dark poetry

Glenn Harper reviews Håkan Nesser’s Woman With Birthmark at International Noir Fiction.  He draws parallels between the way the author creates a complete fictional world and the themes of the book.  I can’t resist quoting him at length because his reviews are richer than dark chocolate truffles:

. . .there’s another example of “world-building” in Nesser’s newly translated Woman with Birthmark, the kind of reconstruction of reality that a killer engages in when he/she rewrites the rules of civilized society and justifies his/her actions. . . .

In spite the dark theme and philosophical overtones, the novel has the lightness of tone that is a distinctive quality of the Van Veeteren series (there is even a joke about Scandinavia, as if to indicate that the world of the novel is somewhere outside that geographic zone, in spite of the author’s Swedish background). To say more would be to spoil not so much the plot as the texture or experience of the story. But I should emphasize that, lest let my suggestion of the philosophy in the book put anyone off, the story is brisk and well told, its deeper overtones embodied in interesting characters, lively conversations, and murderous intentions.

DJ has high praise for Arnaldur Indridason’s Silence of the Grave. She says, “Den ordknappe og indadvendte hovedperson, Erlendur, har en del til fælles med Sjöwall og Wahlöös legendariske Martin Beck.” And then she kindly says it in English, too.  I too find this a real master work – a truthful and disturbing picture of domestic abuse that is also wonderfully structured and suspenseful without in any way exploiting the characters.

Peter reviews Henning Mankell’s Faceless Killers – and also finds some genealogic roots in the Martin Beck series. Since Faceless Killers is the first book in the Kurt Wallander series,  readers are provided with some background information about the main characters. Kurt Wallander is gritty and determined, newly separated from his wife and somewhat estranged from his daughter. He often drinks too much, and he has problems dealing with the interim prosecutor, who is an attractive young woman sent down from Stockholm. Perhaps it is the fact that she is pretty that is bothersome? Also, he has a somewhat strange and remomte relationship to his father, an ageing artist, who is showing the first signs of senility.” He thinks its only fault is that it ends too soon.

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