Post Script: The Accordionist – Fred Vargas

The Accordionist

The Accordionist

Three Evangelists Trilogy

Fred Vargas

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Harvill Secker

ISBN: 9781846559983

 

Description:

When two Parisian women are shockingly murdered in their homes, the police suspect young accordionist Clément Vauquer, who was seen outside both of the apartments in question. It seems on the surface like an open-and-shut case.

 

But now Clément has disappeared from public view. His likeness has appeared in the papers and detectives from Paris to Nevers are on his tail. To have a chance of proving his innocence, he seeks refuge with old Marthe, a former prostitute and the only mother figure he has known.

 

Marthe calls ex-special investigator Louis Kehlweiler to help Clément. But what Louis uncovers is anything but straightforward, and he must call on some unconventional friends to help him solve his most complex case yet. Not only must Louis try to prove Clément’s innocence, he must solve a fiendish riddle to lead him to the killer…

 

 

My View:

This is a great series – I love the quirky characters – Vargas characters are unique, interesting and empathetic, unlike any I have come across in the many many mystery/thrillers/crime fiction genres I have read – refreshing, a joy to read!

 

If you are feeling a little fatigued, a little less engaged, a little disenchanted with the crime fiction books you had read recently re-ignite that joy of reading by reading the Three Evangelists Trilogy – you will not be disappointed.

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Post Script: Fatal Crossing – Lone Theils

Fatal Crossing

Fatal Crossing (Nora Sand #1)

Lone Theils

Charlotte Barslund (Translator)

Echo

Bonnier Publishing Australia

ISBN: 9781760406530

 

Description:

When a picture of two Danish girls who disappeared on a boat bound for England in 1985 surfaces in an old suitcase, journalist Nora Sand’s professional curiosity is immediately awakened.

 

Before she knows it, she is mixed up in the case of a serial killer serving a life sentence in a notorious prison. The quest to discover the truth about the missing girls may be more dangerous that she had ever imagined…

 

A fast-paced and skilfully plotted thriller’

Barry Forshaw

 

A candidate for the best crime novel of the year’

Krimi-Cirklen

 

 

My View:

What a great debut! This is a very credible and immensely satisfying read that had moments that remind me of actual crime that have occurred in Australia, specifically in Perth WA. I won’t share the details as I don’t want to influence your reading or give away any spoilers but after you have read it, tell me if anything in this novel resonated with crimes in your region.

Back to the review – I loved the protagonist, Nora, strong female leads are always a favourite in my reading; she is intelligent, passionate about her work, her life is extraordinary – we meet Nora who is a journalist, as she is conducting an interview with a war criminal: “The stories swirled around Nora’s head, one atrocity overtaking the next. Schoolchildren witnessing the gang rape of their teacher before they themselves were hacked to death with machetes. Massacres of villagers that went on until the murderers were too tired to life their arms and so they locked up the survivors with the corpses until the next day when the killing resumed…” (p1) A brutal  “hook” reminiscent of current news headlines that will have you squirming in your seat as you read, the honesty, brutality and inhumanity of the deeds pricking at your conscience.

I think we will be seeing more of this type of occupation and reporting of current events in our future fiction reads, what a brilliant way to add social commentary to our reading lives.

A strong, determined, feisty female protagonist, the crimes credible, heinous, prevalent and feature in our news headlines far too often and a fabulous twist or two that will surprise the most hardened crime fiction reader.  This is a fabulous read and I cannot wait for the next book in this series to arrive in my letterbox.

 

PS The translation is flawless.

 

Sweet as….Icecream

The first of my Valentine’s Day book giveaways – doesn’t this one sound inviting and perfect for a Valentine’s Day read for yourself or to to give to someone you love?   To win a copy of this moving novel, in the comments section of this post, share your favourite ice cream obsession. the-icecream-makers

The Ice- Cream Makers

Ernest van der Kwast

(trans. Laura Vroomen)

Scribe Publications

ISBN:9781925321203

Description:

**Giveaway open to Australian residents only. Many thanks to Scribe Publications for generously supporting this giveaway.Entries close midnight 13th February 2017.

 

 

 

Post Script: A Beautiful Young Wife – Tommy Wieringa

A Beautiful Young Wife

A Beautiful Young Wife

Tommy Wieringa

Translated by Sam Garrett

Scribe Publications

ISBN:9781925321180

 

 

Description:

‘He had never married and had never been with one woman for long; he had always remained a collector of first times.’

 

Edward Landauer, a brilliant microbiologist in his forties, meets a beautiful young woman. She is the love of his life, and when the two marry in France, Edward is the happiest man in the world. At first, Ruth Walta appears to represent a victory over time, but even she cannot stop him growing older.

 

After the birth of their long-awaited son, the ‘happiness, delicate like filigree’ turns into something new, and Edward no longer recognises his great romance nor the woman who induced it.

 

 

My View:

This small book pacts a powerful punch – it is the kind of book that as you turn the last page you gasp in surprise and question “What? No more?” You want more…please….

 

On the surface this is a story that touches on a relationship in turmoil – but it is so much more. Wieringa poses so many questions, presents so any brilliant social observations in this sparse but beautifully evocative prose; identity – especially that of woman now mother is exquisitely explored. Scientific progress/experimentation and pain intersect succinctly. Relationships are displayed and prodded under a modern microscope depicting change.

 

The ending – yes I wanted more- not because I liked the protagonist – I disliked him immensely; his selfish manipulative ways, his pretentious mannerisms, his judgmental attitudes… but maybe because I could see some hint of self-awareness in his later life. The author has skilfully involved me in this man’s narrative.

 

Post Script: Game: A Thriller Set In Sydney Australia – A C Efverman

Game

Game

A C Efverman

A C Efverman

ISBN: 9781516979929

 

Description:

Sydney is hosting the World Cup in soccer in a few weeks’ time, when Detective Sergeant Morgan Callaghan is assigned to lead an investigation of three dead women who have been found in central parts of the city. Morgan’s mother is dying, and his family cannot understand the pressure that Morgan has been put under by his superiors and the FIFA committee. The hunt for a serial killer leads Morgan into a darkness he has never experienced before – and in this darkness he will lose more than he ever thought was possible… This dark, relentless thriller will take you on a journey to Sydney where you will get to know DS Morgan Callaghan, and you will also get a rare insight of what it feels like to work on a murder investigation in Australia.

 

My View:

This police procedural would make an excellent film script.

AC Efverman writes a book that is heavy on detail, crime and personal tragedies. This book could so easily be read as a script for a TV show – such are the directions and the descriptions provided.

My favourite piece in the book is an observation, a reflection that the protagonist (DS Callaghan) makes about serial killers, “As I said: he is a psychopath. These guys don’t follow any rules. They make up their own agendas. Serial killers have been known to escalate their murdering sprees when they have work experience. (p191, emphasis added)  So true!!!

The book is reportedly very successful in Sweden, however I feel the English translation of the book would have benefited from a strong edit by someone who speaks and writes English as a first language – so much of the conversations came across as stilted and unnatural – and some terms of expression were obviously influenced by Swedish rather than colloquial Australian.

A good debut.

Post Script: The Falling Detective – Christoffer Carlsson

The Falling Detective

The Falling Detective

The Leo Junker Series #2

Christoffer Carlsson

Translated by Michael Gallagher

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925321210

 

Description:

The second instalment in the internationally bestselling Leo Junker series.

 

Leo Junker is back in the snake pit — aka the homicide unit — after a murder case where he was the intended victim. Still abusing prescription drugs and battling his inner demons, he’s doing his best to appear fit for duty.

 

Then a sociologist named Thomas Heber is found murdered. The only clues the police have to work with are Heber’s cryptic research notes, which indicate that someone else’s life is also under threat. But who?

 

Leo is put on the Heber case with his former nemesis Gabriel Birck, but when the case is abruptly reassigned to the Swedish Security Service, he realises this is no ordinary street mugging. Soon he finds himself entangled in a clash between a racist gang and their rivals, and enters a war that’s being waged on the streets, in the public eye, and in the shadows.

 

 

 

My View:

Clues like these…mean nothing in isolation, without the story that ties them all together. They are like road signs without symbols or letters. (p.39)

 

An interesting modern police procedural with relevant contemporary references to global social and political issues.  It is also a domestic  story about friendship, trust and betrayal and demonstrates just how easy it is for people to be manipulated by fear – of being exposed (for behaviours they do not wish made public or to be made accountable for) fear of rejection, of not belonging, of not living up to others expectations.

 

Carlsson offers many astute observations of life and society throughout the book, this one particular observation resonated with me: (of Michael and Christian p. 100) They were fifteen, and both believed that they understood everything. In fact they understood nothing.  

 

Sociology and crime make for an interesting read, however I feel that as I missed reading the first book in this series I missed the connections between characters and didn’t have the background to understand some of the complicated relationships – I wanted to know what had happened to Leo, why he was taking medication, why he was hallucinating, showing obvious other signs of PTS (I knew it was to do with an incident relating to a shooting but little else). Whilst Carlsson provides some background information in this episode there is not enough for the new reader to be able to pick up the intricacies or nuances of relationships.  I really wanted to know more about Leo and Grim, about Leo and Birck, about Leo and Sam.  Regardless of my lack of history of some of the characters, this was still is an interesting look at some social political groups and situations that could easily become reality.

 

**The series will shortly be developed into a three season TV drama by StellNova Film.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Where Love Begins – Judith Hermann

Where Love Begins

Where Love Begins
Judith Hermann
Translated by Margaret Bettauer Dembo
Allen & Unwin Australia
The Clerkenwell Press
ISBN: 9781781254707
RRP A$27.99

Description:
Stella is married, she has a child and a fulfilling job. She lives with her young family in a house in the suburbs. Her life is happy and unremarkable, but she is a little lonely-her husband travels a lot for work and so she is often alone in the house with only her daughter for company. One day a stranger appears at her door, a man Stella’s never seen before. He says he just wants to talk to her, nothing more. She refuses. The next day he comes again. And then the day after that. He will not leave her in peace. When Stella works out that he lives up the road, and tries to confront him, it makes no difference. This is the beginning of a nightmare that slowly and remorselessly escalates. Where Love Begins is a delicately wrought, deeply sinister novel about how easily the comfortable lives we construct for ourselves can be shattered.
About the author:
Judith Hermann was born in Berlin in 1970. She is the author of Alice,The Summer House, Later and Nothing but Ghosts, which have received a number of literary awards including the Kleist Prize. She lives and works in Berlin.

 

My View:
I like the sparseness of the narrative and the dialogue. No words are wasted and if you look a little closely at some of the prose you will find some brilliant insights/reflections on relationships, life, death and love. There is something intense, an anticipation of what is to come, a sinister creepiness that keeps you glued to the pages.
This is unlike any book I have read before – there is something about the simplistic prose, the sparseness of the words – yet the words are not empty, they convey so much feeling. I think the feeling of dread is summoned more from what is not said, than what is said. The same still is applied to the description of love. Such small details, such insignificant things, like the holding of hands, the rhythm of breathing have so much meaning. “That evening Stella sits by Ava’s bed until Ava falls asleep. Ava’s breaths changing from sighs, questioning sounds, into a slow rhythm that Stella listens to for a long time. Breathing as if there was nothing to fear in the world” (p.93). Every parent will recognise the emotions here. Beautifully written.
And then there is the stalking.