I was so excited to finally get the opportunity to read the first book in the Harry Hole series and I can say that I was not disappointed. I must admi...moreI was so excited to finally get the opportunity to read the first book in the Harry Hole series and I can say that I was not disappointed. I must admit that I was a bit concerned about how I would feel going back to the beginning after reading all the other books in the series (except for The Cockroaches of course, which I am impatiently waiting translation). Reading The Bat was such an insightful experience that in some ways I am glad that I read this book after I got to know and love Harry Hole first. I now have a much better understanding of what makes Harry tick. The book provides important information detailing Harry's family life, young adulthood, his love life, and his work. In addition, I have finally learned what happened on the job that Harry seems to continually struggle with through all the other books.
Overall, this was a great book. There was an intriguing plot. At times, some things happen which seem to be too coincidental but this flaw is easily overlooked and of little significance. Nesbo includes several red herrings that kept me guessing who the actual killer was for most of the book. There was also the opportunity for me to learn some cultural background about Australia and the Aborigines that I was unaware of before. The only issue I may have had dealt with the translation. There were a couple of times when I went back and reread things because they didn't quite make sense. I am not sure if this was a reading error on my part or if Bartlett has just perfected his craft with each additional Hole novel. Regardless, the translation issues weren't problematic enough to make me enjoy the story any less. True Harry Hole fans will not be disappointed!
The first thing that the reader must realize about this book was that it was written in 1991 when conflict and turmoil were abundant in Latvia due to...moreThe first thing that the reader must realize about this book was that it was written in 1991 when conflict and turmoil were abundant in Latvia due to the country trying to regain its' independence from Soviet Russia. Without having a general knowledge of the history of Latvia, at times the story may seem difficult to follow. The opposition between the Soviets and Latvians seemed to create a society where people needed to be extremely cautious of everything they did and avoid suspicion because powerful factions had the authority to take the law into their own hands to solve problems as they deemed fit.
With that said, I liked The Dogs of Riga but I was not overly impressed by it. I enjoy Mankell's depiction of Kurt Wallander. I think he is a strong, interesting character that can be easily related to. After reading Faceless Killers, the reader should be familiar with Wallander's personal life. He is divorced, struggles in relating to his daughter, lacks understanding concerning his father's beliefs and opinions, and is fed up with his life as a policeman in many aspects. These are all interesting facets to be explored and to some extent they are. However, the problem with the book has little to do with Wallander's personal life. Instead, my dislike centered around the way Wallander proceeded with his investigation throughout the story. I do not want to spoil anything so I won't go in to detail about the story itself. What I will say is that I find it hard to believe that any officer would knowingly enter a foreign country illegally to investigate a case without informing any other person he works with of his intentions, no matter what his reasons for doing so. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get past the fact that Wallander's actions did not seem realistic or logical. I was so distracted by this that I just couldn't enjoy the book to any great extent.
I will continue on with the series however. I'm hoping that this book was just a small hiccup in the big picture.
When a student's body is found mutilated at the Icelandic college he attends, an arrest of one of his friends is quickly made. All is not as it seems...moreWhen a student's body is found mutilated at the Icelandic college he attends, an arrest of one of his friends is quickly made. All is not as it seems however. The student's German family decides to hire an Icelandic lawyer to further investigate because they are not at all convinced that the police arrested the correct person. Here enters Thora Gudmundsdottir, a divorced attorney and mother of two who is struggling to to keep her law firm and family afloat.
Labeled as "An Icelandic Novel of Secret Symbols, Medieval Witchcraft, and Modern Murder", Last Rituals falls short of the mark in my opinion. The writing is dry and the plot is anti-climactic at best. On occasion, there were some interesting bits about witchcraft but these parts were few and far between.
I noticed one reviewer of this book labeled Thora as a twit. That may not have been the precise word I would have used but I get where the reviewer is coming from. For a woman who is supposed to be educated, Thora often comes off looking/sounding ridiculous. For example, before going to an autopsy she tries to prove herself to her associate Matthew by stating that she gave birth to two children so she would be able to look at gruesome pictures. Another example occurs when she is told about a letter (presumably sent by the murderer to the victim's mother), and her reply is "yuck"! Seriously? When Matthew jokes with her, she is usually unable to tell when he is serious and if she tries to joke back, she says the strangest remarks. I could go on with more, but there is no point. I just didn't like her character.
Sigurdardottir tries to throw in some other minor story lines to give the novel some depth, but they seem to fall flat too.
While I like most Nordic thrillers, this one just didn't work for me and I couldn't wait to be finished with it. (less)
At first, I wasn't sure that I was going to love this book like I have all the other Harry Hole novels. In the beginning of the book Harry's presence...moreAt first, I wasn't sure that I was going to love this book like I have all the other Harry Hole novels. In the beginning of the book Harry's presence seems minimal at best and what I love about the series is, you guessed it, Harry Hole! Anyway, as the story progresses, Harry obviously does become a central character (which shouldn't be a shock!). The plot pace quickens and the story becomes more entangled by the page. So why a 5 star when I had some doubts? Easy! I thought the ending was fantastic. Now, I dread having to wait a year or more for the next installment of the series. For all of you Harry Hole fans, don't miss this one! (less)
In Mind's Eye, a man awakens to discover that his wife has been murdered and that her body is in the bathtub. He has no memory of the night before but...moreIn Mind's Eye, a man awakens to discover that his wife has been murdered and that her body is in the bathtub. He has no memory of the night before but he knows that he didn't kill her. Unable to convince the police of his innocence, he goes to trial. Chief Inspector Van Veeteren feels in his gut that the man is innocent but he also knows that the man will be found guilty at trial. What follows are additional murders and a closer examination of the case at hand.
I thought this book was a really good read. I will admit it took me a little while to adjust to the writing style. At first I felt that sentences were short and choppy. As I continued to read, I discovered that the writing style seems to match the personality of Inspector Van Veeteren however. He is highly intelligent, has a knack for following his gut, perpetually grumpy, and at times almost caustic. And yet, as a reader, I couldn't help but be enthralled by him and eager to see where his train of thought was leading.
I do have to admit that I needed to read a little more carefully. The book is chock full of characters so you must pay close attention to who's who when you read. When I read that last page, I had to look back so that I could understand its meaning.
A really good story with a clever plot, I highly recommended it to others to read. I am looking forward to continuing on with the next book in the series and getting to know Inspector Van Veeteren even better!(less)
The basic plot of this novel is to discover who is abducting and murdering children and determining what would motivate someone to commit such horrifi...moreThe basic plot of this novel is to discover who is abducting and murdering children and determining what would motivate someone to commit such horrific acts. Unwanted is similar to many other Nordic crime novels in that it is dark, intense, and violent. These elements do not prevent the story from being hypnotic however. Quite the contrary. Ohlsson does such a great job with character development that it is almost easy to look past the gruesomeness of the case. And ultimately, the characters are what I loved about this book. Unlike many other novels, the detectives in this book are non-traditional. For example, the lead detective is heading towards retirement, rather than being fresh on the job. He has established a reputation for solving murders and getting the job done but this new case presents challenges and leads him to question his decision making abilities at times. The other detective is young and has advanced in his career field quickly. He's eager to please but can also be short sighted and egotistical. His personal ethics may thought to be questionable as well, which makes for an interesting character study. Finally, there is Fredrika Bergman, a civilian investigative analyst working for the police department. Being involved in this type of work was not the career path she had envisioned and she is bothered by the fact that her co-workers question her competency and desire to do the job based primarily on the fact that she did not attend traditional police training. Ohlsson weaves a great deal of information about each character's personal life into the story making the reading experience even richer as well. A good story line and well developed characters make for a great read in my opinion.
I will say at times some of the translation bothered me. For example, "Things are "hotting" up", instead of "Things are "heating" up" was used several times and other awkward phrasing such as "Alex put his head on one side". Overall, nothing that the reader can't figure out or that would create logistical problems in understanding the story. It was just a bit distracting at times...
There is no doubt that I will be looking forward to reading future installments of Ohlsson's crime series featuring Fredrika Bergman. (less)
Lucifer's Tears is the second novel in James Thompson's Inspector Vaara series. While I enjoyed Snow Angels, the first book in the series, I liked Luc...moreLucifer's Tears is the second novel in James Thompson's Inspector Vaara series. While I enjoyed Snow Angels, the first book in the series, I liked Lucifer's Tears even better. It is not necessary to read the first novel in order to read Lucifer's Tears but you may find it helpful because the story does refer back to characters and events that took place in Snow Angels.
In this novel, Inspector Vaara and his American wife have recently relocated to Helsinki and the Inspector is assigned two new cases. The first is the horrific murder of a Russian man's wife and the second is an investigation into a Finnish man's actions during World War II which may indicate he is a cold blooded murderer, rather than the national hero he is portrayed to be.
Filled with action, Lucifer's Tears is a quick, suspenseful read. Beware that the murder Vaara is investigating is brutal and the narration describing the scenes are graphic and very sexualized. Thompson's writing is wonderful and it is easy for the reader to visualize the imagery he is detailing.
The characters in the book are well developed. In particular, I like that Vaara is a highly intelligent man but flawed. He is relatable and realistic. In Lucifer's Tears, the reader gets the opportunity to learn more about Vaara's past and also gets an introduction into Kate's (his American wife) past and her family as well.
Thompson also weaves some Finnish history and cultural elements into his story. I found the information to be informative and interesting. In fact, there were actually times when I looked things up to gather additional information on topics presented in the book.
I would not want to give anything away, but I must say that I found the ending of this book to be cleverly thought out. In addition, Thompson leaves the reader with a bit of a cliff hanger. Luckily, the third book in the series, Helsinki White is soon to be released and can be read right away. I'm eager to see what happens next in Vaara's personal life, as well as with his career!
I would highly recommend this book to others that like mysteries and crime stories and those who are looking for a change of scenery in their reading. Finland seems to be a pretty fascinating place! (less)
Snow Angels is the first in a crime/mystery series by James Thompson. There were several things I liked about this book. First, I really enjoyed that...moreSnow Angels is the first in a crime/mystery series by James Thompson. There were several things I liked about this book. First, I really enjoyed that the story takes place in Finland. Thompson does a wonderful job depicting both environmental and cultural elements that make Finland unique. I learned quite a bit about Finland which was an unexpected bonus! Next, I liked that there is almost continuous action throughout the story. The plot is intriguing and held my interest so I read the book quickly. Finally, I liked that I wasn't able to figure out who the culprit of the crime was early on in the story. Thompson does a good job at providing various scenarios as to who may have committed the crime in the story and leaves you guessing at the accuracy of each one. I would give a word of caution to people who do not enjoy graphic and/or violent stories however. The murders that take place in this story are very violent and described in precise detail. With that said, I believe that the graphic nature of the crimes are paramount to the story and have to be described as such so that the story works. I had two small issues with the book however which resulted in my 3 star rating (which I would have made 3 and 1/2 if possible). First, I felt that some of the characters weren't developed enough. In particular, I had a hard time relating to and understanding the point of view of the Detective Vaara's American wife. Perhaps in future books, I'll learn more about her and grow to understand her better. Second, the book had a few too many coincidences in my opinion. Sometimes things work out but it happened frequently in this book. Also, I felt there were times when something would happen which would make Detective Vaara leap to some conclusion that I found really far fetched. In the end though, I would recommend this book to others who like crime novels or even those who are just looking for something different. I will be reading Lucifer's Tears (the next book in the installment) and am looking forward to it!(less)
I really enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to reading the next book in the Wallander series. Faceless Killers is a fast paced, well-written no...moreI really enjoyed this novel and am looking forward to reading the next book in the Wallander series. Faceless Killers is a fast paced, well-written novel filled with action and excitement. Like many other Scandinavian crime novels, the central character is a hard working, intelligent, yet flawed police detective (Kurt Wallander). The aforementioned flaws are what make this novel so enjoyable. It's realistic. While there is focus on solving several violent crimes, the reader also gets to delve into Wallander's personal life and struggles. If you like books by Arnaldur Indriðason, Jussi Adler-Olsen, or Jo Nesbo, I would recommend this book to you!(less)