tried to get in touch with the sister Daisy because he feels Mrs Oates should not be left alone, but Daisy is nowhere to be found.

Preliminary results from the post-mortem: suicide has not been ruled out yet, but as the bullet passed through Marie´s left arm before it penetrated her chest, it is unlikely.

DC Kelly Adams who is in charge of the door-to-door complains that it has not given much yet as most of the neighbours were still at work during the incident. A woman in her thirties may have passed the house during the relevant period of time, but she could also have entered the block of flats. The description of the short-haired woman is vague, but “she was certainly not a model.”

Crime Case Round Four


Starlite photo of Marie Oates.

[This is more of a question-answer round as there are so many questions and I am still busy assisting my seven groups of students]

Marie Oates dies shortly after having arrived at the local hospital (Monday late afternoon). Her poor mother identifies her.

The boyfriend & soldier Robert Charles Brown has not reported his gun stolen as he had not noticed it wasn´t in the box under his bed where he left it several months ago. Robert´s superiors confirm the gun has been issued to him in 2009.

Marie´s mobile phone (her only phone): Marie Oates called Robert Sunday afternoon around five o´clock, and her sister Daisy Oates called her Sunday evening around half past ten. She has not been in touch with any of the other models since she left work Friday. They saw her take the bus as usual.

There might be several jealous girls as Marie was very beautiful (some ´friends´ hint that she thought it was fun to steal their boyfriends just to prove that she could).

The relationship between Marie and Robert started two-three months ago. He visited her in her flat Saturday afternoon and stayed until Sunday after lunch. He went back to his room in Sherwood because he had an appointment with three other soldiers. They went out drinking heavily, and Robert did not really surface until Monday afternoon. He claims he and Marie were very happy.

The police have tried to contact Marie´s sister but she is neither in her home nor at work.

The flat: The door was locked from the inside, and the key was left in the key hole. The only other exits are two windows facing the backyard.
It seems as if Marie Oates´ has slept in her bed several times since she changed her bed linen. There are traces of semen though hardly very fresh.
Ms Oates was dressed, and she had been out shopping Monday morning. She went to the local baker to buy two cream cakes and milk. The baker (who seems partial to her beauty) remembers having seen her around twelve o´clock. The cakes are still in her fridge, but someone has opened the carton of milk.

onsdag den 10. marts 2010

Crime Case Round Three


Detective Constables Tim Kinberg and Patti Witter seek out the caretaker who tries to Marie Oates´ flat. The door is locked from the inside, however, so they have to break it open.

On the living room floor they find a young woman who has been shot, possibly more than once. She is unconscious, her breath is shallow, and they send for an ambulance immediately. They assume they have found twenty-seven-year-old Marie Oates.

They call for technical assistance, and when the scene of crime has been photographed, they bag a handgun Walther P99 lying next to the woman. They continue their examination of the flat.

DC Patti Witter tries to get in touch with Ms Oates´ mother, but in vain. Instead she finds the phone number of Robert Charles Brown, Ms Oates´ boyfriend. She gets in touch with him an hour later in his rented room in Sherwood. He is devastated when he hears that Marie is severely injured. When asked, he admits that he owns a Walther P99, but he has not seen the weapon for months.

Detective Constable Kelly Adams goes to Marie Oates´ place of work. Ms Oates is a popular model, working for the bureau “Starlites” in Bedford. The owner of the bureau, Ms Betty Fordson, explains that she saw Marie Friday afternoon, and that she was expected at work today, Monday. Ms Fordson says Marie was chatting on her phone all day long, gossiping with friends, arranging dates or arguing with that sister of hers. Ms Fordson knows she had a new boyfriend, "but mind you, her relationships never last long. She is so pretty she can have anyone she wants."

You are the detectives; what will you do next?

tirsdag den 9. marts 2010

Crime Case round two.

The police ring the bell and pound on the door of Marie Oates´ flat. They get no reaction and there is no sound from the flat.

They talk to Sally Smith who was taking a nap when she heard what she believed was a gun shot. She says she might have heard a body falling, but she is not at all certain. She did not try to get in touch with Marie Oates as she was scared. “Perhaps it was one of all her male friends. They run in and out of her flat all the time.” She denies having heard anything at all after the shot that woke her up.

Mrs Doreen Clarke who lives in the flat opposite Marie Oates´ confirms that she has heard something from young Marie´s flat. “It could be shots, I don´t really know, but it was definitely from her flat. But the door didn´t ... Wait a second, I think I heard the door of her flat before the shots – or whatever it was.” Mrs Clarke does not know the name of Marie´s boyfriend, “but he is a very nice and polite soldier.”

The police check the backyard. Nothing of interest, but one of Ms Oates´ first floor windows seems not to be closed properly. They discuss what to do next, but as Bedford is a very sleepy little town they are not at all sure it can have been gun shots.

So where do you go from here?

mandag den 8. marts 2010

Crime Case


You receive an alarm call.

Sally Smith, Elm Lane in Bedford, has heard “something that sounded like a gun shot” from the flat above her own. The person who lives in the flat is a single girl, Marie Oates.

You are the detective/police officer: what will you do next, and which questions will you ask?

Send me a question (one or two each in the form of a comment), and the better questions, the better answers you will get in tomorrow´s post.

søndag den 7. marts 2010

Blog-Out


I am afraid it will not be possible for me to blog very much next week.

At work, I am participating in a project called Bodies of Evidence in one of my classes. In groups, the students will have to try to solve criminal cases on their own, and it is my job to keep them preoccupied with a steady flow of clues, reports etc every day. My two colleagues and I tried it two years ago. All in all it was a great success – but it certainly kept me busy!

So don´t expect regular posts from me – unless some of you want to play along?

Any wanna-be detectives out there?

lørdag den 6. marts 2010

Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn (2006)


[Dansk titel: En god gerning (2007)]

This is the Scottish writer´s second Jackson Brodie novel.

The plot is rather complex as we experience four days seen from several different points of view. The story begins when “Paul Bradley” (one of many characters who is not what he seems in this drama) has to brake because a pedestrian steps out in front of his car. The Honda behind him hits his bumper, and what seems to be an insignificant occurrence sets off a chain reaction.

This novel is well-written and carefully planned, but perhaps not the best choice for a very busy week. The complex plot is supposed to be funny, but I just saw the many turns and twists as unrealistic and confusing.

See my review of Atkinson´s debut, Case Histories, which I enjoyed very much.

Have you tried having very high expectations to a book which could not really live up to it?

fredag den 5. marts 2010

torsdag den 4. marts 2010

onsdag den 3. marts 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 58

[This ´tin´ is a holiday snapshot]

This is the author´s second crime novel.

“Ray got out of the car and walked round to the back bumper to inspect the damage. The Honda driver started yelling at him. ´You stupid, fucking twat, what did you think you were doing?´ English. Ray tried to think of something to say that would be non-confrontational, that would calm the guy down – you could see he was a pressure cooker waiting to blow, wanting to blow, bouncing on his feet like an out-of-condition heavyweight. Ray adopted a neutral stance, a neutral expression, but the he heard the crowd give a little collective ´Aah´ of horror and he registered the baseball bat that had suddenly appeared in the guy´s hand out of nowhere and thought, shit.”

The Rules:
If you recognize the quotation, or if you think you are able to guess who wrote it, please post a comment. Just leave a hint, do not spoil the fun by giving too much away. The book will be reviewed on Friday (if I have had time to write one).

tirsdag den 2. marts 2010

Tea for Ten


A writing task: write a story in which all the characters have product names.

Characters:
Earl Grey + Lady Grey – host and hostess
Jasmine – their young daughter
Lipton – hussar
Darjeeling – hussar
Bai Mu Dan – karate teacher
Lapsang souchong – Chinese ambassador
Shui Xian – his wife
Medova – Russian maid
Pickwick – butler
Rooibos – gardener
Assam Khongea – police inspector

Tea for Ten  - DJ´s Daim Stories: Candied Crime

mandag den 1. marts 2010

Val McDermid, A Place of Execution (1999)


This Scottish stand-alone is part of my loot from our holiday in Scotland.

The plot begins when thirteen-year-old Alison Carter disappears from her home in Scardale, an isolated village in Derbyshire. Two children have disappeared from Manchester shortly before, but Inspector George Bennett does not see the cases as related. When he has ruled out a voluntary disappearance, he begins to suspect Alison has been abducted by someone she knew.

You could read this novel because it is a fantastic police procedural with an excellent and exciting plot. I guessed a few things, but still I rushed through the last two hundred and fifty pages in one night.

Or you could read it for the portrayal of the main characters: George Bennett and his colleagues, Alison´s mother and the other villagers (who are all related to Alison, of course).

Or you could read it for the very fine language.

Or for the setting: the village where people seem to continue a life style of a remote past. Children are born, they grow up and marry, they cultivate their land, but first of all they remain in Scardale, and they stick together!

No matter what, there is only one thing to say: if you have not read this one already, you should! (My son and older daughter agree, they read it first and told me to read it – NOW)

And to readers who know McDermid´s Tony Hill & Carol Jordan series: no, this one is not horrid or graphic. Children are victims, but McDermid handles the crimes against them without crossing my limit anywhere.