torsdag den 31. december 2009

The Knitting Club

You might like to see that though I have not read much lately, I have not just been twiddling my thumbs. Here is a progress report on my jigsaw and a translation of an Arnold-and-Mildred story from November.

”Oh, poor you! Not again!” Phyllis ´s low-cut neckline hovers dangerously close to Mildred´s nose while she flings several lumps of sugar into her teacup. She makes good use of this opportunity to take a closer look at the swollen eye.

“Now you really must do something about it! You´ll have to leave him. Women´s refuge!” Martha´s knitting needles clink indignantly in close competition with her busy tongue.

“But he was so sorry this time. He promised …” chirps Mildred. She all but loses the thread of the complicated pattern she has devised. Another nice and warm winter sweater for Arnold.

“He promised … well, they always do, don´t they, Mildred? But when have you heard about a man who kept his promise?” Phyllis is the hostess of their club today and expertly she regains their full attention.

Mildred sips at the sickly-sweet tea. How kind they all are. And when she remembers how close she was to giving up the knitting club a few months ago. Phyllis had had a divorce with such a to-do, and Pauline´s lover had invited her to Malaga for an illicit weekend. Martha got her breast cancer, and Alison suspected that her husband pranced around in her clothes when she was away from home.

And in the meantime Mildred had just knitted her intricate sweaters while she tried to insert a few words about Arnold´s mushroom excursions.

But then she had tripped over a basket of mushrooms in the kitchen and broken her arm. The words had just rolled off her tongue when she told the others that Arnold had hit her. Now she was looking forward to the knitting club every Thursday again.

Happy New Year!

onsdag den 30. december 2009

The Axe Mass Murderer

Look what my creative daughters gave me in my advent calendar (I would have taken the pictures last week, but we had some problems with the quality of the water). A real crime scene: an X Mass murderer striking his victim!

And when you shake the glass, the scene is covered in falling snow.

And now my intelligent reader may ask: where is the quotation? But you see, this is just a post about a unique bait box, not a bait in the box. Enjoy! And next Wednesday there will be a gruesome titbit for you again.

tirsdag den 29. december 2009

Mari Jungstedt, I denne stille nat (2008)

Som titlen på Jungstedts anden krimi antyder, nærmer juletiden sig på Gotland. Henry Dahlström, en falleret fotograf, har sit livs held på travbanen, hvor han vinder 80.000 kroner, en pæn formue, hvis den omregnes i flasker. Han får dog ikke lang tid at glæde sig, for blot en uge senere findes han myrdet i boligblokkens kælder, hvor han har sit mørkekammer.

Fjortenårige Fanny holder sig for sig selv. Hun er halvt vestinder og en rigtig hestepige, som trives dårligt og tydeligvis er på grænsen til anoreksi. Fanny ser stalden som et fristed fra skolen, og fra hendes alkoholiserede mor og dennes kæreste, men det er desværre også i forbindelse med sit arbejde her, hun møder manden, som senere forfører og myrder hende.

Kriminalinspektør Anders Knutas, den dygtige efterforsker med den danske kone, bliver sat på sagen sammen med sit team. Journalisten Johan Berg spiller også en vis rolle i historien, selv om han arbejder mindst lige så ihærdigt på at vinde Emma Winarves hjerte. Emma er gift med Olle og har to børn, men selv om hun føler, hun bør blive hos sin mand og holde sammen på familien, er det svært at holde sig fra den spændende og charmerende journalist.

Mit helhedsindtryk: der er mere regulært politiarbejde end i Jungstedts debut, men alligevel lidt tomgang af og til. Forfatteren er bedre til at beskrive miljøet og forholdene mellem mennesker end til at holde dampen oppe i et virkeligt fængende krimiplot. Underholdende, men ikke en uforglemmelig læseoplevelse.

Min anmeldelse af Jungstedts tredje krimi, Den inderste kreds.

Mari Jungstedt, Unspoken (2007).
As the Danish - and Swedish - title indicates (In this Silent Night), Jungstedt´s second police procedural takes place shortly before Christmas. Henry Dahlström, a boozy photographer, experiences the luck of his life when he wins 80,000 krona on the races, quite a fortune when converted into bottles. He does not get much time to enjoy his luck, however, as he is found killed only a week later in his darkroom in the basement of the block of flats.

Fifteen-year-old Fanny keeps to herself. She is half Caribbean and a real horse girl on the verge of anorexia who sees the stables as a refuge from school and from her alcoholic mother.

Unfortunately she also meets the man who seduces her and later kills her, in this environment.
Chief Inspector Anders Knutas, the competent policeman with the Danish wife, is put on the case with his team. The young reporter Johan Berg also plays a certain role though he is just as set on winning Emma Winarve´s heart. Emma is married to Olle and has two children, but even if she feels she ought to remain with her husband and keep the family together, it is difficult for her to stay away from the charming reporter.

My overall impression: there is more proper police work in this one than in Jungstedt´s debut, but as I see it, this author is better at describing the environment and the relationships among people than at keeping up the steam in a really exciting crime plot. Entertaining, but not an unforgettable reading experience.

My review of her third novel, The Inner Circle (Unknown).

mandag den 28. december 2009

A Jigsaw Puzzle

Before Christmas I went to buy a desk but returned home with an old jigsaw puzzle. What is it that is so appealing about jigsaws?

Well, I like an appealing environment and some interesting characters, and when I have put one fourth or perhaps one third of the picture together, I enjoy seeing the first signs that a large picture is emerging. And when you have struggled with a detail for a long time and suddenly find the piece that makes all the difference, it is such a pleasure.

Not that different from reading a good crime novel, is it?

Tomorrow I think I may have a review of a Swedish novel, but today I am marking essays, and I have promised to read a long manuscript for a friend during my holidays so don´t expect too much of me until New Year.

torsdag den 24. december 2009

Glædelig jul - Merry Christmas

See you in a few days - but now it is time for Christmas.

Merry Christmas to your all, and I hope you are all going to have a wonderful time together with family or good friends.

And to you who do not celebrate Christmas - happy holidays!

onsdag den 23. december 2009

Martha Grimes, Jerusalem Inn (1984)

[Den eneste danske krimi, jeg har kunnet finde af Martha Grimes, er den glimrende “Min mor er død”fra 1992]

This novel is the fifth volume in the Inspector Jury series. As usual, this American writer has set her cozy crime novel around an old British pub in the countryside.

A taste of Martha Grimes´ style:
“It was on a windy December day, with only five of them left until Christmas, that Jury saw the sparrows quarreling in a nearby hedge as he stood looking though the gates of Washington Old Hall. The sparrows – one attempting to escape, the other in hot pursuit – flew from hedge to tree to hedge. The pecking of one had bloodied the breast of the other. He was used to scenes of carnage; still he was shocked. But didn´t it go on everywhere?”

Inspector Richard Jury happens to meet the beautiful but mysterious Helen Minton in a graveyard where she studies the gravestones, taking notes in a gold-covered notebook. She tells him about her interesting place of work, Washington Old Hall. The following day Jury goes to see the place (or the lady?) only to discover that Helen Minton has just been murdered.

At the same time, some of Jury´s friends, including the nobleman Melrose Plant, are staying at Spinney Abbey, near the pub Jerusalem Inn where he watches a snooker tournament. Another murder takes place in Spinneyton, and as the two crimes are related, Richard Jury is involved in both cases. As usual Melrose Plant is pleased to lend his friend a hand – and escape the boredom of the affluent bachelor gentleman for a while.

Other pieces of the puzzle are a blizzard, and - not quite unexpected - a neglected, little girl who is far too wise for her age, plus a number of orphans. As connoisseurs of traditional, British crime may have guessed, Martha Grimes´ series has much in common with Dorothy L. Sayers´ Lord Peter Wimsey series and Elizabeth George´s Inspector Lynley series with its romantic depiction of ´England´s green and pleasant land´ (to quote one of the faithful participants in my bait game - and William Blake).

End of Christmas IV

Read part III.

IV. After a perfunctory investigation Constable Archibald Primrose gave up solving the murder of St Nicholas. He did the next-best thing by selling the whole story to BBC, CNN and the Danish prime minister who was grateful that now the press would run off to Longburied Parsley instead of harping on his none-too successful climate conference. “It´s gonna be a cold, cold Christmas” he hummed dejectedly. The prime minister that is, not Constable Primrose, who was quite happy with his position right in the middle of things and a wad of good, American dollars in his pocket. [I know what you think, but you did not expect a realistic story, did you?]

The world press renounced hordes of demonstrators sitting on their freezing behinds in Copenhagen and gathered around the corpse like flies smelling … well, a corpse. They informed a gawping world that Santa had died in a sensational accident, dropping off his high-flying sleigh into a snowdrift, apparently drunk as a skunk.

“Christmas cancelled” cried meter-high headlines. “World Wide Christmas Crisis.” “No Christmas presents.” “Obama promises help if China will also chip in.”

Meanwhile Arnold kept the aunties preoccupied by making sure they had plenty of schnapps on the table so he could sneak down the basement and open Uncle Nick´s Christmas present. How could Mildred´s old uncle know anything about his obsession? As if Arnold had ever admitted to anyone alive that this was his greatest wish. This was sheer Christmas magic!

On Christmas morning Arnold had finished boarding up the basement windows. He had rigged up a huge table on trestles and built a wonderful model railway for his teeny-weeny model train, and the cute, little station was a perfect replica of the ivy-covered train station of Longburied Parsley.

“Arnold, your turkey is ready.”

“Did you remember that I like plenty of gravy? You can leave it on the threshold. Merry Christmas, Mildred.” He grabbed the plate and shut the door tight, before he blew the whistle of the tiny train that was puffing merrily round and round.

“Arnold. Arnoooold? My Christmas present?” Mildred knocked on the door timidly.

“How can you worry about petty details like that when Christmas has been canceled worldwide and all the little children must go without presents. Really, Mildred …”

Relieved, he heard her slippers shuffle off and bent over his railway. Perhaps he should take a peep at the other presents in Uncle Nick´s sack later?

Merry Christmas!

tirsdag den 22. december 2009

L for Läckberg

This week´s letter in Kerrie´s alphabet meme is L.

L is for one of Sweden´s most popular crime fiction writers, Camilla Läckberg, well-known for her series featuring Patrick Hedström and Erica Falck.

On my shelf I have her fourth Patrick & Erica story, and here is a short, spoiler-free appetizer:

The German Brat.
Erica is looking forward to an undisturbed writing period as Patrick has taken leave to stay at home and look after little Maja. Erica is supposed to write a novel, but she finds it difficult to write when the house is so unusually quiet, and she seems much more interested in her mother´s notebooks which she and Patrick found in the attic at the ending of The Stone Cutter together with a Nazi medal.

And in the meantime, Patrick´s colleagues have found a very dead body. How will they cope without Patrick?

Link to my review of Stenhuggeren/The Stone Cutter
Link to my review of Prædikanten/The Preacher

End of Christmas III

Read part II.

III. In spite of all the trouble he had caused, Arnold Kickinbottom had generously let Uncle into the house for a short break and a glass of water, oil-smudged and unkempt as he was. But what was intended as a flying visit in the kitchen had escalated into a ridiculous charade with Uncle Nick and Aunt Augusta playing dominoes and drinking Arnold´s best sherry while Aunt Beryl swallowed pills in various sizes and colours and sang naughty Christmas Carols. No one knew what was in her arsenal of glasses and bottles, but some of them certainly had a stimulating effect on the ancient hag who used to sit quietly in a corner, crocheting pink doilies. When Aunt Augusta had sipped at the sherry so many times that she tried to lure Uncle Nick under the mistletoe to encourage improper behavior, Arnold had had enough. Not in his house!

As usual, Mildred was very far from the rock of support and stability a husband could wish for. In between decorating the house from top to toe in tinsel and paperchains, baking twelve sorts of cookies, cooking mince pies and stuffing the turkey, she just sat about, knitting her scratchy sweaters. At least they had no electric Christmas candles. Arnold had put his foot down firmly; he would not tolerate such waste.

Single-handed, Arnold had marched the aunts off to bed and requested Uncle Nick to leave the premises. And that had been the horrible moment when Uncle had handed him the gift. Arnold nearly wet his pants, but he had a life-long training in disciplining his upper lip and his bladder, so without turning a hair, he had received the large parcel and tucked it safely away underneath a huge pile of hand-knitted sweaters.

But he had known immediately that this was the point of no return! Uncle Nick had turned into an encumbrance Arnold would have to remove immediately.

“You´d better leave now, dear Nicholas, or you will be late for your round, but do come into the kitchen for a bite before you go.” He had grabbed a moth-eaten coat sleeve and dragged Uncle off to the kitchen. His hands shook, and he was sorely tempted to strangle Uncle in some of Mildred´s glittering tinsel, but instead he had put a plateful of her nasty mushroom hotchpotch and a mixture of some of his really advanced homebrewed schnapps in front of the old guy. “Cheers, Uncle Nick.”

“Now, off you go like a good old Santa.“ He patted Uncle Nick on the shoulder and saw him off, certain that no one could survive a sledge trip in that condition.

To be continued tomorrow.

mandag den 21. december 2009

2010 Global Reading Challenge

As my new challenge blog is up and has already attracted a nicely international crowd of participants, I´d better post an advertisement here to see if I can tempt more of my readers to join the fun.

The Easy Challenge
Read one novel from each of these continents in the course of 2010:
North America (incl Central America)
South America

From your own continent: try to find a country, state or author that is new to you.

The Medium Challenge
Read two novels from each of these continents in the course of 2010:
North America (incl Central America)
South America

Try to find novels from twelve different countries or states.

The Expert Challenge
Read two novels from each of these continents in the course of 2010:
North America (incl Central America)
South America
Add two novels which are set in Antarctica.

Select novels from fourteen different countries or states.

End of Christmas II

Read part I.

II. Arnold Kickinbottom let the living room curtain fall back. What was the local hillbilly trampling around in the snow for? A mysterious death right outside his windows was not good for his indigestion. Mildred would babble about too many samples of the schnapps and sweets, but Arnold knew his tummy was easily upset when something unpleasant and dramatic happened right under his nose.

“Mildred, where is my porridge?” He checked his watch. Already five minutes past seven. His wife was getting so slovenly, and it wasn´t even Christmas yet. He drummed his fingers on the table. The oilcloth had lost most of its vivid colours in front of him though it could hardly be more than ten or fifteen years old.

“Mildred!” He enjoyed seeing her scuttle in with his bowl and glass, but his heart was not really in it. Why wouldn´t the old fuddy-duddy listen? Arnold had told him to stay away from them so many times. This was a respectable home, and Christmas with Mildred´s catty old aunts around the house was already more than most human beings could bear. You couldn´t fart without their smelling it. He shuddered at the idea of several days with this petticoat regime. But Arnold Kickinbottom refused to surrender to their pins and needles.

He raised his spoon and his weak chin like a modern-day Churchill, until he remembered another of Mildred´s insane relatives. Trying to enter a modern house via the chimney. Talk about embarrassment. A fat, middle-aged man trying to get into a house with central heating through the chimney! So he was Mildred´s half-demented old uncle, but why couldn´t he ring the bell like any decent visitor? Arnold had had to take the whole system to pieces, before they could tug him out of a heating pipe in the boiler room together with his huge sack of silly presents. Arnold´s spoon trembled when he thought of those presents. How could anyone know …?

“Arnold, dear, are you okay? It seems as if your eyes are bulging.”

To be continued tomorrow.

søndag den 20. december 2009

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 46

This week´s wonderful bait box is a gift from my daughters.

[Denne hyggelige julekrimi er ikke oversat til dansk]

Here is my last Christmas bait for this year. A bit untimely, but I was not sure you would have time to visit my little game on Wednesday and Thursday. From where? Well, at least I can tell you that the language is English.

“That was when he first thought it: that a meeting in a graveyard was not the best way to begin an attachment. The sparrow fluttered near him, but he shook it off. The next time he saw her, he would certainly find out why she was unhappy.

The next time he saw her she was dead.”

And just for fun, an extra quotation which I enjoyed quite a bit:

“The kids, who were a lot better out of their mother´s way than in it, all had absurdly fanciful names like Jasmine and Christabel, the sorts of names you give your kids when you don´t have enough confidence they can get by with being just plain old Marys and Johns.”

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 in a few days.

End of Christmas I

A tragic tale in approximately four parts.

I. Very early in the morning of December 24th, village constable Archibald Primrose found a red-and-grey-clad old man in a huge snowdrift right outside Longburied Parsley.

Dead? Primrose pulled off one of his woolen gloves and prodded and probed cautiously, fearing a local alky would jump up and accuse him of harassment. Well, one could not be as cold and stiff as this old geezer and be alive, could one? Primrose looked around him, wondering what to do. Thieves, rogues and drunkards could be put in detention overnight to calm them down and keep them off the streets, but an ice-cold, thickset corpse? No one had quite prepared him for a situation like this. And right now, with Christmas looming up and all his superiors gallivanting in Copenhagen to guard top politicians and arrest hotheaded demonstrators during the climate conference. [Who said this story was British? I didn´t, did I? A global village, perhaps, to make all my readers (un)comfortable.]

First of all, Primrose put his glove back on as it was really disagreeably cold. He looked around him again, but everybody else in the little village seemed to be sound asleep. Second, he pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket and took a few photos of the crime scene. That was what the CSI guys always did.

What next? Fingerprints? Primrose had never heard of anyone lifting fingerprints off cold and wet snow, so maybe this was his chance of fame and a medal (promotion had been phased out years ago). Looking around him, he could not see any signs of fingerprints. Yet there were several traces of hoofs. Again, Primrose secured the evidence as best he could. Not horses, surely, more like roe or deer. Wasn´t that a bit odd, really? Well, not the missing fingerprints, as anybody would wear gloves or mittens tonight, like the old guy in the heap of snow, but odd that he could not see any footprints apart from his own? Ill at ease he looked around him, certain that now he would have to take himself into custody.

“But I can´t even remember the caution,” he muttered.

Continued here.

lørdag den 19. december 2009

Christmas Story

You had not forgotten that I had promised you a Christmas story, had you?

No, of course not.

Now, if you are reeeally impatient, you can revisit my little story about Arnold and Mildred, because you are going to meet them again soon.

See you all tomorrow!

K for Kellerman

This is a very late post for our weekly alphabet meme, but I have been quite busy for days, trying to arrange my Global Reading Challenge.

I own two books in Faye Kellerman´s American series about Sergeant Peter Decker and his sidekick, the teacher and orthodox Jew, Rina Lazarus, and have read a handful from the library in the 1990s when the series was published in Danish.

The first story is The Ritual Bath, published in 1986 (dansk titel: Det rituelle bad, 1997). A Jewish woman, Sarah Libba, is assaulted and raped inside the Jewish community, an enclosed area within Los Angeles. Peter Decker and his female colleague, Marge Dunn, are put on the case. They feel strange and uncomfortable among the orthodox Jews, but do their best to help the victim and solve the case.

Apart from it being a well-written and interesting police procedural series, the attraction of this one is the depiction of an environment which – to me at least – is a novelty. I enjoyed meeting Rina Lazarus, the young widow, who struggles to be loyal to her own religion and culture, but who is also attracted to Decker, the sympathetic and conscientious policeman who belongs to a non-Jewish, modern American world.

On my shelf is also the second novel, Sacred and Profane, published in 1987 (dansk: Helligt og profant, 1998). In this one, Peter Decker is camping together with Rina Lazarus´ two sons when they find the bodies of two young girls. Decker seems to have figured out how to gain access to a mother´s heart.

An enjoyable series with a couple of detectives I want to read more about.

fredag den 18. december 2009

R.D. Wingfield, Frost at Christmas (1986)

This British police procedural is the first of six novels about Inspector Jack Frost. The British TV series may be more famous than the books, but in my opinion Wingfield´s books are far better than the television episodes.

Eight-year-old Tracey Uphill never returns from Sunday school [link], and Inspector Frost is put on the case together with the new man, DC Clive Barnard, the ambitious nephew of a policeman of high rank. As Tracey is the daughter of a prostitute, Frost begins by taking a closer look at the mother´s acquaintances, as well as anything else he stumbles upon.

Soon Frost and Barnard are involved in an old bank robbery, including a more than thirty-year-old body. As usual, Frost leaves a trail of digressions, disorder and broken rules behind him, but his instincts are sound and his heart is in the right place. Clive Barnard is not exactly thrilled to work for this careless and untidy fool, however, and Frost´s superior, Superintendent Mullett, is just looking for an excuse to get rid of Frost.

Some of the suspects are one of Tracey´s mother´s customers, the local vicar who sounds just a tad too nonchalant and hides some daring photos, and perhaps her own girlfriend, eleven-year-old Audrey is not as innocent as she should be.

Of course Inspector Frost solves his cases in the end, including the old bank robbery, but not without the assistance of his copper´s instinct and the odd coincidence.

See my review of the third Frost story, Night Frost

R.D. Wingfield, Frost ved juletid (1997).
Denne britiske politikrimi er den første af seks romaner om vicekommissær Jack Frost. Han er muligvis bedre kendt fra den britiske TV-serie, ”A Touch of Frost”, men efter min mening er Wingfields krimier af langt højere kvalitet.

Otteårige Tracey Uphill kommer aldrig hjem fra søndagsskole, og vicekommissær Frost bliver sat på sagen sammen med stationens nye mand, kriminalbetjent Clive Barnard, som er politimesterens nevø. Da Traceys mor er prostitueret, begynder Frost med at kigge nærmere på moderens kunder, og på alt andet, han tilfældigvis snubler over på sin vej.

Snart bliver Frost og Barnard også indblandet i et gammelt bankrøveri, da et over tredive år gammelt lig dukker op af jorden. Sin vane tro, efterlader Frost et spor af sidespring, uorden og brudte regler i kølvandet bag sig, men han kan sit kram og har hjertet på rette sted. Barnard er imidlertid ikke særlig tilfreds med at arbejde for det gamle, rodede fjols, og Frosts overordnede, politiinspektør Mullett, venter bare på en god grund til at slippe af med sin uregerlige vicekommissær.

Blandt de mistænkte er en af moderens kunder, og den lokale sognepræst, som lyder lige lidt for uinteresseret og samler på vovede fotos, og måske er Traceys elleveårige veninde heller ikke så uskyldig, som hun burde være.

Selvfølgelig opklarer Frost både forsvindingssagen og bankrøveriet til slut, men ikke uden hjælp fra sit instinkt og tilfældige sammentræf.

Se min anmeldelse af Nattens frost.

torsdag den 17. december 2009

Guest Blogging and Award Day

Today I am a guest blogger for the first time ever. Thank you to my countrywoman Louise of Lou´s Pages for asking me! (Louise wrote a post for me in November).

I hope you will all visit Louise to read my post on Christmas and Crime, and to discover her great English book blog.

And thank you to Elizabeth Spann Craig, Mystery Writing is Murder, for awarding me her own, special Blog Writer Award.

The rules (nicely liberal - I like that)

You can post this image to your blog…or not.
You may share this award with others…if you like.
You may adapt or alter this image in any way.

And thank you also to Lilly, Reading Extravaganza, for awarding me the Honest Scrap award.
I am not going to award anyone specifically this time, but I will follow the rule about listing ten honest things about myself.

1. I love reading, especially (English) crime fiction
2. I am a late riser – a very late riser
3. I love classical music, e.g. Bach.
4. I like teaching young people English and literature, but marking essays is NOT fun!
5. I love eating meat so I would never consider becoming a vegetarian.
6. My favourite holiday resorts are Scotland and Ireland (I am trying to talk my husband into going to the Shetland Island, and I don´t think it will be very difficult).
7. I don´t like exercising. If I have to, I always choose the bicycle, and I never ever run or jog.
8. I am not very good at cooking. Fortunately, my husband is – and he even likes it.
9. When I have to do something I don´t like, I squirm and fiddle and procrastinate until the very last second.
10. My greatest dream is to have my crime fiction published (oh – you knew that already?)

onsdag den 16. december 2009

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 45

[The very appropriate box belongs to Tim Duncan]

This is the first in a series of approximately a handful of novels.

“My little girl has not come home … have looked everywhere… everywhere …”

He calmed her down, and methodically he got the basic details from her. “Are you saying since half past five? Then you should have called earlier, ma´am. But just a second…”

“I have a Mrs Uphill on the phone … Her eight-year-old daughter left Sct Basil Sunday school at half past five and has not come home. The mother is very worried.”

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 # 45.
Denne britiske krimi er den første i en serie på omtrent en håndfuld bøger.

“Min lille pige er ikke kommet hjem … set efter overalt … overalt …”

Han beroligede hende og trak metodisk de grundlæggende detaljer ud af hende. ”Siger De siden 16.30? Så skulle De have ringet før, frue. Men lige et øjeblik …”

Jeg har en mrs Uphill I telefonen… Hendes otteårige datter forlod Skt Basil Søndagsskole klokken 16.30 og er ikke kommet hjem. Moderen er meget bekymret.”

Hvis du kan genkende citatet, eller hvis du tror du kan gætte hvem forfatteren er, så læg venligst en kommentar. Skriv bare et hint til nye besøgende, lad være med at ødelægge fornøjelsen for andre. Bogen bliver anmeldt på fredag som sædvanlig.

tirsdag den 15. december 2009

This is just a draft

The 2010 Global Challenge

The Easy Challenge
Read one novel from each of these continents in the course of 2010:
North America (incl Central America)
South America

From your own continent: try to find a country, state or author that is new to you.

The Medium Challenge
Read two novels from each of these continents in the course of 2010:
North America (incl Central America)
South America

Try to find novels from twelve different countries or states.

The Expert Challenge
Read two novels from each of these continents in the course of 2010:
North America (incl Central America)
South America
Add two novels which are set in Antarctica.
Select novels from fourteen different countries or states.


If any of my readers are interested, I will try to set up a special blog and host this challenge in 2010. I warn you, though, I am not exactly a tech guru.


This story is my contribution to a flash fiction challenge, the Steve Weddle Memorial Airport Flash Fiction Challenge, hosted by Dan O´Shea.

”Hurry up now, Urquhart, let´s go to the tax free. I want to see what they have here. I must have that new Elizabeth Arden deodorant and perhaps the Chanel lipstick Priscilla wore at her last garden party. Maybe we can also find a little something for Shirley. She told me specifically that she adores the whole Yves Saint Laurent range. And there´s your sister´s birthday next month …”

He switched off the sound but followed in her wake, carrying her shopping basket and paying with his master card without batting an eyelid. Keep them busy and happy as his father used to say. He was a seasoned traveler and knew that if you had seen one duty free, you had seen them all. London, Paris, Amsterdam, you wouldn´t know where you were unless you checked your boarding card. There was no point in trying to tell her, though.

“ … just stand there!”

He realized he had not paid attention to what she was on about for too long. He stared in confusion while she nearly cracked one of his ribs with her razor sharp elbow.

“Darling, could you please repeat that?” he groaned. He pulled himself together, thinking of Kitty who was waiting for him in California.

He suggested they have a drink shortly before boarding time. She hesitated, but he knew she could not say no. He had been married to her for sixteen years. She dropped down on a chair and kicked off her shoes, before she began rummaging for a mirror in her voluminous handbag to check that her curls and the plum-coloured three-piece suit sat where she left them in the morning. He asked for a whisky and one of those pink cocktails with strawberries and an umbrella.

They drank to a wonderful holiday, and in a jiffy she had drained her glass. Alcohol used to mollify her, but today sweat broke out on her forehead while her complexion turned from ruddy to a pale shade of green. He could see doubt and anxiety in her eyes when he escorted her to the ladies and offered to hold her bag so she would have her hands free. He heard retching sounds behind the door.

The boarding process began, and though time seemed to move in snail-mail mode, it was all over in fifteen minutes. He leant back in his seat, flicking through the pages of his morning paper. The seat next to him was empty. The cabin crew were running up and down the aisle, checking that the passengers had stowed their hand baggage away when an old granny sat down next to him. The door was locked, and the flight taxied out to the runway while a pretty stewardess took them through the safety procedure.

So far so good, yet Urquhart Malahyde would have paid through the nose to be able to see her leave that toilet in Amsterdam, flustered and dizzy, only to realize that her husband and her handbag had gone. Marcia had an eye for details, so she would spot her bag which had been discarded on top of the nearest trash can straight away. As soon as she discovered that her purse and her passport were not there, she would scream murder and theft all over the place. Or perhaps she would see the boarding card immediately and think she still had a chance. That old boarding card from their last holiday together would not take her far, however. She would really need her glib tongue to talk her out of that one.

And Kitty would appreciate his thoughtfulness when she opened one tiny parcel after the other, carefully wrapped in glossy paper by the staff in the duty free shop.

mandag den 14. december 2009

Fresh from my Advent Calendar

As I told you recently, my daughters surprised me this year with my first advent calendar ever. Today I found these wonderful book marks, handmade by my youngest daughter. Aren´t they beautiful?

søndag den 13. december 2009

Susanne Staun, Før jeg dør (2009)

I am sorry to say that this Danish crime story, which very appropriately takes place around Christmas, has not been translated into English. The genre is not exactly cozy crime so perhaps "crazy crime" is what covers profiler Fanny Fiske´s alternative universe best.

Dette er den femte Fanny Fiske-krimi, og for læsere, som eventuelt ikke kender hovedpersonen, vil jeg anbefale, at man læser min anmeldelse af bind fire, Mine piger, for en introduktion til profileren Fanny Fiskes univers. Nej, egentlig vil jeg anbefale, at man læser bind et, to, tre og fire, og så kan vi snakke om det.

Fanny Fiske mistrives voldsomt med sin pensionisttilværelse, og hun har jo aldrig været typen, som er god til at dyrke kvindelige bekendtskaber. Desuden begynder de få, hun nogen sinde har kunnet kalde veninder, at dø omkring hende. I bind fire var det journalisten Nina Lacoppidan; denne gang bliver Fannys nabo gennem mange år, den fremragende kok og lottomillionær Sonia Sutcliffe, myrdet iført luderskrud. Endnu en prostitueret bliver myrdet, og morderen efterlader Fannys ejendele på mordstedet.

Mordene er tydeligvis rettet mod Fanny og ´veninderne´, P.J. Harvey, offentlig anklager og løstgående missil, samt Lisa Selander, kernesund og overfrisk retsmediciner. Desværre er Fanny langt fra i sin bedste form, hun kan ikke engang klare fyrre armbøjninger, hun har næsten udelukkende fået cybersex i umindelige tider, og det bliver sværere og sværere at overtale hendes livredder, plastikkirurgen Fabian Swift til at blive ved med at skære i hendes ansigt.

I ren og skær desperation presser Fanny kirurgen til at give hende den 117. ansigtsløftning, hvorefter hun tilbringer julen på klinikken. Anden juledag suser hun i aktion, iført hijab for at skjule de friske ar, og så lægger det kvindelige trekløver sprithjernerne i blød. De når frem til, at løsningen må findes på Nina Lacoppidans ejendom i det terrorhærgede Danmark, hvor det meste af politistyrken er på afspadsering, så skal der ske nogen form for retfærdighed, må pigerne naturligvis selv dømme og udøve den.

Underholdende og hæsblæsende krimi. Realistisk? Måske ikke helt, men som Fr Fiske siger: ”Virkeligheden er bare en krykke for folk, der ikke kan klare stoffer og alkohol.

lørdag den 12. december 2009

Anne Holt, "Death in Oslo" revisited.

I reviewed this book in April, but as it has just been released in Britain, I will briefly remind my readers of Anne Holt´s fine series featuring Adam Stubo and Johanne Vik. I have enjoyed meeting Adam Stubo in all three books, but his wife´s behaviour has annoyed me somewhat because I think it is unlikely that any FBI profiler would be such a wimp. The third book is better in this respect: Johanne Vik finally shows some guts.

The story is also relevant, because a newly-elected American president visits Scandinavia. I sincerely hope President Barack Obama´s visit will be less dramatic, however!

Another amusing detail: Johanne Vik had expected the USA “… would elect an AfroAmerican before they accepted a woman.”

My reviews:
1) Punishment – aka What is Mine (2006)
2) The Final Murder – aka What Never Happens (2007)
3) Death in Oslo (2009)

fredag den 11. december 2009

Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot´s Christmas (1938)

“In a big grandfather arm-chair, the biggest and most imposing of all the chairs, sat the thin, shriveled figure of an old man. His long clawlike hands rested on the arms of the chair. A gold-mounted stick was by his side. He wore an old shabby blue dressing-gown. On his feet were carpet slippers. His hair was white and the skin of his face was yellow.”

Old Simeon Lee, the millionaire, invites all his children, even the prodigal son and the unknown granddaughter, to spend Christmas with him. Is he turning into a kind and soft grandfather, or does the old man have other motives for gathering his family around him?

Soon after the family reunion, he lets it slip that he is going to call his lawyer, and afterwards he tells his four sons that he regards them all as weak and useless. Small wonder that the next scene offers “a horrible high wailing scream that died away in a choke or gurgle.” Someone has had enough of the unpleasant tyrant and killed him in an orgy of blood.

Fortunately the local Superintendent Sugden is on the spot, and a vigilant Hercule Poirot is not far away either so though the traditional English Christmas has been spoiled, the innocent can relax and begin to lay plans for the future before New Year´s Eve.

This review is part of Kerrie´s Christmas meme: Suggest a Christmas Title.

torsdag den 10. december 2009

J is for Jul

For this week´s Alphabet meme I could have written about Danish Jens Henrik Jensen (but I have not read the two books on my TBR yet), about Swedish Mari Jungstedt (but Maxine beat me to it) or one of my favourites, British P.D. James (who has also been ´taken´).

So to save time I am going to CHEAT. This post is not about crime, but about Christmas (in Danish: jul - like the old word ´yule´). Here you have three Danish Christmas decorations. Enjoy!

onsdag den 9. december 2009

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 44

[This week´s beautiful and very appropriate bait box
belongs to Julia,
A Piece of my Mind]

Do you recognize this classic crime story?

“There had clearly been a terrific struggle. Heavy furniture was overturned. China vases lay splintered on the floor. In the middle of the hearthrug in front of the blazing fire lay Simeon in a great pool of blood. … Blood was splashed all round. The place was like a shambles.

There was a long shuddering sigh, and then two voices spoke in turn. Strangely enough, the words they uttered were both quotations.

David said: ´The mills of God grind slowly…´

Lydia´s voice came like a fluttering whisper: ´Who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?´

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 8. december 2009

Arnaldur Indridason, Vinterstaden (2007)

[Svensk, men kan vel forventes på dansk inden så længe]

Stedet er Reykjavik i januar, og Vinterstaden er den femte krimi hvor vi møder teamet Erlendur, Elinborg og Sigurdur. På første side finder de ti-årige Elias død i en blodpøl, som allerede er frosset til is. Han kan være faldet ned fra en altan fra boligblokken bag dem, men der kan også være tale om mord, og da Elias er af islandsk-thailandsk afstamning, frygter politiet racistiske motiver.

Det viser sig snart, at Elias er død af knivstik, og Erlendurs team begynder med at se nærmere på den nærmeste familie. Elias´ mor Sunee er fraskilt og må arbejde hårdt for at forsørge sin tiårige søn og hans femtenårige halvbror Niran, som tydeligvis er stærkt påvirket af sagen. Før politiet kan få klarhed over, hvad han eventuelt ved om drabet på sin lillebror, forsvinder Niran imidlertid. Ud over racismemotivet undersøges det, om Elias´ død har tilknytning til pædofili eller mobning på hans skole.

Ligesom i de tidligere historier, fylder Erlendurs privatliv og hans problematiske forhold til de to voksne børn en del, og det vil derfor være en god idé at læse bøgerne i den rigtige rækkefølge. Som barn mistede han sin lillebror i en snestorm, og Erlendur har aldrig været i stand til at slippe sin skyldfølelse over, at han selv overlevede, men ikke kunne redde sin bror. Dette traume lægger en dæmper på hele hans liv og præger hans forhold til børnene. Erlendur ser savnede og forsvundne personer som et gennemgående tema i islandsk historie.

Et fint vinter-mysterium, som vil få dig til at glemme den mørke, danske vinter.

Arnaldur Indridason, Arctic Chill (2008)
This Icelandic crime novel takes place in January, and for the fifth time we meet the team Erlendur, Elinborg and Sigurdur. In the first chapter they find ten-year-old Elias dead in a pool of blood which is already frozen. He may have fallen from the balcony of the block of flats behind them, or have been murdered, and as Elias is half Thai, they fear racim may lie behind his death.

It is soon clear that Elias has been stabbed to death, and Erlendur takes a closer look at his nearest family. His mother Sunee is divorced and has to work hard to support Elias and his fifteen-year-old half brother Niran who is strongly affected by the case. Before the police have a chance to question him properly, he disappears from home, however, apparently assisted by his mother. Apart from racism, possible motives are paedophilia or bullying.

Like in the earlier novels, Erlendur´s private life and his problematic relationship with his two grown-up children also form an important theme so reading the books in order will be a good idea. As a child Erlendur lost his younger brother in a snow storm, and he has never been able to get over a feeling of guilt because he survived but could not save his brother. This old trauma colours Erlendur´s life and the relationship between him and his children, just as he sees lost or missing people as a recurrent theme in the history of Iceland.

A fine winter mystery that will make you forget the dark and cold December weather.

mandag den 7. december 2009

Readers Suggest: What´s in a Name

Thank you to all my kind readers for your inspiring suggestions. I will save my December budget and buy some of them in January. Which ones? Well, that is a difficult question, because of course I want to read all the ones I have not read already. I have listed all of them as I hope to tempt some of my readers. The ones marked in green are books I have read (several of them are excellent stories)

1. A book with a food in the title
Pierre Magnan, Death in the Truffle Wood
Fannie Flagg, Fried Green Tomatoes
Joanne Fluke, the Hannah Swensen series
Douglas Clark, Roast Eggs
Peter Lovesey, Rough Cider

2. A book with a body of water in the title
Helen Robertson, Venice of the Black Sea
Minette Walters, The Ice House
Agatha Christie, Death on the Nile
Raymond Chandler, The Lady in the Lake
Michael Dibdin, Dead Lagoon
Thomas King, Green Grass, Running Water

3. A book with a title in the title
K.T.McCaffrey, Bishop's Pawn
Jan Guillou, In her Majesty´s Service
Ellery Queen, The King is Dead
Tony Hillerman, Talking God
Harry Kemelman, Friday the Rabbi Slept Late

4. A book with a plant in the title.
Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Story of Ivy
Lynda la Plante, Red Dahlia (two plants! – very elegant suggestion)
Ellis Peters, Monk´s Hood
Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
James Ellroy, The Black Dahlia

5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title.
Rebecca Tope, Blood in the Cotswolds
Tim Heald, Murder at Moose Jaw
Matt Beynon Rees, The Collaborator of Bethlehem (The Bethlehem Murders)
Martin Edwards, Waterloo Sunset
Colin Dexter, Last Bus to Woodstock
Agatha Christie, 4:50 from Paddington
Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon
Colin Dexter, The Dead of Jericho

6. A book with a music term in the title.
Caro Ramsay, Singing to the Dead
Reg Hill, Midnight Fugue
Philip Kerr, A German Requiem
Ian Rankin, Exit Music
Kate Ross, The Devil in Music
Charles Willeford, Miami Blues

søndag den 6. december 2009

What´s in a Name?

In my first year of blogging I have only participated in a few reading challenges (perhaps because I am such a lousy loser and take them far too seriously). Now the temptations begin to appear here and there, but so far I have only given in to one 2010 challenge.

This is the third season of the challenge called What´s in a Name, and it is hosted by Beth Fish. For all the details visit the blog Beth has tailor-made for this challenge. Here are the main rules:

1. A book with a food in the title
2. A book with a body of water in the title:
3. A book with a title (queen, president) in the title
4. A book with a plant in the title.
5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title.
6. A book with a music term in the title.

What do you think? Are you tempted to participate? Or would you like to help me by suggesting crime stories which suit the six categories?

lørdag den 5. december 2009

Kim Småge, Sub Rosa (1994)

This excellent, award-winning Norwegian crime novel has not been translated into English. It takes place in Trondheim during an extremely cold winter. A great December treat for anyone who can read a Scandinavian language.

Endnu en skandinavisk vinterkrimi, forfatterens fjerde bog, men den første i serien om Anne-Kin Halvorsen.

Læseren bliver kastet lige ud i et dramatisk skænderi mellem galleriejeren Tone Saxe og den temperamentsfulde kunstner, Henry Aar. Tone vil gerne vide, hvornår Henry er klar til at udstille, men kunstmalere lader sig ikke sådan hundse med. Snart bliver Tone Saxe fundet myrdet, og det viser sig, at forbrydelsen har relation til den række kvinde-kollager, Henry har lavet af gamle tapetstumper.

Bogen byder på fine, indlevende beskrivelser af kunstnermiljøet og den forholdsvis nyudnævnte betjent Anne-Kin (som ikke regnes for det helt store på stationen). Hun er en intelligent og energisk arbejderklassepige, som lægger mere vægt på at nå til bunds i sagen end at tage hensyn til mistænktes rang og stand. Desuden spiller hendes hyggelige hjemby, Trondhjem i vinteren 1993, ´en sand fimbulvinter´, en stor og vigtig rolle i bogen.

Jeg har læst en håndfuld af Kim Småges udmærkede krimier, men jeg mener stadig, Sub Rosa er langt den bedste. Selv ved tredje gennemlæsning holdt plottet, og jeg vendte spændt side efter side mens Anne-Kin afdækkede hemmelighederne under de gamle lag tapet. ´Sub Rosa´ kan betyde ´under rosen´ (tapetroserne), eller ´i fortrolighed´.

fredag den 4. december 2009

Indridason - a Progress Report

I warned you Wednesday that I might not have a review of my bait book ready for today. True enough, I have been so busy washing, shopping, eating and sleeping and such trivial stuff that I am only half-way. We are celebrating my son´s birthday this weekend so the review may not be ready until Monday or Tuesday.

But I am sure you are all very curious. The book is Arnaldur Indridason´s fifth novel, Arctic Chill, and it is certainly not because the story is boring that I have not been able to finish it yet.

The Swedish title (the language that I am reading it in) is Vinterstaden.

torsdag den 3. december 2009

Gunnar Staalesen and Fallen Angels

This Norwegian crime novel called ´Fallen Angels´ has not been translated into English (yet?). English writers have a choice of four novels with the same detective, Varg Veum, however.

In this story Veum returns to his Bergen childhood in the fifties and his youth in the sixties with a vivid description of the role rock bands and girls played for him and his young friends in their formative years.

Many years later Veum has a reunion with his best friend Jakob who was one of the lead figures in the popular band The Harpers and who eventually married Veum´s first love, the very religious girl Rebecca. The occasion is a funeral: one of the band members has died in an accident, - and Rebecca has left Jakob. Veum looks into this and discovers that the old band members die at an alarming rate.

Solid crime novel with a detective who is literally a lone wolf: the old name Varg means wolf.

[See what my daughters gave me: my life´s first advent calender!]

Gunnar Staalesen, Faldne Engle (1990).

[Faldne engle, norsk originaludgave 1989]

I denne krimi, den sjette om privatdetektiven Varg Veum, tegner Staalesen et fint og detaljeret billede af Bergen i 50erne og 60erne, hvor Veum var barn og ung. Vi hører om venskaberne, de første forelskelser og seksuelle erfaringer, og den nye musik, rocken, som får så stor betydning for Vargs nærmeste venner.

Historien begynder mange år senere, hvor Veum deltager i begravelsen af en af de gamle venner, et medlem af det populære rockband Harpers. Her møder han organisten Jakob Aasen, et fremtrædende medlem af bandet, Vargs bedste barndomsven og den mand, som blev gift med Vargs første kærlighed, Rebecca. Jakob indrømmer, at Rebecca har forladt ham for nylig, og beder Varg prøve at finde hende. Undervejs i sin søgen opdager Varg, at alt for mange af de gamle Harpers-medlemmer er døde som følge af ´ulykker´.

Som titlen hentyder til, stammer Rebecca fra en kristen frimenighed, som har eller har haft stor betydning for vennekredsen, og sideløbende med temaet fra Beatles´ Yesterday, møder vi også vennernes engle og dæmoner, men Staalesen forfalder ikke til at lade religion eller det overnaturlige ødelægge et vel udtænkt krimiplot.

En passende december-krimi: hele det moderne plot udspiller sig i adventstiden.

onsdag den 2. december 2009

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 43

This crime novel is not a debut, neither is it the author´s latest book.

“They thought he was about ten years old. He was wearing a grey anorak, unzipped, with a hood, and military-style camouflage trousers. His school bag was on his back. One of his boots had come off and there was a hole in his sock. One toe poked through. The boy was not wearing gloves or a hat. His black hair was already frozen to the ice. He lay on his stomach with one cheek turned up towards them, and they saw his broken eyes staring along the frozen earth. The puddle of blood underneath him had started to freeze.”

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. If I am not ready to review the book on Friday, I will post a progress report.

Gæt en bog # 43.
Denne krimi (som jeg læser på svensk, fordi det er billigst) er ikke en debut, og det er heller ikke forfatterens nyeste.

“De trodde han kunde vara ungefär tio år. Han var klädd i en grå jacka med huva, och byxor i grönt och brunt kamouflagemönster, någon sorts militärbyxor. Han hade en skolryggsäck på ryggen. Jackan var uppknäppt, ena foten saknade stövel, och de såg att strumpan hade hål. En tå stack ut. Pojken hade varken vantar eller mössa. Det svarta håret hade redan frusit fast i isen. Han låg på mage och vände ena kinden upp mot dem och de såg den brustna blicken stirra längs den frusna marken. Under honom fanns en blodpöl som även den hade börjat frysa till.”

Hvis du kan genkende citatet, eller hvis du tror du kan gætte hvem forfatteren er, så læg venligst en kommentar. Skriv bare et hint til nye besøgende, lad være med at ødelægge fornøjelsen for andre. Hvis jeg ikke er klar til at anmelde bogen på fredag, skriver jeg lidt om første del af bogen.

tirsdag den 1. december 2009

I for Indridason

For this week´s ABC meme I have found a review of a great crime story I read shortly before I began blogging here in January.

(For a short, English summary look beneath the Danish review).

Arnaldur Indridason, Manden i Søen (Modtryk 2008)
- oversat fra islandsk (2004) -

"Hun gik tilbage til skelettet. Hun brændte efter at undersøge det nærmere, grave uden om det og børste sandet af det. Men tænkte ved sig selv, at politiet sandsynligvis ikke ville være specielt begejstrede for det. Hun overvejede, om det var en mand eller en kvinde, og mindedes engang at have læst, velsagtens i en krimi, at der næsten ingen forskel var på skelettet hos en mand og en kvinde; kun bækkenet var forskelligt. Men så huskede hun også, at en eller anden havde fortalt hende, at man ikke kunne regne med, hvad der stod i krimier."

Jamen hvad kan vi så regne med???

Den midaldrende, mandlige detektiver er typisk en vaskeægte indadvendt gnavpot, men efter fire møder med Indridasons hovedperson, Erlendur Sveinsson, vil jeg mene han er tæt på at tage prisen som pessimisten over dem alle. Han kan vist bedst sammenlignes med mavesårsramte Martin Beck fra den klassiske Sjöwall & Wahlööserie.

Vandet i Kleifarvatn synker støt og roligt. Gammel søbund åbenbares og et gammelt skelet dukker bogstaveligt talt op til overfladen. Sporene fører snart langt tilbage i tiden, nemlig til den kolde krig, hvor nogle unge islændinge blev glødende kommunister og rejste til universitetet i Leipzig for at studere blandt andre rettroende. Her opdager de, at det tager tid at indføre det socialistiske paradis, og flere af dem har svært ved at indordne sig under etpartisystemer og gensidig overvågning, hvor de snart ikke ved hvem der er ven, og hvem der er fjende.

Denne sag er lige noget for Erlendur, som er på en livslang søgen efter forsvundne islændinge, og tydeligvis har lettere ved at finde sig til rette i fortiden end blandt de nulevende.

Indridason har endnu en gang skrevet en god, gedigen krimi, og når det endnu en gang skal siges, at miljø og personskildringen næsten er bedre end krimiplottet, skal det ikke forstås som kritik  denne forfatter er bare god til det hele!

Arnaldur Indridason, The Draining Lake (2007).

The water level in lake Kleifarvatn drops dramatically to reveal the skeleton of a male body. The police soon discover that the case is related to the Cold War when a group of young Icelanders joined the Communist cause and went to Leipzig to study in what was supposed to be a Socialist Paradise. It soon dawns on them that change takes time and they find it difficult to adjust to oneparty systems, as well as an environment of espionage and counterespionage.

Detective Inspector Erlendur Sveinsson is the archetypal middleaged pessimist. He may be compared to Martin Beck, Sjöwall and Wahlöö´s classical ulcerous policeman.
Our grumpy yet sympathetic Erlenduer is on a lifelong quest  his younger brother disappeared in a blizzard when they were small so Erlendur apparently searches for his brother in every case involving a missing person.

The plot is convincing, the gloomy Icelandic environment is fascinating and the characters even more so. Indridason deserves the prices he has received for his crime stories!