The cover of my edition of this book shows the author as "unknown," but a little digging reveals that it was writer (and editor) Ernest Rhys who was rThe cover of my edition of this book shows the author as "unknown," but a little digging reveals that it was writer (and editor) Ernest Rhys who was responsible for bringing us this volume of ghostly and supernatural tales. What's interesting though is that the book seems to consist completely of works collected by a M. Larigot, "himself a writer of supernatural tales," as Rhys explains, but I haven't been able to find anything about Larigot anywhere. Rhys says that "In this Ghost book," Larigot has "collected a remarkable batch of documents, fictive or real, describing the one human experience that is hardest to make good." He calls Larigot's collection "varied and artfully chosen," but that's about it except to mention that Larigot had
"in the course of his investigations, during many years, arrived at the conclusion that there is an Art of the Supernatural, apart from the difficult science of psychical research, worth cultivating for its own sake. So he has gone to Glanvil and Arise Evans and the credulous old books -- to Edgar Poe and Lord Lytton and the modern writers who tell supernatural tales. He gives us their material insight without positing its unquestionable effect as police-court evidence..."
which, one could take to mean that not only is Larigot an author in his own right, but a researcher into tales of the supernatural, which seems a good guess, since not only does this book present some already well-known stories, but also stories gleaned from Scottish castle lore, Irish legends, various diaries and accounts, as well as stories that go back to Plutarch and Homer.
On the whole, this collection is probably most geared toward readers like me who have not only an interest in older ghostly tales, but who also are into the history behind them. Some of these stories are very short, a paragraph in length, and if you don't read French you'll want to skip the small piece about Joan of Arc, which was left untranslated. I will say that the best way to read this book is probably the Project Gutenberg version, since my edition has omitted the footnotes which to me are absolutely critical. Then again, I'm a nerd and enjoy knowing where things come from so I can go look them up. There will be something for everyone here, especially anyone looking for something way, way off the beaten path.
It was a great book to curl up with during late nights of zero sleep, and one I'd recommend but more to nerdish people like myself.
I don't have a number popping into my head but I'll give it some thought as far as the star rating goes and come back to it later.
While reading this bI don't have a number popping into my head but I'll give it some thought as far as the star rating goes and come back to it later.
While reading this book I learned something very important about myself in terms of reading mystery/crime/detective novels and it is this:
after decades of immersing myself in the genre, it's highly likely that I'm going to figure out the basics of how things play out in terms of solution, so I have to start looking at these books in terms of the journey. Let's just say that these days I'm pleasantly surprised when I don't figure it out, but I have to learn to more appreciate what comes before the ending. Here, I once again heard the little bell go "ding" in my brain just after 100 pages in, which translates to something along the lines of "by Jove, I think I've got it," and since once again I was right, I decided that I had to look beyond the solution and focus on the getting there. Once I decided on going this route, I didn't walk away as disappointed as I might have been.
What Indridason has done here is to take a modern crime and root it in the past. While all faithful readers of his Erlendur series know that this is pretty much Indridason's trademark, in this book he's taken it to a new level this time. We not only have an investigation going on in the present, but it parallels an investigation into a crime that happened in 1944. We are there for that past investigation with the team of Flovent and Thorson as they make their discoveries; in the present, a retired detective named Konrad is sort of following in their footsteps to discover why a man who has just been murdered is so interested in this old case, as evidenced by newspaper clippings that he was examining before his death. So basically, Indridason has written this story in parallel time frames, which is a clever set up indeed.
--if you want a spoiler-free blurb re plot you can click here. Otherwise, read on.
Another benefit of not focusing solely on the mystery itself is that in this book, the author not only gets into the occupation of Iceland, but Iceland at that time was on the edge of independence, a situation that is clearly explained here. There's also quite a bit here about Icelandic folklore and folk beliefs which I found quite interesting and which fit nicely into the plot, and if you want to get a bit more into what's happening underneath the main mysteries involved here, you'll see that Indridason also gets into the changes on several levels brought about by the war. And then, of course, there's the main event, which is the introduction of the team of Thorson and Flovent. When it comes down to it, there are a number of reasons that I'm happy to have read this book, and since I am a huge fangirl of this author and have been reading his work since before the advent of the "Scandinavian noir" phenomenon, I'll probably read the next one too. ...more