John Donoghue found me first. He has got a Twitter account and followed my account(s) and this is how I discovered his book. I’m part of a Sherlock rol...moreJohn Donoghue found me first. He has got a Twitter account and followed my account(s) and this is how I discovered his book. I’m part of a Sherlock roleplay / writer community over there and I guess the – as I have to admit – little misleading title I borrowed for my username might have been the reason why I got discovered by him. I had a look at his profile and was immediately interested. Police officer AND author? Take my money! Peoople who know me better will surely get why the next thing I did was buying “Police, Crime & 999″. ;) I don’t know what I expected, the reviews I read had been quite divided but never judge a book by its cover (or in this case its reviews.) First of all: I felt very well entertained. If Mr Donoghue has one thing it is definitely a very cynical gallow’s humour. You either like that or you will have some struggle with some chapters. A bit too many saucy innuendos for my taste, but if you are able to not feel offended the book offers a good overview of the everyday madness (read: people a.k.a. idiots) a police officer has to face during his shifts. His anecdotes and stories made me laugh and they made me think. There are a few, very strong paragraphs where Mr Donoghue actually drops his mask and let me gain the impression this was honestly him speaking and not the cheeky bloke who always knows a catchphrase for any given situation. For example:
However, being a bloke, I wasn’t used to talking about feelings. Not many of my colleagues are. Not even tucking the subject in between the sports and weather. I know it’s not good for me. I know I should be getting things out, discussing them, purging the demons from my soul …but instead, like a lot of my workmates, I bottle it all up and bury those difficult thoughts, horrific experiences and bad memories. You can never bury them deep enough though, and sometimes when you are innocently digging around for something else in your subconscious, you uncover one of those things you thought you had put behind you. I really should learn to be more emotional, more sentimental, deal with issues effectively when they occur, but I just don’t seem to have the ability to open up, I just can’t seem to allow my guard to drop. Maybe it’s been ingrained in me too long. I’ve been a sailor, a soldier and now a police officer. It just doesn’t seem to be the done thing. I can’t seem to let the facade drop. We’re supposed to be the ones people depend on.
I also highly appreciate the “inside” informations and few bits and bites of history and statistics here and there. It was very interesting to read but not too cluttered. It was a very well balanced mixture of facts, inside views, personal view (I really would have loved more of those!) and stories that are funny and occasionally bitter in the aftertaste. One minor thing that was a bit exhausting after a while, was the repetition of the phrase “But I disgress”. I know that it was meant to mellow up the flow and lead back to the golden thread but it didn’t quite want to fit into the entire storytelling itself. Nevertheless “Police, Crime and 999″ is a book I really enjoyed reading and I’ll surely get my greedy bookaddict fingers on the sequel “Police, Lies and Alibis”.
One last thing I’d like to share is a further quote I really, really loved:
I finally had time on my own to sit in quiet reflection. There’s no doubt that being a police officer changes you. Roughly translated, the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said something along the lines of ‘Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster’. Repellent as they may be, I don’t really classify the likes of Drew Peacock and Hugh Janus as out and out monsters. I hadn’t yet reached the stage where I stared into the abyss and the abyss stared back at me and then looked away in shame. However, in some way I felt I’d lost what was left of my innocence – that in some ways life had maybe lost a bit of its mystery. Dealing with the worst that society can offer certainly makes you more cynical. To a certain degree, I also felt that I had become de-sensitised to life. Dead bodies, cruelty, neglect – whereas they may have given me sleepless nights in the past – they were now just jobs that had to be dealt with. On the other hand, I’d fitted a lifetime of new adventure into just one year, and had so many good laughs that my sides ached, had real job satisfaction and felt some genuine camaraderie again. Some experiences were good, some were bad, but all taught me a lesson one way or another. They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, except for polio, of course. To me, the pros vastly outweighed the cons (insert your own punchline here). The office of Constable is certainly the best position I’d ever held.
“Pure” left to my astonishment just a fleeting impression. The writing was great – some bumpy dialogues aside, which I’d like to blame the format (aud...more“Pure” left to my astonishment just a fleeting impression. The writing was great – some bumpy dialogues aside, which I’d like to blame the format (audiobook) for. It gets a bit unnerving when each sentence ends with “he said” or “she said”. – the images and sceneries very well written and the atmosphere rather catching, but still… It didn’t “click”. As I wrote in a former review I always had my difficulties with audiobooks but since I gave them another try I found a method to listen to books and actually keep up with the story. I failed with “Pure”. I found it difficult to follow all those little side stories and keep track of them and apparently (I read other reviews) I wasn’t the only one. Audiobook aside. I’ll surely give it a second try and will pay better attention to the whole development.
Another big compliment to the narrator, Jonathan Aris, who read so brilliantly and I’d like to sign a petition that he has to read more books with French vocabulary in them. His sense for languages is drop down magnificent. Contrary to his reading for “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” he didn’t quite manage the distinction between each character he so skilfully used in “Jacob de Zoet”. All in all a good but slightly disappointing “read”, but nevertheless surely worth a try.(less)
“Silber” ist nicht mein erstes Buch von Kerstin Gier, das ich gelesen habe. Ich liebe ihren leichten (nicht negativ wertend gemeint) Schreibstil. Ihre...more“Silber” ist nicht mein erstes Buch von Kerstin Gier, das ich gelesen habe. Ich liebe ihren leichten (nicht negativ wertend gemeint) Schreibstil. Ihre Bücher lesen sich wahnsinnig schnell aber bleiben dabei spannend. In “Silber” lassen sich eindeutige Parallelen zu der Edelstein- Trilogie erkennen, aber mich hat das jetzt nicht weiter gestört. Eine große Tanzveranstaltung scheint bei Kerstin Gier einfach mit dazu zu gehören und sie schreibt, umschreibt und führt mit so viel Begeisterung zu dem “Event”, dass auch trotz leichtem Déjà- vu Gefühls der Spaß beim Lesen nicht getrübt wird. Ich hoffe nur, sie kann sich doch irgendwann von ihren “Baukasten- Steinen” lösen und findet andere Wege weiterhin interessante und – es lässt sich nicht anders ausdrücken – zuckersüße Liebesgeschichten zu erzählen.
Ich stecke Bücher nur ungerne in Schubladen, aber “Silber” ist in meinen Augen ein “Mädchenbuch”. Und das durch und durch. An Kerstin Gier schätze ich – in allen Büchern, die ich bisher gelesen habe – , dass die Hauptprotagonistin stark ist. Sie hat ihren eigenen Kopf, ist meistens alles andere als auf den Mund gefallen und hat einen sehr feinen Sinn für Humor. Dennoch macht Fr. Gier aus ihnen allen keine zickigen, bockigen Mannweiber, die mit dem Kopf durch die Wand wollen und dabei wie ein billiges Girly Gang Imitat wirken. Sie haben neben ihren Stärken auch ihre Schwächen und genau das ist es, was einen guten und sympathischen Charakter ausmacht. Auch die anderen “Mitspieler” bekommen ihre Tiefe und bis auf ein paar Ausnahmen wie Onkel Charles, Persephone oder Mia kann man sich ein sehr gutes Bild von ihnen machen.
Das Ende war fies, besonders wenn man weiß, dass es eine Fortsetzung geben wird. Cliffhanger sind eine gemeine Angelegenheit, aber ich freue mich schon darauf, den zweiten Band lesen zu können.(less)
Eine ganze Weile klang es wie ein solider, gut geschriebener Krimi, der aber nicht wirklich so herausstechend klang, wie die Kritiken es anklangen lie...moreEine ganze Weile klang es wie ein solider, gut geschriebener Krimi, der aber nicht wirklich so herausstechend klang, wie die Kritiken es anklangen ließen. Und dann kam die erste Wende in der Geschichte. Der Sprung war relativ krass und ich muss mit offenem Mund da gelegen haben, als sich diese Seite der Medaille langsam entfaltete. Es folgten noch zwei weitere “WTF?” Momente, auf die ich aber unmöglich eingehen kann, ohne zu viel zu verraten. Das Ende ist schrecklich und so genial. Ich wünschte, ich könnte mir so eine komplexe Geschichte ausdenken, ohne selber den roten Faden zu verlieren oder am Ende ein so verkopftes Werk zu haben, dass entweder alle verwirrt oder gelangweilt sind.
Ich liebe die Charaktere – allen voran natürlich die beiden Protagonisten, Amy und Nick, um die es hier hauptsächlich geht – und wie sie die Wandlung von doch eher durchschnittlichen 0815 zu solch komplexen, hinterhältigen Persönlichkeiten. Aber sowohl Amy als auch Nick. Beide sind keine Heiligen und beide sind Egoisten genug, um der Sache extrem viel Würze zu verleihen.
Ich habe keine Ahnung, wer mir nun mehr Leid tun sollte, aber nicht mögen kann man sie beide ganz hervorragend. Auch die kleineren Rollen sind hervorragend herausgearbeitet und tragen sehr gut zum gesamten Aufbau und der Dynamik der Geschichte bei. Auf jeden Fall sehr lesens – oder wie in meinem Fall – hörenswert, besonders wenn es etwas über den üblichen Krimi und Blutrauschhtriller hinausgehen darf.
Review in English:
For quite a while the story sounded like a steady but well written crime book, which wasn’t much more than this and didn’t leave much room for the expectations a few of the reviews made me hope for. And then the first plottwist happened. The step was quite bold and I’m sure I must have lain in bed open mouthed when this side of the story slowly unfolded itself.
There were two further “WTF?” moments I can impossibly speak about if I don’t want to spoil the surprise for anyone who hasn’t read / listened to the book yet. The final is awful and genius. I really wish I was able to come up with such a complex story without confusing myself, loose the golden thread or have a novel that leaves all readers puzzled or bored.
I love the characters – especially the two main protagonists, Amy and Nick – and how they change from average to very sophisticated, mean pesonalities. None of them is a saint and both are egoistic enough to spice things up incredibly.
I have no idea whom to pity more, but I dislike them both equally (a good way of disliking btw.) Even the minor characters get their moments and are huge supporters of the entire build up and dynamic of the storytelling. Absolutely worth the read – or as in my case to listen to – especially when it can get a little deeper than the usual crime story or “hack, slay and bloodbath” thriller.(less)
The story started great, it had some great parts but all in all I’m quite disappointed. Everything was a bit too far fetched and too forced in my opin...moreThe story started great, it had some great parts but all in all I’m quite disappointed. Everything was a bit too far fetched and too forced in my opinion. It was like Henning Mankell wanted to actually write a book about South Africa and its difficult political and cultural ways (the book was finished 1994) and just thought it would reach more people if he’d sell it under the name “A Wallander Thriller”.
I still loved his approach of Inspector Wallander, who is all but flawless. I like protagonists with personal struggles that make them into believable characters and not the “superheros” that can often be found in other novels. Wallander is a police officer – and a rather good one – but he is also a human being. He hates and detests, worries and makes mistakes.
Mistakes happen. But the amount of “unfortunate events” and mistakes was a bit too constructed for my liking. A telex misses the second page, the second attempt is wonky, as well and in the end the message still reaches the South African colleagues almost too late. Yeah, okay. As well as the woman from the airport who is usually always so attentive but lets on exactly this day exactly this one man go through the check in without paying further attention. I know that those things can happen but I think it didn’t do the story here any good. Way too much forcing the circumstances to fit into the storyline.
Another point that bothered me a little was the translation. I’m not a native English speaker, but I think the translation from Swedish to English was… not one of the best. Some words were a bit questionable in the context they had been used and a few sentences were a little out of order. They still made sense but let me stumble a little while reading.
A fairly good read, but not a good Wallander Thriller, as deplorable as it is.(less)
I had been sceptic. I read works by Julian Barnes before and had very mixed feelings about his storytelling. The first book I read was “A History of t...moreI had been sceptic. I read works by Julian Barnes before and had very mixed feelings about his storytelling. The first book I read was “A History of the World in 10½ Chapters” in German translation, which I loved but found quite verbose in some parts. The second was “The Sense of an Ending” which I absolutely didn’t like. The story was boring, the protagonists idiots. Maybe one can blame the story itself, it was simply not my cup of tea.
And now “Arthur & George”. Like stated before I had been sceptic since “The Sense of an Ending” was (for me!) a little bit disappointing but Arthur & George is a great book! I grew quite fond of Mr Barnes’ writing and I really like it how he gave the two main protagonists their voices back (as well as the secondary characters). I think it must be a real challenge for an author to write a novel about historic personalities and the more famous the person was the higher the bar is raised.
As far as I was able to tell his research and background knowledge about George Edalji’s and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s lives and whatabouts was absolutely neat and thorough. If he did leave something aside in his story it didn’t make itself conspicuous. He didn’t add what wasn’t to be proven by secondary sources and all in all his approach of a rather difficult topic and two very different and not less difficult personalities was tender and well thought of.
Like ”A History of the World in 10½ Chapters” this book as well had some lengthy parts but the entirety of greatly drawn characters (the lot of them), interesting parts and an insight to two very different life careers whose paths crossed more or less by chance, completely made up for it.
I was quite surprised and didn’t expect to enjoy this book so much.(less)
The book is introvert and tranquil. The story is a forth and back between what has been and what is; past and present. Mr. Banville manages it to creat...moreThe book is introvert and tranquil. The story is a forth and back between what has been and what is; past and present. Mr. Banville manages it to creat a very distinct atmosphere. The narrator contemplates over his first love, childhood and how it changed during just one summer. He ponders over recent events, namely the death of his wife. While he does so, the tune of his telling is distant but not free of a certain fondness. He doesn’t go overboard with grief or nostalgia; he reflects. All those events and about himself. Like everyone of us, he as well is not flawless and he knows it or comes to realise it the further he carries the reader through the story. Don’t expect a storytelling novel here. There are two main strings of stories that get told, but they stay in the background as golden threads while the narrator gives us an insight of himself. It is a long, greatly written farewell to childhood and loved ones.
John Banville has a wonderful way with words. I loved his writing and his view for tiny details in a scenery that – stressed out – benefitted the entire atmosphere of a scene described. The only thing that slightly bugged me (but more out of personal preference) was the narrator’s view of women. They are all a bit dull and chubby. His daughter aside. Nevertheless still a very great book, with a lot of unasked questions in between the lines that lets one ponder over oneself, past and present. I liked the little twist on the last 10 pages but this review shall remain “spoiler free”.(less)
Audiobooks and I have a very complicated relationship. We are not particularly friends, but we are getting along. I usually listen to them while slowl...moreAudiobooks and I have a very complicated relationship. We are not particularly friends, but we are getting along. I usually listen to them while slowly falling asleep since my partner is a snorer and my mind apparently always in need for entertainment before finally shutting up.
The problem here is obvious. I fall asleep before a chapter is finished an have to listen to some passages more than one or two times. Often my thoughts start to wander and I lose track of what is happening in the story, but the combination of “lying in bed in the dark” and “audiobook” seems to work astonishingly well. I can’t say that I grasped everything of the story, but like to think that I understood the main threads of it. I’ve never been a huge fan of Japan or overly interested in the culture like many others happen to be (the Manga and Anime culture makes it possible) but I was able to follow the descriptions and understand how different those two cultures – Japanese and Dutch – are and what a living on the edge it must have been for the protagonists.
A very huge compliment to the two narrators, Paula Wilcox and Jonathan Aris. Especially the latter is a fantastic reader. He modulates a unique way to speak for every single character. Even with forgetting their names, which were partly rather complicated when you just listen to them, I was able to recognise the person by the way Mr Aris let him or her speak.
In between it was so thrilling that I forgot about sleep and had to listen to the book for 2 hours straight (and actually fight sleep back), because I simply needed to know what would happen. The end left me with a feeling of sad happiness or happy sadness but I will refrain from giving away too many details. It is one of the bittersweet parts of this entire story.
David Mitchell is a wonderful writer, as far as I can tell, and he gave his characters a lot of depth and personality. All of them. The good guys and the bad ones. His researches on Japanese and Dutch culture, history and language must have taken ages and although I’m far from being an expert, it is obvious to me, that he put a lot of thought into it.
This book will be a companion for a while, because there is just so much to think and ponder over and maybe at some point I will listen to it again, just for the joy of it.(less)
Was auf den ersten Blick auf den Klappentext erst einmal nach verschrobenem Esoterik Schnulzenwerk klingt, entpuppt sich beim Lesen als ein relativ vi...moreWas auf den ersten Blick auf den Klappentext erst einmal nach verschrobenem Esoterik Schnulzenwerk klingt, entpuppt sich beim Lesen als ein relativ vielschichtiger Roman, in dem nicht etwa der Tod eines Mädchens oder das Verbrechen an sich im Mittelpunkt steht, sondern der Fokus auf das Leben aller Anderen nach diesem Tod gerichtet ist. Welch weitreichende Effekte eintreten können und wie sehr ein einziges Leben so viele andere beeinflusst hat, auch wenn es nur ein flüchtiges ‘vorüber streifen’ gewesen ist.
Wie immer gefiel mir natürlich die Figur des Polizisten – Len Fenerman – am Besten, auch wenn er neben den Hauptakteuren, namentlich Susie’s nächste Verwandte und ihr Mörder, etwas außen vor blieb. Dennoch kommt seine Rolle zum Tragen.
Ich hatte den Eindruck, Alice Sebold hat sehr genau beobachtet, bevor sie die Reaktionen ihrer Figuren niedergeschrieben hat. Zuweilen wirkten sie dennoch etwas zu problembeladen. Sie alle – Ruth, Ray, Abigail, Jack, Len, Buckley – haben so schwer zu tragen an ihren persönlichen Niederlagen und ihrem “unangepasst sein” oder wie in Abigail’s Fall ihrem “zu angepasst sein” und dazu der Tod Susie’s, dass es manchmal doch etwas zu viel des Guten ist.
Es gibt Abschnitte, die so wundervoll geschrieben sind und andere, die etwas schwächelten. Unter dem Strich bleibt eine Geschichte, auf die man sich einlassen muss, Charaktere, die man nicht zu kritisch sehen sollte und ein schön-trauriges Buch, in dem vielleicht nicht alle Probleme und Problemchen gelöst werden, um für das passende Happy End zu garantieren, in dem aber der Grundgedanke und die Kernaussage eine klar positive ist. Leben ist schwer, aber es lohnt sich dennoch, egal wie viele Stolpersteine und Tragödien einem in den Weg gelegt werden.
Ein paar Worte die Verfilmung betreffend: Ich habe den Film gesehen (mehrfach sogar) bevor ich das Buch gelesen habe. Eine 1:1 Umsetzung war natürlich auch hier nicht möglich, aber alle Elemente, die wichtig sind… Die plötzliche Heftigkeit des Todes, die schleimige Anbiederei George Harveys, die Zerrissenheit Len Fernermans und die unterschiedlichen Wege der “Trauerbewältigung”, die die Familienmitglieder gehen, sind da. Ebenso wie der Einblick in Susie’s Himmel und warum er ist, wie er ist. Ich kann also beides empfehlen und beides ist unabhängig voneinander gut verständlich und sich nicht gegenseitig im Weg.(less)
All is ashen. All is grey. This impression is a returning image throughout the book. You get the idea about the world how it now is quite quickly and s...moreAll is ashen. All is grey. This impression is a returning image throughout the book. You get the idea about the world how it now is quite quickly and still there are waiting new horrors and absurdities with every further step "the boy" and his father take. Slowly, very slowly they turn the tables and it is heart wrenching and hurting to witness. Their dialogues are short and often consist of the repitition of the same phrases and words over and over again. There is hardly more to talk about when what you see is always the same and just changing from time to time in the level of anxiety. Even a safe place feels too unsafe after a while and they move on and on till the change is completed... but telling more would be telling spoilers. When you least expect it, McCarthy throws essential questions at you and you stop reading, re-read that one sentence or passage and you have to put the book aside for a moment or a few minutes to let that sink in. It is a depressing and sad story and yet brilliant in its repetition of grey and ashen. The style of writing is odd in the beginning but one gets used to it the farther the story goes on. In the end you can be sure that the fire will always be carried on. (less)