Friday, December 30, 2005

Jeffery Deaver: I samlarens spår/The Bone Collector AND Alexander McCall Smith: The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom

Read this (in Swedish) while at my inlaws over Christmas. Quite good - heaps better than the film, a lot more complicated relationships and all. Translation not bad either. Must pick up some more sometime.

The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom is a collection of the three Professor Igelfeld novels. They are absolutely charming, although Mma Ramotswe is still my fave. My husband got me this for Christmas, because he is lovely and he knows what I like.... This is one to read and reread.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Right, what Amanda Cross wrote, and more

Amanda Cross, The Collected Short Stories: Allow me to quote from her introduction: "I am not a particular devotee of the detective short story [ ... ] I have noticed that I tend to read stories when an author's longer works have captured my attention, when I find I like a certain author's style of writing, and, most compellingly, when my interest in her or his detective urges me to search out more adventures in that fictional life. Thus, for example, I have read Dorothy Sayers's short stories about Peter Wimsey, and even those about her wine salesman, Montague Egg, but her stories without either detective appeal less to me."

I can totally relate to this. Would also like to add that Amanda Cross (real name Carolyn G. Heilburn, former (?) professor of literature at some university or other (we can tell Amanda Cross is a pseudonym because it lacks that for an American crucial middle initial)) is a huge favourite of mine. Pity the library has so few of hers. I just love her writing style and the literary inclination. This collection of short stories is very good, recommended.

I've also read Mary Higgins Clark, The Second Time Around. Apparently she is the author of 22 world-wide bestsellers. How on earth? If this book is typical I don't see how. According to the jacket sleeve she's "telling a story that intertwines fiction with the stuff of real-life headlines in a novel of breathtaking suspense and surprises." Um, no. I had to plod my way through this one. I only finished it because I was at work and had nothing else to read. I'm going to have to read me another one to see if they are all this boring - dammit.

In this one the inventor of a cancer vaccine (see, she's lost me already) dies and appears to have swindled his company of money. A journalist starts researching his background and life for a story and discovers it's not that simple after all. The only thing that rings true about the book is the journalist's grief over her son who died at infancy. That's very moving. Other than that this is a negligable work of fiction.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Summary and opinion on a whole load of books...

... I'm so way behind on my blogging.

Lindsey Davis, Scandal Takes A Holiday: I have a soft spot for Davis' books on the Roman informer (PI) Marcus Didius Falco - even though I'm not all that fond of her writing style, if I'm to be completely honest. It's a bit choppy. But the historical learning to be had, the lovable characters and the humour have me coming back for more. It's like Asterix that way. And in another more worrying way - one tends to believe her version of things a bit too much, and it's never a good idea to derive one's knowledge of history from fiction. Almost all the history I (thought I'd) learnt from Asterix turned out to be false, after all...

In STAH Falco goes to Ostia, the port town that forms a sort of entrance to Rome, to look for a gossip-writer named Diocles. Falco's whole family makes an appearance in Ostia, of course, including a long-lost uncle. In his search for the scribe Falco uncovers a kidnapping scheme involving pirates from areas that are now Albania and part of Turkey.

Here's Davis' website (she seems like right craic, she does):

Maria Lang, Mördaren ljuger inte ensam: Lånade en samlingsvolym med Langs tre första deckare på biblioteket. I MLIE introduceras vi till Puck och Einar Bure, samt vår polishjälte Christer Wijk. På ett sommarställe på en ö i Bergsslagen samlar en grupp människor, och en del oinbjudna gäster orsakar slitningar och spänningar under ytan. Först ett mord, sedan ett till. Det intressantaste med den här boken är "det lesbiska problemet", som Lang försöker vara öppen och fördomsfri inför - åtminstone med tidens mått mätt. Det roligaste, för mig, var en passus där middagsgästerna diskuterar och avfärdar de svenska fyrtiotalisterna (i betydelsen poeter). Detta eftersom en av dessas barnbarn gick på gymnasiet med mig. Annars var det belysande att se hur lite kriget nämns överhuvudtaget, trots att boken skrevs -49. I en samtida engelsk deckare hade det ju fortfarande varit ransonering (väl?)...
Farligt att förtära: Pucks Einar fixar ett vikariat åt henne, som lärare på en gymnasieskola. Under repetition av en skolpjäs kommer spänningar i dagen som kulminerar i ett giftmord på scen under uruppförandet. Ytterligare ett giftmord hinns med senare, samt en dödsskjutning. Folk dör som flugor i en Lang-bok, det är väldigt tröttsamt och orealistiskt. I den här är det mycket prat om "en erotiskt unken atmosfär", vilket känns rätt charmigt - jag menar, det ger en bra bild av tidsandan. Ytterligare plus är skildringen av en gymnasieskola på 50-talet, med examensstress och allt. Onekligen verkar studenterna haft vuxenkrav på sig, på ett helt annat sätt än nu.
Inte flera mord!: Ett yttrande jag helhjärtat instämmer i efter de två första. Men likväl så hittas en död man på gräsmattan när Puck, hennes far samt Einar är på semester i Skoga. Tack och lov mördas inte fler i alla fall. Däremot begår mördaren självmord, men det må vara hänt. Det här var nog den tråkigaste av de tre böckerna, faktiskt.

Som sagt, när Lang är som bäst är hon en bra samtidsskildrare, väl insatt i den akademiska världen. Men på det stora hela saknas djup. Jag kanske läser fler någon gång, men jag vet inte om jag aktivt kommer att söka upp hennes verk.

Deborah Crombie, All Shall Be Well: No. 2 in the Kincaid-James series. I think I've read one of Crombie's before some time, but I'm not sure. Anyway, I like her style. I like her characters. 'Tis all nice, with normal angst-levels. Crombie is American, but seems to have a better grasp on everyday Britons and their society that some other American writers who have taken upon themselves to write detective stories set in The Old World (like, for example, Martha Grimes). There is a bit of place-name-dropping, which is always a give-away that the author is writing for tourists, but not to the point where I'd notice. Not ever having been to London I need those references. I don't think it's overdone. In ASBW Kincaid's terminally ill neighbour Jasmine is found dead. Did she kill herself, as she had previously planned, or was she murdered? Quite good, on the whole.
Leave The Grave Green: No. 3 in the series. Starts off with a young boy drowning, then cuts to the future and another drowning victim, the husband of the boy's sister, now a well-known artist. What I liked best in this one was when one of the suspects talks to Gemma James about the Golden Age detective novel, how it represented order after the chaos of WW1. The detective always got the murderer.
A Finer End: Kincaid's cousin Jack asks for his help after his priest girlfriend is knocked over and almost killed in a hit-and-run. Most of the book takes place without Kincaid and James, and is all about and all over the mysticism supposedly pervasive throughout Glastonbury. IMO this is the worst of the lot I've read so far, too New Age.

Then I accidentally borrowed an Amanda Cross short story collection that I'd already read, but I must still comment on it. But tomorrow, I think.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Marian Keyes: Rachel's Holiday

Aaahhh, chicklit.

This one is very moralistic. It's a 1.01 guide to rehab. Rachel does drugs, and goes home to Ireland to detox after a suicide attempt. This is one in the series about the Walsh sisters. I've already read Watermelon (about sister Claire who has a baby and is dumped by eejit husband at hospital) and Angels (about Margaret who goes to LA when her husband has an affair). I've also read Last Chance Saloon, Sushi for beginners and The Other Side of the Story.

Marian Keyes strong point is her description of the Irish. Growing up I could have used some books like this. They're not literary masterpieces, but fun. Everyone gets a bit of sex and learns about themselves.

Best episode in Rachel's Holiday: when the inmates of rehab centre Cloisters are discussing what chocolate bars to buy.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Faye Kellerman: Moon Music - Maria Lang: Arvet efter Alberta

I have previously read Prayers for the Dead, which is a Rina Lazarus/Peter Decker novel. I loved them as a couple, and am very sad that this is the ONLY Faye Kellerman novel the library has in English. Although, now when I tried to verify that by searching the library catalogue online they appeared to have NONE, but I know I got PFTD there. Weird. It's a crap search function anyway.

Anyway, Moon Music is not a novel in a series, but she has squeezed in a kosher-eating couple anyway, in the form of Romulus Poe's lieutenant and his deli-running wife. They are however side characters. The main character is Romulus Poe, the possibly oddest crime fiction cop I've read about. The whole novel is odd. Not odd in a bad way, but it's fascinating what weird relationships people have with each other in this book. Unfortunately the book veers off in an overly mystical direction, with shape-shifting and stuff. I don't really like this, because it's Been Done. But Ms Kellerman does it well. She is as good as her husband, and it's highly unfair that there are not more F. Kellerman books available at the library. Maybe I'll donate my copy of Moon Music. Or not.

That's it, I'm not able for more blogging on this today.

Arvet efter Alberta är den andra Maria Lang-bok jag läst. Den första var den med mordet på studentbiblioteket. Minns inte titeln. Ska nog läsa mer Lang, för tidsandan är skojig, och det är ju det jag uppskattar nästan mest med deckare. Har lånat en tjock bok med hennes tre första i en på bibblan. Hon verkar väldigt ojämn dock, men det är så snabbläst så det kan jag ta... Arvet efter Alberta är den om faster Alberta som dör och efterlämnar ett rörigt dödsbo. Innehåller mycket name-dropping, vilket är lustigt - Håkan Hagegård är tydligen en hyvens kille.