fredag den 31. december 2010

En dansk udfordring

Efter to år med krimibloggen må jeg jo indrømme, jeg er blevet mere og mere engelsk. Ikke med vilje, men mange af de danske bloggere, jeg har fundet på min vej, blogger ikke særlig regelmæssigt. (Jeg er rigtig glad for de danske blogvenner, jeg har, men mine udenlandske gæster udgør altså 75-80 %)

Den anden dag fandt jeg imidlertid “BOGKLUBBEN MENER”, en dansk blog med fire kvindelige medlemmer, og de har endda en læseudfordring at byde på.

Jeg har straks meldt mig til “Bogudfordringen 2011” – ikke ligefrem fordi jeg manglede udfordringer eller inspiration til at læse mere, men fordi jeg gerne vil deltage i og bidrage til det danske bogblogmiljø. På opfordring af klubben har jeg lavet en ny underside (kig oppe i venstre hjørne af bloggen), hvor jeg og alle andre kan følge med i, hvordan det går. Det er ikke sikkert, jeg kan klare alle opgaverne indenfor krimigenren, men det skal i hvert fald afprøves. 

Og så vil jeg ønske alle mine danske læsere et rigtig godt nytår!

A Danish Challenge

After two years´ blogging I must admit I have turned more and more English. I never planned this, but many of the Danish bloggers I have come across don´t blog very often so 75-80 pct of my guests are foreigners.

The other day I found an interesting Danish blog, however, run by four women, and they even have a reading challenge. I enlisted immediately, and I have made a new page where everybody can follow my progress (if you can read Danish).

Christmas Quiet

And finally - I wish you all a very happy New Year!

torsdag den 30. december 2010

Tim Comstock, Reunion in Carmel (2010)

This thriller is the American writer´s debut.

On the first page, we meet a decapitated body and the anonymous killer during a violent storm:

“Another maimed form lay on the wet sand, its topmost part shorn away by the flawless blade of a machete. Its wielder dropped the weapon to the ground, grabbed the ankles of the headless body, and dragged the dead weight to the edge of the swamp.”

The protagonist is Will Kempton who has been the local police chief for three relative quiet years. But then his daughter finds the head of the above-mentioned body on the beach, and next the killer leaves another head in the shower of one of Will´s colleagues. Clearly, a vicious killer has found his way to Carmel, someone who directs his crimes towards the Police Department, or perhaps just the police chief. 

As things turn into a very personal battle between Kempton and the killer, he has to find sides to himself he thought he had left behind in New Jersey. In between, we also get short sections seen from the murderer´s point of view so we can see when he begins to make mistakes and take risks.

The novel conveys a fine sense of place, Carmel in California in the 1990s, and the protagonist is rather likeable and human. Will Kempton has been alone with his two children after his wife´s death, and he has learnt how much family and loyal friends mean to him so when they are threatened, he is ready to risk his own life for those he loves.

On the whole this is an exciting debut, but now and then the writer has a tendency to tell the reader too much. The story contains some gore and violence, but the writer does not dwell on it in detail. In my opinion, the final duel or chase between Kempton and the murderer is a bit long-winded, however, and I think there are some aspects of this thriller which will appeal to more men than women.

The book was sent to me from the publisher.

onsdag den 29. december 2010

And a fourth challenge: Ireland Reading Challenge 2011

No, I can´t resist this one. Besides, I have five Irish novels on my TBR. Five books I´ve been looking forward to for weeks or months. And do you think I can resist Jane Casey´s The Burning for long? (Neither do I). 

So "Kiss the Blarney Stone" it will be (reading six novels). The challenge is hosted by Books and Movies. Thank you for hosting this one, Carrie.

My preliminary plan:

Adrian McKinty, Dead I Well May Be (2003)
Declan Burke, The Big O (2007)
Tana French, The Likeness (2008)
Brian McGilloway, Gallows Lane (2008)
Colin Bateman, Mystery Man (2009)
Jane Casey, The Burning (2010)

Have you read any of these books/authors? Any favourites among them?

tirsdag den 28. december 2010

Charlotte MacLeod, The Recycled Citizen (1987)

This Canadian cosy mystery is the seventh Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn mystery.

When you have read the very first lines, the scene is set:

´Coffee, Theonia?´
Mrs Adolphus Kelling was a strong woman for her age and size. She managed to lift Dolph´s great-aunt Matilda´s baroque silver pot without a quiver, and pour without a splash.
´Thank you, Mary dear.´Mrs Brooks Kelling stretched a graceful hand from the chaise-longue on which she was reclining like Madame Récamier to accept the ornate gold and green demitasse.

We are in Boston, among the blue-blooded Kelling family. Mary and Adolphus Kelling run the Senior Citizens´ Recycling Center, trying to improve the conditions of the poor and homeless by letting them salvage bottles and cans.

Unfortunately Chet Arthur, one of the regulars of the centre, is mugged and killed. Among his earthly possessions, the Kellings find traces of heroin. The family have their own private detective, however, so Max Bittersohn and his pregnant wife Sarah (formerly Kelling), set out to solve the case before it can endanger the reputation of the recycling centre.

The characters are appealing, and though the story was written in 1987, it has this typical cosy fiftyish feel so you are quite surprised when you hear that Sarah actually owns a microwave and that Max´ wardrobe includes a pair of jeans.

The story is a quick and entertaining read though I am not sure anyone would distribute heroin the way it is done in this book. I bought it myself and recommend it for lovers of traditional cosy mysteries.

mandag den 27. december 2010

Status 2010


I have had a feeling that since I began blogging, I have also expanded my horizon quite a bit so like several fellow bloggers, I will publish my own list of the new authors I read in 2010. In 2009 34 of my 117 reviews were written by authors who were new to me. This year, I have read 59 new authors of 103 books. And I have even managed to create a graph which should show you the difference at a glance.

So this is what blogging does to you – thank you to all you bloggers out there who have inspired me to venture out of my comfort zone! The stars are the most memorable reading experiences.

Agnete Friis (with Lene Kaaberbøl) *
Aline Templeton
Brian Kavanagh
Brian McGilloway
Camilla Ceder
Camilla Grebe (with Åsa Träff)
Charlotte MacLeod
Colin Cotterill
Denise Mina *
Donis Casey
Ellis Peters
Elly Griffiths *
Erin Kelly
Gianrico Carofiglio
H.C. Bailey
Jackie Fullerton
James Thompson
Jan Costin Wagner
Jane Casey *
Joanne Harris
Julie Hastrup
Jógvan Isaksen
Karen Campbell
Karin Slaughter
Knut Faldbakken
Lars Kepler
Laura Lippman *
Laura Wilson
Leah Giarratano
Leighton Gage
Linda Castillo
Liz Rigbey *
Louise Doughty
Lynda S. Robinson
M.C. Beaton
Malcolm Pryce
Malla Nunn
Mario Vargas Llosa
Matt Rees
Megan Abbott *
Paul Cleave
Pia Juul
Pierre Magnan
Raymond Khoury
Rebecca Tope
Ruth Dugdall
Ruth Newman
Sanne Udsen
Sarah Andrews
Scott Nicholson
Simon Beckett *
Simone van der Vlugt
Stuart Pawson
Thomas H. Cook
Vicki Delany
Viveca Steen
W.J. Burley
Yaba Badoe

Whom of these have you read? 
Who are your favourites?

fredag den 24. december 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my readers! 

I hope you are all going to have a wonderful holiday no matter how and when you celebrate it. 

For us, Christmas begins this afternoon in church, and afterwards we will have dinner, sing hymns aplenty and open our presents.

For the next three-four days I  expect my family will keep me far too busy to blog and visit you, but if the weather is too bad to visit family, I may be back sooner.

torsdag den 23. december 2010

Christmas Toffee - the Ending

Rhapsody didn´t really have time to solve a murder mystery in between all the Christmas preparations in the large vicarage so she tried her best to leave it to Archie and his colleagues. She was very pleased, though, when he came to ask for her help the next morning.

“I have something I´d like you to take a look at. Forensics have been and gone so you can come in and tell me what you think about her books.” Primrose knew when it was best to call in an expert, and Rhapsody worked as a part-time librarian.

Rhapsody followed him and took her time to study the sagging shelves thoroughly. As she had guessed yesterday they were all romances. Not really Rhapsody´s taste – at least not if anyone asked her.

“But this is crazy! No one does that … unless?” She chose one of the pink paperback backs and pulled at it until she succeeded in wringing it off the shelf. She checked the back flap and when she found a picture of an old, white-haired woman she let out a low whistle. “So she was actually… Darling, our Miss Toffee Brown was really the famous writer Barbara Cartwheel.”

Primrose nodded. “I thought so but I wanted to hear what you said before I ran out and told my superior. This is awful. When the press find out…” He tore at a tuft of his short hair.

“But then we´ll just have to solve the case before they do!” Rhapsody lifted her chin and looked around her, ready to strike down on any clue the police force had not found yet. All she saw was Barbara Cartwheel paperbacks from floor to ceiling. Thousands of them, mostly in garish colours, and many of them were not even in English.

How sad. So Toffee Brown had really come here to get away from the limelight. And now she was dead.

“The neighbours are getting really curious,” Primrose complained. “They march up and down the street all day as if they have all sorts of errands. It´s just a question of time before one of them will call the local rag.”

Rhapsody looked out of Toffee, or rather, Ms Cartwheel´s windows. Agatha Mistletoe was struggling to push Jim Partridge´s wheelchair over a kerbstone. “I´d better offer to help her. Perhaps I can divert their attention a bit.”

“Hello, Mr Partridge and Miss Mistletoe,” she began while she took charge of one of the handles of the chair. “But where is your sweet cat? I have hardly ever seen you without Kitty.”

“We´ve had to keep her indoors since yesterday,” Agatha Mistletoe snapped. “With that ferocious dog at large poor Kitty has been frightfully upset.”

“Eh, you mean Tweedledee?” Rhapsody didn´t know what to say as her goal had been to keep their minds off the murder of Ms Cartwheel.

“Awful brute,” Jim Partridge grumbled, and Rhapsody had a feeling he didn´t refer to the dog only. She stared at a black leather shoe that stuck out underneath the warm coverlet which covered Partridge´s useless legs.

“Pardon me, but I just remembered something.” She ran back to the cottage and grabbed Primrose´s uniform sleeve. “I´m sure I have found your murderer. You must come with me immediately!”

They caught up with the wheelchair right in front of Partridge´s door.

“Look at those shoes,” Rhapsody exclaimed. “See those salt stains on the leather.”

For a moment, Partridge seemed to forget that he could not see. Swiftly, he adjusted the coverlet so the stained leather was invisible.

“Get down!” Rhapsody wailed.

Agatha Mistletoe raised a heavy frying pan and let it crash down where Primrose´s head had been a split second earlier. The pan continued its trajectory and hit Partridge´s right shoulder. He jumped out of the chair, bellowing like a wounded bear.

“Oh, no. Poor James.” Miss Mistletoe broke down, weeping inconsolably. “I knew it would go wrong.”

“And now you´d better explain what this is all about.” Primrose had not quite forgotten that the nurse had tried to bash his head in as he pushed them both ahead of him into Partridge´s house.

Jim Partridge had turned so white that Rhapsody feared he would faint. His right arm hung down, and she suspected it was broken.

“If you´ll call a doctor, I promise I´ll tell you everything.” He sank down on a sofa, wincing when his arm touched the seat.

“You see, I am here incognito. My real name is James Prattlesome. The thriller writer?” He was vain enough to check that they had recognized his name before he went on. “Somehow, the daft goose in there must have been able to hear us through the wall.” 

“James, no, don´t tell them…” Agatha Mistletoe whispered.

“It´s too late now, Agatha.” He smiled bravely. “The other night at Sir Bellini´s party she as good as told everybody who I was. I sort of lost it and went over there and killed her before she could tell the press that it was my dear, old nanny, Agatha, who wrote all my bestsellers. Nanny has a wonderful imagination. She began by making up the most horrid nursery rhymes for me, and later her stories sort of developed into those scary novels all my fans love so much.”

“Oh, James. And now the whole world will know that I have switched from my cosy puzzles to those gory thrillers.”

Merry Christmas

onsdag den 22. december 2010

Christmas Toffee (part 4)

See part 3.

Rhapsody poured herself a generous glass of cold water in the kitchen. She had come home from the party rather late, and after all that eggnog she felt slightly out of sorts.

What was that? Miss Brown´s little Pekinese darted up and down the pavement outside her semi, yapping furiously. And Miss Brown´s front door stood wide open. Something must be wrong.

“Psally. Psally, where are you?” Rhapsody showed her sister the open door and the agitated dog.

“Something must be wrong,” Psalmonella declared while she put on her coat. “Perhaps Miss Brown is ill. All that eggnog.”

They crossed the street and ran towards the new development of ugly, semidetached houses. Tweedledee bared his teeth and tried to look thrice his size, but in a no-nonsense movement Psalmonella grabbed his collar and told him to sit.

Rhapsody threw one glance into the living room and stepped back. “This is a case for the police,” she informed her sister. “I´ll call Archie immediately.”

Constable Archibald Primrose was Rhapsody´s fiancé. He arrived on his bicycle a few minutes later, all ready to cordon off Miss Brown´s house and garden with his yellow tape.

Someone had killed the old woman in the most horrible fashion and left the axe behind. Rhapsody and Psalmonella told Primrose what they knew while he was waiting for reinforcement.

Back in the kitchen Rhapsody put the kettle on. “Do you remember she claimed she was a famous writer?”

“Of course I do. Poor woman.”

“Her house was full of paperbacks. Hundreds, or probably thousands of romances.”

“Surely you don´t believe it´s true?” Psalmonella wasn´t inclined to fantasize and made short thrift with anyone who did.

“No, of course not, but… Well, if she was just a harmless, old pensioner, why should anyone kill her?”

Constable Primrose dropped in as soon as possible to tell them what he had learned so far and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. “Weird case. Nothing stolen. It´s not as if she had much to steal, of course, but she had a nice wrist watch and some pearls that look expensive enough.”

“So the motive seems to have been personal?” Rhapsody tried.

“Personal, or perhaps even worse.”

“Worse? What could be worse?”

“A mass…” Primrose glanced at Psalmonella and shook his head. “No, is far too early to say yet. But he left something. Or we think he did.”

“What? Please tell me!” Rhapsody urged.

“A postcard. It only says ´Santa was here´ on it, and it hasn´t been delivered by the postman because there is no address or stamp on it.”

“A Christmas card.” Rhapsody couldn´t help feeling disappointed. Anyone could have put a Christmas card through Toffee Brown´s letterbox, and though the police had no clue, she might have known who ´Santa´ was.

“No, not really. It´s not a Christmassy motive but an ordinary postcard from Stockholm.” He took a gulp of his coffee. “It reminds me of something I have read in a novel recently, but I can´t for the life of me remember which one.”

(If you, dear reader, have an idea what Primrose might have read, don´t hesitate to spill the beans – before I publish the ending tomorrow).

tirsdag den 21. december 2010

Christmas Toffee (part 3)

See part 2

Toffee´s big chance came when she received an invitation to Sir Bellini´s pre-Christmas Party.

She had been itching to meet the world-famous violinist, Knavesborough´s only celebrity. Apart from herself, that was. She donned her best silk frock, pink with embroidered silver flowers, and a gorgeous hat with ostrich feathers that hid most of her hair. She was not quite certain the new hairdo had been such a good idea after all.

She had not expected quite so large a turnout at Netherdale Manor, and when it began to dawn upon her that all and sundry had received an invitation, she ground her teeth. Drinking eggnog with the hoi polloi of Yorkshire when she could have…

“In the pink, Miss Brown?” The officious nurse intercepted her arm just as she was about to approach her host.

“Now that I have you here, I have been meaning to ask you how a blind man can buy and sell antiques?” Toffee had wanted to know, but she had certainly not meant to ask such a rude question so where did those words come from? She squinted at the cup in her hand, wondering what they put in that tacky brew up here.

Miss Mistletoe laughed gaily. “Jim Partridge has a seventh sense, you might say. Just follow his nose and it will lead you to the good stuff.”

A Goth butler picked up her empty cup and put a new one between her fingers. “Exquisite hair, granny. Who´s your hairstylist if I may ask?”

Toffee was on the brink of tears, but she was on a mission. She had come to speak to Sir Bellini. She looked around her for some place to put down her cup, but all she saw was other people´s elbows. Well, down it would have to go. She drained it surreptitiously and let the cup slide down into someone´s very large tweed pocket.

With a determined hiccup, she squeezed through the throng and swooped down on her tanned host. “What a pleasure to have you on my own,” she flashed, conveniently ignoring two-three hundred villagers.

“Why, nice to meet you, Miss Brown. I hope you´re enjoying yourself. A Christmas cracker?” He handed her one end of a glossy twist of paper, and she had no options but pull at it though the bang always made her heart flutter.

“Hahahahaha,” Toffee laughed shrilly, sensing that this might be her one and only chance. She ignored the paper hat but rolled out the small strip of paper and cried out, “Someone in our midst is a famous writer!”

She heard a gasp behind her. “But how could you…?”

Sir Bellini had already switched his attention to those supercilious vicar´s daughters, and when Toffee turned around to see who was behind her, she stumbled over the wheelchair. She caught hold of the armrest and found herself eye to eye with the blind antique dealer.

Jim Partridge clenched his fists and drawled, “So you´re having a bit of fun, are you, Miss Brown?”

“Sorry to interrupt you two turtledoves, but it´s high time to get home and feed the cat, Jim.” Agatha Mistletoe released the brake of the chair and tore it away so swiftly that Toffee landed very inelegantly on her silken bum. Argh.

To be continued tomorrow.

mandag den 20. december 2010

Christmas Toffee (part 2)

Vicarage knick-knack

A few days later Rhapsody and Psalmonella Gershwin, the vicar´s daughters, came across the newcomer while shopping in the local grocery.

“Isn´t that Miss Brown?” Psalmonella nudged her sister.

“No, it can´t… Dear me, I´m afraid you´re right. Do you think she was caught up in a duel between a couple of graffiti painters?” Rhapsody bit her lip to keep herself from laughing out loud. Her first impression of Toffee Brown had been a non-descript granny who suited her name admirably. 

Unfortunately, Miss Brown ambushed them with her trolley before Rhapsody could gain control of the wicked grin on her face. Deftly, she bent down to pat the chubby little dog before she had to look at its owner. Toffee´s fluffy, white curls had been coloured pink and green like a peppermint cane.

“Hello, Tweedledee. Good dog.”

Psalmonella was the better actress. “How nice to meet you, Miss Brown. I hope you are settling down in Knavesborough?”

“Oh, well, it´s a bit quiet up here, isn´t it? When one is used to the bright city lights…” Toffee Brown muttered.

“So you lived in a city before you came here?”

“I did indeed. In the limelight, you might say.” She leaned forward, whispering theatrically.

“In the limelight, even. Then I do understand that we must seem a bit trivial for your taste,” Rhapsody smiled.

“You see; Toffee Brown is not my real name. It´s a pseudonym.” Toffee stepped so close to the sisters that they could inhale her latest cup of coffee and screwed up her blue eyes. Nice eyes, actually, if she hadn´t stuck so much goo around them.

Rhapsody took pity on her. “A pseudonym. But why, Miss Brown?”

“I write novels! Romances! World-famous bestsellers. But I came here because I needed a rest. “

“I see. I am sure you have come to the right place, then. Plenty of rest and fresh air and all.” Psalmonella patted her shoulder and stretched out a hand to put a few tins of baked beans into her trolley.

Behind them, the bestseller writer kicked a sack of dog food viciously.

To be continued tomorrow. 

søndag den 19. december 2010

Christmas Toffee (part 1)

Two weeks ago I promised you a Christmas story. Now the first part is ready, and if I want to finish it before you are sweating over your turkeys, I´d better bring it immediately. When and where will it end? - no one knows, least of all me. 


When Toffee Brown moved to Knavesborough, no one noticed her the first few weeks. She could just as well have been a ghost. Perhaps she was? No, surely she would have noticed. She tried to poke a finger through her own body and wailed loudly. These country bumpkins just chose to ignore her! How inconsiderate!

She, however, noticed her neighbour in the adjacent house. The blind man in the wheelchair with the afghan coverlet and the blue-eyed cat constantly on his lap. She especially noticed that each time they passed each other on the pavement, the cat ignored her, but the man seemed to be following her with his eyes, but of course that was impossible. Toffee, you are losing it, she whispered to herself.

Every day she made up her face as carefully as always, she did her white hair and put on her tailored, pink coat before she went out to walk Tweedledee, her snow white Pekinese. But invariably, her new neighbours would pay more attention to Tweedle than to herself. Especially the cat which glared as if it wanted to pounce on her poor little doggie. And she had a creepy feeling that its blind owner was laughing at her.

Whenever she passed a shop window, she checked her elegant figure among the glittering Christmas decorations and made sure her beret sat at just the right angle. Nothing wrong with her, as far as she could see.

“Trimming our feathers, are we?”

Toffee jumped, sure she was going to have a heart attack.

“Didn´t mean to scare you, Ms Brown. I am Agatha Mistletoe, your new neighbour.  Jim Partridge´s nurse.” Miss Mistletoe´s creased face cracked up in a broad smile much like the vigilant cat´s.

“Oh, the gentleman in the wheelchair?” Toffee was not sure he was what she´d consider a real gentleman, but she never forgot her manners.

“Sure.” Miss Mistletoe barked. “Mr Partridge is our local antique dealer. Old knick-knacks are his speciality.” She tilted her head and sized Toffee up.

“Have a good day, Miss Thistlemoe.” Toffee spun around and dragged Tweedledee back so fast his short legs hardly touched the pavement, wishing she had never heard about Knavesborough.

lørdag den 18. december 2010

Total Eclipse (part two)

See the first part of this review

I enjoyed Liz Rigbey´s debut very much, and though I´ll give the surprising ending a tiny minus because it could have been more credible, I recommend it strongly.

Apart from the observatory setting, I was fascinated by a broad range of brilliant characters.
First there is Lomax himself , the quiet, almost gentle astronomer: "Lomax watched the girl without seeing her. He was thinking about his galaxy."

Lomax is a divorced father of two children. Despite his new love, gorgeous Julia, he misses his family and envies his successor, Robert, but on the whole Lomax receives a warm welcome in his wife´s perfect life in his role as ´the third child´. Lomax is thorough and systematic when it comes to his job as an astronomer, but his house and car are beyond description. Besides, he is invariably late for his appointments. Most women around him seem to find his flaws endearing, however (perhaps also this reader).
Another intriguing ´character´ is Lomax´ old dog, Deputy Dawg, a lazy creature which chases bitches and sucks up to all the wrong people in the most despicable way. But he is certainly an asset whenever his owner needs to chat up a woman. 

"Deputy knew all about dates. He had a reputation for womanizing in the foothills. A number of puppies in this immediate area, and perhaps throughout most of Northern California, were his and now those puppies were growing up. Deputy had even been seen displaying an unhealthy interest in his own daughters." 
Other interesting allies are Kim, Lomax´ overweight fellow astronomer and Allison, often called “the Nose” because of her extremely keen sense of smelling. Lomax lets her lose on the scene of crime, but first she convinces him of her talents:
“You showered maybe two hours ago. You were at some kind of party last night where people were smoking and drinking. Now, you´re not wearing deodorant. If you were, I could probably tell you which one, or at least who makes it.”
When I had read this recommendation by Maxine, I knew I´d have to buy and read Total Eclipse!

fredag den 17. december 2010

Liz Rigbey, Total Eclipse (1995)

This crime novel is a debut. Liz (Elizabeth) Rigbey grew up in America but lives in Britain today.

The astronomer Lomax sees the new assistant, the pretty and fragile Julia Fox, and is infatuated by her immediately. She applied for the job because she lost her husband and stepdaughter recently, and when Lomax learns they were killed and that the police suspect Julia, he is so certain of her innocence that he forces her lawyers to let him help them clearing her name.

The observatory near San Francisco is an interesting setting, an alternative world which in some ways reminds me of Sarah Waters´ “In Cold Pursuit” where the Antarctic McMurdo Station plays such a crucial role. The focus is on the staff and the relationships between them, however, rather than on astronomy.

“When morning came some of the astronomers went to bed but most of them waited. They habitually spent long days waiting for night but today´s waiting was different. People played solitary card games or read or wrote letters, but they looked up frequently. Even those who dozed kept opening their eyes and rearranging their feet on the worn lounge chairs of the staff residence.”

Lomax seems like an unlikely investigator, but perhaps his ability to observe may be useful. When he begins to scrutinize Julia´s husband and stepdaughter, he does indeed notice things the police and her attorney did not. Soon he begins to suspect that Lewis Fox who liked his women young may have had a sexual relationship with his daughter Gail.

To be continued tomorrow as there is so much to say about these five hundred pages.

torsdag den 16. december 2010

Thy´s Day # 36

More Christmas in the vicarage for you.

onsdag den 15. december 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 83

If you have read this one, you´ll have had plenty of time to forget it - but perhaps this quotation will jog your memory?

"It was spring when Julia arrived at the observatory. Conditions were perfect. Night skies were clear, the moon slender and as evening fell the swelling air thinned to a wintry clarity. Viewing, however, had been halted. There was a technical fault on the main telescope, or perhaps even in the computer itself."

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 14. december 2010

November´s Haul

Just practising uploading pictures on my new macbook. And now that I have succeeded, I should perhaps tell you that these eleven books are my November haul. 
4244 intriguing pages,  and thanks to two sales that overlapped, I got these mountains for 125 kroner 
($ 22 or 14.5 ..... oh dear, I can´t even find that pound sign - Mac, where did you put it?) 

Picture 1: 
Liz Rigbey, Summer Time
Kathy Reichs, Déja Dead + Death du Jour
Phil Rickman, The Man in the Mosse + Crybbe
Philip Margolin, The Associate + The Last Innocent Man

Picture 2: 
Rebecca Tope, A Cotswold Killing
Deborah Crombie, Leave the Grass Green
Charlotte MacLeod, The Recycled Citizen
Colin Bateman, Mystery Man
Simon Brett, The Stabbing in the Stables
Catherine Sampson, Out of Mind
Adrian McKinty, Dead I Well May Be 

Apart from Rebecca Tope, all these writers are new to me. Have you read any of the writers/books? 
What did you think about them?

NB: I did find the mislaid £ this morning.

mandag den 13. december 2010

Karen Campbell, The Twilight Time (2008)

This Scottish crime novel is the writer´s debut.

The story begins on Sergeant Anna Cameron´s first day for the new Flexi Unit in Glasgow. Though she is the leader of the unit, she has to set out by proving her worth to her superior as well as to her colleagues as they all see her as a paper pusher who just got the job by sleeping with the powers that be.

As if that wasn´t enough, Anna runs into Jamie Worth, her old lover, who has a baby and a exhausted wife. As could be expected, Jamie and Anna are playing with fire, and though Anna is a dedicated and competent detective, her ability to handle colleagues , their wives and her superiors, could have been far better.

The plot is a bit complicated and I don´t want to reveal too much so let me just say that it begins with the death of a charming, old Jew, perhaps during a botched burglary, and continues with a vicious guy who attacks prostitutes, cutting his calling card in their cheeks.

I don´t know why Scottish writers are so brilliant at setting the scene, but just like Denise Mina, Campbell makes you feel you are right there among the hoors and hens of Glasgow (wishing you weren´t such a chicken because down among those women it´s all about survival and who kicks first). Fortunately there is also a streak of fine, dark humour.

Anna Cameron is an interesting protagonist, far too stubborn and impulsive for her own good, but a very credible character with lots of pluck and human flaws. I am not quite so sure I like handsome Jamie Worth, however. 

Lucky for me that I have followed Donna´s blog for a long time before trying to read the Glaswegian dialogue. It certainly helped. This signed book was a gift from a blog friend. Thanks, Tim – I finally got round to it, and I enjoyed it thoroughly!

lørdag den 11. december 2010

That Queer Queery

Do you want to hear a secret? 
I really, really hate writing letters to sell my fiction. No, you would never have guessed that. But I am working at my ´query letter´, trying to find an agent to represent my book (couldn´t they have called it something that made me feel less queer?)

Please be honest: would this introduction make you curious? Would you want to read on? Suggestions are welcome.
When the prodigal son of Knavesborough, Mark Baldwin, also called Sir Marco Bellini, returns to the sleepy village after forty years in Argentina, fully equipped with fame, fortune and an oddball butler, crimes begin to happen. First Rose, the unpleasant nosey parker, is stabbed to death in front of twenty people, and soon...
And if you have a literary agent up your sleeve who needs a cosy caper, just send him/her my way .... please!

fredag den 10. december 2010

Edgar Allan Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher, 1839

I have never read this famous old story before, but as I like other Poe stories, e.g. The Tell-tale Heart, I tried to download a free version to my Kindle.

The story is not crime, but a gothic mystery. It begins when Roderick Usher, the owner of the mysterious house, implores the narrator, an old friend, to visit him. Here is what he thinks on his return:

“I know not how it was – but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit.”

The house seems to be doomed as the Usher line is always on the verge of dying out, and Usher´s desperation seems to be brought about by the serious illness of his sister, lady Madeline. The narrator is no less shocked when he sees his old friend: “Surely, man had never before so terribly altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick Usher!”

There are some similarities with The Tell-tale Heart as Poe relies hevily on atmosphere and sinister characters. The Fall of The House of Usher did not capture my interest the same way as The Black Cat, a brilliant psychological mystery, however.

(A short post; I know - but I just got my brandnew MacBook yesterday - we are still struggling to get to know each other)

torsdag den 9. december 2010

onsdag den 8. december 2010

Laura Lippman, The Girl in the Green Raincoat (2011)

This American novella is a NetGalley review, published by HarperCollins. It is the eleventh Tess Monaghan mystery, and it will be for sale by January 2011.

“I´m being held hostage,” Tess Monaghan whispered into her iPhone. “By a terrorist.”

So begins this fantastic story, and though the private investigator Tess is heavily pregnant and the terrorist is ´just´ her unborn daughter, the plot grabbed me from the very first page.

Because of high blood pressure Tess is confined to her new sun porch from where she watches life pass her by. For several days she sees the smart woman in the green raincoat pass by, walking her little greyhound with the green coat and leash. But suddenly the dog runs by, all alone, with the leash trailing after it.

Tess is intrigued, and when she traces the owners of the dog, Don Epstein explains that his wife is away on a business trip. But why didn´t she report her leaky companion missing? Furthermore, it seems that Epstein has a tendency to lose his wives so when Tess decides to get to the bottom of the mystery, she is forced to find some allies who can be her legs. She enrolls her close friend Whitney, her partner Crow, and her fascinating employee, Mrs Blossom; “The woman who stood on the front steps of Don Epstein´s house looked ridiculous. She should. She worked hard enough at it.”

Apart from a nice sense of place and a well wrought plot, I found several of the characters irresistible. Especially Tess, Mrs Blossom and the uncontrollable dog. Did I remember to mention the great touch of humour? In short, I enjoyed every bit of this book, and I must read some more Tess Monaghan stories!

tirsdag den 7. december 2010

Two-Sentence Tuesday

One of my blog friends reminded me that I have not really told you what I am working on right now. I got stuck in my English cosy mystery, and one night a new, Danish plot just materialized.

Tora borrows her old aunt´s cottage by the sea to write a novel. In a thunder storm the small stable burns down and when Tora takes a closer look at the site of the fire, she realizes there is a small cellar under the building.

Two sentences from the first chapter of The Stone for the Grave:

“The bones were so long that it couldn´t be a cat which had crept down there to die in peace. She moved the candle a bit and almost fell through the opening when the flame was mirrored in a round scull.” 

[See the first sentences here]

Two-Sentence Tuesday is hosted by Women of Mystery.

mandag den 6. december 2010

Did not finish...

Once again, I have put down a book (or erased it, as it happens) without finishing it. I asked for an ARC of a book that sounded very promising, and I still think there was a lot of possibilities in the plot and the historical setting.

But I struggled for three days, and in the beginning I assumed I was just too tired to concentrate. Well, last night I figured out what it was that annoyed me. There was far too little police work. The inspector focused on one suspect almost from the beginning, and as far as I could see, his ´evidence´ was mainly hearsay and intution.

As I only read one third of the book, I have no idea whether the inspector was right or not, but that is just not the point. The story took place before these dna times, but even dear old Sherlock Holmes would have looked for footprints, witnesses and other kinds of solid evidence.

What makes you give up on a book? 
Are you willing to give it a chance later, e.g. if you see glowing reviews of it?
(I sometimes pick up a book again, but as I happened to remove this one completely from my Kindle, I´d better not regret my first judgement).

søndag den 5. december 2010

2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

I have joined a third challenge for 2011, but now I have promised myself I won´t join any more until I can see that I am in charge of the challenge, not the other way round.

The Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge is hosted by Bev, My Reader´s Block.

The main rule: All books must have been written before 1960 and be from the mystery category.

Fortunately, there are many levels, and I chose the easiest, In a Murderous Mood: 4-6 books.

I am sure I will be able to finish this by reading some of the free classics I have downloaded from Amazon.Com and ManyBooks.Net (an excellent source for free classics).

Thank you, Bev, for coming up with this new challenge.

lørdag den 4. december 2010

Christmas Toffee

Anyone who cares for a Christmas story?

I thought about starting out like this:

When Toffee Brown moved to Knavesborough, no one noticed her the first few weeks.

But what else should I put in it? Could you please help me?

(A warning for new readers: no matter how far out your ideas are, I´ll do my best to include them).

fredag den 3. december 2010

Aline Templeton, Cold in the Earth (2005)

This Scottish crime novel is the first in the series about DI Margery Fleming.

After several years in New York, Laura Sonfeldt has just made up her mind to move back to Britain. Her marriage failed, and her mother has suffered from a mild heart attack so this seems like a good time. Sadly, her mother dies before Laura can tell her about her decision. Instead, Laura tries to get in touch with her older sister Diana who disappeared many years earlier after an argument with her parents.

Laura´s quest leads her to Galloway in Scotland where Diana worked for the weird Mason family for a few months. Diana was an adventurous girl who got to know the family via her interest in bullfighting, and she was very interested in their temperamental, black bulls.

In Galloway, DI Margery Fleming has quite a lot to contend with. Scotland is harrowed by the dreaded foot and mouth disease, and her husband Bill is a sheep farmer. So when the police find an old body on the Mason family´s farm, she is torn between her wish to show her father what a female police officer can do and her need to be there for her husband. Margery Fleming is a promising protagonist, nicely human and down-to-earth, and certainly a character I´d like to meet again.

On the whole, I liked the story, the characters and the setting, but there was one aspect of the ending I found a bit silly. (No spoilers; you will have to read the book yourself to find out if you agree or not).

As far as I remember, I bought the English paperback myself.

Aline Templeton, I den kolde jord (2007).
Denne skotske krimi er den første i serien om kriminalkommissær Margery Fleming.

Efter en årrække i New York har Laura Sonfeldt besluttet sig for at vende hjem til Storbritannien. Hendes ægteskab er for længst slut, og hendes mor har lige været igennem et mildt hjerteanfald. Desværre dør moderen, før Laura kan nå at fortælle hende om sin beslutning. I stedet forsøger Laura at få kontakt med sin ældre søster Diana, som forsvandt mange år tidligere efter et skænderi med forældrene.

Lauras søgen fører hende til Galloway i Skotland, hvor Diana arbejdede for den besynderlige Mason-familie nogle måneder. Diana var en eventyrlysten pige, som lærte familien at kende via sin interesse for tyrefægtning, og hun var stærkt optaget af deres ondskabsfulde, sorte tyre.

I Galloway har kriminalkommissær Margery Fleming hænderne fulde. Skotland hærges af den forfærdelige mund-og-klovsyge, og hendes mand Bill er fåreavler. Så da politiet finder et gammelt lig på Mason-familiens jord, føler hun sig splittet mellem sit ønske om at vise sin far, hvad en kvindelig overordnet kan udrette, og sit ønske om at støtte sin mand. Margery Fleming er en lovende hovedperson, menneskelig og jordbunden, og helt sikkert en person, jeg gerne vil læse mere om.

I det store og hele kunne jeg lide plottet, personerne og miljøet, men der var dele af slutningen, der var lidt for langt ude efter min mening. (Læs selv, hvis du vil finde ud af, om du er enig eller ej).

Så vidt jeg husker, har jeg købt den engelske udgave selv.

torsdag den 2. december 2010

Thy, a Taboo & a Challenge

 I don´t know if this picture is quite ´comme il faux´, but as you know, we have just been driven from our home for weeks, and perhaps some of you would like to see the pretty result?

(Well, Blogger couldn´t handle it and turned it upside down - sorry, Blogger, I am a Scandinavian - we have no restraint)

What´s in a Name Challenge 2011

A reading challenge I am looking forward to is “What´s in a Name 4”, hosted by ´Beth Fish´.
Here are the categories, and I hope I can tempt some of you to participate in this fun challenge.

1. A book with a number in the title                    C.J. Box, Three Weeks to Say Goodbye
2. A book with jewelry or a gem in the title      
3. A book with a size in the title                          Sophie Hannah, The Other Half Lives
4. A book with travel or movement in the title     Ian Rankin, Exit Music
5. A book with evil in the title                             Peter Temple, In the Evil Day
6. A book with a life stage in the title.                 Rosanne Dingli, Death in Malta (Kindle)

Number five should be quite easy for a crime enthusiast, and as you can see, I have books on my TBR which can help me through five categories, but perhaps you would like to help me by suggesting some good crime fiction titles for the second category?

onsdag den 1. december 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 82

This police procedural is not a debut, but the first in a series.

“Once the horror happened, the shock would wake her as usual and she would fling herself upright in bed, gasping and sobbing and soaked in sweat. Please God, make it soon! She was actively willing the final charge when it came.

It was only when one of the pointed silver horns, razor-sharp, pierced her through to the heart with exquisite agony that she understood this was no dream, for the brief moment before she fell into the sleep that knows no waking.”

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 30. november 2010

2011 Global Reading Challenge

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

mandag den 29. november 2010

Sarah Andrews, In Cold Pursuit (2007)

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

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

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

Small wonder so few good crime novels are set there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

søndag den 28. november 2010

2010 Global Reading Challenge - finished

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

Yaba Badoe, True Murder, Ghana

Malla Nunn, A Beautiful Place to Die, South Africa

Colin Cotterill, The Coroner´s Lunch, Laos

Matt B Rees, The Bethlehem Murders, Israel

Paul Cleave, Cemetery Lake, New Zealand

Peter Temple, Bad Debts, Australia


James Thompson, Snow Angels, Finland

Simone Van der Vlugt, Reunion, The Netherlands

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

Vicki Delaney, Valley of the Lost, Canada

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

Mario Vargos Llosa, Who Killed Palomino Molero, Peru

Raymond Khoury, The Sign

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

Advent Sunday

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

lørdag den 27. november 2010

Elizabeth Ferrars, Hanged Man´s House (1974)

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

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

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

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

fredag den 26. november 2010

Michael Connelly, 9 Dragons (2009)

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

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

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

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

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

torsdag den 25. november 2010

Thy´s Day # 34

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

A picture says more than thousand words 
- but it can also tell lies.

onsdag den 24. november 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 81

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

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

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

tirsdag den 23. november 2010

Two-Sentence Tuesday # 5

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

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

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

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

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

Two-Sentence Tuesday is hosted by Women of Mystery.


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

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

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

mandag den 22. november 2010

Else Fischer, Testamentet der dræbte (1958)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

søndag den 21. november 2010

Look what I got

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

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

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