Since I've finished this novel and won't be reading it again, I'm giving it away. If you live in the US and you want this book (a signed edition, mindSince I've finished this novel and won't be reading it again, I'm giving it away. If you live in the US and you want this book (a signed edition, mind you!) it's yours. Free. I'll pay postage. Just be the first to leave a comment.
Oh dear. I sort of find myself swimming upstream again as far as my take on this novel.
For me, Wolf Winter is a liked it, didn't love it kind of novel -- it's something I probably wouldn't have chosen on my own and I probably wouldn't have even considered reading it except for the fact that it was an Indiespensable selection that just arrived. As far as the historical aspect, it's very well done -- exploring (among other things) the connections between Sweden's king and the church, the king and the people during the ongoing war, and enforced Christianization as opposed to the religious beliefs and practices of indigenous people. The book also paints a portrait of a woman struggling to survive on her own in the middle of a horrible winter in 1717. The sense of place that is evoked through this author's writing is excellent.
On the other hand, it seems like it is yet another book designed to catch as wide a reading audience as possible, incorporating a 14-year old girl who hears and sees things the others don't, a murder mystery, the supernatural, etc. ... I even saw it listed as "Nordic Noir" somewhere. And there's a reference to "fans of Jo Nesbo" on the inside dust jacket cover. Jo Nesbo? -- no way. The obvious comparison, of course, is to Hannah Kent's outstanding Burial Rites, with the most obvious parallel between the two found in how people managed to live in remote areas and survive in unforgiving conditions. They are also both historical novels, and there is a murder in both as well. But clearly, imo, Burial Rites is the better novel.
So here's my bottom line ... it worked for me as an historical novel, but many of the rest of the elements put into this book gave it a "cluttered" sort of feel, which was really distracting. If you can get past all of the extraneous stuff going on here, it is a good historical fiction novel and I'd recommend it as such. ...more
I recently ran across an article written by author Peter Dickinson that touches on why the English Country House murder mysteries were so popular in tI recently ran across an article written by author Peter Dickinson that touches on why the English Country House murder mysteries were so popular in their day. It's something I've been wondering about as I've been making my way through the work of some pretty obscure women crime writers, and Dickinson offers an explanation. He says that
"... the ideal setting for the mystery novel is the imaginary world of the country house. There, supposed balance and harmony is broken by the act of violence, just as in the real world it had been broken by the war. That is why the ideal murderee is the nouveau riche millionaire, the embodiment of the economic upheavals, contrasted with the dwindling resources that had kept the grand old families going".
That is most definitely the case in The Punt Murder, where the main character is an incredibly wealthy but very young heiress who marries into a very old but now broke British family. She is Merle Holroyd, wife of the squire of Wissingham. The family home, naturally called Holroyd, was given over to the family by Henry the Eighth although it had been around long before Henry's time. Merle, of course, is expected to conform to tradition -- but she's something of a firecracker and refuses to settle into the life expected of her. In this book, the traditional world collides with the modern, dividing the small village (even down to the police) when a murder occurs.
The author's strength becomes apparent after a while in the way that she establishes this closed, traditional village world and the tensions between it and the more modern, outer world that makes its way into the village of Wissingham. She accomplishes this feat mainly through the exploration of her characters, and it is done so well that there is very little in the way of long-winded explanations or backstory such as I've found (and been utterly bored by) in other novels of this period.
The Punt Murder is a whodunit with a couple of good twists and turns that do not allow the reader a clear vision of the "who" until the very end. It can be a bit sappy in terms of romance here and there, but ultimately, it ends up being a good, not great, little mystery novel that nicely captures not only the flavor and feel of the English village but the encroachment upon it by the outside world as well. Thanks to Ostara Publishing, this book is now widely available and they also offer a selection of other long-forgotten works to explore.
Recommended -- less so to hardcore crime readers than to readers more into the traditional sort of mystery novel. ...more
Storylines, etc are detailed at my online reading journal's crime page while in this space I'll just leave my impression.
This is an absolutely super Storylines, etc are detailed at my online reading journal's crime page while in this space I'll just leave my impression.
This is an absolutely super book, and something entirely different. Rather than having an entire series follow a main character's arc, James Sallis manages to put it into one book. There are five books which follow this one in his Lew Griffin series which I haven't read, but The Long-Legged Fly covers a span of time from 1964 through 1990.
Set in New Orleans, each section of The Long-Legged Fly centers around Griffin's search for someone who is lost. Taken as a whole, one could argue that Griffin is also searching for himself in this book. Who is this Lew Griffin exactly? When we first meet Griffin, he's hell-bent on vengeance and actually kills a man before he goes back to settle into his office, where we discover he's a PI who is friends with a local cop -- pretty much standard pulp-fiction fare. Then another surprise -- he hits the skids and comes back as a collector for a loan outfit, spending time in a halfway house after weeks of detox for his alcohol problem. At some point he becomes interested in writing and changes his life again, becoming the author of a Cajun detective series, until there's a big twist at the end where just who is actually doing the narrating becomes a central question that forces the reader to completely re-evaluate everything he or she has just read.
Clearly, Griffin is no ordinary man and is definitely not the stock PI of pulp fiction. There is a certain richness to this book that makes it unlike any other in this genre. First, there's New Orleans, a city that, like Lew, reinvents itself while keeping its history intact; there's also an abundance of literary references and references to local blues artists and their work sprinkled throughout this novel. Griffin has to work through a lifetime of pain and, as noted on the back-cover blurb, he fears "becoming as lost as the frail identities he is trying to recover." I genuinely appreciate an author who allows his or her characters to discover themselves around a plotline rather than making the plot the central focus of a novel -- and since I prefer understanding people and why they do what they do in a given situation, I've always felt a plot should be secondary with characters coming first. Then again, not everyone reads like I do, so readers looking for a fast-action, pulpy PI novel will definitely not find it here. Readers who also prefer a strictly linear chronology may also not care for this one, but for me, The Long-Legged Fly is something completely out of the ordinary. Recommended with absolutely no qualms whatsoever, but mainly to readers who are much more into fullness of character rather than straight-up action....more