søndag den 28. februar 2010

Me - a Writer?

When are you a writer?

I have written fiction now and then since I was seven. But I never finished any of my stories. Not until I ran into a period of burnout nine years ago. I realized that I had to be creative in some way, and for once I had plenty of time to be so. I was very determined to write, but as you can imagine, not very stable or critical.

I did write my first crime novel, though, and I even sent it off to a few publishing houses. Well, I learned what a standard rejection letter looks like, and after some time I understood that they were right.

Was I a writer? Perhaps, but certainly not a good one.

I planned and wrote my second crime novel around 2002. Krystalnætter (Crystal Nights) begins with a prehistory in 1938 and continues in the 1960s in the village where I grew up. I sent it off to several publishers, and this time most of them sent me kind or even encouraging rejections. The writing was good, and so was the environment, but the plot was not exciting enough.

Now I could see that I was developing into a better writer. (And though I may never be able to sell Crystal Nights, I am still proud of parts of that novel).

My third novel was written in the period 2004-2007 (latest version: 2009).I made two major mistakes: first I didn´t plan it properly (some writers don´t have to, but I know I do). Second, I tried to add some of the femikrimi features I saw in the Scandinavian crime novels I read all the time. I ended up with a weak and silly protagonist I didn´t even like myself. The plot was good, though, and I think it may be possible to make a proper story out of it one day.

In 2009 a Danish blogger wrote about a free, online writing course. I am sure all my regulars know all about this, but in brief, I learned quite a lot about writing techniques and getting to the point.

Was I a writer?

Well, technically I had learned a lot, and this was the time when I began letting people around me know I wanted to write. I began taking myself a bit more seriously, and I began translating my short writing exercises into English.

And in the autumn of 2009 my blog friends persuaded me that my English was so good that I should try to send some of my flash fiction stories off to online magazines.

I sent the first four off in October, and they were all rejected. Since then I have sent ten more off. So far: two rejections. AND ONE ACCEPTED!

Yesterday I found this message in my spam folder:

“We are pleased to tell you that we have decided to publish your story "Lollipop" in Every Day Fiction.”

Am I a writer?

Well, according to my own definition I suppose I am, and soon I will even be a published writer. No date yet, but that doesn´t really matter. Right now I feel quite happy as it is. The pay is $ 3, and as Every Day Fiction is a free, online magazine, I promise to let you all know when and where.

And thank you so much to each and every reader who has helped and encouraged me to keep on writing! Without you, I would never have tried to publish fiction in my second language!

Look here:

"We’ve got the usual great variety of styles and flavours for you this month, with fresh stories from names you’ll recognize, including Gay Degani and Kevin Shamel, along with a variety of new-to-EDF authors such as Christopher Floyd and Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen."

lørdag den 27. februar 2010

How Trustworthy Is Forensics Information From Fiction

Thank you very much to Brooklyn White for writing this fascinating guest post for my blog!

They hold us captive not just by the stories they tell or the crimes they portray, but also by the characters who solve these crimes and the way in which they go about it. Forensics is a field that’s gaining in popularity by the day thanks to television programs like CSI, Bones, Criminal Minds and others. People know much more about fingerprint analysis, DNA testing, blood spatters and other methods of criminal investigation that were relatively unknown because they were conducted behind closed doors and away from the public eye. But how accurate and trustworthy is the information shown on TV?

Well, if you were to go by reputable sources, not really all that accurate. For one, television shows and books gloss over the finer details; and with any amount of time being compressed into a few pages or a few minutes of screen time, it’s easy to assume that crime-solving is a piece of cake that can be achieved within a matter of an hour or so. But the truth is that the solving of a crime takes much longer than is shown on screen or portrayed in a book – so the first misconception about forensics from fiction is that it allows crimes to be solved very quickly.

Also, the lead characters in books, movies and television series are always able to establish without a doubt that a particular person is the criminal – the evidence points squarely to them and no one else. In real life however, it’s not always a cut and dry decision. So the second misconception about forensics from fiction is that it always allows the criminal to be identified without a doubt.

Real life trials are not as interesting or speedy as those shown on TV or described in books, but not many juries are aware of this nugget of information. So when they sit in on trials, they are not satisfied with the nature of the evidence presented because it is far less interesting, intriguing and concrete like that shown on forensic crime shows on television or described in books. This compromises their ability to deliver the right verdict. The third misconception about forensics from fiction is that the explanations are not always as simple as portrayed.

And finally, we come to the most important misconception of all – forensic science is not always accurate as portrayed by fiction. It may be hard to believe, but DNA can be fabricated, and if criminals are capable of this, they can always find ways to sabotage other evidence as well. So even though a forensic investigation may point to a certain person as the criminal, there is always an element of doubt.

This guest post is contributed by Brooklyn White, who writes on the topic of Forensic Science Technician Schools . She can be reached at brookwhite26-AT-Gmail.com.

Hvor pålidelige er retsmedicinske oplysninger i fiktion?
De fængsler os, ikke bare gennem de historier, de fortæller, eller de forbrydelser, de fremstiller, men også gennem de personer som løser forbrydelserne, og måden de gør det på. Retsmedicin er et felt som vinder frem dag for dag, takket være tv-programmer som CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), Bones, Criminal Minds med mere. Seerne ved meget mere om fingeraftryk, DNA-prøver, blodstænk og andre testmetoder, som tidligere var relativt ukendte, fordi de blev udført bag lukkede døre. Men hvor præcis og pålidelig er den viden, vi får via TV?

Tjah, ifølge pålidelige kilder er de ikke særlig præcise. Dels skøjter tv-programmer og bøger let hen over de finere detaljer, dels bliver længere tidsforløb presset sammen på få sider eller nogle få minutters skærmtid, så det er let at antage at en forbrydelse kan opklares på en times tid. Men sandheden er, at opklaringen varer meget længere, end det fremgår på skærmen eller af bogen. Så første misforståelse er, at ved hjælp af retsmedicin kan forbrydelserne opklares meget hurtigt.

Hovedpersonerne i bogen, filmen eller TV-serien er også meget hurtige til at afgøre, at en bestemt person er forbryderen – bevismaterialet peger entydigt mod denne person og ingen anden. I virkeligheden er det imidlertid ikke altid en fiks og færdig beslutning. Så den anden misforståelse om retsmedicin er, at forbryderen altid kan identificeres uden skygge af tvivl.

Virkelige retssager er ikke så interessante eller så hurtigt afgjorte som dem vi ser på TV eller i bøger, men det aner mange jury-medlemmer ikke. Så når de sidder med i retssalen, er de ikke tilfredse med det bevismateriale, de bliver præsenteret for, fordi det ikke er nær så spændende, fascinerende eller konkret, som det de ser i udsendelser om retsmedicin. Det påvirker deres evne til at nå frem til den rette kendelse. Den tredje misforståelse om retsmedicin er, at forklaringerne ikke altid er så enkle eller klare, som de bliver fremstillet.

Og til slut kommer vi til den største misforståelse af dem alle – retsmedicin er ikke altid så præcis, som den bliver fremstillet i fiktion. Det er måske svært at tro på, men DNA kan forfalskes, og hvis de kriminelle er i stand til det, kan de altid finde måder at sabotere andet bevismateriale på. Så selv om den retsmedicinske undersøgelse peger på en bestemt person, er der altid en rest af tvivl.

Dette gæsteindlæg er skrevet af Brooklyn White, som skriver om emnet retsmedicin på siden Forensic Science Technician Schools. Mail: brookwhite26 (at) Gmail.com

fredag den 26. februar 2010

Vicki Delany, Valley of the Lost (2009)

[Denne krimi er ikke oversat til dansk]

This Canadian police procedural is the second in the Constable Molly Smith series.

Lucky Smith hears a baby cry in the bushes outside the Trafalgar Women´s Support Centre. She follows the sound, and next to the angry baby she finds the dead body of his mother Ashley, one of the young clients of the centre.

Lucky calls for help, and the first constable who arrives is Molly Smith, Lucky´s own daughter. Molly, baptized Moonlight Legolas Smith by her hippie parents, is a competent policewoman, but in private she is unhappy and sleeps badly after the loss of her lover, Graham.

Molly and her superior, Sergeant John Winters, soon realize that it is surprisingly difficult to find information about Ashley and her past, and after the autopsy they are told that she has never given birth to a child. Who is little Miller then, and why has he not been reported missing?

Meanwhile Molly´s stubborn mother insists on taking care of the little baby at the cost of all her strength and most of her sleep. The social services are determined to put Miller in an approved foster home, however, though good homes do not exactly grow on trees.

A fine police procedural with a solid, exciting plot.

Thank you to Kerrie, Mysteries in Paradise, who sent this ARC on to me! See her review of Valley of the Lost.

Reviewed for the 2010 Global Reading Challenge, North America.

TOMORROW: a guest blogger writes about forensics.

torsdag den 25. februar 2010

Thy´s Day # 7

photo: Barbara Kalmus Larsen (a colleague)

beautiful, isn´t it?

onsdag den 24. februar 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 57

[This wonderful bait box was sent to me by Tim Duncan]

I fear that this fairly new, overseas crime novel may be unguessable for many of you, but I don´t have time to read an extra book this week so here we go. A little help: this writer is new to me.

“... a small yellow package, lying on the ground about ten yards inside the woods.

Lucky tried to focus; the bundle shifted, and cried out.

She pushed her way through the undergrowth, heedless of branches reaching for her face and scratching at her bare arms. She dropped to her knees, pushing a sharp stone into her flesh. She shifted to get off the rock, and shone her light into the folds of the yellow blanket. A scrunched-up white face blinked back at her, trying to shut out the sudden brightness. Tiny fists waved in the air.”

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.

tirsdag den 23. februar 2010

S for Sayers and Staun

This week the letter of Kerrie´s alphabet meme is S.

S is for the British writer Dorothy L Sayers, a Golden Age favourite of mine. She wrote fourteen Lord Peter Wimsey novels and I devoured them all (several times).

I wrote a tribute to Ms Sayers (and to my dear grandmother) around a year ago in this post.

And S is for Danish writer Susanne Staun, a modern favourite of mine. I reread and reviewed her fantastic debut in March last year, and I am really sorry that you can only get her novels in Danish and German. (She says her books do not translate well, and I believe her; her tone is unique and very, very ironic).

Her first three Fanny Fiske novels are five-star crime stories, and while the fourth is a bit weaker, I will still give it three stars, and four for the latest, Before I Die (she sent me a signed copy, and my, how proud I was!)

S for Sayers og Staun.

Ugens bogstav er S.

S for den britiske forfatter Dorothy L Sayers, en af mine guldalder-favoritter (1920erne og 1930erne). Hun skrev fjorten krimier med den seje Lord Peter Wimsey, og jeg har slugt dem alle sammen – mange gange.

Jeg skrev en hyldest til D.L. Sayers (og til min dejlige farmor) for et år siden.

Og S er for den danske krimiforfatter Susanne Staun, en af mine nutidige favoritter. Jeg genlæste og anmeldte hendes debut i marts sidste år.

Hendes tre første Fanny Fiske-bøger er femstjernede krimier (fængslende og uhyggelige, med masser af tjæresort humor), og selv om fireren er lidt svagere, vil jeg stadig give den tre stjerner, og fire stjerner til den seneste, Før jeg dør (forfatteren sendte mig en signeret udgave, og jeg var helt ellevild).

Fanny Fiske-serien:
Som arvesynden (1999)
Liebe/Mord som forløser (2000)
Mit smukke lig (2002)
Mine piger (2008)
Før jeg dør (2009)

mandag den 22. februar 2010

Lars Kepler, Hypnotisøren (2009)

Svensk krimidebut skrevet af ´Lars Kepler´, eller rettere ægteparret Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril og Alexander Ahndoril. På rekordtid er manuskriptet solgt til 29 lande.

Hypnotisøren, Erik Maria Bark, bliver vækket af telefonen midt om natten. Politiet i Stokholm ønsker hans hjælp til at afhøre en femtenårig dreng, som lige har overlevet et dobbeltdrab. Politiet frygter, at morderen også er ude efter hans toogtyveårige søster.

Morderen dræber gymnasielæreren (eller fodbolddommeren eller ludomanen) Anders Ek i et omklædningsrum, og fortsætter derefter til hjemmet, hvor han myrder konen og en lille pige på usædvanlig bestialsk vis, men efterlader sønnen, måske i den tro, at femtenårige Josef er død. Kriminalkommissær Joona Linna vrider armen om på sin overordnede for at få lov at påtage sig sagen, da han er sikker på, det lokale politi ikke kan overskue dette drama.

Denne bog fænger fra første side. Forfatterne røber hele tiden lige en anelse for lidt, så læseren bladrer hektisk for at få svar på alle hullerne i fortællingen. Hvorfor lod morderen Josef Ek leve? Hvorfor har en af landets dygtigste hypnotisører besluttet sig for aldrig at benytte hypnose igen? Hvorfor sluger han hele tiden piller og giver sin søn medicin? Og hvorfor stoler hans kone, Simone Bark, ikke på ham?

Der skal ikke røbes meget mere om det noget kulørte plot eller de mange overraskende drejninger her, blot en enkelt, indbygget svaghed: historien nødvendiggør at hypnotisøren, hans kone, hans dominerende svigerfar og politiet farer ud og leder i hver deres retning meget af tiden. Det er med til at skabe spænding og drive handlingen af sted, men det virker mere dramatisk end egentlig troværdigt.

Bogen har fået masser af entusiastiske anmeldelser, og hvis man først og fremmest går efter spænding, fortjener den at blive sammenlignet med Stieg Larssons trilogi (som vel strengt taget heller ikke er særlig sandsynlig), men Hypnotisøren har ikke på samme måde et socialt budskab.

Jeg lånte bogen af en venlig kollega, som også lod sig rive med fra første side.

Lars Kepler, The Hypnotist.

This Swedish crime novel is not out in English yet, but as it has been bought by 29 countries overnight, there is good reason to believe it will be in the course of 2010. Lars Kepler is a pen name for the married couple Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril.

The hypnotist, Erik Maria Bark, is woken up by the phone in the middle of the night. The Stockholm police want his assistance when they are going to interview a fifteen-year-old boy who has just survived a double murder. The police fear the murderer may be after his twenty-two-year-old sister.

The murderer kills the teacher (or the football referee or the gambler) Anders Ek in a locker room, moves on the home where he kills Ek´s wife and their little girl in the most brutal way but leaves the son with several stab wounds, perhaps in the belief that Josef is dead. Detective Inspector Joona Linna insists on taking over the case as he is certain the local police will not be able to manage this drama.

This book captures the reader from the first page. The writers tell you just that tiny bit less than you want to know so you turn the pages frantically to get the answers. Why did the murderer let Josef Ek survive? Why did one of the best hypnotists of the country decide never to use hypnosis again? Why does he swallow pills and medicate his son? And why does his wife, Simone Bark, not trust him?

No more about the quite colourful plot or the many surprising twists here apart from a single built-in weakness: the story necessitates that the hypnotist, his wife, his domineering father-in-law and the police dart off in each their direction much of the time. It creates excitement and energy, but it seems more dramatic than credible.

The book has been received enthusiastically, and if your first priority is suspense, it deserves the comparison with Stieg Larsson´s trilogy (which is not overwhelmingly probable either), but The Hypnotist does not contain the same, social message.

A kind colleague lent me the book, and she was also carried away by this page-turner.

lørdag den 20. februar 2010

A Tiny Earthquake

Yesterday your Danish correspondent experienced a "major" earthquake, one of the strongest that has ever been measured in Denmark. Our cottage shook and belched for a few seconds, and we wondered whether our washing mashine had finally fallen down (unlikely, as we were not using it, but when mother nature plays tricks you never know ...)

But dangerous? No, not nearly as much as our beloved neighbour, the North Sea.

For a more neutral, scientific account, visit this brilliant blog: Olelog.

Our cottage is situated in Nr Vorupør, due east of the epicentre.

And the blue-white space below? An absolutely sober and reliable weather report.

Scandinavian Crime in Poland

[photo: my daughter´s table snowman]

Er der nogen derude, som er bedre til polsk end jeg er? (jeg kan absolut ingenting, men jeg kan gennemskue visse låneord, vi deler med dem).

Nå, men i hvert fald er jeg stolt af min nye titel, ´dansk korrespondent´. Jeg blev kontaktet af en polsk blog, Deckare.pl, som skriver om skandinaviske krimier (Skandynawskie Kryminaly), for nylig. De spurgte, om de måtte oversætte nogle af mine anmeldelser af skandinaviske forfattere, som ikke var så kendt i Polen. Som I kan se af fotoet nedenfor, kender de godt Camilla Läckberg.

Så her er min anmeldelse af Jo Nesbø, Snemanden.

Your Danish Correspondent

Anyone who is better at Polish than I am? (My knowledge about the Polish language is non-existant, but I can see through some loan words we share with them).

Never mind, I am very proud of my new title, ´Danish correspondent´. A Polish blog, Deckare.pl, writing about Scandinavian crime fiction (Skandynawskie Kryminaly), contacted me some time ago to ask me if they might translate some of my blog posts about Scandinavian writers that were not known to them in Poland. As you can see here, Camilla Läckberg has hit Poland.

So here is my review of Jo Nesbø´s The Snowman.

fredag den 19. februar 2010

W.J. Burley, Wycliffe and the Three-Toed Pussy (1968)

This British police procedural is the first of twenty two about Superintendent Wycliffe. I know the series from Danish television (Wycliffe 1994), and when I saw a recommendation of the books on Martin Edwards´ blog, I bought the first one.

Beautiful ´Pussy´ Welles with the one deformity is found dead by shooting. She was young and seemingly popular, at least among the male population. Soon one of her lovers is suspected of the crime because he was around and owned the murder weapon. Wycliffe arrests him but doubts that the case can be so simple as it seems that Pussy actually suspected she would die. How could she know, and why didn´t she try to escape? A well-planned plot which may truly be called a puzzle.

Superintendent Wycliffe is an engaging and competent protagonist who ´dislikes order and discipline´ but joined the police to fight crime and escape from the family business. As the first one was written in my remote childhood, we are not told much about his private life, yet he comes across as an interesting person.

I think any lover of traditional, British police procedurals with a strong sense of place will enjoy this Cornish series, and I am strongly tempted to buy them all.

torsdag den 18. februar 2010

Thy´s Day # 6

Last week: our ´own´ church.

This week: the church near our cottage
(under repair, hence the boarded windows)

The ´Lego church´ as our irreverent daughters call it.

onsdag den 17. februar 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 56

As this novel is fairly old, I´d better help you a bit by revealing that it is the first in a long series.

“The foot was deformed.
Two toes missing, the first and second; obviously a congenital malformation, not a consequence of accident or surgery. All these things ought to have seemed trivial in contrast with the jagged hole between her breasts and the dark red viscous mass clogging the fabric of her dress and the pile of the carpet. But it was not so for the two men who stood over her.”

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.

tirsdag den 16. februar 2010

R for Reg and Ruth

For the letter R in Kerrie´s alphabet meme I would like to revive some posts from last year about Reg Wexford, Ruth Rendell´s long-standing protagonist.

I just realised that it was Ruth Rendell´s 80th birthday yesterday(Feb 17th) so my post is quite ´timely´.

I started out on an ambitious project in February last year. I wanted to re-read all the Wexford novels to see how much Wexford (and Michael Burden) developed over time. I read ten novels in the course of a month, but then I joined my first online writing course, and since then I am afraid I have been a bit less ambitious when it comes to blogging.

But here you have my three Reg Wexford posts:
Meet Reg wexford 1
Meet Reg Wexford 2
Meet Reg Wexford 3

And an additional ´Burden´ for you.

mandag den 15. februar 2010

H.C. Bailey, The Bishop´s Crime (1940)

In January Ron Smyth won a gift voucher on my blog. He has been kind enough to tell me how he spent his money, and he has sent me a review I think many of you will enjoy reading. Doesn´t this sound good?

Reggie Fortune is one of the classic Golden Age detectives, who first appeared in book form in "Call Mr Fortune", in 1919. This book, like most of the Fortune volumes, is a collection of short stories. However, Reggie also appeared in a number of novels, of which "The Bishop's Crime" (1940) is an excellent example. Reggie is a doctor who is often called in by the police for his medical expertise, and is of the same class as Lord Peter Wimsey, whom he resembles in speech and erudition, often quoting poetry and using literary references, in the manner of the early genius detective types, popular at that time. Reggie however is a much harsher sort of person than Lord Peter, and his cases are likely to involve corruption, child abuse or perversion.

Here, Reggie is called in when an unidentified body is discovered on the roadway. Deciding that the deceased was dead before being run over, Reggie traces him to a northern town by the dirt under his fingernails and his final meal and soon another body is found. The two are identified as criminals with a specific specialty which leads to the local Cathedral and legends of a lost treasure, from the time of Henry VIII and the closing of the monasteries. When the Dean is assaulted and a local grave broken into Reggie begins to see that a criminal mastermind is working behind the scenes. Working with the police, rather than in spite of them as is more common in detective novels of the day, Reggie begins to understand what happened to the treasure and uses this knowledge to trap the crooks into a wrong move. With utter ruthlessness he ensures that no villains escape unscathed, even if he has to arrange their punishment himself. Filled with poetry, history and erudition Reggie succeeds in once more solving both the recent crimes and the historical mysteries, restoring order out of chaos in the best Golden Age tradition.

Ron Smyth

søndag den 14. februar 2010


Thank you very much to Kerrie, Mysteries in Paradise
for the Prolific Blogger award.

And thank you to Beth, Beth Fish Reads,
for the Honest Scrap award.

Jo Nesbø, Snemanden (2007)

Denne krimi er norske Nesbøs syvende værk om vicekommissær Harry Hole.

Bogen begynder med en prolog, som udspiller sig i 1980, ”den dag, sneen kom.” En mor efterlader sin teenagesøn i bilen udenfor, mens hun springer ind for at sige farvel til sin elsker – i fyrre minutter! Men hvorfor er der pludselig en snemand uden for soveværelsesvinduet? En snemand, som holder øje med de to indenfor.

Snemandsmysteriet fortsætter i 2004, da en snemand pludselig dukker op foran familien Beckers hus, samme dag som den første sne falder over Oslo. Kort efter forsvinder kvinden i huset, Birte Becker, og efterlader sig en tiårig søn Jonas og sin fysikprofessormand.

Flere kvinder bliver myrdet, og snart tyder det på, at en seriemorder er på spil. En sjælden, arvelig sygdom spiller også en vis rolle, og Harry får brug for alle sine talenter og sin viden om seriemordere fra USA. Harry lider af kærestesorger, fordi Rakel er på vej til at flytte sammen med sin nye kæreste, en dygtig, idealistisk læge, så han kaster sig hovedkulds ud i sagen for at glemme.

Fængslende persontegninger, ikke blot af Harry Hole, der som sædvanlig slås mod alkoholdæmonerne, men også hans kollegaer, ofrene og deres familier, samt den spøjse svampejæger, som skal undersøge Harrys lejlighedskompleks for svamp.

Bogen tilhører min mand; han kom heldigvis til at glemme at afmelde månedens bog.

Jo Nesbø, The Snowman (2010)
This police procedural is Norwegian Nesbø´s seventh Harry Hole story (the fifth that is published in English).

The book begins with a prologue that takes place in 1980 ´on the day when the snow came´. A mother leaves her teenage son in the car outside while she leaps in to say goodbye to her lover – for forty minutes! But why is there suddenly a snowman outside the bedroom window? A snowman who is watching the two inside.

The snowman mystery continues in 2004 when a snowman appears outside the Beckers´ house on the day when the first snow hits Oslo. Soon after the woman of the family, Birte Becker, disappears, leaving a ten-year-old son and a physics professor behind.

More women are brutally killed and soon it seems that a serial killer is at work. A rare, inherited disease also plays a certain role, and Harry needs all his talents plus his knowledge about serial killers from the USA. Besides, he suffers from unrequited love as his dear Rakel is on her way to move in with her new lover, a competent, idealistic doctor, so Harry plunges into the case to forget.

All in all The Snowman offers a brilliant, but scary plot, compelling characters, not only Harry who fights his alcohol demon, but also his colleagues, the victims and their families, plus the rum dry-rot hunter who inspects Harry´s flat for fungi.

The book belongs to my husband; fortunately he forgot to cancel his book club book!

lørdag den 13. februar 2010

Gies some Scotch

Donna very kindly sent me an ARC, and of course I could not wait to get my teeth into it, but as this book is not out in the shops until June, there is no need to post a review yet.

So just a wee drop of Donna´s jolly old dog trot (as long as you can pronounce that, you have surely not had too much)

“The Contessa picked an invisible speck of dust off her suit – Sheehan recognized the type, if not the actual designer – some flamboyant old queen who specialized in designing ill-fitting clothes for frumpy old royals which made them look as though they had been upholstered rather than dressed.”

Donna Moore, Old Dogs (2010)

And if you can´t wait for more fun, you could buy Donna´s debut, Go to Helena Handbasket, or visit her blog, Big Beat from Badsville.

fredag den 12. februar 2010

Pierre Magnan, Death in the Truffle Wood (2005)

A mini review for a busy day. Sorry, this novel deserves far better, but ...

The plot: a handful of young hippies who have sought refuge in a village in Provence to get away from their middle class background disappear without trace. Have they chosen to move on, or is something criminal going on?

This unusual and delicious French crime novel was first published in 1978. The sense of place is very strong, and among the colourful characters we meet Roseline, a highly valued member of Alyne Morelon´s family, earning her living as a successful truffle pig. In her spare time she is an excellent detective due to her keen sense of smell. Besides, the story shows the chasm between the young hippies who care about sex, drugs and rock and roll, and the traditional farming community who care about ... well, certainly their truffles.

My opinion: this novel is not quite new, but it is very charming and well-written, full of (dark) humour. I recommend it to anyone who wants to widen her or his reading horizon.

I bought the book myself. Read for the What´s in a Name challenge (food).

torsdag den 11. februar 2010

Game, Sets and Matching Titles

Not for the first time, my post is spinoff. I saw this idea on Maxine´s blog and liked it: take a look at your TBR and try to divide them into sets. Now I don´t own quite as many unread books as Maxine (though she does her best to rectify that) , but I succeeded in finding eight sets (I allowed myself to use the same titles more than once).

1) Time
Daniel Woodrell, Winter´s Bone
Patricia Highsmith, January has two Faces (literal translation of the Danish title)
Martin Edwards, Yesterday´s Papers
C.J. Box, Three Weeks to Say Goodbye
Karen Campbell, Twilight Time

2) Colours
Thomas H. Cook, Red Leaves
Leonardo Padura, Havana Red
Leah Giarratano, Black Ice
Stephen Booth, Black Dog
Ann Cleeves, Blue Lightning
Peter Robinson, All the Colours of Darkness

3) Figures
Declan Burke, The Big O (Well, that is my interpretation)
Ken Follett, Code to Zero
Sophie Hannah, The Other Half Lives
Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn
Douglas Kennedy, Double Exposure (translation of Danish title)
C.J. Box, Three Weeks to Say Goodbye

4) Animals
Ruth Rendell, The Crocodile Bird
Donna Moore, Old Dogs

5) Music
Cyril Hare, Murder for Orchestra (translation of the Danish title)
Ian Rankin, Exit Music

6) Blood
Ian Rankin, Blood Hunt
Leighton Gage, Blood of the Wicked

7) Death
Ian Rankin, Dead Souls
Randall, The Waking, Dreams of the Dead
Simon Beckett, Whispers of the Dead
M.C. Beaton, Death of an Outsider
Pierre Magnan, Death in the Truffle Wood

8) Murder
Mary Higgins Clark, Love Murder (translation of Danish title)
Cyril Hare, Murder for Orchestra
Yaba Badoe, True Murder
Pierre Magnan, The Murdered House

Thy´s Day # 5

Seasons change - our medieval church is the same.

onsdag den 10. februar 2010

DJ´s Bait in the Box # 55

A tasty titbit for you this week:

“It was all the descendants of the family, living and dead, who raised the spanner in the young woman´s arm and brought it down with all her strength on Jeremy´s head. Once, twice ...

She was suddenly gripped by an overwhelming fear, for instead of falling, he began to straighten up, slowly, slowly, just as he had raised the car with the jack. She realised then that if he turned round, without him even doing anything, she would surely die too, of horror, regret, dismay ... Then she struck him a third time with the force of despair, and this time he collapsed against the bonnet.”

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.

tirsdag den 9. februar 2010

2010 Global Reading Challenge - Progress

So far I have read and reviewed five out of fourten crime novels - see the blue links.

1) Yaba Badoe, True Murder, Ghana (TBR)
2) Deon Meyer, Blood Safari? Rob Marsh, Beasts of Prey? Margie Orford, Blood Rose (S. Africa)

3) Shamini Flint, Inspector Singh Investigates (TBR)
4) Matt B Rees, The Bethlehem Murders - reviewed January 18.

5) Paul Cleave, Cemetery Lake, NZ
6) Peter Temple, Bad Debts – Australia - reviewed January 7.

7) James Thompson, Snow Angels - Finland - reviewed Feb 1.
8) Simone Van der Vlugt, The Reunion, The Netherlands - reviewed January 15.

North America:
9) Megan Abbott, Bury me Deep, the USA - reviewed Feb 5.
10) Vicki Delaney, Valley of the Lost, Canada (TBR)

South America:
11) Leighton Gage, Blood of the Wicked, Brazil (TBR)
12) ????

13) Robert Masello, Blood and Ice
14) ????

mandag den 8. februar 2010

Q for Quentin

This week´s letter for Kerrie´s Alphabet Meme is Q.

If you look at the picture above, you may well ask yourself, ´is the author called Quentin Patrick, or Patrick Quentin?´

And the answer is, ´neither´.

Behind the two pen names hide two writers, namely Richard Wilson Webb and Hugh Callingham Wheeler.

For an explanation and a full biography visit Wikipedia

The couple wrote around thirty crime novels under the two Quentin pseudonyms between 1931 and 1965, and a dozen novels under other pen names. Their stories are of varying quality, and my own favourite (or more precicely; the only one I really remember) is The Grindle Nightmare (1935). The picture below is of my Danish copy, "Skjult i sne".

The plot is an exciting story of evil causing havoc in a valley in Massachusetts. A little girl disappears, but this is only the beginning. Murders, arson and cruelty to animals follow until the villagers are on the verge of lynching suspects, and I particularly remember the spectacular plot because I met the concept folie à deux for the first time.

Have you come across any of their works? What did you think about them?

søndag den 7. februar 2010

The Princess on the Pea

Finally! I raise my crystal glass and nod to my parents-in-law. Neither too little nor too much.

Frederick gives me an encouraging squeeze behind the veil. We have only had the first course so I´d better keep my cool. I sip at a glass of water.

The full story is now for sale: DJ´s Daim Stories: Candied Crime

lørdag den 6. februar 2010

Anne Holt, 1222 (2008)

Denne norske krimi er den ottende i Hanne Wilhelmsen-serien (nummer ni, hvis man medregner Madam Præsident, hvor Inger Johanne Vik er hovedpersonen, men Hanne Wilhelmsen spiller en vis rolle).

Et tog bliver afsporet under en snestorm 1222 meter over havet. Togføreren dør, men alle passagerne bliver reddet og hjulpet til et nærliggende hotel, hvor de sner inde i dagevis.

Blandt passagererne er en midaldrende, indesluttet ekskommissær Hanne Wilhelmsen i kørestol, en eller flere mystiske gæster, som de andre passagerer aldrig får at se, plus – viser det sig – en morder.

I denne lukkede kreds af 196 personer sidder Hanne Wilhelmsen i hotellets reception cum opholdsrum og iagttager begivenhedernes gang. Hun er sær og sarkastisk, men stadig særdeles kompetent, og de selvbestaltede ledere får god brug for hendes kunnen, da de finder det første offer, den fodbold-interesserede præst Cato Hammer, dræbt af skud.

Med disse rammer kan det ikke overraske krimi-kendere, at Hanne Wilhelmsen på et tidspunkt henviser til Agatha Christies klassiker, En af os er morderen (først udgivet under titlen Ti små negerdrenge i 1959), hvor ti mennesker havner på en øde ø for at opdage, at én af dem er morder.

Og fungerer det så, dette klassiske plot, i nye klæder? Jo, rammen virker nogenlunde overbevisende, og miljø og personer står stærkt. Selv i ekstra-bitter udgave er der mere ved Hanne Wilhelmsen end Inger Johanne Vik, men hendes manglende bevægelsesfrihed hæmmer plottet noget.

Helhedsindtryk: udmærket underholdning, og interessant at møde Hanne Wilhelmsen igen, men plottet er ikke blandt Anne Holts bedste.

Jeg lånte bogen på biblioteket.

Anne Holt, 1222.

This Norwegian crime novel is from the Hanne Wilhelmsen series which has not been translated into English. I borrowed it from the library.

The plot is of the closed room type, and somewhere the protagonist refers to Agatha Christie´s And Then there were None. A fast and entertaining read, but this is not Holt´s best or most convincing plot.

Two weeks ago I reviewed Håkan Nesser´s A Completely Different Story (not translated yet), featuring a group of Swedish tourists ´marooned´ on a small island, and the narrator refers to Golding´s Lord of the Flies.

Are these closed-room plots just a Scandinavian coincidence, or have you come across similar examples recently?

fredag den 5. februar 2010

Megan Abbott, Bury me Deep (2009)

Reviewed for the 2010 Global Reading Challenge, North America, America.

This crime novel is American writer Megan Abbott´s fourth book. I won it in a competition.

The plot begins when Doctor Seeley goes to Mexico to work in the mining area as he has acquired an unfortunate taste for his own medicine.

His wife, Marion Seeley, is left behind in a guesthouse in Phoenix. The problem is that this is 1931, and that Mrs Seeley is so very young and inexperienced and pretty, far too pretty for her own good.

She works in a clinic where she meets the helpful nurse Louise Mercer who is more than ready to introduce her to a large circle of interesting friends.

The reader soon fears that this cocktail of innocence and experience will turn into disaster. Louise and her bosom friend, Ginny, are always mysteriously surrounded by generous ´gentlemen´ who are more than willing to bring liquor and an interesting supply of useful drugs. Marion does not really notice the slow process of corruption she is going through until she is so entangled in their complicated lives that she cannot get out.

The plot was inspired by the true story of Winnie Ruth Judd. Usually ´true crime´ is not my favourite taste, because authors too often let the truth obstruct their imagination, but this cannot be said about Abbott´s compelling mystery.

True crime AND noir? I shouldn´t like this story at all! But I did, partly because of the Abbott´s absolutely wonderful language, and just like Marion, this reader was soon caught in the web, unable to put down the story, even though she bit her nails in anticipation, worried how wrong things might turn out for Marion.

Not another word about the book. You will have to read this one yourself to find out why this story has been nominated for an Edgar Award!

torsdag den 4. februar 2010

P for Palmström

My choice for this week´s Alphabet meme, hosted by Kerrie, Mysteries in Paradise, is Uno Palmström.

Palmström may be called a lesser known Swedish crime writer. He died in 2003 after having written ten crime novels, six for adults and four for teenagers. Most of them were published in Denmark during the 1980s. I found his books in the library by chance and have since bought three of them second-hand.

The series features Chief Inspector Sven Thorén, his sidekick Leonard Bergström and the journalist Olle Lyck. The books are solid police procedurals, and the journalist has quite a lot in common with our thirsty friend, Harry Hole. Lyck is so through-and-through alcoholic that he checks his pulse perpetually to be sure he is still alive!

The first book, Murder, Murder! is about a man who was convicted of murder, served his sentence and returned to society, determined to kill the woman who had cost him so many years of his life. But for some reason he sends a letter to the Stockholm police force to warn them about his intentions. A race between ´criminal´ and police can begin.

Swedish crime in the best tradition, all with solid plots, but probably forgotten by most readers, and never translated into English.

P for Palmström.
Ugens forfatter for Kerries alfabet-meme er Uno Palmström. Han er formodentlig en af Sveriges mindre kendte forfattere. Han døde i 2003, efter at have fået udgivet ti krimier, seks for voksne og fire for teenagers. De fleste af dem blev udgivet i Danmark i 1980erne. Jeg opdagede dem via biblioteket, og har senere købt tre af dem brugt.

Hovedpersonerne i serien er kriminalkommissær Sven Thorén, hans faste makker Leonard Bergström, og journalisten Olle Lyck. Bøgerne er udmærkede politikrimier, og Olle Lyck har en hel del til fælles med vores tørstige ven, Harry Hole. Lyck er så gennemalkoholiseret, at han hele tiden må tjekke sin puls for at sikre sig, han stadig er i live!

Den første bog, Morder, morder! handler om en mand som blev dømt for mord, afsonede sin straf og vendte tilbage til samfundet, fast besluttet på at dræbe den kvinde, som har kostet ham så mange år af hans liv. Men af en eller anden grund sender han et brev til politiet i Stockholm for at advare dem om sine hensigter. Et kapløb mellem ´forbryder´ og politi kan begynde.

Svensk krimi af den bedste slags, alle med solide plots, men formodentlig glemt af de fleste. Eller husker du Palmström?