A man called Wolf…

I have travelled very swiftly from Sweden to fictional Norway with my next read. If you are following me, I haven’t actually moved anywhere far as I am still at home with my feet-up, and you will know my back-story.

I won’t labour the point other than to say – I am typing again with both hands! 

The Book of the Blog

So I have now read We Shall Inherit the Wind by Gunnar StaalesenWe Shall Inherit the Wind BF AW.indd

The Plot 

Varg is a PI in the Chandler style. The story is written entirely from his perspective as he follows-up on the apparent disappearance of his girlfriend’s (Karin) friend’s husband, Mons. The book actually starts in intensive care where his girlfriend is in a coma, we are then hooked into the what happened and what will be the outcome.

The plot then rewinds to the case. The plot sees Varg travel to and from a remote, picturesque, bleak, rugged, wild, run-down and fictional coastal region of Norway in search of the missing man. Varg’s motive is to dig into where the storyline is primarily set near the site of a disputed potential wind-farm. It is while he is there that the plot explodes in dramatic circumstances.

In the course of his digging, Varg meets Mon’s two grown-up children from his first-wife. These now adult children are on opposing sides of the dispute.

From there he starts to unwind a ‘cold-case’ involving the man’s first wife’s disappearance – apparently by drowning many years ago. He gets entangled, as the plot develops, with the business interests that want (or do they?) the wind-farm to be built, the eco-terrorists, local religious fanatics, curtain twitching local gossip-mongers, local ex-police and current Bergen police. Varg is known to the Bergen police by reputation as at one point as they finish talking one of them says “catch you later Varg” which I found amusing in the darkness of this very good Nordic-noir novel.

I enjoyed how the tensions between on one-hand the unearthed family conflicts, the past and present are entwined and the ecological and layered economical conflicts; I am intrigued to read more about Varg and probably need to get some more books from Staalesen. I think my fiancee may hit the roof when I next get back from a book-shop as the pile will yet again grow quicker than I can reduce it.

I found the style different from my other recent reads but when I look back on the other authors I’ve read Mankell and Nesbo most of their work is written from the main character’s perspective so not a difficult transition.

The story does achieve closure on all fronts; there are clues to the culprits if you look for them – whodunnit? – I won’t say other than to highly recommend the book. Please read it and then you’ll find out.

Credits

My literary flight from Malmo to Bergen comes courtesy of Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books. My thanks for the opportunity to discover a writer of great pedigree of who, prior to this, I had not heard of.

Gunnar’s fame in his native Norway is legendary – as you will see from the link there are twelve films about the ‘Wolf’ in the stories Varg Veum.

It was my great pleasure and honour to meet Gunnar in Portsmouth at Blackwell‘s on September 8 with Orenda Books on a whistle-stop tour before he and Kati Hiekkapelto wend their way to Bloody Scotland via a UK mini-tour. Thanks to all involved for a great evening!

I am now reading The Defenceless by Kati Hiekkapelto and will be writing about that in due course.

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The Art of Murder….

In complete contrast to my last blog, unfortunately, I’ve had much too much time to read this week. I had a fall two weeks ago which resulted in a bang on the head. What I thought was a 4 day hangover from an enjoyable final evening on a short cruise, now turns out to be a minor bleed on my right brain.

I don’t want sympathy but it’s meant I’ve been able to concentrate on reading in the peace and quiet of a waiting room in one of our wonderful hospitals. This unfortunate injury does however mean that sporadically I have a loss of feeling in my left arm and reduced minor motor function; those things that become second nature, and we take for granted, what we call ‘muscle-memory.’ Those actions have had to become more deliberate this week. A visit to hospital on Monday August 17, gave me an extended opportunity to read so I finished the subject of this blog ahead of time. Then on Tuesday, August 18 at home I read the last 100 or so pages of “Murder” and collected my thoughts for my blog.

In fact I am dictating most of my blog this time. This is because it would take me hours to do this with my left-hand being frequently useless at present; my consequent frustration would lead me very quickly to give up. I am quite impressed by how clever it is and despite my strong regional accent my MacBook hasn’t needed any tuition. I should warn you now if you haven’t read ‘Meet Me..’ Then you should, but also do not read this blog. Spoiler alert!!

Torquil Macleod

The book of the Blog
Somewhat like me, Anita is down on her luck.

She’s been on ‘sick leave’ due to the last case and shooting the wrong man.

The right-guy who she fell in love with in ‘Meet Me’ is now in prison as the murderer from that book. She’s in conflict; his appeal keeps drawing her back to his prison which if found out could end her career.

Her nemesis, Westermark, knows this and tries to use it against her continuing to prey on her as he does with most women. He sees her as a sexual conquest and has power over her as a result of her apparent blindness on the previous case.

He meanwhile is in the ascendancy along with Moberg the overbearing and sexist boss who have claimed the credit for Ewan being locked up.

Anita like my other police heroes, has baggage. Her son, Lasse, away at University now has a girlfriend with whom he wants to spend the midsummer. This leaves Anita feeling very lonely. To add insult to injury her sidekick from ‘Meet Me’ has gone to Stockholm and she has a new trainee called Hakim whose parents are immigrants from Iraq.

When she returns, due to her failure, Moberg excludes her from the murder case, leaving her to work on two pieces of art theft, painted coincidently by the father of her childhood friend, Karin. The plot thickens when another art theft is perpetrated but the owner murdered in a bloody way.

With these two threads of crime, Moberg has another problem, someone is shooting immigrants.

Anita finds a tenuous but important link in the art crime thread as two other people from the Ad agency are also murdered. Hakim, finds a link between the murder victims. There are references to Wallander and Krister Henriksson in the text an homage to Henning Mankel in my view. Ystad is not far away and their force are involved in the police work.

Westermark’s weaknesses lead him astray and true to form he responds to flattery which puts Anita and Hakim in mortal danger.

There are obvious clues, red herrings and multiple layers to this excellent, police procedural. MacLeod sets the pace, builds the tension and weaves a complex plot to great conclusion finishing on the last page! I also like the social comment in the text as it highlights a current problem in Calais. There are historical and political references that play within the main theme too!

A well constructed and thoroughly enjoyable read with a surprising outcome of the crimes but if you’re concentrating early-on you get a good clue to a possible perpetrator of one of the murders.

Whodunnit?
You’ll have to read it. Excellent; page-turning and engaging! your turn.

Credits/Acknowledgements
McNidder & Grace @McNidderGrace for the pleasure and honour to be part of the Blog Tour. Thank you Linda.
Mr Macleod for writing great stories for me to read and write about.
QAH Portsmouth ‘AMU’ for their lovely care and coffee trolley!

Meet me in crime land somewhere north of Germany..

I’ve been, it feels, locked in a windowless office in the south of the Netherlands for the last four days in meetings with no sunlight. It could have been winter in northern Sweden!

My business trips get in the way of reading and writing. By the time the flip-chart pad has been scribbled on; the whiteboard (can you say that?) drawn-on, photographed and wiped and my fingers are covered in dabs of coloured marker — looks down at shirt to see if he’s ruined another one — and I’ve killed my colleagues with yet another presentation my brain is too exhausted to read.

My preference at this point is to retire to the hotel bar, the restaurant and then my room, switch on the TV to find something easy to watch. I still find crime as choice one! On Monday, I ate dinner with colleagues; Tuesday evening after dinner with a colleague I found ‘Lewis’ and his trusty side-kick solving a crime in the beautiful settings in and around Oxford. On Wednesday evening I found ‘Silent Witness’. One of the UK’s better answers – if not the only one to the US CSI franchise and in fact a forerunner. I don’t, I hesitate to state, raise any comparison between the two. The role the local CSIs play has a very English feel and is a far more relaxed in the build-up and I could say on contradiction more tension built. All of these shows this week in English with Dutch sub-titles on NED-3.

The Book Of the Blog 

malmocover1_meet_me_in_malmo-187x300

Why make excuses? Because I am currently reading Meet me in Malmo by Torquil MacLeod. Set in Malmö in Sweden featuring a Scots journalist sent to do a piece on his old university buddy’s life as a now famous ‘Geordie’ Swedish film director. The police element comes from the attractive, blonde, divorced, female inspector who is under pressure to find the murderer of Mick‘s (the director) reluctant star and actress wife. Ewan the Scots ‘hack’ finds her body so gets entangled in the web of intrigue being unwound by Anita. Another dimension to the story comes from her Anita‘s boss, an overweight and overbearing chauvinist ‘copper’ who wants to string-up the first suspect on circumstantial evidence. The plot has developed nicely and we learn about our heroine’s back-story. I am looking forward to an exciting climax as there are only a few other key players in this clever plot.

The question remains as always.  “Whodunit”? I hope to finish this excellent novel over the weekend as my relaxation and find out the answers to those inevitable questions in the crime genre;  ‘WhyWho did do it,’ and ‘will or won’t they get away with it? Add that to the pleasure of finding out I’ll be adding another to my 2015 book count. The bonus is I won’t have to wait long for the follow-up as I believe a copy of Torquil MacLeod‘s next instalment and Anita’s next case Murder in Malmo is winging its way in hard copy to my letterbox. Unlike some Nordic Noir authors (nameless) whose books in English I have caught up and wait impatiently for the next translation. You know who you are if you ever read this!

Meet me in Malmo” engaged me in the people and the places; it makes me feel like I am in Malmo and I am starting to sympathise with the main characters and if the journo Ewan will still be part of the next one and more entangled with Anita than the investigation he is caught up in!

Background

As this is my first real blog on what I am reading I suppose a little back story would assist to try to give me some street-cred in your eyes; I am in my 50s I have always aspired to write but never have (or make) the time. I have however read a lot — predominantly crime; a lot of espionage and sci- fi along side general novels. I have some favourite authors – Jo Nesbo; John Le Carre; Henning Mankel; Arne Dahl; Iain Banks; Asimov; Charles Cumming and Edward Wilson. There are others where I’ve read a single book – Graeme Greene’s ‘Our Man in Havana’. In most of the books I have read there is one character that grabs me and I want to know more about them it helps my passion so I like books with characters who ‘star’ in the books Kurt Wallander; Harry Hole; George Smiley; Catesby! So my latest find is Anita Sundström – there are other heroes in the crime genre (homage to a BBC line used in reference to brand naming). I’ll write about them in future blogs if you like this then thank you! If you don’t we are all entitled to our opinion!

Enjoy reading, it has to be one of the last and most inexpensive pastimes that allows me to escape from reality and so far unknown to me anyway no medical expert has said it is detrimental to my health! Until next time.