fredag den 31. juli 2009

Ann Cleeves, Raven Black (2006)

On the first pages of this book we meet Magnus who is sitting all alone in his kitchen right after midnight. It is New Year´s Eve, and he keeps the light on because someone might turn up after all.

Rather unexpectedly, two young girls knock on his door. They have been in Lerwick to celebrate Hogmanay. Old, slow Magnus enjoys their visit, and does not realize they only do it for a dare.

A few days later one of the girls, sixteen-year-old Cathrine Ross, is found dead after having been seen together with Magnus again. The case seems fairly simple to the locals as Magnus was also involved in the case of eleven-year-old Catriona who disappeared without a trace some years ago. She had made a habit of visiting Magnus and his old mother.

The local detective Jimmy Perez may seem relaxed and disorganized, but unlike some of the policemen who have been called in from Aberdeen, he is not certain they have their man. He is the type who won´t be satisfied until everything feels right.

Just like the engaging Vera Stanhope series, one of the things which characterizes Ann Cleeves´ new series is her talent for creating interesting characters, plus a fine sense of place, in this case the remote Shetland in the darkest and coldest winter period.

So the really good news is that this fine story is the first in a quartet!

See the post Ann Cleeves wrote for this blog in April where she explains why she came up with Jimmy Perez.

Ann Cleeves, Sort som ravnen (2008).
Denne krimi er den første af Ann Cleeves´ krimier, som er oversat til dansk.

Historien begynder hos Magnus, som sidder helt alene i sit køkken lige efter midnat. Det er nytår, og han lader lyset være tændt, fordi det kunne være, nogen ville kigge ind – selv om det ikke er sket i adskillige år.

Helt uventet banker to unge piger på. De har været i Lerwick for at fejre Hogmanay, den traditionelle skotske nytårsfest. Gamle, tungnemme Magnus nyder deres visit, og opfatter slet ikke, at de bare gør det for at vise, de tør.

Nogle få dage senere bliver en af pigerne, seksten år gamle Cathrine Ross, fundet død efter at have været på besøg hos Magnus igen. I de lokales øjne er sagen nærmest afsluttet med det samme, fordi Magnus også var indblandet i en sag, hvor en lille pige forsvandt sporløst nogle år tidligere. Elleveårige Catriona besøgte ofte Magnus og hans gamle mor.

Den lokale kriminalinspektør Jimmy Perez er tilsyneladende afslappet og uorganiseret, men i modsætning til flere af de tilkaldte politifolk fra Aberdeen, er han slet ikke sikker på, de har den rigtige person. Perez er typen som bider sig fast, indtil han er helt sikker i sin sag.

Ligesom i den skønne Vera Stanhope-serie, er det typisk for Ann Cleeves´ nye serie, at hun har et stort talent for at skabe interessante personer, samt et tiltalende miljø, i dette tilfælde den fjerne ø Shetland i den koldeste og mørkeste vinterperiode.

Så den aller-bedste nyhed er, at denne velskrevne historie er den første i en serie på fire!

Se det indlæg, Ann Cleeves skrev til min blog i april, hvor hun forklarer, hvorfor hun opfandt Jimmy Perez-figuren.

torsdag den 30. juli 2009

The Visitor IV

See part III here.

”Do you have anything at all which can justify spending our resources on this case again?” The superintendent tapped his pen against the green blotting pad.

Margaret Johnson kicked her colleague underneath the table. This meeting had been his idea, and if the boss was in that mood, she was not going to let anyone throw her to the wolves.

George Price rustled his papers. ”Erich Munch´s mother dies, and the following night her flat is burgled. Someone has gone through everything, but as far as we can see, nothing has been taken, or at least not anything valuable. We have the flat searched, and they find her diary from the year that Susanne Munch died stashed away in the cistern of all places.”

“Sounds like someone has been reading too many thrillers,” Margaret mumbled.

Price looked up from his notes for a second, but chose to ignore her remark. “A couple of days after Susanne´s death she writes in the diary: They keep asking me when he came and went. If only I could be sure I did not fall asleep during the film. But I have said what I said, and I can´t change that. And the flat is crawling with Erich Munch´s fingerprints.”

“So you are saying that the guy has left fingerprints in his own mother´s flat?” The corners of the superintendent´s mouth told their own, acid tale.

Price leaned forward, before he continued. “The diary is not as concrete as I had hoped for so we have no decisive new evidence yet. But Erich Munch´s mother was not nearly as certain as she claimed then, and apparently he knew that. Who else would go through her things in the middle of the night? Furthermore we have listened to that tape with Emma Munch´s conversation with the psychologist several times. That girl remembers something even if she doesn´t know it herself. And now next step must be a reconstruction.”

Price had been one of the first policemen on the scene of crime. The case went back to his days in uniform, but Margaret knew he would never forget the sight of the little girl who just sat there above the stairs, clutching a blue blanket.

To be finished on Saturday.

onsdag den 29. juli 2009

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 26

[This week´s bait was eaten by yours truly]

This British crime novel is not a debut but the first in a series.

“Her concentration was so fierce, and everything seemed unreal here, surrounded by the reflected light which made her head swim, that she walked right up to the sight before realizing exactly what she was seeing. Until then everything was just form and colour. Then the vivid red turned into a scarf. The grey coat and the white flesh merged into the background of the snow which wasn´t so clean here. The ravens were pecking at a girl´s face. One of the eyes had disappeared.”

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 # 26.
Denne britiske krimi er ikke en debut, men den første i en serie.

”Hendes koncentration var så stærk, og alt så så uvirkeligt ud her, omgivet af det reflekterende lys som fik hendes hoved til at svømme, at hun trådte lige hen til synet, før hun indså præcist hvad det var, hun så. Indtil da var alt bare form og farve. Så blev den stærke røde farve til et tørklæde. Den grå frakke og det hvide kød faldt sammen med baggrunden af sne, som ikke var så ren her. Ravnene hakkede i pigens ansigt. Det ene øje var forsvundet.”

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 28. juli 2009

The Visitor III

See part two here.

She remembered the heavy soup of pity she had whirled around in for so long. Pity, or even worse, ill-concealed curiosity. “Wasn´t it your mom who …?” All their sticky eyes and the whispered remarks about the poor little girl which died away when she appeared.

She and Neil had been sent off to her grandparents afterwards. Her mother´s parents, obviously. Neil was just a baby; he didn´t understand a bit of what was going on around him, but they tried to keep Emma away from all the commotion. After that first night she hadn´t seen one single policeman in uniform, and it was also granny who put her foot down after some months and told them that Emma had had enough of all their experts and shrinks. If they left her alone, it would be far easier for her to forget it all.

Granny meant well and did her best, but it must sound strange to other people that it had taken several years until Emma was able to form a reasonably complete overview of what happened that night. Her mother had met a new boyfriend who was going to visit her when she had put the children to bed. She washed her hair, shaved her legs and made up her face meticulously, but not until she was certain Emma and Neil were asleep upstairs. Then she put on a new dress and her best necklace, and at some point she must have tried to get up some Dutch courage. They had found an empty whisky glass on the kitchen table. She also remembered to spray herself well and truly with perfume from the bottle on the dressing table. The last piece of information was one of the only things Emma had not been able to read in the papers and now, fifteen years on, it was very difficult for her to distinguish between what she really remembered, and what she had discovered via frequent research in the local library.

The police did not think anyone had rung the bell. Yet another detail in favour of an attacker whom her mother had expected and opened the door to, before he could wake up the children. Someone had certainly come to visit, someone who woke up Emma and made her sneak out onto the landing. This person kissed her mother, and afterwards… What went wrong between them? All her shiny pearls were spread on the floor, around the immovable body. And Emma just sat there in her wet nightdress. For how long would she have stayed there if the neighbours had not noticed that the lights were on in most of the house?

All that she knew about the investigation and whom the police suspected certainly came from the newspapers. Her father had had right of access to her for several years before she realized that he had been very close to stand trial for the manslaughter of his own wife. What if her grandmother, her father´s mother that is, had not been able to tell them that he had come home to her place and gone to bed in his old room even before the light was switched on in Susanne Munch´s hall?

In their second round the police had concentrated on the boyfriend. Not for long, Emma thought, because far too many witnesses came forward to testify that he had never fulfilled his casual promise to visit her mother that night. He had said something that afternoon which she had taken very seriously while he had gone out bowling with his mates like any other Tuesday evening. When it came to men, mom´s judgment could not have been very good.

It had cost Emma several years´ fight to free herself of all the staring eyes. Granny was like a safe haven, but as soon as the police had given up their suspicion of her father, he was allowed to see his children again of course. Little Neil grew used to him soon and moved in with him in their old home before long. For Emma things had been different. Dad came and visited her at granny´s, but even though she hadn´t quite understood then, she instinctively felt that they were stiff and formal and full of aversion to him during each visit. Before long she had begun wetting her pants and waking up from nightmares every time he had been around her.

She still saw her father now and then, and things were better between them. But they would never achieve a close relationship like the one between him and Neil. And she couldn´t even wear perfume. Just the slightest trace of a flowery perfume, and she could not breathe. She used to tell her friends that she was allergic.

And now her father´s mother had died. Would she be mired down in the same old soup again?

To be continued on Thursday.

mandag den 27. juli 2009


As I am going out tonight, I will just show you my latest blog awards: I have received the new and very special I Keep Coming Back For More Award.

Thank you very much Kerrie, Mysteries in Paradise and Barbara, Barbara Fister´s Place for thinking of me.

The Rules:
  • Enjoy the award. If you don’t want to put it on your blog, don’t. Just get the warm, fuzzy feeling that I’m sending your way!
  • You don’t have to reveal any deep, dark secrets about yourself or answer any sort of questions. You’ve already earned it!
  • You don’t have to link back to me.
  • You don’t have to give it to anyone else.
And I have decided to send this one on to four blogs that are either very new, or just quite new to me.

First two blogs owned by bloggers I have come across recently who do their best to encourage me to keep on writing:

Belle, Ms. Bookish
Cathryn, Cathryn G-rant

The next blog is owned by Tim whom I met in Edinburgh recently, and whose comments on my blog have come to mean very much to me: Reader with Attitude

Finally Rob Kitchin, The View from the Blue House, who has begun blogging from Ireland recently (and his first crime novel, The Rule Book, sounds very promising).

søndag den 26. juli 2009

The Visitor II

See part I here.

”What do you feel about it all today?” The psychologist folded her hands on the table and let silence fill the room.

Emma ran her fingers through her blonde hair while she did her best to survey what she felt. “I was never really certain what I had seen, but of course it destroyed my relationship with my father. I practically accused him of having strangled my mother. The police knew he couldn´t have done it, but every time I saw him…” She stopped and took a deep breath. It was so silly. She had been through this a million times, yet it was as if she had a black-out when she reached a certain point.

“What makes it so terrible is that until then I loved my dad more than anything. He was so funny and happy, and he was the one who read bedtime stories to me every night. When he didn´t make up his own stories, that is.”

The psychologist took her time, before she asked a new question. “So how did it affect you when your parents split up?”

“I must have missed him ever so much.” Again, Emma paused to think. This was not one of the questions she was used to hearing. “I am sure that if anyone had asked me, I would have chosen to live with my father. But I was so small, and everybody probably just assumed it would be best for me to stay with my mother.”

The psychologist gave her an encouraging nod.

“I suppose my mother coped fairly well. But all of a sudden she had to do it all on her own, look after two small children and a large house, and of course she had to work full time. I know for certain that I missed my bedtime story, because I pestered her all the time, wanting her to read to us. She always said she was tired.” She fiddled with a frayed cuticle.

“Do you remember what your father read to you?”

“Mostly Astrid Lindgren, I think. Or fairy tales. All my books from that time have gone. Somebody must have thought it was best when … He was such an excellent reader, he used different voices for each character, but I loved it even more when he made up a story himself, or told me about his childhood.”

“Do you think he had a good childhood?”

“Well, yes, at least that is the impression I got. I think he preferred to tell me exciting and scary stories, however. Sometimes he had to stay at my bedside and comfort me until I fell asleep, and that would make mommy so angry. For example when he told me about a huge dog that bit him.” Emma began to laugh, but stopped rather abruptly.

The psychologist scribbled something on the writing pad in front of her.

“Has all this something to do with my grandmother´s death?”

She lifted the pen for a second. “Why do you think so?”

“When will you stop treating me like a child?” Emma pushed her chair back and ran out of the room without another word.

To be continued on Tuesday.

lørdag den 25. juli 2009

The Visitor I

[Danske læsere kan eventuelt følge med her: Skrive-Bloggen]

Yes, I do know I brought this short writing exercise some time ago. In the meantime I have made it into a real short story, however. Part two will be brought tomorrow, part three on Tuesday, part four on Thursday and the ending on Saturday. Unless I have lost all my readers long before then.


Abruptly she sat up in her bed. A deep voice had forced its way through the dark night into her half-conscious mind. Daddy must have come home!

Emma pattered out on the landing in bare feet, pulling the soft blanket after her like a tail. The floor felt cold under her feet. She watched them through the rails of the banister. They looked really funny in stripes. He was much taller than mommy so she had to lean back her head. “You´ve got a new dress.”

“Silly, you´ll wake up the children,” she whispered, but she didn´t look angry.

Even though it must be in the middle of the night, mommy had not gone to bed yet. She was wearing lipstick, and the new necklace from her birthday. The wrinkles on her forehead had gone. The man put his arms around her and whispered something Emma could not hear. She could only see his hair and the back of his head. She was not sure it was daddy after all.

“Won´t you come in?” Mommy sounded almost like a little girl.

From her perfect little lookout Emma saw him squeezing mommy´s neck. She didn´t really understand why the grown-ups liked that kind of thing. She had tried kissing Simon in the kindergarten, but he had just tasted like a cucumber. She leaned forward to get a better view, and right then she thought she could smell flowers. Mommy was wearing perfume.

Mommy was red in the face, and she did not smile any more. Emma heard her necklace snap, and saw how the light sparkled in the pearls, dancing in the air like a fountain.

She clutched the blanket in her hands and pulled it up to her eyes. Her thumb slid into her mouth while a small puddle formed beneath her feet.

To be continued tomorrow ...

To Read - or Not to Read?

I am sure all book bloggers know the dilemma: you are reading a book that doesn´t really catch your interest. Should you read on, blog about it – or just put it down and pick another one from the shelf?

The other day I noticed an interesting post: a new and fresh argument explaining why you shouldn´t waste your time. See “Do the Book Math”.

I read the post and decided that at least my life was too short for the Dutch writer Saskia Noort´s New Neighbours (not translated into English yet, but it probably will be).

The first pages seemed quite promising – a little boy found all alone in a cottage among several bodies - and I got to page one hundred, but the story just seems more and more unpleasant. Too nasty, too much spite and sex, too predictable … well, no need to waste more time on a non-review, is there.

At læse – eller ikke læse.
Alle bogbloggere kender garanteret dilemmaet: man er begyndt at læse en bog, som ikke rigtigt fænger. Skal man læse videre, anmelde den på bloggen – eller bare lægge den til side og snuppe en ny på hylden?

I går opdagede jeg et interessant blogindlæg: et nyt og friskt argument for ikke at spilde sin tid. Se ”Do the Book Math.”

Jeg læste indlægget og bestemte, at mit liv i hvert fald var for kort til hollænderen Saskia Noorts Nye naboer (2007).

De første sider virkede ellers lovende – en lille dreng, som blev fundet helt alene i en hytte sammen med tre-fire lig – og jeg nåede til side hundrede, men historien forekom mig bare mere og mere ubehagelig. For ulækker, for forudsigelig, for meget nag og sex, … nå ja, hvorfor spilde mere tid på en ikke-anmeldelse.

En dansk anmeldelse (ikke overvældende positiv) kan findes på Litteratursiden.

fredag den 24. juli 2009

John Sandford, Winter Prey aka The Ice Man (1993)

The fifth book in the American Lucas Davenport series.

The reader knows from the beginning that the murderer calls himself The Iceman, but don´t know his real identity. The Iceman prepares himself for the cold and moves into a remote area in Wisconsin in the middle of a snowstorm. He kills a whole family, father, mother and daughter, to get a photo which poses a threat to him. Afterwards he sets the house on fire and escapes.

“It had always been difficult for him to fall asleep. The affronts and insults of the day would keep him awake for hours while he planned his revenge; and there were not many days without affronts and insults.”

As the antagonist has this attitude to life, it is small wonder that the crimes escalate.

Lucas Davenport, experienced policeman and lone wolf, is staying in his cottage in the area. He has left the police in order to create computer games. Lucrative, but is this kind of life enough to keep him preoccupied? The local sheriff asks him to take over the case because of his experience with murder cases, and it does not take much persuasion. Davenport is an interesting and reasonably faceted character, and once again the reader gets a feeling that a Davenport mystery must include several deaths.

The book is an entertaining thriller, teeming with tough guys, and all the heroes are of course soft and gentle underneath the façade, but it did not quite capture me. The fact that the translation was so-so did not exactly make it better.

John Sandford, Vinteroffer (1997).
Dette er femte bind i den amerikanske serie om Lucas Davenport.

Læseren ved fra starten, at morderen kalder sig selv ”Vintermanden”, men kender ikke hans rigtige identitet.

Vintermanden klæder sig på til kulden og trænger ud i ødemarken i Wisconsin midt i en snestorm, hvor han dræber en hel familie: far, mor og datter for at få fat på et billede, der udgør en fare for ham. Bagefter sætter han ild på huset og forsvinder.

”Han havde altid haft vanskeligt ved at falde i søvn. Dagens krænkelser og fornærmelser ville holde ham vågen i timevis, mens han planlagde sin hævn; og der var kun ganske få dage uden krænkelser og fornærmelser.”

Med en skurk, som har denne indstilling til tilværelsen, er det ikke så underligt at forbrydelserne eskalerer.

Lucas Davenport, erfaren efterforsker og ensom ulv, opholder sig netop i sin feriehytte i området. Han har forladt politiet for at skrive computerspil. Indbringende, men er det nok til at holde kedsomheden fra døren? Den lokale sherif beder ham lede sagen på grund af hans store erfaring fra tidligere mordsager, og der skal ikke megen overtalelse til. Davenport er en interessant og nogenlunde nuanceret person, men igen lægges der forholdsvist hurtigt op til, at en Davenport-sag vil ende med mange dødsfald.

Denne bog er en meget underholdende spændingsroman, som vrimler med barske børster, og alle heltene er selvfølgelig vældig bløde og blide under facaden, men den holdt mig nu ikke helt fangen. Måske også fordi oversættelsen havde sine svage punkter. Når bogen indeholder gloser som valuar, korroderet, off-vinrød og drugstore, er det vist ikke så meget fordi oversætteren gerne vil brillere med sit store ordforråd, men snarere hurtige løsninger, som ligger påfaldende tæt op ad begrebet ´false friends´.

Things you (probably) didn´t know

[Photo: an unusually well-equipped bathroom - the cottage in Scotland]

Literary chaos in the shape of a mountain of TBR books stored in no particular order.

You didn´t know that? I thought so. Neither did I.

For more WONDERful definitions, visit Between the Covers, 26 More Neologisms for Booklovers.

torsdag den 23. juli 2009

Antonia Fraser, Oxford Blood (1985)

[Denne krimiserie er ikke oversat til dansk]

Read on my last holiday in Scotland, hence the very short ´review´. This book is the fifth in the British Jemima Shore series.

The famous TV investigator, Jemima Shore, gets involved in a case of two babies (a rich, dead boy and a poor, live one) who have been switched. Twenty years later the nun who switched them is dying. She confesses, and Jemima Shore learns that young Viscount Saffron is probably not who he thinks he is. She also learns that the young nobleman is a spoilt brat.

The book is well written and has a fine plot though the style seems a bit old-fashioned for the eighties. It was a fast and enjoyable read on a rather cold holiday.

BIP. Blog Post Bingo # 13

I have not participated in Kim´s Blog Improvement Project for some time as it has not been convenient for me, but I have been looking forward to this second round of bingo. As I was away on holiday the first week, I have not even tried to do them all, but here are the eight different posts I have achieved.

1. A personal post - Til verdens ende/The Very Wild West
2. A long post - Careless in Red
3. A question post - London Research
4. A free space - 6 Unimportant Things Meme
5. A link post - Beth Fish´s Giveaway
6. A short post - Library Loot
7. A review post - Margery Allingham
8. A list post - Something Old, Something New

onsdag den 22. juli 2009

Writing fiction

Do you remember Emma, a very young damsel in distress? Would you like to hear what happened after this scene?

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 25

[This delicious box belongs to Jane, Possum Scriptum.]

This non-European thriller is an older volume from a rather long series.

“With his mittens on, he stood up, testing the snow. The latest fall was soft, but the bitter cold had solidified the layers beneath it. He sank no more than two or three inches. Good.

The chimes sounded in his mind again: Time.

He paused, calmed himself. The whole intricate clockwork of his existence was in danger. He´d killed once already, but that had been almost accidental. He´d had to improvise a suicide scene around the corpse.
And it had almost worked.

Had worked well enough to eliminate any chance that they might catch him. That experience changed him, gave him a taste of blood, a taste of real power.”

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. I hope I will be ready to review the book on Friday.

Gæt en bog # 25.
Denne ikke-europæiske thriller er en af de ældre i en temmelig lang serie.

“Han rejste sig fra scooterens sæde for at afprøve sneens bæredygtighed. Den nyfaldne sne var blød, men den bidende kulde havde fået lagene nedenunder til at størkne. Han sank ikke mere end en fem-seks centimeter ned. Godt.

De kimende klokker lød igen i hans hoved: tid.

havde i hvert fald virket godt nok til at fjerne enhver risiko for, at de kunne pågribe ham. Dén oplevelse ændrede ham, gav ham smag for blod, smag for virkelig magt.”

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. Jeg håber på at være klar til at anmelde bogen på fredag.

tirsdag den 21. juli 2009

Mary Stewart, Wildfire at Midnight (1956)

Mary Stewart was born in England, but lived in Scotland for many years. This novel, a stand-alone which is her second, takes place on the isle of Skye (which explains why I selected this one among the many novels written by her in our cottage).

The narrator is Gianetta Brooke who ´hit London´ in 1945, nineteen years old, having trained as a model. Here she meets the author Nicholas Drury and marries him three months later. She adores him while he thinks she is sophisticated. They try to make their marriage work for a few years, but when she discovers his unfaithfulness they quarrel and divorce in 1949.

In 1953 Gianetta needs a break from London and the coronation. She goes to Skye where Blaven, the Blue Mountain, casts its shadow over the valley. At the hotel she meets actress Marcia Maling, her ex-husband and a few other guests. Gianetta does not understand why no one wants to talk about Blaven until a male guest tells her that a young, local girl was murdered there a few weeks ago (a horrible, ritual murder). Presumably she had a date with one of the male guests of the hotel, making it a locked-room mystery.

A few days after Gianetta´s arrival, two young women go climbing Blaven (perhaps together with a male climber) but do not return. One of them has been murdered – but where is the other one?

A fine novel which seems much more modern than Allingham´s stories though it was written in the same decade, and by an author who was only twelve years younger. More suspense & drama, more real and convincing characters. And this is NOT a cozy mystery.

Mary Stewart, Vinden varsler (1957)
Mary Stewart blev født i England, men boede i Skotland i mange år. Denne roman er hendes anden, men den første som er oversat til dansk. Handlingen foregår på den skotske ø Skye, og det er selvfølgelig derfor, jeg udvalgte netop denne Mary Stewart ud af den lange række på hylderne i vores feriehytte.

Fortælleren er Gianetta Brooke, en nyuddannet, nittenårig fotomodel, som er klar til at male London rød i 1945. Her møder hun forfatteren Nicholas Drury og gifter sig med ham tre måneder senere. Hun tilbeder ham, han tror, hun er smart og sofistikeret. I flere år prøver de at få ægteskabet til at fungere, men da hun opdager, at han er hende utro, ender det hele i skænderier og skilsmisse i 1949.

I 1953 trænger Gianetta hårdt til en pause fra modelarbejdet i London og alt postyret omkring Dronning Elizabeths kroning. Hun rejser til øen Skye hvor Blaven, det Blå Bjerg, kaster sin mørke skygge over dalen. På hotellet møder hun skuespilleren Marcia maling, sin eksmand og en håndfuld andre gæster. Gianetta kan ikke forstå, at ingen bryder sig om at tale om Blaven, før en mandlig gæst røber at en lokal ung pige blev myrdet der nogle uger tidligere (et rituelt drab). Den unge pige skulle sandsynligvis møde en af gæsterne på hotellet, så bogen er altså en form for lukket rums mysterium.

Nogle få dage efter Gianettas ankomst tager to unge kvinder ud for at klatre på Blaven (muligvis i selskab med en mand). Den ene af dem bliver myrdet – men hvad er der blevet af den anden?

En fin krimi, som virker langt mere moderne end Margary Allinghams, selv om den er skrevet i samme årti, af en forfatter som kun var tolv år yngre. Der er mere spænding og drama, samt mere realistiske og overbevisende personer.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed...

One of the ´consequences´ of having a book blog seems to be that you begin to try more new authors. Here is a list of authors I have read so far in 2009 because other bloggers reviewed them or recommended them to me (listed by their first names so it is easier for you to find them via my labels).

Another consequence is that once you get to know ´your bloggers´, it becomes easier for you to decide which authors to try. I can say honestly that there is not one author in the list that I did NOT like. I enjoyed most of them quite a lot, actually. And the stars? – the five very best.

Alexander McCall Smith
Andrea Camilleri
Ann Cleeves *
Donna Leon
Donna Moore
Johan Theorin *
Josephine Tey
Kate Atkinson *
Kate Ellis
Kerry Greenwood
Louise Penny
M.R. Hall *
Margery Allingham
Martin Edwards *
Peter James
Peter Robinson
Peter Temple
Sophie Hannah

Glæderne ved at blogge

En af konsekvenserne af at skrive en blog ser ud til at være, at man begynder at prove flere nye forfattere. Her er en liste over forfattere jeg har læst indtil videre i 2009, fordi andre bloggere har anmeldt dem eller an befalet dem til mig (i alfabetisk orden efter fornavn, så de svarer til mine labels ude til højre).

En anden konsekvens er, at når man lærer ´sine bloggere´ at kende, bliver det nemmere at finde ud af, hvilke forfattere man skal prøve. Jeg kan sige helt ærligt, at der ikke er én eneste forfatter på listen, jeg IKKE kunne lide. Mange af dem var jeg rigtig glad for. Og stjernerne? – de fem allerbedste.

mandag den 20. juli 2009

Cozy Mystery Challenge 2009

"Will you stop licking me, mom. Somebody is watching!"

I hope you can see I have done my best to cover a wide variety of cozies with regard to authors, time and place. Kris, thank you for hosting this challenge – I enjoyed it very much indeed!

1) Agatha Christie, Murder at the Vicarage (1930). British classic, reviewed in April.

2) Dorothy L. Sayers, Busman´s Honeymoon (1937). British classic, reviewed in May.

3) Kerry Greenwood, Murder in the Dark (2006). Australian novel reviewed in May.

4) Alexander McCall Smith, The No1 Ladies´ Detective Agency (1998). Scottish novel which takes place in Africa, reviewed in June.

5) Kirsten Holst, The Young, Rich and Beautiful (1976). Danish novel, reviewed in June. Not translated into English.

6) Louise Penny, The Cruellest Month (2007). Canadian novel, reviewed in July.

søndag den 19. juli 2009

Louise Penny, The Cruellest Month (2007)

[Denne roman er ikke oversat til dansk]

This novel is the third in the Armand Gamache series which takes place in Quebec, Canada. The review is the last of six for my cozy mystery challenge.

A quotation from the first page:
“You going tonight?” Clara asked, trying to distract the old poet from taking aim at Monsier Béliveau. “Are you kidding? Live people are bad enough; why would I want to bring one back from the dead?” With that Ruth whacked Monsieur Bélieau in the back of his head.

The village of Three Pines prepare for their Easter egg hunt, hiding wooden eggs around for the children. One gets an impression of the colourful villagers immediately, e.g. old Ruth Zardo who throws her eggs at people rather than trying to hide them. She was the one who warned the others against using chocolate eggs the first year, predicting that ´something bad will happen´. That year the villagers learnt that bears also like chocolate and quickly decided to substitute them with wooden eggs in the future.

This particular year offers special entertainment: a séance to wake up the dead. The first try has no effect at all, hence the medium (a psychic witch) suggests that they have another one in the abandoned Hadley house. As any reader could have predicted, something bad will happen again: apparently one of the participants is frightened to death.

Armand Gamache of the Sûreté is put on the case; an excellent agent as well as a kind and likeable person. Gamache has been to Three Pines before on a case related to the mysterious Hadley house. Apart from solving the case he has his own problems: some years ago he exposed a bent colleague, and since then strong forces within the Sûreté have wanted to get rid of him.
Canadian Louise Penny is brilliant at creating an atmosphere. Even though I don´t like superstition and psychics in crime fiction as a rule, I found this mystery more exciting and appealing than most of the traditional cozies.

One small minus: in the ongoing “civil war” between good and corrupt forces within Sûreté, Armand Gamache is almost too perfect, more like a saviour than a real human being.

See some other reviews here: Kerrie, Mysteries in Paradise and Cathy, Kittling: Books.

lørdag den 18. juli 2009

Short Saturday

As I am having a short Saturday (going off to a celebration tonight), I have decided to spend my day washing & writing, instead of blogging.

No problem, as I am sure many of my readers are going to enjoy this post with some glimpses of a charming capital just as much as my reviews anyway.

fredag den 17. juli 2009

Heard about Harry Potter?

If you have read J.K. Rowling´s Harry Potter books, you probably also know that she wrote large parts of the series sitting around in local cafés. Here is one of them, The Elephant House in Edinburgh.

Did we have lunch there? No. Tim showed it to us, but we concluded too many fans were queuing up already.

Josephine Tey, A Shilling for Candles (1936)

This Cozy Mystery is the Scottish author Josephine Tey´s second Alan Grant novel - and the oldest Tey novel I could find in our cottage in Scotland.

The coastguard William Potticary walks along the beach and finds the body of a young and pretty woman. The police discover that she is the world famous film star Christine Clay. Her friends and admirers regard her death as an accident, at least until Inspector Grant of Scotland Yard appears at the inquest.

An important witness is young Robert Stannaway who has just squandered away £ 30,000 and is completely broke. He has been staying with Christine Clay for the last days of her life. The deceased leaves two wills, one in which she bequeaths ´a shilling for candles´ for her unknown brother Herbert, plus a brandnew one, leaving a nice sum to her new acquaintance Robert Stannaway, hereby giving him a solid motive as well as the opportunity to kill her. But we are only on page seventy, and of course the experienced crime fiction reader knows it cannot be as simple as that with more than hundred pages to go.

Modern readers cannot help noticing that the story takes place before World War II: “Just a rather ordinary American Jew from some poor corner of Europe; ill-educated, emotional, and ruthless, like so many of his race.”

The main detective, Inspector Grant, is a competent policeman, but a very anonymous British gentleman. Erica Burgoyne, a very resourceful young lady and the daughter of the Chief Constable, does not believe Stannaway is guilty so she embarks on her own search for his coat which is an important piece of evidence. As Grant is a bit conventional, young Miss Burgoyne is an excellent choice as the unofficial sidekick. All in all a fine and entertaining cozy mystery.

See Kerrie´s review.

Josephine Tey, Et vokslys til min båre (1967).
Denne krimi er skotske Josephine Tey´s anden roman om inspector Grant.

Kystvagten William Potticary går tur langs stranden, hvor han finder liget af en ung, køn kvinde. Politiet opdager, at det er den verdenskendte filmstjerne Christine Clay. Hendes venner og fans regner hendes død for at være en ulykke, indtil inspektør Grant fra Scotland Yard deltager i ligsynet.

Et vigtigt vidne er unge Robert Stannaway, som lige har ødslet 30.000 pund væk, og er fattig som en kirkerotte. Han har opholdt sig hos Christine Clay de sidste dage af hendes liv. Afdøde efterlader sig to testamenter: ét hvor hun efterlader ´en shilling til vokslys´ til sin ukendte bror Herbert, samt et helt nyt, hvor hun testamenterer en pæn sum til sin nye bekendt, Stannaway. Hermed har han ikke blot mulighed, men også et solidt motiv for mordet. Men da vi kun er kommet til side halvfjerds, kan den erfarne krimilæser naturligvis regne ud, at så simpelt kan det ikke være.

En moderne læser kan ikke undgå at lægge mærke til, at historien foregår før anden verdenskrig: ”Bare en temmelig almindelig amerikansk jøde fra en fattig afkrog af Europa: dårligt uddannet, følelsesladet og hensynsløs, som så mange af sin race.”

Detektiven, inspektør Alan Grant, er en kompetent politimand, men ellers en temmelig anonym person. Erica Burgoyne, datter af politimesteren og en handlekraftig ung dame, er overbevist om, at Stannaway er uskyldig, så hun kaster sig ud i sin egen søgen efter hans overfrakke, som udgør vigtigt bevismateriale. Eftersom Grant er så konventionel, fungerer det godt med unge Erica som hans uofficielle ´lille hjælper´. Alt i alt er bogen en god og helstøbt klassisk hyggekrimi.

torsdag den 16. juli 2009

Margery Allingham, No Love Lost. Two Stories of Suspense (1954).

[En del af Margery Allinghams romaner og noveller er oversat til dansk, men så vidt jeg kan se ikke de to historier her]

This novel was one of the many on the shelves of our cottage in Scotland. I decided to try some authors I did not know beforehand, and began with one of the British classics.

The Patient at Peacock´s Hall.
In this short crime story, the young doctor Ann Fowler plays a very important role. Some years ago her fiancée, doctor John Linnett, left her for a promising actress, miss Francia Forde.

When the story begins, Doctor Fowler shares a country practice with old Dr Ludlow. She acquires a mysterious new patient whom she after some time recognizes as Francia Forde. The patient shows signs of being poisoned with medicine which has disappeared from Ann Fowler´s car, and suddenly she realizes that she is involved in a plot. Someone wants to kill miss Forde, and he is convinced that Ann is only too willing to help him. How will she get out of this one?

A rather anonymous detective appears at the end of the book, but mainly this is the young doctor´s story.
A fast and cozy holiday read, but the plot may seem a bit unconvincing and old-fashioned today.

Safer than Love.
The main character is Elizabeth Lane, the young wife of the headmaster of Buchanan House, a fine preparatory school for boys in southern England.

Everybody in Tinworth is certain that Elizabeth must be unhappy as the headmaster is set in his ways, gruff and absolutely inconsiderate. Elizabeth´s former love, the young doctor Andy Durtham arrives in Tinworth as a substitute for the local doctor, and tries to explain to Elizabeth Lane that she made a mistake when she chose Victor and safety instead of him and his strong feelings for her.

Elizabeth begins considering divorce, but knows it will be very difficult to achieve one ´without grounds´. Soon after the body of her husband is found in his small ´golf cottage´, and the rumours can begin. Elizabeth realizes that ´a marriage without love is not marriage´, and of course the competent police officer Fred South, called ´Uncle´ by the locals, solves the case and saves the young lovers.

Another cozy story, but more convincing to modern readers than the first in my opinion.

Library Loot

Min datter fik en rykker fra biblioteket. Dejlig undskyldning for at få nogle bøger slæbt til huse. Og nu står der så fire engelske i oversættelse plus fem nordiske på hylden. Og fire nye forfattere - jeg er blevet noget bedre til at prøve noget nyt, efter jeg er begyndt at blogge.

A nice library visit in the summer heat.
Four British & American to the left, five Nordic crime novels to the right. Plus a surprise. No, I am not going to tell you about that one yet. Four of them by authors who are new to me.

Have you also become better at trying out new authors after you began blogging?

R.T. says:
... best of all, perhaps, there are no boundaries because the Internet obliterates barriers that would otherwise interfere with communication between avid book readers.

onsdag den 15. juli 2009

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 24

[Photo: DJ]

In this fairly old crime novel, the second in a series, someone walks along the beach and finds a body. (Never heard that one before, have you?)

“His blue eyes widened suddenly, his body becoming strangely still… That was what came of going into cold water before breakfast! Lunacy, so help him. Spoiling other people´s breakfasts, too. Schaefer´s best, except where ribs broken. Not likely to be ribs broken. Perhaps only a faint after all. Assure the patient in a loud voice that he is safe. Her arms and legs were as brown as the sand. That was why he had thought the green thing a piece of cloth. Lunacy, so help him. Who wanted cold water in the dawn unless they had to swim for it? …

There was no need for Schaefer´s, nor for any other method. He saw that at a glance. The girl was past all help. And he, who had picked bodies unemotionally from the Red Sea surf, was strangely moved. It was all wrong that someone so young should be lying there when all the world was waking up to a brilliant day; when so much of life lay in front of her. A pretty girl too, she must have been. Her hair had a dyed look, but the rest of her was all right.”

The Rules:
If you recognize the quotation, or if you think you are able to guess the author, the place or the period, 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 # 24.
Denne lidt ældre, engelske krimi er den anden i en serie. Den begynder med, at en person går langs stranden og finder et lig.

”Hans blå øjne spærredes pludselig op, og hans krop blev mærkeligt stille… Det var, hvad der kom ud af at gå ud i koldt vand før morgenmaden! Vanvid, Gud hjælpe ham. Ødelægge andre menneskers morgenmad, tilmed. Schafers metode [en genoplivningsmetode] er bedst, med mindre der er brækkede ribben. Ikke sandsynligt, at der er brækkede ribben. Måske er det trods alt bare en besvimelse. Forsikre patienten om, at han er i sikkerhed, med høj og tydelig stemme. Hendes arme og ben var lige så brune som sandet. Det var derfor, han havde troet, den grønne tingest var et stykke stof. Vanvid, Gud hjælpe ham. Hvem kunne tænke sig koldt vand om morgenen, med mindre det var for at svømme i det? …

Der var ikke brug for Schafers, eller nogen som helst anden metode. Han så det med et øjekast. Pigen var ude over al hjælp. Og han, som uden at føle noget videre havde samlet kroppe op fra det Røde Hav, var underligt bevæget. Det var helt forkert, at så ung en person skulle ligge der, når hele verden var ved at vågne op til en vidunderlig dag; når så meget af livet lå foran hende. Hun måtte tilmed have været en køn pige. Hendes hår så farvet ud, men resten af hende var i orden.”

Hvis du genkender citatet, eller hvis du tror, du kan gætte forfatteren, stedet eller perioden, så læg venligst en kommentar. Skriv bare et hint til nye besøgende, lad være med at ødelægge fornøjelsen for andre.

tirsdag den 14. juli 2009

Tuesday´s Extra - book giveaway!

If you would like to win an ARC of Elin Hilderbrand´s The Castaways, visit Beth Fish Reads and join her competition. The competition runs until July 25.

Beth´s Rules
1. Leave a comment with your email address telling me which island you would visit if money were no object. (1 entry)
2. Tweet or blog about this giveaway (and come back and leave the link in a comment). (1 entry)
3. Subscribe to this blog (through Google, email, RSS). (3 entries)
4. Already a subscriber? Thanks so much. Let me know and you get 5 entries.
New subscribers can have up to 5 entries. Veteran subscribers can have up to 7 entries.

6 Unimportant Things That Make Me Happy

[Jeg er blevet ´taget´ igen. Denne gang går opgaven ud på at skrive om seks uvæsentlige ting, som gør mig lykkelig. Jeg har valgt Atlanterhavet, skotske klipper og kvæg, blomster, bygninger og bøger - bl.a. fordi det giver mig lejlighed til at vise nogle dejlige billeder fra Skotland.]

I came home from Scotland to realize that I had been tagged by Julia, A Piece of My Mind, for this meme. Of course I´d like to participate, Julia, especially as this one gives me an opportunity to show you some of my recent photos from Scotland.

1. The sea - in this case the Atlantic Ocean.

2. Rocks - and climbing them.

3. Animals - one of our neighbours in Grigadale, Ardnamurchan.

4. Flowers

5. Beautiful buildings - the nunnery of Iona

6. Books - lots of books - these from one of the bathrooms in our rented house.

mandag den 13. juli 2009

London Research

As I have realized how useful a blog is, I may as well try to consult my readers. I need research help from people who know much more about London than I do.

I want to install a couple (two doctors) in a good London flat (not too expensive). They are both around forty and have one small child. He is probably a bit yuppieish, she is an idealist but enjoys good quality. Besides, they chose London because they want anonymity. I imagine they work at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Where would a couple like this settle down in 2009?

Crime Lovers´ Paradise - Paradis for krimifans.

When we rented our holiday cottage in Grigadale, Land´s End, we had certain expectations to the view. We didn´t know what we were going to find inside the house, though. These four pictures are from the girls´ bedroom. I didn´t take photos of ALL the books - just the most important ones. If you click to enlarge the photos, you can see that there were around 250 crime novels on the shelves.

søndag den 12. juli 2009

Elizabeth George, Careless in Red (2008)

At the beginning of George´s fifteenth novel in this series, Thomas Lynley, eighth Earl of Asherton, is walking along the Cornish coast forty three days after the killing of his pregnant wife. He finds a body on the beach, a young climber who has apparently fallen off the cliffs above him. Noblesse oblige, we know, so of course Lynley has to stop his Odyssey in order to contact the local police. At first they are not quite sure who this unkempt vagabond is, which gives them a good reason to keep him for a while. Later the local DI Beatrice Hannaford is short-staffed and orders him to stay and assist her, whether he wants to or not. Realistic? – I am not sure.

From then on the book continues for hundreds of pages while we meet several young people drifting aimlessly around. No wonder, however, as none of the adults seems to be more sensible. The fathers try to make their sons into copies of their none too successful selves while the grown women of this story are busy having affairs with men of all sorts and ages. Surprising how they are carrying on in Cornwall.

Near the ending, one of these confused father figures remembers an old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” which seems to be an important message of the story.

The story is probably called Careless in Red for two reasons: when the victim, Santo Kerne, goes for his fatal climb, he wears a red windbreaker. The most important reason, however, is that his mother always wears red when she feels a need for male company.

All in all, the book is not too bad if one doesn´t mind the very slow pace. 568 pages for a story which could have been considerably better if the author had cut away a few hundred pages – for example a few of the side stories. It has its moments, but it is difficult to find excuses for this average work of fiction written by an author who could have made a better job of it. IF Elizabeth George has any true friends, they should encourage her to renew herself a bit and let her battered old noblemen rest in peace.

Some other reviews in English:
Reactions to Reading
Mysteries in Paradise

Elizabeth George, En løgner i rødt (2009)
Ved begyndelsen af Elizabeth Georges femtende roman i den samme serie, er Thomas Lynley, den ottende jarl af Asherton, på en lang travetur langs Cornwalls kyst treogfyrre dage efter drabet på hans gravide kone. Han finder et lig på stranden, en ung klatrer som tilsyneladende er styrtet ned fra klipperne over dem. Adel forpligter, som vi ved, så Lynley må afbryde sin odyssé for at tilkalde det lokale politi. Først er de usikre på, hvem den uplejede vagabond er, og benytter lejligheden til at tilbageholde ham. Senere er den lokale politiinspektør Beatrice Hannaford underbemandet, og beordrer Lynley til at blive på stedet for at hjælpe hende, uanset om han har lyst eller ej. Realistisk? – det er jeg ikke så sikker på.

Her efter fortsætter bogen over mange hundrede sider, mens vi møder adskillige unge mennesker, som driver omkring uden mål og med. Måske er det ikke så underligt, da ingen af de voksne omkring dem lader til at være mere fornuftige. Fædre prøver at forme deres sønner som kopier af dem selv (selv om ingen af dem er kommet særlig godt igennem livet), mens de voksne kvinder i bogen er travlt optaget af affærer med mænd af alle slags og i enhver alder. Forbløffende, som de har gang i den i Cornwall.

Romanen hedder sandsynligvis ”En løgner i rødt” fordi offerets mor altid klæder sig i rødt, når hun er på jagt efter mandligt selskab.

I det store og hele er bogen nogenlunde underholdende, hvis man ikke har noget imod, at tingene udvikler sig så langsomt. 568 sider (den engelske udgave) til en historie, som kunne have været langt bedre hvis forfatteren havde forkortet den med et par hundrede sider – for eksempel ved at fjerne et par af de mange sidehistorier. Den har sine gode punkter, men det er svært at undskylde dette gennemsnitlige stykke arbejde skrevet af en forfatter, som kunne have gjort det bedre. Hvis Elizabeth George har nogen rigtige venner, burde de opmuntre hende til at forny sig selv, og lade de forslidte gamle adelsmænd hvile i fred.

lørdag den 11. juli 2009

Til verdens ende og hjem igen.

Til læsere af min blog, som måske har undret sig over, hvor jeg blev af. For en uge siden hentede min mand og jeg vores børn i lufthavnen i Edinburgh og kørte vest på - nærmere bestemt til Ardnamurchan-halvøen, som er det vestligste punkt på det britiske fastland. Længere ud kan man nærmest ikke komme. Ingen internet eller mobiladgang. Til gengæld var der meget andet, og det skal I nok få lov at høre og se lidt mere om de nærmeste dage.

The Very Wild West.
For readers of my blog who may have wondered what happened to me. Last week my husband and I picked up our children in Edinburgh Airport and drove west - to the Ardnamurchan pensinsula, as far west as you can get on the British mainland. No internet or mobile. There were many other things to experience, however, as you will see over the next few days.