tirsdag den 30. november 2010

2011 Global Reading Challenge


If you should be interested in participating in the global challenge of 2011, you can see the rules and sign in here. The challenge runs all the year, and there are three levels to choose among. (Some of you have already posted about the challenge, and I really appreciate that).

I plan to go for the medium level (14 books) and use some of my TBR books. Here are my preliminary ideas, eleven writers who are all new to me, but I may change my plans several times before finishing the challenge.

Africa:
Deon Meyer, Devil´s Peak, 2007 (South Africa)

Asia:
Shamini Flint, Inspector Sing Investigates, A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder, 2009 (Malaysia)
Kishwar Desai, Witness the Night, 2010 (India)

Australasia:


Europe:
Esther Verhoef, Close-Up, 2009 (The Netherlands)
Fred Vargas, Have Mercy on us All, 2003 (France)

North America:
Giles Blunt, The Fields of Grief, 2006 (Canada)
Barbara Fister, In the Wind, 2008 (the USA)

South America:
Leonardo Padura, Havana Red, 2005 (Cuba)

The Seventh Continent:
Rebecca Cantrell, A Trace of Smoke, 2009 (history)
Kate Summerscale, The Suspicion of Mr Whicher, 2009 (history)

mandag den 29. november 2010

Sarah Andrews, In Cold Pursuit (2007)

This American geologist writes about a detective who is also a geologist. The novel is the eleventh in the Em Hansen series (though she only plays a minor role in the story).

To be honest, I only bought this one because I needed a second story set in Antarctica.

Valena Walker, a geology student, gets her first glimpse of the Antarctic station McMurdo from the height of 35,000 feet. “The confectionary swirl of chocolate mountains notched by whipped cream glaciers went on and on, trackless mile after mile... She saw not a tree, not a road, no cities, no towns, not even a lonely hut, no marks of man, and for that matter, no animals, plants... nothing but ice!”

Small wonder so few good crime novels are set there.

Valena is supposed to work on her master´s degree under Dr Emmett Vanderzee, but upon her arrival she learns that Vanderzee has just been sent back, apparently arrested for the murder of a journalist who died in his camp a year earlier.

Valena does not just give up; she has come to Antarctica to work and write her thesis so she begins asking questions. Besides, she admires her professor and wants to clear his name – so she contacts Emily Hansen, a specialist of forensic geology (and crime).

“It [the trail] was formed of bashed-up scoria, a volcanic rock filled with little air bubbles because it had flowed out of the ground frothing with rapidly expanding gasses. It was odd to think that in this world of ice, the island had been born of fire. She had been to Hawaii, where volcanic rock weathered quickly under invasive vegetation and other organisms, but this scoria was so cold and perennially bound in ice and snow that nothing could grow on it or live in it, nothing to break it down into soil.”

I am not quite convinced a young, inexperienced girl could solve a year-old crime just by chit-chatting to a bunch of tough survivers, but it didn´t bother me too much because I enjoyed the description of Valena´s initiation to Antarctica so much more than I had expected.

So if you want to learn something about geology, global warming and surviving under extreme conditions, you might enjoy this story, though the plot is not the best and the characters are numerous but not all very memorable.

I read it as my last 2010 Global Reading Challenge book, Antarctica, and for that purpose it was a fine choice.
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søndag den 28. november 2010

2010 Global Reading Challenge - finished

The other day I finished my fourth and last 2010 challenge.

Africa: 
Yaba Badoe, True Murder, Ghana

Malla Nunn, A Beautiful Place to Die, South Africa

Asia: 
Colin Cotterill, The Coroner´s Lunch, Laos

Matt B Rees, The Bethlehem Murders, Israel


Australasia: 
Paul Cleave, Cemetery Lake, New Zealand

Peter Temple, Bad Debts, Australia

Europe: 

James Thompson, Snow Angels, Finland

Simone Van der Vlugt, Reunion, The Netherlands


North America: 
Megan Abbott, Bury Me Deep, the USA

Vicki Delaney, Valley of the Lost, Canada


South America: 
Leighton Gage, Blood of the Wicked, Brazil

Mario Vargos Llosa, Who Killed Palomino Molero, Peru

Antarctica: 
Raymond Khoury, The Sign

Sarah Andrews, In Cold Pursuit (review coming up tomorrow)
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Advent Sunday

In Denmark we don´t celebrate Thanksgiving. Instead, we take the time to celebrate the four Advent Sundays as a family, and the first weekend is special because we also celebrate our son´s birthday. No grandparents this year because of the snow, but we will go to church together, sing some of our beloved Advent hymns - and have a nice (fat) lunch.


lørdag den 27. november 2010

Elizabeth Ferrars, Hanged Man´s House (1974)

This crime novel is a British stand-alone. In some ways it may be compared to the Danish writer Else Fischer´s novels, and it struck me as funny that their names are so similar. The main – rather important – difference is that Ferrars is much better at varying her plots.

After the loss of her husband, Valerie Hackett keeps house for her brother Edmund who is the right hand of Charles Gair, the director of Martindale, a research station. When Charles´ dogs keep barking, Valerie goes to see why and finds Charles hanging from the roof in his own kitchen. But the police can see immediately that he had been hit on the head before his ´suicide´.

The story takes place around Martindale with a small number of characters who all have their secrets, and perhaps also reasons to kill the director. And the plot included the use of a special cupboard which made me (and the police) very curious indeed. It is great to see an idea you have never come across before.

Ferrars (a pen name) wrote nice comfort reads which I buy whenever I find one at a reasonable price.
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fredag den 26. november 2010

Michael Connelly, 9 Dragons (2009)

This American police procedural is the fifteenth in the Harry Bosch series.

Harry Bosch and partner are called out to a liquor store robbery. The Chinese owner, a hardworking immigrant and quiet family father, John Li, has been shot three times through the chest. A week-old surveillance tape shows an Asian type who may be extorting Li, and the police suspect the murder was committed by a triad, a secret Chinese society.

Harry is a thorough and observant detective, dedicated to his job, and when the case leads him to Hong Kong, he rushes off on the first plane. Despite his best efforts, he gets some things wrong in the first place, however, so we don´t get all the answers until the last chapters of the book. Besides, the single father Harry learns a bit about what it takes to raise a teenage daughter.

An exciting story with much interesting information about Hong Kong and Chinese culture, but it also brought tears to my eyes once – something that doesn´t happen very often.

Inspired by this blog post I bought the Kindle ebook myself. Thank you, Seana, it was a great read.
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torsdag den 25. november 2010

Thy´s Day # 34

Sorry, this picture is not the fresh snow we got this week
(which I didn´t have time to venture out in before dark).
It is old snow from January.

A picture says more than thousand words 
- but it can also tell lies.
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onsdag den 24. november 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 81

This police procedural is far from the first in the series.

“The victim was Asian and looked to be almost seventy. He was on his back, eyes staring blankly at the ceiling. His lips were pulled back from clenched teeth, almost in a sneer. ... The front of his shirt was soaked with his blood and B...... could see at least three bullet entry points in his chest.”

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.
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tirsdag den 23. november 2010

Two-Sentence Tuesday # 5


First a real teaser. I have begun writing a Danish novel recently, and here you have the very first sentences of that one:

Tora baksede lidt med den rustne nøgle, før det lykkedes hende at få den blå dør til at give efter. Indenfor lugtede der indeklemt og fugtigt, men det gav ingen mening at begynde at lukke vinduer op i den tætte havgus
.

[Tora struggled with the rusty key until she succeeded in making the blue door yield. Inside it smelled stuffy and damp, but there was no point in opening the windows in the sea fog.]

But I shouldn´t treat my faithful readers so respectlessly so here is a bit for the majority of you from The Halloween Murderer:

Rhapsody coughed, trying to hide the fact that her heart was thumping rapidly. Reverend Sheridan Thwing was so tall that he had developed a stoop, and in combination with the black and white dog collar shirt one couldn´t help thinking of a vulture.

Two-Sentence Tuesday is hosted by Women of Mystery.

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

I can´t help it; I´ll have to add this quotation:

My mother was the village librarian; we lived a matter of a few steps away from the library. Books were as common as underwear in our apartment– and every bit as important.

My blog friend Cathy, Kittling Books, has written a delicous post about her Reading Roots on the blog "Reading Through Life". Cathy is a wonderful reader & writer.

mandag den 22. november 2010

Else Fischer, Testamentet der dræbte (1958)

Stenrige, gamle Henriette Fram har besluttet sig for at ændre sit testamente, men nogen forhindrer hendes plan ved at forære hende en æske chokolader, som smager usædvanlig bittert.

Bonnie Marshall er journalist og har netop interviewet Henriette Fram om de velgørende foretagender, som kan se frem til at modtage legater, men efter dødsfaldet begynder mærkelige ting at ske. Bonnies notater forsvinder, dernæst er det selve artiklen, og på vej hjem fra avisen bliver hun udsat for et mordforsøg.

I begyndelsen er hun vis på, der ikke er nogen i hendes nærmeste familie eller omgangskreds, som vil hende ondt. Hun bor i en stor villa med sin tante, en fætter og kusine. Desuden optræder to trofaste tjenestefolk og et par tilbedere: landsretssagfører Gregers og kriminalreporteren Morten Skov. Bonnie stoler så meget på den lille, lukkede kreds af mistænkte, at hun underdriver begivenhederne for politiet i første omgang, og derfor kommer hun snart til at fremstå som en utroværdig fantast.

Som læsere af Else Fischers puslespilskrimier vil vide, er alle i huset på et tidspunkt dræbt eller under mistanke. Men bare rolig, alt ordner sig til det bedste for de gode i sidste kapitel. Her er intet nyt under solen. Jeg købte bogen brugt & billigt i en rodekasse i Thisted. 


Else Fischer, The Will that Killed (1958)
(My translation, these Danish books have not been translated into English)

Rich, old Henriette Fram has made up her mind to change her will when someone prevents her from doing it by giving her a box of chocolates which taste oddly bitter.

Journalist Bonnie Marshall has just interviewed Ms Fram about the good causes which can look forward to legacies from her, but after the death strange things begin to happen. Bonnie´s notes and her article disappear, and she is almost killed on her way home from the paper.

Bonnie is so certain that no one from her small circle of relatives or friends will cause her any harm that she does not tell the police everything from the beginning. Therefore she seems fanciful and unreliable when she really needs them.

Readers of Fischer´s puzzles will know that before or later, everybody in the house is either dead or a suspect. But don´t worry, all ends well for the good guys in the last chapter. This is a real comfort read, or perhaps a cosy mystery. I bought six old books for next to nothing in a second-hand shop, and this one kept me entertained for two-three hours.
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søndag den 21. november 2010

Look what I got

I won a beautiful pair of mittens some time ago so I though I knew what was in the parcel the other day. But no, Heather of Books and Quilts had included a few wonderful surprises for me.

Thank you, Heather. You are a great ambassador for your country. What I don´t get is how you knew I had lost my copy of "The Call of the Wild."

Remember, if you click on the photo, you can enlarge it.

lørdag den 20. november 2010

Scott Nicholson, The Red Church (2002)

This thriller-cum-ghost story is the American writer´s first novel, a stand-alone. It is set in a rural community in the Appalachian Mountains. 

Whenever thirteen-year-old Ronnie Day walks home from school, he does his best not to see the red church. His life is filled with trouble; his Baptist father has left their home because the mother has joined a weird cult, his younger brother Tim is too stupid to look after himself and then people begin to die mysteriously.

I bought the Kindle edition of this book myself out of sheer curiosity. Even though I liked the environment and the uncanny atmosphere, I gave up finishing the novel after the first handful of chapters. I don´t mind superstition, legends or haunted bell towers in an otherwise appealing story, but paranormal solutions to crime and spritual wars between Baptists and cult member are not really my thing.

Remember: this was just my opinion – if you like the paranormal, you may love this story.

fredag den 19. november 2010

Laura Wilson, Stratton´s War (2007)


This historical crime novel is the first in the Ted Stratton Series. It takes place in London in the summer and autumn of 1940.

The former actress Mabel Morgan is found dead, impaled on the railings beneath her windows. It looks like suicide, but Detective Inspector Ted Stratton is not so sure. Neither is young, gay Joe Vincent whose flat Mabel lived in. Soon after Vincent is beaten up by some gangster types who are searching for something in the flat.

Another plot line deals with young, beautiful Diana Calthrop who is married to a drip and working for the War Office which she finds much more interesting. She is trying to infiltrate a right wing club, and at the same time handsome and mysterious Claude Ventriss decides to infiltrate the bored wife – quite successfully.

I enjoyed the setting; the peculiar sense of gaiety while the Londoners were waiting for the invasion. Children were sent off to the country, but adults seized the day, never certain another one would come while homosexuals struggled to keep their preference secret. On the other hand the Diana Calthrop vs Claude Ventriss plot annoyed me. I have never been very fond of the ´dangerous, yet irresistible man´ whom no woman can ward off.

Ted Stratton is the old-fashioned policeman who has not lost his integrity and struggles hard to solve his cases under fairly hopeless circumstances while the MI5 officers seem more interested in sweeping embarrassing truths under the carpet. 

An intriguing and very satisfying mystery, and of course I will have to read more about the likeable Inspector Stratton. I think I bought the book myself, but it could be a gift or a win.
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torsdag den 18. november 2010

Thy´s Day # 33

Two pictures which may explain why we are spending 
a few weeks in our cottage - again. 


A smart little Kindle is much handier than my current TBR chaos. 


Kindle under cover
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onsdag den 17. november 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 80

In this book which weighs 680 g, or more than twice as much as my Kindle, a little boy gets a surprise:

“Raising his head, he saw a sack of something draped over a set of railings further down. It hadn´t been there when he´d run down the road after his dinner, he was sure. He dawdled along for a closer look. It wasn´t a sack, but a woman, impaled on the sharp black spikes. He stared at her, uncomprehending. Face down, her dress was caught up round her waist, and he could see her drawers.”

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.
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tirsdag den 16. november 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday # 4 & Trouble-Shooting


Two sentences for you (The Halloween Murderer, chapter three):

“Hello, Miss Gershwin.”

Squinting out of the corner of her eye she thought she had been ambushed by a grizzly and her tiny cub, but when she turned around, Rhapsody found herself face to face with a well-groomed blonde in a fur coat who was walking a colour-coordinated terrier.


Two-Sentence Tuesday is hosted by Women of Mystery.


Trouble-Shooting.


My Halloween mystery has not progressed too well lately even though I have had plenty of time. The other day I realized that it was because the action did not really grab me. There is a body in the beginning of chapter two which should be okay, but so far, Rhapsody has no inkling it wasn´t a natural death. She is just busy cleaning and redecorating her new home. Arrrggghh; who wants to write - or read - about that?

Well, I think I have found an instant remedy: send Rhapsody off to make new friends in the local pub.
And don´t worry, I´ll rewrite the first chapters before I send them off to anyone to read.
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mandag den 15. november 2010

Brian Kavanagh, Capable of Murder (2005)

This Australian novel is the first Belinda Lawrence mystery. Belinda is invited to the West Country to visit her aunt Jane in Milford, near Bath.

But here is what meets her:
“As her eyes grew accustomed to the imperceptible light from the other room Belinda realised that only inches away, her aunt Jane´s deathly glazed eyes stared accusingly out of her decaying face.”

Aunt Jane has been dead for a week; apparently after a fall down the stairs. The odd thing is that the aunt seems to have sent off her letter to Belinda after her death.

On the train, Belinda meets an unusually clumsy young man, Jacob Aitkins, the local gardener, and when she inherits aunt Jane´s cottage, he becomes her nearest neighbour. She is not exactly impressed, but she quite likes his sister, Rosemary.

The story begins on a quite promising note, but unfortunately the plot is the best part even though it relies on a lot of coincidence. The village setting is very suitable for a cosy mystery, but the emphasis on atmosphere is often overdone in the form of dark and mysterious figures looming here and there.

The characters are not exactly well developed, and Belinda did not strike me as a patient or pleasant woman. Her discernment is not the best either so I can´t say she is the kind of protagonist I am burning to meet again.

This book was a free PDF version.

søndag den 14. november 2010

Six Word Sunday

I am sure you have come across six-word stories or memoirs before, e.g. the famous Hemingway story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” I think Shakespeare could have written some terrific ones: “Is that a dagger I s...?”

When my friend Margot, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, called for dribbles the other day (fifty-word stories), my mind switched to Hemingway mode and began spitting out six-word stories.

Here is my new variation of the concept: stories inspired by book titles:

Golden Age Mysteries: 

1. “Gaudy Night.” “Unnatural Death.” “Whose Body?”

2. Having: “Busman´s Honeymoon.” Wanting: “Strong Poison.”

And now a threat: don´t you dare copying my idea – unless you come back here with a link so we can share the fun!
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lørdag den 13. november 2010

Laura Wilson, Dying Voices (2000)

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

Young Dodie Blackstock´s mother was kidnapped in 1976 when Dodie was eight years old. Her father refused to pay ten million pounds to get her back, and when he agreed to six millions, the operation was botched so even though the kidnappers were apprehended, Susan Carrington was never found. She was later declared dead, and Dodie´s father married again.

In 1996 the police find Susan´s body, and she has clearly been dead for a few days only.
Throughout the rest of the book Dodie struggles to discover what happened twenty years ago and to come to terms with her mother´s disappearance plus her father´s unwillingness to pay the ransom. Her dominating father died a few years earlier, leaving her with a large fortune (though she would prefer to support herself) and a huge, looming shadow.

Of course we also hear about the police work. Futhermore, Dodie realizes that she is being followed. A bored teenager or someone related to the kidnapping affair? The main plot line is Dodie´s development, however.

I have read more convincing endings; still I enjoyed getting to know the character Dodie and for me the book was a genuine page turner.

I bought the e-book myself, and I enjoyed the new reading experience just as much as the actual book.
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fredag den 12. november 2010

Caroline Graham, A Place of Safety (1999)

This British cosy mystery is the sixth out of seven Inspector Barnaby novels.

In a quiet Midsumer village, Ann Lawrence, the former vicar´s wife, has an argument with one of the young delinquents her husband tries to rehabilitate. Carlotta falls or jumps into the river and disappears without a trace. Timid Ann is devastated, and when her spiteful gardener blackmails her, she sees no alternative to paying what he wants.

Typically for Midsomer, the plot does not end here. Someone kills the gardener, but for some reason the blackmail continues.

What else can I say? All the best cosy mystery features are there; the quirks, the oddballs, the grudges beneath the tranquil facade, the old vicarage and the new glass palace, but also a few endearing characters, and all more real than life itself.

I bought the book myself.
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torsdag den 11. november 2010

2011 Global Reading Challenge - testing logo

It seems that some of my readers want a 2011 Global Reading Challenge. 
So here is my proposal for a new logo. 
What do you think?

Thy´s Day # 29

onsdag den 10. november 2010

Kindling your Curiosity

Yes, I have received my new gadget. I ordered my Kindle Wireless Reading Device, Wi-Fi, latest generation Friday and held it in my hand Monday afternoon.(No picture as I am not writing this post from home).

Yes, I have bought my first books. One because I wanted it, and one because it is just too easy to hit that button! Well, I did browse for editions of Macbeth, but I don´t recall having chosen one. Fortunately it was the cheapest one available. (Not that I don´t think Shakespeare is value for money, it is just that I own two or three paper versions already).

Yes, I have read my first book.
I had planned to read another book by Laura Wilson, but when I found her “Dying Voices” for less than eight dollars, I decided that that would be a very suitable test. (A short review will follow)

Yes, it is very easy to use. Most features are rather intuitive.

Yes, I enjoyed reading on the screen. I have shown it to several relatives and colleagues, and they all agree that the black letters on the white screen is just as perfect as reading on paper.

As I don´t know exactly how long the book is, I can´t say much about my reading speed, but I read it over two evenings (so definitely not slow motion).

A feature I really like is the icon which tells me how many percent of the book I have read. I think it is quite common for readers of crime fiction and thrillers that we want to know when we hit that crucial, final chapter.

So all in all, several large plusses.

I have only run into one problem yet. I have downloaded a NetGalley review book to my Kindle, but it seems to have vanished into thin air. According to NetGalley and Amazon, it should be enought to add my Kindle e-mail address to my NetGalley profile and add the NetGalley e-mail address to the list of addresses I am willing to receive files from. But no.

ADDITION: problem solved - I tried downloading them again, and this time it suddenly worked.

(Of course I am prepared to pay for most of my books, but Amazon just swallowed most of my 2011 book budget the other day)

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 79

[This delicious tin belongs to Kelly, Kelly´s Thoughts and Ramblings]


Written in another millenium, this cosy mystery may be considered old.


The girl cried again, ´Don´t ... don´t push -!´

Then there was a terrible cry and a splash as something heavy hit the water. Then silence.


Charlie stepped back into the shelter of the hedge. He was trembling, his nerve ends jumping like fleas on a hot plate. It was some time before he could start to make his way home. And when he did, more than one person noted his progress, for an English country village, despite all appearances to the contrary, is never quite asleep.


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.
.

tirsdag den 9. november 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday # 3

As the whole family has been afflicted by sore throats, I haven´t been as productive over the weekend as I hoped. I did write more than two sentences, however, so here is a titbit for you:

She found three old cook books, one of them kept together with tape, plus some pink and orange Danielle Steel novels, a dozen Barbara Cartlands and a few other female writers she had never heard about. Unless Archibald had some hidden side she didn´t know about, something was clearly wrong.

Two-Sentence Tuesday is hosted by Women of Mystery.




The Global Reading Challenge
More than a hundred people have participated in 2010, and many of you seem to have enjoyed the 2010 Global Reading Challenge so perhaps it is time to ask you if this was it, or if you want to play along next year.

Should we have a 2011 Global Reading Challenge?

I won´t be sad or disappointed if you don´t want it – I have plenty of other projects to keep me preoccupied for more hours than I have. On the other hand I don´t mind hosting the challenge again. It doesn´t take much of my time once the blog is up and running, and Kerrie is very helpful if I need technical assistance.

NB: I have thought about changing "the seventh continent" from Antarctica to a sort of wildcart setting - it could be the sea, the space, the future, the past or some supernatural world so don´t worry; unless you really want to, you won´t have to struggle to find interesting books with Antarctic settings.
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mandag den 8. november 2010

Donis Casey, Crying Blood (2011)

Poisoned Pen Press, to be released early 2011. 

This American cosy mystery is the fifth in the Alafair Tucker series. I have not read any of the earlier books.

After a short prologue, the story begins in Oklahoma in 1915 when the farmer Shaw Tucker is hunting quail with his sons. Their dog runs off to pick up a bird but comes back with an old boot still with the foot inside. Shaw and his sons dig out the whole body only to discover it has been shot in the head.

From the beginning, there is a strong sense of place, the Wild West with Indians and snakes, log cabins and haints. Fathers and sons go hunting together while the female members of the family spend their evenings quilting.

Though the book is called an Alafair Tucker mystery, it might be more correct to call it a Tucker mystery as her husband and their older children contribute to the solution. After the discovery of the first body, a young Indian follows Shaw Tucker who apprehends the boy and ties him up in an outhouse until they can get the sheriff. Sadly, the boy is killed when Shaw´s back is turned leaving the Turners with an extra murder to solve. They assume it must be related to Irish Roane Hawkins and the Creek Indian Lucretia Goingback, the former owners of the plot where the skeleton was found. Lucretia´s first husband disappeared mysteriously, and the family was scattered. As the title suggests, there is also an element of revenge.

The characters are well-drawn and interesting, especially Alafair and Shaw Tucker, though they seem to be a bit modern now and then. I am sure there have always been kind and patient parents around, but how many farmers in 1915 would think about whether their animals “met their ends in as humane a fashion as possible”?

On the whole this was a charming and entertaining mystery. Ghosts and superstition play a certain role for the environment and the atmosphere, but the solution of the crimes does not depend on anything supernatural. In spite of the PDF format, it was a fast read, and I wouldn´t mind meeting the engaging Tucker family again.

This was my first NetGalley review.

søndag den 7. november 2010

Leighton Gage, Every Bitter Thing (2010)



This police procedural is the fourth in the Mario Silva series set in Brazil.


A few days before Christmas Jonas Palhares is killed, literally on his own doorstep, just when he thinks he has moved to a safe area of Rio. He opens his door when he shouldn´t have and becomes “another statistic, one of Rio de Janeiro´s unsolved homicides.”

The next victim is Professor Paulo Cruz who has founded a lucrative business by writing popular works on sexuality. Quite soon, the police give the case up as hopeless.

Then Juan Rivas, the son of the Venezuelan foreign minister is killed, and hey presto, the Federal Police are put on the case, only to discover that four men have been killed in exactly the same way.

Chief Inspector Mario Silva of the Federal Police and his sidekick Agente Arnaldo Nunes discover that the victims had one thing in common: they were all passengers on the same flight from Miami to Brazil. Quite a nice touch!

A story about seeking justice one way or the other in a corrupt society with much brutality. Furthermore there is a strong sense of place and contrary to the first book which was a bit graphic once in a while, I think the writer strikes a fine balance this time.

It took a few chapters to get into the names and the various branches of the Brazilian police force, but soon I was engrossed in the plot, turning page after page to see if my theory was correct. Well, I guessed part of it, but not the final twist.

The author kindly sent me this ARC. See my review of the first Mario Silva mystery.
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lørdag den 6. november 2010

Why I Went Over to the Dark Side

I have thought about this for a few weeks, and yesterday I finally did it. I ordered that Kindle e-reader from Amazon.

Some reasons for wanting an e-reader
As I read more and more British and American books, I want to cut shipping costs. As I always have to add a couple of pounds or dollars for the shipping, I have bought many of my books second-hand so far. Another reason for this is that when I buy new books, I have to pay 25 % in VAT as a Danish resident. With e-books I don´t have to pay more for my books than the rest of the world.

My second reason is that some publishers have begun offering me review examples of e-books. I don´t mind the least reading old books, but I like reviewing a few new ones once in a while.

Some questions I tried to find an answer to first
Could I read Danish ebooks in my Kindle?
(I won´t buy many, new ebooks cost from eighteen to more than thirty dollars. But what if a Danish publisher offered to send review examples of e-books?). The answer is YES, they can be converted via a free programme so I won´t have to buy a second e-reader.

I know how much I love the feel of a book in my hand. Could I get used to reading on the screen?

My first test: reading a PDF-book on my PC. I got through it in two days, and the reading experience was ok, but not recommended.
My second test: I downloaded Amazon´s programme: Kindle for PC + a free book. Clearly a better reading experience.

What is the price level?
Well, there is no clear answer yet. Though Danish e-books are expensive, they seem to cost 5-10 dollars less than paper editions. On the other hand, Amazon.com have just raised their e-book prices considerably.

What about availability? 
There is always Amazon.com, but a few weeks ago I thought I could also buy e-books via British chains like Waterstones. Not any more; recently some of the major British sellers have stopped selling to customers from abroad.

So why did I push that order button yesterday? 
Don´t know. Perhaps because my husband was tired of all my on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand vacillation. And don´t worry about me. Once I have made up my mind, I never regret it. I may not love my Kindle, but I´ll find the positive sides to owning it – and use it.

Some recent blog posts about e-readers: 

Kimbofo (who gave inspiration to the title)
Maxine about the restrictions.
Bernadette about her eAdventure.

Tell me your e-reader story: do you have one? Do you love it? 
Have you considered buying one? Why (not)?
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fredag den 5. november 2010

Val McDermid, Dead Beat (1992)

This book is the first Kate Brannigan mystery.

The first line: “I swear one day I´ll kill him. Kill who? The man next door.”

Not so unusual in a crime novel, perhaps. But the man next door is Kate´s lover, the rock journalist Richard Barclay. Kate likes the man but she also cherishes her independence which means she is in for a lot of training before her guy is perfect.

When Kate is not busy perfecting Richard, she is one half of ´Mortensen & Brannigan´, private investigators in Manchester. In some ways she may be compared to Sue Grafton´s strong and independent sleuth, Kinsey Millhone.

Kate is employed by the famous rock singer Jett to find his former songwriter Moira Pollock. Missing persons is not her favourite case but she takes it on for the money, and at some point she realizes that ... far more interesting and dangerous than she had imagined.

Though Kate´s home base is Manchester, the case takes her to Leeds and Bradford, and the narrator deftly makes the cities come alive:

“The short drive from Leeds to its neighbouring city of Bradford is like traversing a continent. Crossing the city boundary, I found myself driving through a traditional Muslim community. Little girls were covered from head to foot, the only flesh on display their pale brown faces and hands.”

This novel is a traditional private detective mystery of the very best kind. I bought it myself.
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torsdag den 4. november 2010

onsdag den 3. november 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 78

[I know I used Julia´s wonderful tin last year
- but this is just the right choice for today]


This novel is first in a not quite new series.

“Moira´s body lay a few yards inside the door of the rehearsal room. Her limbs were played at angles too awkward for comfort. That alone would have been enough to show something was badly wrong. But there was more. The back of her head was matted with blood, which had trickled into a congealed pool behind her. A few yards away lay a tenor sax, its gleaming golden horn smeared with blood.”

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 or Saturday.
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tirsdag den 2. november 2010

Two Sentence Tuesday # 2

Tomorrow I promise to quote someone else, but here are two sentences from the first chapter of The Halloween Murderer:

“She [Rhapsody] turned down the High Street, staring into the ground to keep the rain off her face so she wouldn´t have noticed the hearse if it hadn´t passed her exactly when she was on the point of crossing the road. She saw it slow down outside a thatched bungalow near the George & Deacon on the corner.

She ought to feel pity for the poor deceased, but her first thought was ´bother, now they will all say that the Devil claimed another arrow!´”


(Eh, you didn´t notice that I cheated and gave you three, did you?)

Two-Sentence Tuesday is hosted by Women of Mystery.

mandag den 1. november 2010

Psycho Therapy

This story is a birthday present for Donna Moore.

I wish you a happy, happy birthday, Donna!

The lines are from Ramones, Psycho Therapy.


I am a teenage schizoid
I am a teenage dope fiend
I am a kid in the nuthouse
I am a kid in the psycho zone


She hummed the well-known words, the music sizzling through her ears making her oblivious even to the cold Glasgow drizzle.

”Hey! You!”
She heard heavy steps echoing behind her on the wet flagstones. Why had she left the bus in a shitty street like this? Life had taught her to run first and ask later so she sprinted up the pavement towards the block of flats where all her friends were partying.

For a few moments she really thought she would be able to get to the door before the old perv behind her, but he seemed to be in good shape, and perhaps she´d had one shot too many before she set out.

When she realized he was gaining in on her, she jumped into an alley thinking she could escape that way. She changed her direction so fast that she skidded on the slippery asphalt, and when her hand hit the rough cobblestone, she clutched it, deciding it was time to give one of those bastards a mean surprise.

With a stick-thin jeans-leg, she tripped him up, grabbed his hair and pulled his head backwards in one swift movement. She bashed the stone into his cheekbone, feeling elevated by the crunching sound. He´d be so damn sorry he had picked the wrong victim. An adrenaline rush surged through her wiry body.

I like takin' Tuinal
It keeps me edgy and mean
I am a teenage schizoid
I am a teenage dope fiend


He moaned helplessly, trying to protect his head with his arms. Exhilarated by her success, she raised her heavy Doc Martens which were deceptively pink and aimed for his temple.

”You dropped your bus c...,” he gasped before she kicked his teeth in. She didn´t need the stone anymore, her boots were enough. She´d fucking teach him.

A plastic card with her name and photo fluttered to the ground next to him.

I am a teenage schizoid
Pranks and muggings are fun
Psycho Therapy
Gonna kill someone


NB: Donna dishes up plenty of brilliant Ramones stories today, but my favourite is her own "Weasel Face". That´s my kind of twist.
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