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Mordet på Halland

3.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  362 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Bess and Halland live in a small town, where everyone knows everyone else. When Halland is found murdered in the main square the police encounter only riddles. For Bess bereavement marks the start of a journey that leads her to a reassessment of first friends, then family.
Paperback, 187 pages
Published 2009 by Tiderne Skifter
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Jeffrey Keeten
Jun 06, 2016 Jeffrey Keeten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Sue Drees
Shelves: nordic-noir
”I recognized the handwriting. I couldn’t breathe. That’s enough. Secret pregnant nieces. Secret rooms. And what kind of secret was this? Maverick? I know what goes on in Halland’s mind. I fell in love with him, of course I know. I can read his slightest passing thought; I can sense him without touching. I can hear the modulations in his voice when we speak on the phone, and I know exactly what each of them means. Such is true love.”

I once read that when people we know die we don’t mourn their l
I was on a journey.
I'd taken a big book along: The Man Who Loved Dogs: A Novel
It turned out not to be what I wanted to read just then.
No book shops on the way.
What to do?
Open the Kindle app on the trusty iPad and look through the mixed bag of titles.
The Murder of Halland?
Can't remember when or why I bought it but I start reading it anyway.
The sentences are short.
The narrative voice is quirky.
The characters are enigmatic.
The mystery itself even more so.
There i
Jan 19, 2014 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Teresa by: Sue
The furniture seemed all wrong.

This sentence from Chapter 3 is indicative of Juul's style, a matter-of-fact telling that leads to surreality, appropriate to the state of mind of the grieving narrator, Bess. She's also trying to deal with (or not deal with, as the case may be) some facts about her common-law husband, Halland, that have come to light after his death.

I finished this last night (the chapters end on mini-cliffhangers, forcing you to turn the page) and though it was late, and going ag
Aug 13, 2012 Kinga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dreamy-books
This is not your regular Scandinavian crime story. Pia Juul might be from Denmark and the book has ‘murder’ in the title, yet this murder is like the hole in a bagel – it’s right in the centre of it but it’s the stuff around it that actually matters.

Bess, Halland’s widow, narrates the story as she were sleep-walking. As a reader, you are pulled into this strange tale where things don’t follow a rigid cause-effect structure and you don’t even realise it until you close the book and wake up.

Jan 04, 2014 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Kris Rabberman
Well, here is a mystery with a difference. A victim with secrets..not new. But his secrets even appear to have secrets. And Bess, Halland's long-time partner, has a complicated past of her own. And unlike most of the genre, the emphasis here is more on the telling than on resolution. And what telling.

Each chapter begins with a brief quote from a written work varying from Raymond Chandler to a line from Meunch. All highly readable and also pertinent to the text. Ah the text! Bess is a writer and
Actually, there’s a great deal I haven’t mentioned. How could I possibly include everything? Nonetheless, there is something I haven’t mentioned which I must have left out on purpose. That’s the difference. Or perhaps there isn’t any difference. Perhaps I leave out the things I’m not aware of leaving out on purpose.
What a clever, enigmatic, and downright brilliant book. With deceptive simplicity, Juul turns the murder mystery genre on its head—and then some. Her prose is very lucid, often with
May 20, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Kirsty
Shelves: novels

What a strange, strange little book.

Any aficionado of detective stories is surely bound to be disappointed. All sorts of questions are raised but hardly any of them are answered. For me the book has serpentine threads and unfinished endings, rather than any sort of solid linear structure.

We experience a kind of stream-of-consciousness with Bess. She is the narrator of the book and partner of a man – Halland – who has just been shot. Bess’s ideas and mullings are eccentric and erratic, and we
Dec 31, 2013 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cheryl by: Proustitute
An antidote to the usual Scandanivian murder mysteries. Take every standard bit from the typical crime novel, insert, and then leave it flapping in the breeze. But it's a nice breeze. And the blue fjords are like trembling mirrors. In my mind, the protagonist narrator Bess is always wearing a baggy Nordic sweater just like Sarah's in Forbrydelsen. And somehow it all works.
Diane Barnes
Mar 23, 2014 Diane Barnes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: This book is not a murder mystery, per se. There is a murder, there is an investigation, but there's no real resolution at the end, only more questions. The real mystery seems to be -- Who is Bess? Who is Halland? Did anything really happen, or is Bess just slowly going insane?

I have to admit that I couldn't give this one 5 stars even though the writing was stellar. Everything takes place inside Bess's very confused mind, and for this reader, it was an exhausting place to be. It
Jun 08, 2012 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book begins with a murder. Soon detectives are on the scene, and the victim’s life is being unravelled piece by piece, revealing a double life and several people with possible motives.

But this is not your average detective novel. For one thing, The Murder of Halland is narrated in the first person by Halland’s widow, Bess. This makes a difference, because what we see is a very skewed view of the investigation. She discovers some things about Halland, like an apartment in Copenhagen he’d been
Mar 15, 2016 verbava rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
для цієї маленької книжки, яка починається з покійника, настільки неважливо, хто вбивця, що нам нічого й не кажуть прямим текстом. важливо, мабуть, про жінку покійного та її переживання, але вона занадто нудна й несимпатична, щоб хоч трохи перейнятися. якось так.
У дамочки-писательницы убивают сожителя, после чего она пускается во все тяжкие и переосмысливает свою жизнь, по пути сетуя на вышеуказанного убитого и его секреты. В аннотации есть намек на детективную составляющую, но в лучшем случае «Убийство Халланда» – это слабенький психологический триллер. Кто и почему стал убийцей становится ясно почти в самом начале, причем на один конкретный намек тяжело закрыть глаза, ибо голова продолжает работать и по принуждению отключаться не умеет. Вместо того, ч ...more
Jan 23, 2013 Des rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scandinavian
A little gem and not really a crime novel, but very realistic and emotional as well as insightful into how grief is lived/experienced.

Whilst most crime thrillers are far better organised and far more real than one's own life, this story is not. And that is what I like about it most. Most of the story takes place in the grieving women's mind and is therefore a great psychoanalytical novel.
Jan 26, 2013 Lee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pretty disappointing to be honest. The main character I found pretty irritating, and the plot slightly unbelievable and contrived. Felt like it was trying really hard to be a bit abstract, but it failed in my opinion.
Feb 16, 2014 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I know grief is chaotic; I've walked that lonely road numerous times. But this book confounded me a good bit at the beginning. I wondered if it was because of the Danish to English translation. But then I totally got her. She wasn't always likeable, yet around every corner she glimpsed some new paradox about Halland's mysterious life—which she had never before realized was mysterious! She acted inappropriately, ranted, longed for her daughter, then seemed almost indifferent when she appeared. I ...more
Dec 13, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a moment when, later on in the book after things have started to get back to something like normal, our narrator, Bess, sits down to watch television:
All I needed for happiness was a detective series. And there were lots to choose from. Simplicity was a virtue. First a murder, nothing too bestial. Then a police inspector. Insights into his or her personal problems, perhaps. Details about the victim. Puzzles and anomalies. Lines of investigation. Clues. Detours. Breakthrough. Case solved
This is prose rather like John Le Carre's, all the economy of thriller / crime writing but none of the clumsiness, excavating the psychological strata of character with a skill that plenty more ostentatious authors don't have. Juul's focus in this 'existential murder mystery' is less on events and case, though. Its similarity to The Killing - which proves to be in the still rather novel way it follows the progress of investigation from the shaky[cam] perspective of Bess, grieving for her murdere ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Hebblethwaite
It’s a crime story, but the crime is in the background; the real story is the effect of bereavement on Bess, Pia Juul’s protagonist. When first we meet Bess, she goes to bed shortly after her partner Halland. When she wakes, it’s to discover that Halland has been shot dead. For the rest of the novella, Bess has to live with the aftermath of Halland’s murder, and hope that she can come to some sort of new equilibrium in life.

The Murder of Halland is a fine character study (and Martin Aitken’s tra
May 27, 2012 Ellie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, translated
Bess wakes up one morning to find her partner, Halland gone. There's a knock at the door and the police are arresting her for his murder. A witness declared his last words were “my wife has shot me” but Bess and Halland never married.

The sentences are short and the language sparse, creating the illusion of a woman in shock. She gradually goes through the stages of grief as she learns little things about Halland's life. It's a very believable little crime story in that Bess doesn't get involved i
eloquent and clever, very clever....... Meike Zeivogel (pulisher, Peirene Press) sums this as, 'quote' if you like crime you wont be disappointed. A Murder, a gun, an inspector, suspense. But the story strays far beyond a whodunit norm don't skip the[book]quotes.

One reason I love reading foreign (translated) fiction is that you (generic) get a real feel for a culture through it's literature. This book is dark and sharp with a sense of humor that is slightly off kilter definitely not Britis
Lucy Mason
Don't read if you like your mysteries solved.
May 07, 2014 Martina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Spisovatelka nám připravila velmi zapeklité dílo. Očekáváme detektivku, obálka na nás křičí, že se jedná o román, já mám ovšem pocit, že to není ani jedno z toho - nebo naopak od všeho něco?
Při čtení knihy jsem měla rozporuplné pocity.
V jednu chvíli zoufáte nad tím, že kniha Vám vůbec nic nedává, v té druhé, při hlubším zamyšlení pozorujete, že tomu je právě naopak.
Děj je svižný a čtení Vám utíká rychlým tempem. Dopomáhá tomu také samotná hrdinka Bess, která ve svých pomatených myšlenkách stá
Jul 03, 2014 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At one point in the book, the narrator Bess criticizes TV murder mysteries - with their neat solutions and tidy plots, they do not reflect real life. Presumably, Bess would give her creator 5 stars as this is a crime novel(la) which raises more questions than it gets to answer. Juul is primarily interested in showing us the impact of Halland's death on the people around him, particularly Bess (his wife/partner - she's not even sure how she should describe herself). The underlying theme is that t ...more
Nick Sweeney
Oct 01, 2012 Nick Sweeney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Prize-winning Danish author Pia Juul's take on the crime novel. She may use the furniture - small, dull town, a nearby coast, laconic, detached characters - but avoids the cliches of Scandinavian crime stories. Absurd in parts, funny throughout, and beautifully written. I reviewed this book for Sabotage Reviews. See the review here:
Sep 29, 2014 Frank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I'll be honest: I hardly ever read detectives. Not because it's not in line with my principles but simply because I can't be bothered with the work that comes with it. I already have a daytime job and solve problems on a regular basis there.

Same goes for the recent hail for Danish TV crime series. I don't care.

So here it is. A murder, a strange environment, a gun, an inspector (well tanned) and originally all in Danish. So why did I pick this up again? Blame the local English bookstore, I
Jun 08, 2016 Terri rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well this was a quirky little book. I liked it but it was not what I expected from the title. I expected a bagel and got a doughnut. Not a murder novel per se, but a character sketch of Bess and those who surround her, all emotionally stunted or restricted in some way. Bess' way of grieving is not unusual, as grief is personal, seeking out what is needed. Bess, being too introspective in life and perhaps an alcoholic, needs to still her mind and not be swallowed up with the dissection of her lif ...more
Sarah SE
There's so much going on in this tiny literary mystery. A book to talk about, for sure; perfect for book clubs.
Jan 06, 2016 Gary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book with great difficulty and only because I wanted to find out who murdered Halland and why. (view spoiler)

The book focuses on Halland's 'wife' and her reaction to his death. Now, the Scandinavians always seem to write dark books, so this one is not a surprise, but I found it impossible to like or feel sorry for her. In fact, I just didn't care about this total
Oct 13, 2014 peg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fiction
Juul's novella was a perfect read for a chilly, rainy weekend. I would never have discovered this gem if it were not for GR. I'm surprised that this story has not found its way to the cinema. Where is Liv Ullmann when you need her?

I'm not prepared to review TMOH at this point. Juul has given her readers a lot of food for thought in this short work right up to the last scene and what is left unsaid is probably more profound that what is actually on the printed page.

I will definitely revisit The M
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Pia Juul is a Danish poet, prose writer and translator. She has received several prizes and is a member of the Danish Academy. She has also taught at the Danish writing school Forfatterskolen in Copenhagen
More about Pia Juul...

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“The act of making a decision can propel you along for a while, even if you never do anything.” 0 likes
“A grieving woman could sit alone on a jetty in the early morning. But not with a book in her hands.” 0 likes
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