fredag den 29. april 2011

Final cover: Liquorice Twists



I won´t even tell you how many pictures I have taken, or how much liquorice I have consumed during the process, but here it is - the final cover of Liquorice Twists.

Thanks to my wonderful beta-readers I am also confident that the sixth edition is in fairly good state so now I´ll ´just´ have to plan a blog-tour and prepare some brilliant guest posts. That should be a piece of liquorice, eh? I have received some invitations to visit blogs, but I think I can manage a few more if ...

And the big launch day? Hm, first half of May, hopefully.

torsdag den 28. april 2011

Thy´s Day # 49


The fragile-looking anemone is one of my favourite spring flowers, 
and what could be prettier than a whole carpet of them?

onsdag den 27. april 2011

Arne Magnussen, Den vidtudraabte besættelse i Thisted (1699/1891)


[This is a Danish account of the last witch trial in Denmark. The witches and their ´victims´ lived in my region, Thy, which aroused my curiosity. Unfortunately this interesting book has not been translated. I read the free e-book for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge # 6]

Denne forholdsvis korte bog handler om en hekseproces i Thisted, ifølge indledningen den tids kriminallitteratur, men også "et Billede af Livet i en afsidesliggende, dansk Provinsby i Slutningen af Kristian den femtes Regeringstid..."

Det hele begyndte da "en Bondepige i Jylland udi Vendsyssel i Aalborg Stift ved navn Maren Spillemands" som trettenårig blev syg med epilepsi-lignende symptomer. Familien henvendte sig til flere forsellige præster i området, men de var ikke meget for at afgøre, om det drejede sig om fysisk sygdom eller en besættelse. Derfor henvender familien sig til den ansete præst i Thisted, Magister Oluf Bjørn.

Magisteren når frem til, at pigen er blevet forhekset af "en gammel Bondekone der i Nærværelsen ved Navn Anne Kristens Datter i Skinderup, som deromkring holdtes for at være en Troldkone", og nidkært begynder han at søge efter andre personer, som kunne være besatte.

"Imidlertid haver man intet synderligt fornummet til hendes Syge førend siden i Januario 1696, da Mag. Oluf erklærede hende offentlig for alle, at hun af Djævelen legemlig var besat." 

Og herefter går det løs; magister Olufs studenter kaster sig ind i jagten på hekse og onde ånder, og de finder snart en ånd, som erklærer, at "hvis Amtmanden ikke vilde lade dennem brænde, vilde de fare baade i hannem og alle hans børn."

Gamle Anne Kristensdatter bliver ført til Thisted, og sagen kommer biskoppen for øre. Jens Bircherods dagbogsnotater udgør en del af bogen, og mens han understreger, at kvinderne skal for en læge, er Mag. Oluf ivrig "for at faa en skarp Inkvisition sat i Værk efter Troldkoner..." Men underligt nok glemmer han alt om lægeundersøgelsen. 

Jeg skal ikke røbe mere om den interessante og letlæste beretning om sagen, som til sidst kommer for kongens højesteret, bare fremhæve, at en lang række mennesker, inklusive lokale præster, forsøgte at tale Magister Oluf imod. En æra af retsløshed og forfølgelse af kvinder, som skiller sig ud, er ved at være slut.
.

tirsdag den 26. april 2011

Two-Sentence Tuesday

Here is a teaser from my current read. It is far from the first time I am reading a novel by the British writer Martin Edwards, and I know you will enjoy the first two sentences as much as I did:

"The dead woman smiled. So far, so good."



And here is a taste of my own work, Crystal Nights.

"Though Morten Haugaard did not like to interfere, Niels had made him feel vaguely uneasy. Niels was only ten, but he was a clever boy, and if the said Lars-Ole was not at home, he was probably right."

mandag den 25. april 2011

Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Lady Audley´s Secret (1862)

This British novel is a combination of mystery and romance. It is not the writer´s first work, but the story that made her rich and famous. According to Wikipedia, her own life was quite adventurous (warning: the article sums up the full plot).

"The house faced the arch, and occupied three sides of a quadrangle. It was very old, and very irregular and rambling. The windows were uneven; some small, some large, some with heavy stone mullions and rich stained glass; others with frail lattices that rattled in every breeze; others so modern that they might have been added only yesterday."

Not uncommon for the Victorian novel, there are several pages of description - the setting, the house, the characters - before we get to the actual story. Sir Michael Audley, the owner of Audley Court, has remarried recently. Pretty, blonde and blue-eyed Lucy Graham is much younger than her wealthy spouse. Despite her youth and beauty, she has a few skeletons in the cupboard.

Sir Michael is in the seventh heaven but his somewhat spoilt daughter Alicia dislikes her merry, childlike stepmother from the beginning. His nephew, the barrister Robert Audley, is taken by her beauty at first, but when his close friend Robert Talboys disappears, he begins to suspect that Lady Audley may be involved.

The plot involves bigamy, deceit, conspiracy, a court case and a discerning dog, to mention just a few pieces of the intricate puzzle. Modern readers may not be impressed by Robert Audley´s somewhat slow detective work (or the slow pace of the book); yet you will probably appreciate these words of his:

"Circumstantial evidence... that wonderful fabric which is built out of straws collected at every point of the compass, and which is yet strong enough to hang a man."

The sensational story was inspired by the true Constance Kent case in 1860. There is plenty of drama and atmosphere, but perhaps not much realism.

My review of "The Suspicions of Mr Whicher", a non-fictional account of the Constance Kent case.

I read this free e-book for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge # 5 + Bogudfordringen 2011 (novels from the 1800s).
.

søndag den 24. april 2011

Happy Easter

Actually I had decided not to blog today as my mother is here, and we are not only celebrating Easter, but also my daughter´s birthday. But these days even my mother spends much of her time getting the knack of Facebook so writing a blog post seems more polite than reading a book :)

So let me wish everybody a Happy Easter - we have had a marvelous service in our beautiful, old church.


And now that I am here, I´ll also take the opportunity to tell you that I just published my romantic ghost story "Heather Farm" via Smashwords this morning. If you liked the story when I published it on my blog in September and want to make me very happy by giving the story a few stars, you can send me an e-mail and ask for a free coupon.

lørdag den 23. april 2011

Falling Off Stairs

See my review of Falling Off Air.

As Robin Ballantyne´s older sister Lorna suffers from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), this illness is one of the themes of the book. It is not that relevant for the plot, still it made me think.

"Lorna´s room is the most peaceful place I know. That night she had chamber music playing softly and the lights were dimmed. She glanced over as I entered, but she said nothing. She was lying on her bed. By this point in the day she is usually exhausted, but even when she sleeps the quality of her rest is poor.

´You don´t feel like joining us?´ I asked gently. She smiled and shook her head of red curls, gesturing that I should leave her plate on the table by her bed.


´Busy day,´ she said softly. Her voice was a contralto, surprisingly vibrant coming from her weary body.


Often, we would eat together. Once the most sociable of people, Lorna´s instinct was still to seek out human contact even if it drained her of the last ounce of energy, which it always did. A year earlier, when the CFS was at its worst, I´d sometimes had to carry her to bed..."


Of course I was interested, but I can´t say I identified with Lorna. First, my health is so much better that I am able to work part time. Second, I have never felt depressed because of my illness. Crisis and problems in my family may get to me, but while it keeps annoying me that there are many things I cannot do any more, I have been able to look around me, thinking "what can I do then?" [Blog, read and write crime fiction, obviously]

Generally, the description of Lorna seems credible, but it is not my impression that CFS prevents anyone from walking up and down stairs (when they are up and about, I mean). The problem is that a few trips up and down may make you feel you have tried running a marathon without training first for several days.

fredag den 22. april 2011

Catherine Sampson, Falling Off Air (2004)


This British novel is the first Robin Ballantyne story and Sampson´s debut as a writer of fiction.

"I am about to pull the curtains and shut out the weather when, at the margin of my vision, a woman falls out of the sky. I do not see how it began. All I see is that she falls, feet first but tipping forward, arms stretched out as if to break her fall, her clothes as chaotically twisted and tossed as the rain, and the weight of her body carrying her down through the currents of air straight to the earth like an anchor."


Robin hears a heated argument, and shortly after, a woman falls past her window and hits the street below. Robin is the single mother of the baby twins Hannah and William, but after this shocking experience, the renewed contact with the buzzing media world makes her yearn for her career as a journalist.

Soon after Robin´s ex-boyfriend Adam, the twins´ biological father, is killed by a hit-and-run driver - in Robin´s car. The police appear on her doorstep, and in the course of a few days it is apparent that the title applies to Robin as well as to her late neighbour.

Though I don´t really regard the everything-whirling-out-of-control plot as very plausible, this was a well-written and exciting story that I sped through in one day. Furthermore, Robin Ballantine is an intelligent and interesting character I am looking forward to meeting again.

I bought the book myself, and it may not take long until I grab the second volume which is ready on that TBR.

torsdag den 21. april 2011

Thy´s Day # 48


I know I have told you this before, but for the benefit of new readers 
- in Denmark daffodils are called Easter lilies 
so nothing could be more appropriate for Thy´s day this week.

onsdag den 20. april 2011

Jane Casey, The Burning (2010)



This novel is the Irish writer´s second thriller; a stand-alone which is set in London. My review of The Missing.

Young Kelly Staples has been looking forward to a night out, but a couple of hours later she finds herself in the loo, very drunk and wondering why she wasn´t smart enough to leave together with her friends. A kind gentleman offers to drive her home, though.

Kelly is not as easy a victim as she seemed, and she knows a serial killer is around so after a few pages it seems that the killer is apprehended. But while D.C. Maeve Kerrigan is talking to Kelly, the police find a fifth victim, Rebecca Haworth.

Despite the serial-killer label, this novel is not the tacky introspection of some gruesome psychopath. After the first chapters, we follow Louise North, Rebecca´s close friend, who seems curiously preoccupied by Rebecca´s life, and D.C. Maeve Kerrigan who struggles to solve these atrocious crimes against women. Besides, she is the victim of sexual harassment at work and personal problems with her yuppie boyfriend, so Kerrigan has her hands full. The stubborn Irishwoman trusts her instincts and her intelligence, however, and proves her worth on more than one front. 

I bought the book myself, and Jane Casey´s third book looms high on my wish list.

Ireland Reading challenge # 5.

tirsdag den 19. april 2011

Two-Sentence Tuesday

Two-sentence Tuesday is hosted by Women of Mystery

Today I will share a teaser with you from my current read, a classical crime-cum-romance story (or vice versa):

"There was not much in it; neither gold nor gems; only a baby´s little worsted shoe rolled up in a piece of paper, and a tiny lock of pale and silky yellow hair, evidently taken from a baby´s head."


Not bad, eh?


And a couple of sentences from my own work "Crystal Night" - back to school in the company of Niels:

Niels glanced at the empty chair next to him, wondering when the history lesson would end.  If only Mr Petersen would allow them to talk about the American space programme and the astronauts of the Cape Kennedy base instead of German history.
.

mandag den 18. april 2011

O is for Order


- for the alphabet in crime meme -

I know that several of you agree with me that engaging, credible characters are what make you read one volume after the other year after year once you have stumbled on a new crime series.

Now there are different crime genres, but have you thought about the similarities between the structure of a traditional crime novel and a Renaissance drama?

A serious crime takes place, most often a murder, and the structured, predictable world of the bereaved falls apart. The police or detectives appear on stage, and over a couple of hundred pages they solve the crime. Order is restored, the relatives achieve a feeling of closure, and the reader can relax in her comfortable armchair.

Which genre do you prefer? The traditional (conservative) mystery or the darker thriller which may seem more realistic, and where you don´t quite know which kind of ending to expect?


Personally, I like varying my reading, but I don´t necessarily buy the idea that modern, fast-paced crime novels convey a more real picture of our society. The darker setting and the brutality may be true of many places of the world, but not the tendency to escalate the number of bodies or the spectacular endings that are in vogue nowadays. Crime fiction is just fiction, a few hours of entertainment or escapism, and though some questions may be left open, I am sure most readers want to know who, how and why.

søndag den 17. april 2011

Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Aske (2009)


Denne islandske spændingsroman er den tredje i serien om Thóra Gudmundsdóttir.

En prolog bruges somme tider til at sløre, at der ikke sker så meget i de første kapitler, men i Aske lægger forfatteren ud med et voldsomt mord. I kapitel et er der yderligere spænding plus en regulær cliff-hanger, og i kapitel to ruller hovederne for alvor. Læseren bliver fanget fra første side, men til trods for alvoren er der en dejlig, ironisk tone over sagføreren Thóra Gudmundsdóttir og hendes undersøgelse af den usædvanlige sag.

En kort præsentation af det spegede plot: Thóra repræsenterer Markús, en klient som insisterer på at få adgang til sit barndomshjem i Vestmanna, før arkæologer giver sig til at kortlægge ´Nordens Pompei´ efter vulkanudbruddet i 1973. Han får lov at fjerne en kasse fra kælderen, men da Thóra, Markús og arkæologen omsider står i huset, opstår en uventet komplikation: ud over det menneskehoved, Markús havde håbet på at smugle ud, ligger der ligene af tre mænd. Så nu er hans eneste chance, at barndomsveninden Alda vil bekræfte, at hun bad ham om at opbevare kassen, da alle indbyggerne måtte flygte fra Vestmanna.

Denne roman på fire hundrede sider føles meget kortere, fordi Thóra som sædvanlig flyver af sted i højt gear, travlt optaget af sin sag og sit komplicerede privatliv med børn, svigerdatter og barnebarn. Der er ikke meget tid til hendes langdistancekæreste Matthew denne gang, men da han overvejer at flytte til Island, hører vi måske mere til ham i fremtiden. Til gengæld træder advokatkontorets umulige sekretær, Bella, mere i karakter denne gang som en person, der har andet end tværhed og sit kiksede udseende at byde på.

Jeg kunne lide forfatterens debut, jeg var begejstret for tooeren, og treeren er ikke bare hæsblæsende spændende - den giver også et fascinerende indblik i følgerne af vulkanudbruddet i 1973, en naturkatastrofe som på fornemste vis væves sammen med et kompliceret krimiplot. Fem-stjernet spænding, lånt på biblioteket.

Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Ashes to Dust (2010).
This Icelandic thriller is the third story about the lawyer Thóra Gudmundsdottir.

Sometimes a prologue is used to hide the fact that nothing much happens in the first chapters, but here the author serves up a violent murder, followed by escalating excitement in the first chapter, and in the second chapter heads begin to roll quite literally. The reader is captured from page one, but despite the serious and unusual case, there is a fine, ironic tone and not nearly as much gore as one might fear.

A short introduction to the intricate plot: Thóra is hired by Markús, a client who insists on getting access to his childhood home in Vestmanna before the archaeologists begin to map the Nordic Pompeii after the volcano eruption in 1973. He is allowed to remove a box from the basement, but when Thóra, Markús and the archaeologist can finally enter the house, an unexpected complication arises. Apart from the human head Markús had hoped to smuggle out, he finds the bodies of three men on the floor. Now his only hope is that his childhood friend Alda will confirm that she asked him to store the box for him when everybody had to escape from Vestmanna in the middle of the night.

This novel of four hundred pages felt considerably shorter because Thóra darts off at maximum speed, busy with her case and her complicated private menagerie with children, daughter-in-law and grandchild. There is not much time left for her long-distance relationship with the German Matthew in this volume, but as he is considering moving to Iceland, we may hear more of him in the future. Thóra´s hopeless secretary, Bella, plays a more central role this time, however, and we begin to see her as more than just a snarky failure.

I liked Yrsa Sigurdardottir´s debut, I enjoyed the second very much, and the third one is not only a fast-paced thriller - it also offers a fascinating insight into the consequences of the volcano eruption. Five-star excitement!

I borrowed the book in the local library.
.

lørdag den 16. april 2011

WeekEnd

A few Easter holidays to look forward to so what are my plans? (Apart from all our wonderful family hullabaloo which comes first and tends to swallow most of my time and energy anyway).

Well, as soon as I have marked 25 essays, my first priority is sending queries off to a few literary agents (eh, first priority does not necessarily mean I will get it done first, only that I know I should). They are all based in the USA, as this seems to be the best place for cosy mysteries.

Second, I hope I will be able to work on my historical novel, "Crystal Nights" for a couple of days. I have edited/translated less than 8,000 words so the first draft is not exactly round the corner, but hopefully some time this year...

Third, I expect I will be ready to publish "Liquorice Twists" in May or June (a collection of twenty flash fiction stories, darker than "Candied Crime", but hardly nightmare material though).

As my somewhat haphazard publication of "Candied Crime" has proved, my amazingly loyal blog friends are so much better at getting my stuff out there than I am, so I think a regular blog tour would be an excellent idea (in other words, invitations will be very much appreciated).
.

fredag den 15. april 2011

Sophie Hannah, Hurting Distance (2007)


This thriller is the Scottish poet and writer´s seventh novel.

Though Naomi Jenkins only gets three hours a week together with her lover, she feels happy and expectant, certain Robert will leave his wife soon and begin a new life together with her. One night he does not turn up for their meeting, and of course the police do not take her concern very seriously. Naomi persuades them to ask his wife, but as Juliet tells them he is on a holiday with some friends, Naomi must do something to make it important for them to find him.

The strong points of the story: a well-wrought, exciting plot. I also liked the theme of women and how differently they handle disasters such as humiliation, rape and abuse, and the main character Naomi Jenkins who is the first-person narrator of several sections.

A minus: the police officers waste a lot of time pestering each other like spoilt school children and behaving unprofessionally in several ways. It may be intended as humour or caricature, but if so, it did not strike me as very funny.

I think Maxine sent the book to me. If not, I am sure you will enjoy her review anyway.

torsdag den 14. april 2011

onsdag den 13. april 2011

Gretelise Holm, Møgkællinger (2010).


[An interesting Danish ´femikrimi´ - the plot involves a mysterious woman who declares she will castrate a man for every woman who is raped in Denmark. Sadly the idea is spoiled a bit by the writer´s over-emphasis on her feministic message]

Romanen er den femte i serien om journalisten Karin Sommer, som nu er gået på pension.

"Der var flere, som så døden kysse skelettet bag det monstrøse edderkoppespind i hjørnet, men dæmoner, djævle og zombier tog ikke anstød. Flirt mellem lærere og elever var mere reglen end undtagelsen ved festerne på Skovholm Højskole."

Efter den ovennævnte Halloween-fest på højskolen bliver unge Rebekka Madsen fundet dræbt. Den charmerende lærer Jonas Kamper, som Rebekka har haft et forhold til, bliver kendt skyldig for mordet. Kampers kone beder imidlertid Karin Sommer om hjælp, overbevist om at Jonas´ dom er justitsmord.

Samtidig indleder en eller flere kvinder en række overfald på mænd. Bagefter modtager politiet breve med erklæringer om, at hver gang en kvinde er blevet voldtaget, vil en mand blive kastreret.

Jeg syntes egentlig godt om de første bind i Karin Sommer-serien pga den lidt usædvanlige hovedperson: den frigjorte Karin, som ikke lader sig sætte i bås, men i høj grad gør som hun har lyst til i den tredje alder. Denne historie har også sine gode sider, men en interessant plotidé bliver spoleret lidt af, at forfatterens kønspolitiske pointe bliver hamret fast på stort set hveranden side. Man kan sammenligne med søskendeparret Hammers Svinehunde, hvor temaet selvtægt overfor pædofile køres for langt ud i stedet for at lade læseren tænke selv.

Jeg lånte bogen på biblioteket.

tirsdag den 12. april 2011

N is for Niels and for Nerds

- for Kerrie´s alphabet meme -

Why is it that so many of us love crime series? There may be many different answers, but I am sure the protagonist plays a very important role. Some are strong and active, others seem to be complete failures, but they always get their villain in the end. And some of them are nerds, one way or the other.

The definition of a nerd = an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.

These days, Lisbeth Salander of Millenium fame is probably one of the best known crime fiction nerd. In my opinion, the passionate computer nerd and hacker is the main reason that this trilogy is so popular.

Another female protagonist is Alan Bradley´s very young Flavia de Luce. What sets Flavia apart from millions of young girls of her age is her scientific mind and her obsession with chemistry.

When I came up with the idea, I was certain I had come across several nerdy detectives, but with my unreliable memory... Would you call Inspector Morse a crossword nerd? Sherlock Holmes, perhaps?
Who is your favourite crime fiction nerd?


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

Today is also Two-Sentence Tuesday so let me introduce you to Niels, the young protagonist of "Crystal Night". He likes ciphers and licence plates, but perhaps that is not exactly nerdy, just normal behaviour for a ten-year-old boy.

Niels was waiting patiently, well hid among the foliage of an old elm tree near the local substation, a red-brick building that resembled a tiny church tower.

mandag den 11. april 2011

Johan Theorin, Blodlag (2010)


I den tredje svenske Øland-krimi møder vi igen Gerlof Davidsson, den gamle skipper, men historierne er som sådan uafhængige af hinanden.

Prologen begynder lige på og hårdt. Per Mörner har søgt oplysninger og fundet en række navne i lokalsamfundet, og nu skal han dø.

"Per Mörners venstre hånd var hårdt forbrændt, hans ribben var brækkede, og synet virkede fugtigt og sløret, mens følelsen i kroppen stadig var der. Han kunne mærke benzinen, der blev hældt over ham, fornemmede, hvor lunken den var. Sammenlignet med den kolde aftenluft var væsken næsten varm, og den sved og brændte, da den løb ned i hans hår og ind i de blødende sår i ansigtet."

Gamle skipper Gerlof sidder på plejehjemmet, men beslutter sig for at vende tilbage til sit lille hus, da han er overbevist om, at han ellers vil være den næste beboer, som dør. Et miljø, hvor trolde, elver og varsler hører naturligt hjemme, og hvor de fleste personligheder er så kantede og stærke, at de må støde sammen. En række nye (eller tidligere) beboere flytter til ´blodlaget´, grænsen mellem troldene og elvernes verdener, et skel som traditionelt regnes for at betyde ulykke.

Per Mörner er fraskilt og far til tvillingerne Jesper og Nilla. Nilla er alvorligt syg, men Per håndterer det dårligt, er næsten ude af stand til at tale med ekskonen og børnene om det, i stedet farer han rundt i en temmelig planløs legen detektiv.

Ud over Per møder vi Max og Vendela Larsson. Vendela søger tilbage til sit barndomsmiljø for at møde elverne og få ryddet lidt op på sin verden.

Gennem første halvdel af de fire hundrede sider blev jeg fanget af personerne og miljøet, så det generede mig ikke, at plottet somme tider kommer lidt i anden række, men efterhånden syntes jeg, historien faldt lidt fra hinanden. Jo, læseren får en form for afslutning, men ikke en krimi-afslutning, hvor politi eller detektiver aktivt forsøger at opklare forbrydelserne, her foregår alt ligesom tilfældigt, som regel mens personerne venter på noget helt andet. Elver, operationer, døden, foråret eller hvad det nu kan være.

Det synes oplagt at sammenligne med Håkan Nessers En fortælling om hr Roos, hvor krimiplottet i perioder er sekundært, men Nessers personer er langt mere troværdige og helstøbte.

Jeg lånte bogen på biblioteket. Min anmeldelse af Natstorm.


Johan Theorin, The Quarry (2011).

This is the third Swedish Öland mystery. Though Gerlof Davidsson, the old sea captain, is a recurrent figure, the stories are not related in any other way.

After a dramatic prologue we meet Gerlof who has had just about enough of the old people´s home. He makes up his mind to return to his small home, sure that otherwise he will be the next resident to die. This is an environment where trolls, elves and omen seem to belong, and where most of the characters are so headstrong and forceful that a confrontation seems inevitable. A group of new (or returning) people move to the ´blood layer´ (hence the title), the border between the worlds of the trolls and the elves, an area which is regarded as unlucky.

Per Morner is divorced and the father of the twins Jesper and Nilla. Nilla is ill, but Per handles the situation badly, unable to communicate with his ex and his children about it; instead he darts around in a fairly aimless game of sleuthing.

Apart from Per we meet Max and Vendela Larsson. Vendela seeks back to her childhood environment to meet the elves and solve some of her private issues.

Throughout the first half of four hundred pages I was absorbed by the characters and the setting so it didn´t trouble me that the plot played second fiddle, but by and by the story seemed to fall apart. There is a solution though neither the police nor the main characters seem to focus on solving the crimes; everything seems to happen by coincidence while the characters are waiting for something else. Elves, operations, death, spring or whatever.

In Håkan Nesser´s "A Story about Mr Roos" the crime story is also secondary throughout several chapters, but Nesser´s characters seem more credible and their actions plausible.

The book was a library book. My review of The Darkest Room.

søndag den 10. april 2011

The Notice Board

Meet Joe Florez - the first writer who has accepted my invitation to post about his new book. Remember, if you are an upcoming crime writer or want to share other crime-related news, you can also send me a note. 

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

A FAIRY TALE OF LA HONDA

by Joe Florez

My new noir mystery, WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO JERRY PICCO?, is set on the west coast of the US. You might describe it as ‘Boogie Nights meets Farewell My Lovely’, although that’s probably unfair to both of those works! The narrative takes place mainly in the present, but carries distinct echoes of another time, less than half a century ago, but a time already mythical in our hearts and minds.

When I first read Tom Wolfe’s THE ELECTRIC KOOL-AID ACID TEST, I immediately I got interested in the hippie generation. I was fascinated in particular with La Honda, the place in the Californian woods where Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters set up their commune/base camp in the early ’60s.

There is a little bit of me, and of many people, I guess, that wants to have a taste of the idealism of this period, however unsustainable, contradictory and downright self-indulgent it might have been. And this is the backdrop to my humorous noir mystery. It’s about a commune, deep in the woods of North California, just some guys who want to recreate a bit of la Honda for themselves.

The book, I hope, is also something of a homage to the Pranksters, a mixture of innocence and daft, indecent pleasure. The main character is a midget porn star, and the PI who goes in search of him is a thuggish ex-Berkeley professor who lost his job for dangling his boss out of a fifth-story window. All this wrapped up in a plot based on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I think Ken might have liked it.



WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO JERRY PICCO? at Amazon.Com

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO JERRY PICCO? Amazon.co.uk

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO JERRY PICCO? Smashwords

.

lørdag den 9. april 2011

James W. Nichol, Midnight Cab (2002)

A mini-review 

This Canadian thriller offers a most intriguing beginning. A three-year-old boy is left by the roadside, and all he can tell the police is that his name is Walker. Inexplicably, no one misses the little boy who is later adopted by a loving family in the country.

Of course Walker feels an urge to know who he is when he grows up, so at the age of eighteen he moves to Toronto. Here he finds a job as a taxi driver and forms a friendship with the handicapped night despatcher Krista Papadopoulos.

And then there is the story from the past about the boy Bobby who knows his father is not satisfied with him but doesn´t really understand why - Bobby is certain he has a brilliant future ahead of him, but for the reader it is difficult not to worry about his violent streak.

Very entertaining and exciting thriller. Furthermore the character Walker and his friendship with Krista appealed to me quite a lot. This debut is strongly recommended.

This was a Petrona book (caution: they tend to be addictive).

Sunday´s post: come back tomorrow for the Notice Board - and meet a rather unusual character. 

fredag den 8. april 2011

I couldn´t help it



I have been really good for two months, but the pictures speak for themselves, don´t they?

I ventured into AwesomeBooks and they held me hostage until I had paid ransom! Or something.


torsdag den 7. april 2011

Thy´s Day # 46


Massive invasion 
April Garden Blues


onsdag den 6. april 2011

Neil Cross, Captured (2010)


- mini review -

This thriller is a British standalone.

After a MRI scan, Kenny receives his death sentence. One month left. Kenny reacts by writing a short list of people he feels he has let down because now is his last chance to make it up to them. One of the people on the list is Callie Barton, a school friend who was very kind to Kenny.

This was a quick and exciting read. Like C.J. Box, Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, it deals with what happens when everything in your life is turned upside-down. What are you ready to do, and is it possible to go back and change certain events? Intriguing questions and an unusual crime story, but what did I think about the main character? Not quite as appealing as the drama that surrounds him.

This was an ARC from Maxine of Petrona.

tirsdag den 5. april 2011

Two-Sentence Tuesday

Two-Sentence Tuesday is hosted by Women of Mystery. 

Perhaps you have noticed that I have darted around like a headless hen for some time. No, not literally (at least I hope not though it might explain a couple of things), but literarily. I have moved back and forth between two longer projects - my English cosy mystery, "The Halloween Murderer", and a Danish one called "Stenen for Graven".

Perhaps I shouldn´t tell you yet, but this weekend I found a way out of my dilemma - I returned to an old, Danish manuscript. A good solution? Well, only time can tell. Some of my very reliable beta-readers assure me there is a lot of potential in "Crystal Nights", however, so I will try to follow this plan:

1. Improve the weak middle part
2. Make the characters more realistic and engaging
3. Translate it into English


A sentence or two or... from the opening scene (Berlin 1938):

Sara Goldberg Stein closed the last suitcase and sank down on one of her beautiful Biedermeier chairs. The room was cold, and though she did her best to keep the flat clean and well aired, a sour smell of tarry soot had penetrated everything. The wallpaper was damp and mildewed, but perhaps it would not matter anyway. If Simon was right...? 
.

mandag den 4. april 2011

M is for Mortal


Poetry may be the direct route to immortality, but crime fiction? Hardly.

Ten things you should never do if you are a character in a crime novel:

1) don´t go to that isolated place on your own
2) don´t forget to charge your mobile phone
3) don´t leave your weapon at home
4) don´t open the door to strangers - or friends - or neighbours
5) don´t walk your dog in the park - or on the beach - or anywhere
6) don´t eat mushrooms
7) don´t turn your back to any of the suspects
8) don´t try to find your missing relatives
9) don´t leave your fingerprints around
10) don´t move to Bury St. Edmunds or Midsomer

What is your best advice to all those frivolous characters?

søndag den 3. april 2011

The Notice Board

 It is early days yet so let me open the ball with news about a Danish crime writer.

I am very happy to tell you that Jussi Adler-Olsen´s first police procedural featuring Carl Mørck  is on its way in English. Mørck may not be the most active cop, but fortunately his superior appoints an assistant, the rather unusual ´little helper´ Assad.

"Mercy" (Kvinden i buret, 2007) was a fine debut (I read it before my blogging days), and the series has received well-deserved acclaim in Scandinavia. Danish reviewers agree that Adler-Olsen is in brilliant shape, and I promise to review volume three and four before long. I just like spacing fine series like this one out a bit.

"Mercy" (UK edition) should come out the 12th of May.
"Keeper of Lost Causes" (US edition) is planned for the 18th of August.

My review of the second volume, Fasandræberne (The Pheasant Killers)

Jussi Adler-Olsen´s home page

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

And remember, send me an e-mail if you want me to post YOUR crime fiction news.

lørdag den 2. april 2011

Vintage Short Stories from Denmark

As part of the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge I have tried to read some stories that are a bit out of my usual diet. Here are three old stories from Denmark, all from "The Most Interesting Stories of All Nations", ed. Julian Hawthorne, a free Gutenberg E-text in English.


Jørgen Vilhelm Bergsøe (1835-1911), The Amputated Arms
"I was studying at the University, and being coached in anatomy by my old friend Solling."
An anatomy teacher and some of his students lose the arms of their skeletons. Is this simple theft, a prank or a sinister ghost story? The main character, young Simsen, goes to the local cemetery in the middle of the night to find a new arm so they can continue their studies.

But of course he shouldn´t have! This may not be the most brilliant crime story, but I found it entertaining and well worth reading.


Bernhard Severin Ingemann (1789-1862), The Sealed Room.
Interestingly, I know Ingemann as the writer of several beautiful hymns and had no idea he also dabbled in crime fiction. The story is set in Kiel where an old widow lives in a mysterious house with a secret room, "a corner room on the main floor" which "had not been opened for generations".

When her daughter Elizabeth marries, they need the large hall next to the secret room for the ball, however. Late in the night the guests dance, drink and wind each other up, until the bridegroom challenges Elizabeth´s unpleasant cousin, Lieutenant Wolff, to stay right outside the sealed room for the rest of the night.

This story is well-written and fairly interesting with a sinister atmosphere that would probably appeal to Stephen King fans.



Steen Steensen Blicher (1782-1848), The Rector of Veilbye.
This story is probably the most famous of the three, and while "What the Forest Lake Hid" from 1903 may be called the first Danish crime novel, this one is regarded as the first crime story.

The story begins with the diary of the local District Judge Erik Sørensen who explains how the father of his betrothed Mette Quist, the temperamental rector of Veilby, gets into trouble when he hits a lazy servant with a spade. The rector assures his son-in-law that the servant got up and ran away, but soon after several witnesses come forward, claiming Quist buried the dead man in his own garden.

"A venerable man of God - the father of my betrothed - is in prison!

The story is a tragic account of a murder, based at least in part on a true story, but despite the surprising ending, the story does not include much of the detection modern readers would expect in a crime story.

Read for the Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge.

fredag den 1. april 2011

The Notice Board - new feature

Now and then budding writers contact me because they want me to review their books or write a post about them. I have had to realize I can´t read them all, and that is why I have come up with a new feature: The Notice Board.

Once in a while I will step down from the soapbox and leave it to crime writers who are in the same situation as me - published, but not exactly rich or famous yet. So here is your chance to tell my readers about you and your story, making them want your book so much they run off to buy it at once. 
I may also post about other crime fiction news - or perhaps you have ideas for a post? Send me a few words about your project, anything that is related to crime news, and if I like your idea, the notice board is yours.

What: write a short post (100-300 words) and send it off to do.hu.ja (at) mail.tele.dk.
Add a picture or two - of you, your book, your cute dog or whatever you think will do the trick - but only photos you have the right to publish.

When: on Sundays - whenever someone has something to say.