post-vacation review round-up

Martin Edwards has a lovely quote from Hakan Nesser on the essence of crime fiction, at his blog, Do You Write Under Your Own Name? Go read it.

Bernadette finds much to like about Camilla Lackberg’s Ice Princess.

I reviewed Inger Frimansson’s Island of the Naked Women for Reviewing the Evidence. The author delves deep into psychological suspense in a hardscrabble setting. The title sounds like a hedonistic ClubMed destination but shows a different side of traditional Scandinavian attitudes toward sex: in the old days, unmarried women who became pregnant or otherwise offended public morals were abandoned there to die of exposure.

Euro Crime finds an interesting trend – many first books in series are getting published (though maddeningly out of order) and this time it’s Ake Edwardsson’s Erik Winter series.

Crimeficreader reads Johan Theorin’s The Darkest Room. Though she isn’t planning a winter visit to Oland anytime soon, she thought the book was original and compelling.

The wonderfully original aspect of The Darkest Room is that the suspense comes from finding out what really happened from a myriad of obscure routes, with the reader not fully comprehending the extent of issues to be resolved at the outset.  The wonderfully brilliant aspect of reading The Darkest Room is the feeling of satisfaction on reaching the end and the sense of time well-spent with an author who knows how to entertain, whilst exploring the darker recesses of the mind; for The Darkest Room in Theorin’s novel is in the mind.

Rob Kitchen reviews Yrsa Sigurdarsdottir’s Last Rituals and, after weighing its strengths and weaknesses concludes it’s a “mildly enjoyable first novel, but nothing startling.”

Bookwitch takes a look at Jo Nesbo’s writing for children which sounds rather fun but nothing like the Harry Hole books.

And of course The Girl (which scored #1 on the New York Times bestseller list)  is getting a lot of attention. Here are some of the reviews:

  • January Magazine – “oddly epic love story, ultra-violent crime thriller and classic buddy novel all at once”
  • Entertainment Weekly – “another gripping, stay-up-all-night read, but it’s also a bit sloppy”
  • Philly Enquirer – “What Larsson has done is akin to enlisting two huge, enticing stars, then keeping them separated for much of the action, united only through e-mail.”
  • San Francisco Chronicle (Alan Cheuse) – “The books are so good, in fact, that I have to keep reminding myself that they are genre novels, not mainstream fiction” (ouch!)
  • Seattle Times – “The troubled, brilliant Lisbeth is unforgettable.”
  • USA Today – “Larsson makes the reader love and worry about his heroine as though she were real.”
  • Washington Post – “Here is a writer with two skills useful in entertaining readers royally: creating characters who are complex, believable and appealing even when they act against their own best interest; and parceling out information in a consistently enthralling way.”

The Seattle Times also reviews Karin Fossum’s The Water’s Edge

The book has several sterling qualities, including a concise, crisp translation and a terrifying portrait of the fragmenting couple that discovers the body — especially the husband and his creepy fixation with the case.

AND – for bonus points – interview Reg Keeland, the Girl’s translator, who explains how “Reg” was born and how he keeps up with current Swedish slang.

island lore

Glenn Harper has a review of Inger Frimansson’s Island of the Naked Women, concluding “Frimansson’s palette has deepened and broadened.” It involves a few of the characters from her previous books, but only tangentially. This novel is darker, more psychological, and less Gothic than her previous work, dealing with residents of an island where in the past women who had been accused of adultery were left without clothing or food to die. It has a cast of characters who are not likeable, but who evoke empathy.

Titus is a literary writer who has recently published a succesful crime novel and is having difficulty coming up with a sequel. He has returned to the family farm to help out when his father has been injured in a fall. Titus hasn’t lived on the farm since his Icelandic mother ran off with another man, taking Titus with her. The father’s now-partner Sabina (in the past we would have said common-law wife) is about Titus’s age has a learning-disabled adult son, Adam, with a talent for singing Elvis songs, a talent encouraged by a Hardy, a handyman with an attitude and a shady past. Ingelize, a former schoolmate of Titus’s, offers him a part-time job working with horses, along with a cabin where he could write in solitude. Even at the start, the scenario suggests betrayal and tragedy. . . . The story presents effectively the ease with which murder may occur and the immense consequences that can ensue, both literal and psychological.

Interesting how many Swedish novels of late have been set on islands: Johan Theorin’s Oland, Stieg Larsson’s island mystery in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Camilla Lackberg’s Fjällbacka . . . maybe no man is an island, but an island might be a good place to hear the bell toll.