Jens Østergaard, The Dragon, the Singer, the Hero

(Danish crime story, not translated into English)

I visited our local library two weeks ago to try some of their recent, Scandinavian crime fiction. In my circles, Jens Østergaard is quite the buzzword these days, and I agree that he writes well, and the plot, inspired by Slavonic legends, was good and innovative. I can imagine he has spent quite some time researching Russian legends about dragons and heroes, and he uses his knowledge well.

One plot cliché made me groan, however. Police officer Thomas Nyland  gets on the track because one of the victims holds something in his hand – an item he grabbed while struggling with the killer. This idea may have been fresh and original when Arthur Conan Doyle used it in The Reigate Squire, but… Besides, Thomas Nyland is hurt early on, and for personal reasons, he refuses to stay at home to recuperate while his colleagues work on the case. Instead, he darts off on his own and more or less solves the case single-handedly, aided by a young, female expert on Slavonic culture. We have also heard that story once or twice before, haven’t we?

My general impression: a promising writer – three or four stars for a good beginning, but Østergaard must find a way around those clichés.

 

Posted in Danish, Jens Østergaard, review, review 2014, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Laura Lippman, Charm City (1992)

Tess Monaghan # 2

I first met Tess Monaghan because I fell for the cover of The Girl in the Green Raincoat.

Lovely protagonist – after two novels, I feel like I know her. If you like series like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone books, you’ll probably love this one also. I have read them out of order but picked up no # 1 recently and plan to fill the gaps whenever I need the company of Tess.

Read, relished and … ahem … reviewed.

Here is my review of What the Dead Know – a fabulous standalone from 2007.

PS: dear blog friends. I tried to have a blog round today, but my internet crawls along at a snail’s pace. Two comments and I’m dead frustrated. See you later.

Posted in Laura Lippman, review, review 2014 | 4 Comments

Christine Poulson, Murder is Academic (2004)

Murder is AcademicThe first novel in the Cambridge Mystery series, featuring professor Cassandra James.

This is how the prologue begins:

“It’s hard now to remember what first struck me as not being quite right, but I think it was the garden sprinkler.”

Cassandra James has come to collect some exam papers at her colleague’s house. Margaret Joplin is the head of the English Department, but when Cassandra rings her doorbell, there is no response. Instead, she finds the papers scattered in Margaret’s pool. Appalled, Cassandra tries to fish the papers out of the water, and this is when she sees a white hand.

The atmosphere is set and I was absorbed by the story from the very first page. Recommended, especially for those of you who love academic mysteries which focus on the environment and the puzzle, rather than gory crime.

I met Christine Poulson at CrimeFest in Bristol 2011, and recently I read one of her excellent short stories (published in a Danish anthology of crime fiction). I bought the book myself because I had high expectations to her series.

Posted in British, Christine Poulson, review, review 2014 | 5 Comments

Peter May, The Blackhouse (2011)

Blackhouse“We lived in what was known as a whitehouse, about half a mile outside the village of Crobost. It was part of the community they called Ness, on the extreme northern tip of the Isle of Lewis, the most northerly island in the archipelago of the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.”

I could go on, quoting a page or two, but you may prefer to buy the book and read it yourself. The Scottish scene is set, and this extract is from the childhood of Fin (Finlay) MacLeod, Detective Inspector from Edinburgh and the main character of the story.

In between the sections about his remote childhood, we get the story of his present life, the bleak marriage with Mona and the hints that something sinister happened to the couple recently.

The plot: Fin is on the case of an Edinburgh murder, but at the beginning of the story someone is killed in Crobost, and as there are many similarities between the two murders, Fin is shipped back home to assist a rather reluctant Detective Chief Inspector Tom Smith.

I bought the book myself, and though I found it slightly lengthy, I enjoyed the setting and the characters, and I will probably buy more books by the writer (when/if I ever need more books).

 

Posted in British, Peter May, review, review 2014, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Thy’s Day # 69

A few days ago, a good friend asked me to participate in a Facebook meme. She wanted me to post five everyday pictures on my wall. As a result, I have plenty of pictures of the flowers around our cottage by the sea, and I think you might like to have a peep.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Martin Edwards, Take My Breath Away (ebook)

The British writer Martin Edwards is an old blog friend, and he belongs to the small circle of writers I have met in real life.

His crime novel, Take My Breath Away, was first published in 2002, and I wrote a review in 2011. Now it has been published as an ebook, and I think this is a good opportunity to remind you of a fine writer.

Take my breath away

PS: a tip to readers who buy their ebooks from Amazon.com. Christine Poulson’s novel “Invisible” is free today. Grab it while you can! She is famous even in Denmark for one of her fantastic crime stories.

 

Posted in Martin Edwards | 4 Comments

North Sea Cottage PUBLISHED

Finally, it’s out there. My novella, set by the harsh, Danish west coast.

NorthSea600I shared the first scene with you last week – Tora Skammelsen leaves her home in Aalborg and moves into her aunt’s old cottage by the sea.

But there is also an old thread, taking us back to 1943, when Aunt Bergtora (Faster Bergora in Danish) was a child.

Meet Bergtora, the other main character. According to my Danish readers, she is as tough as they come.

Stenbjerg 1943

Bergtora sat up in her bed abruptly. It must be in the middle of the night, but there had been a sound that should not be there. Her ears strained, and her hands squeezed the edges of the bed. One heard so many rumours these days.

Her father jumped out of the bed, and she could hear him fumble with his trousers in the dark. He closed the door between the bedroom and the living room quietly to avoid disturbing the girls.

Bergtora stole across the cold floor and pressed her ear against the door. She had to know what was going on. It was easy to distinguish between her father’s deep bass voice and the stranger’s light one, but she could not catch many words. To Sweden, urgent, Germans were among the few words she gleaned.

She had expected it to be her mother, coming home from Mary’s. Mary was having her third baby, and mother sometimes lent the midwife a hand.

“But I can’t just clear out…” Her father forgot the girls in the bedroom for a moment.

The other man mumbled something, but it was clear that he stuck to his guns. “… can’t just stay and put all of us at risk…”

They continued the subdued conversation for another couple of minutes. Bergtora had put Mother’s dressing gown on over her nightdress to keep warm, and she crouched down on the floor so it could cover her icy feet. At long last she heard the telltale sound of the outer door scraping against the scullery door. Her body trembled with cold, and she yearned to get back under the duvet again, but she had to know what was going on.

Softly she let herself into the living room. Father stood next to the dining table, leaning on the table top. At first he did not hear her at all. She stayed by the door, not at all certain how he would react.

He caught sight of the chequered dressing gown. “I have to flee.” His voice was rasping.

“Up to Mother’s family on the Faroe Islands?” Bergtora asked.

“Yes, I suppose so. If that’s at all possible.” He shook his head and ran both hands through his hair.

“I can pack a lunch for you,” she suggested. “And I can milk the cattle until Mother is back.”

“I’ll probably have to travel via Sweden.”

Deftly she found bread, dripping and cheese in the blacked-out kitchen. Her hands shook. It was so strange to see Father just standing there.

Posted in North Sea Cottage, publication | 7 Comments