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L'Enfant Allemand - Eric Herson-Macarel, Camilla Läckberg, Audiolib

Another interesting visit in Fjällbacka. I like going back to Eva Falke and Patrick Hedström, see what's happening in their life and to their friends, how they get embroiled in another mystery.
In this one the roots go back to the second world war.

I really like this series, with it's well established set of characters and the setting in small town Sweden. The plots are solid and they are well written.

Starting a New Series

The Crow Trap - Ann Cleeves


This is the first entry in a series new to me. I've read and enjoyed the Shetland series, appreciated the for the characters and the atmospheric setting. The atmospheric setting is delivered here as well as three women spend time in a naturalist house to survey the wildlife - a requirement before the proposed quarry can get their permit. Of course opinions are divided as people expect to gain or lose by the decision. But who exactly is behind the killing when one of them turns up dead.

Interestingly, the first half of the book is told by each of the women in turn, up to the point of the killing, giving us in turn additional motives for the killing. And only then does the main character of the series finally make an appearance. And she's quite a character, with a lot of baggage of her own.

I'm looking forward to reading more of these.

The Artist's Decay Under The Microscope

Der Tod In Venedig Hörspiel - Felix von Manteuffel, Sylvester Groth, Ulrich Noethen, Rüdiger Vogler

Gustav von Aschenbach, whose work is famous for its intellectual brilliance, finds his creativity waning. He decides to allow a more cerebral approach to writing, musing that the perfect art is based on thought and feeling becoming one. To allow more passion into his life he decides to travel to Italy. In Venice he sees young Tadzio and is immediately taken in by the young lad's beauty. What starts as contemplation quickly changes into obsession and though he realizes the danger of staying in town with the rise of a cholera epidemic and his loss of control and dignity as his obsession visibly grows, he finds himself unable to extricate himself.
The book is very much an intellectual contemplation of Aschenbach's decay, complemented by musings on the nature of art, on the balance of thought and emotion as the artists tools. The language is highly polished, to the point where it can distract attention from the story. It creates an emotional distance to the story, which I did not appreciate.
The audiobook is brilliantly done, with multiple speakers for different aspects of musing and underscored by sound effects which emphasize rather than distract from the story.

An emotional read

Orphan Train - Christina Baker Kline

I found the recounting of the circumstances under which the children grew up difficult to stomach. This history is not specific to the US, but can be found in other places as well. it reflects a view on children's worth and rights that is very different than what it is today (for the most part). I liked the juxtaposition of the two experiences, then and today, as it brought home that while the circumstances of of abject poverty have hopefully changed, the emotional minefields remain the same for kids in foster care. I found the latter part of the book a bit rushed, which lessened the appreciation for the book as a whole.

I listened to this in audio, which made the harrowing passages easier to get past, but on the other hand I did not like the speaker all that much.

Lest we forget

Night - Marion Wiesel, Elie Wiesel

How to rate a book like this? An unflinching retelling of the author's experience in the Nazi death camps. But also a look into a soul tortured to the point of inhumanity by the horrors and deprivations endured. A deeply impressive testimony.

A promising new voice

Bogman - R.I. Olufsen

 

A body is found in the bog and the archaeologist called to consult is excited about the potential for an iron age find. Also at the scene just in case is Chief Inspector Tobias Lange of Aarhus, Denmark. Neither alcoholic nor depressed, but an interesting character who reflects on his life and cares about others. As it becomes clear that the bones are more recent, he follows the trail of circumstantial evidence and slowly identifies the body and pieces together the motivations of the people who have ties to the dead man. What first looks like a crime of passion turns more sinister as further bones are found and draws closer to home as he finds suspects among his own acquaintances.

 

The way the story unfolds has a quite authentic feel, without much of the angst that is so often part of the Scandinavian crime fiction. Hope we meet again!

 

This review is for a free copy in exchange of a honest review.

An Alien Encounter of a Truly Different Kind

Solaris - Stanisław Lem
  I really liked the beginning and found it extra creepy. Once the situation became clearer, I liked some of the topical excursions, like the one into the development of the scientific field of Soleriana or the more philosophical aspects and others less, like the minute descriptions of certain phenomena the ocean produced. I very much liked the singular point of view that emphasized the subjectivity of the individual view point.

Great writing!

Quartet in Autumn - Barbara Pym

Barbara Pym gives us glimpses into the lives of four people - two men and two women, working together in an office, all approaching retirement, each living a solitary life. By constantly shifting points of view, she gives us insights into their own thoughts and feelings as well as those of the people they interact with - either each other or people the come into contact in their everyday lives. She shows us how our look at people is tinged with our personal expectations, how our own sense of guilt or inadequacy triggers resentment or ridicule. But also the mechanisms by which we deal with our own solitude. It is a clear eyed, yet compassionate view at humanity. Though the cast could make for a rather trist read, there is acceptance and subtle humor in this gentle tale.

A classic - long overdue.

Childhood's End - Arthur C. Clarke

Just as humanity is set to open up space the ships of the Overlords appear in the sky above the major cities in the world. But what are their intentions?

 

At the beginning of their reign, they bring peace and prosperity to Earth. Everybody has everything they need, can do what they want, go where they want. With interesting results. And how long can this last?

Quite thought provoking and very well written.

 

 

My first Robert Goddard - and I'm a fan.

The Ways of the World - Robert Goddard

France 1919. James Maxted (Max) has spend the first world war as a fighter pilot and is home after being held prisoner in a camp. He plans to set up a flying school - but then life intervenes when his father is found dead under dubious circumstances. Together with his brother he goes to Paris to investigate.

 

The way the story comes together and we learn about connections as Max gets pulled into the world of diplomacy and spying is very well done. Great characters. Looking forward to the next installment.