26 August 2015

Review: BURIED: Department Q Book 5, Jussi Adler-Olsen

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1252 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (February 26, 2015)
  • Publication Date: February 26, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • translated by Martin Aitken
  • also published as THE MARCO EFFECT
Synopis (Amazon)

Over three years ago, a civil servant vanished after returning from a work trip to Africa. Missing, presumed dead, the man's family still want answers.
It is one of the many unsolved crimes facing Department Q, Denmark's specialist cold case unit headed up by Detective Carl Morck. But what Carl doesn't know is that the key to the investigation can be found right here in Copenhagen...
Fifteen-year-old Marco Jameson is tough, smart and very suspicious of police. Sleeping rough and hiding in the shadows is his way of life. But what does he know worth killing for - and will the police find him before whoever he is running from?

My Take:

This novel raises a number of interesting modern issues including corruption and fraud among agencies delivering international aid to third world countries; organised crime in cities like Copenhagen targetting tourists; and the relationship in police departments between those who deal with current and cold cases.

In BURIED current cases and unsolved crimes overlap, and there are those who think Department Q is over-resourced and needs watching.  The staff of Department Q are certainly odd, at times presenting an impression of dysfunctionality, but their talents are varied and they each have their own areas of expertise and complement each other well. Carl Morck tries desperately to keep them under control.

My Rating: 4.5

I've also reviewed

Review: THE SLAUGHTERMAN, Tony Parsons - audio book

  • #2 in the Max Wolfe series
  • print published 2015
  • Narrated by: Colin Mace
  • Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook
Synopsis (Audible)

On New Year’s Day, a wealthy family is found slaughtered inside their exclusive gated community in north London, their youngest child stolen away. 

The murder weapon is a gun for stunning cattle, leading Detective Max Wolfe to a dusty corner of Scotland Yard’s Black Museum devoted to a killer who thirty years ago was known as the Slaughter Man. But the Slaughter Man is now old and dying. Can he really be back in the game?  

My Take

As with the earlier title in this series, THE MURDER BAG, the narration in this novel is superbly done. The story is a little more gruesome and violent than the action in the earlier title. If you decide you want to read this one, I think it is worth recognising that it is part of a series, and reading THE MURDER BAG first, simply because of the character development of Max Wolfe and the team he belongs to, and of his relationship with his young daughter Scout. Both novels emphasise how tough modern policing in London can be.

The gruesome murder of the wealthy family connects with an old case and doubt is cast on whether the Slaughter Man actually committed the murders for which he has served time. The ex-con is now living with a group of "travellers" who have little respect for the police and things turn very nasty.

Tony Parsons is a writer worth following.

My rating: 4.2

I've also reviewed

Max Wolfe series
1. The Murderbag (2014)
     aka The Murder Man
2. The Slaughter Man (2015)
3. The Hanging Club (2016)
Dead Time (2015)

21 August 2015

Review: THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF, Helen Garner

Synopsis (Text publishing)

Anyone can see the place where the children died. You take the Princes Highway past Geelong, and keep going west in the direction of Colac. Late in August 2006, soon after I had watched a magistrate commit Robert Farquharson to stand trial before a jury on three charges of murder, I headed out that way on a Sunday morning, across the great volcanic plain.

On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father’s Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner’s obsession. She followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict.

In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. She presents the theatre of the courtroom with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth, players in the extraordinary and unpredictable drama of the quest for justice.

My Take

I have been aware of Helen Garner as a writer for many years, but not actually read anything by her during the life of this blog. While you may not see it as much of a movement to go from crime fiction to true crime, reading this book was part of my attempt to read a little more widely than usual.

Ten months after his car left the main road and veered into a dam, drowning his three young sons, Robert Farquharson was committed for trial on three counts of murder. A year passed between the committal hearing and the trial.  Farquharson spent that time on bail, a free man.

Helen Garner and a close friend's daughter, a sixteen year old taking a gap year, squeezed into the press seats with the journalists. The trial would take over five months and Garner was there every day. She takes the reader through the highs and lows of the court room, the mind-numbingness of evidence and expert opinions, and shows us clearly how difficult it is to get to the truth. Her account is detailed, but at the same time she struggles to keep an open mind, and we watch as she swings like a pendulum. By the time the jury goes out to consider its verdict we still don't know which way they will jump.

Garner takes us further than the original trial, into the second trial after the verdict of the first is declared invalid. She shows us clearly the effects not only on Farquharson, but on his former wife, and on the family and friends. 

There is nothing dry about this book. It reads as well as any crime fiction. Garner pays a lot of attention to character study, and she also tells us how what she is witnessing affects her personally.
My rating: 4.3

  • Shortlisted, Indie Book Awards, 2015
  • Longlisted, Stella Prize, 2015
  • Shortlisted, Nielsen BookData Booksellers Choice Award, 2015
  • Shortlisted, Kibble Literary Award, 2015
  • Shortlisted, Australian Book Industry General Non-Fiction Award, 2015
  • Shortlisted, NSW Premier's Literary Awards, 2015
  • Shortlisted, Colin Roderick Literary Award, 2015 
  • Shortlisted, Ned Kelly Awards Best True Crime, 2015
  • A Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year, 2014

  • About Helen Garner
    Helen Garner was born in 1942 in Geelong, and was educated there and at Melbourne University. She taught in Victorian secondary schools until 1972, when she was dismissed for answering her students’ questions about sex, and had to start writing journalism for a living.

    Her first novel, Monkey Grip, came out in 1977, won the 1978 National Book Council Award, and was adapted for film in 1981. Since then she has published novels, short stories, essays, and feature journalism. Her screenplay The Last Days of Chez Nous was filmed in 1990. Garner has won many prizes, among them a Walkley Award for her 1993 article about the murder of two-year-old Daniel Valerio. In 1995 she published The First Stone, a controversial account of a Melbourne University sexual harassment case. Joe Cinque’s Consolation (2004) was a non-fiction study of two murder trials in Canberra.

    In 2006 Helen Garner received the inaugural Melbourne Prize for Literature. Her most recent novel, The Spare Room (2008), won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, the Queensland Premier’s Award for Fiction and the Barbara Jefferis Award, and has been translated into many languages.
    Helen Garner lives in Melbourne.

    17 August 2015

    Review: THE SECRET CHORD, Geraldine Brooks

    • Not due for publication until October 6, 2015
    • source: e-ARC via publisher (Hatchette) at NetGalley
    Synopsis (Net Galley)

    From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of PEOPLE OF THE BOOK, YEAR OF WONDERS and MARCH comes a unique and vivid novel that retells the story of King David's extraordinary rise to power and fall from grace.

    1000 BC. The Second Iron Age. The time of King David.

    Anointed as the chosen one when just a young shepherd boy, David will rise to be king, grasping the throne and establishing his empire. But his journey is a tumultuous one and the consequences of his choices will resound for generations. In a life that arcs from obscurity to fame, he is by turns hero and traitor, glamorous young tyrant and beloved king, murderous despot and remorseful, diminished patriarch. His wives love and fear him, his sons will betray him. It falls to Natan, the courtier and prophet who both counsels and castigates David, to tell the truth about the path he must take.

    With stunning originality, acclaimed author Geraldine Brooks offers us a compelling portrait of a morally complex hero from this strange age - part legend, part history. Full of drama and richly drawn detail, THE SECRET CHORD is a vivid story of faith, family, desire and power that brings David magnificently alive.

    My Take

    Note - this book is not crime fiction, although without doubt crimes are committed.
    Reading it is part of my quest to widen what I read: to go beyond crime fiction.
    I have already read the Pulitzer Prize winning PEOPLE OF THE BOOK by the same author.

    When I was a child I had a jigsaw puzzle that showed a young, handsome David slaying Goliath of Gath with his slingshot. That image of David, son of Jesse of Bethlehem, ancestor of Jesus Christ and the reason why he was born in Bethlehem, has stayed with me for well over 60 years. But the picture of David in THE SECRET CHORD is a long way from the sanitised image of my jigsaw puzzle.

    The description and account of David in THE SECRET CHORD is seen through the eyes of Natan, David's courtier who at times has prophesied events in David's life, and been at his side for decades.  David has commissioned Natan to interview his mother and other family members to learn about the early events of David's life. The king will decide how much of what Natan writes down will be revealed. Natan is well aware that he is treading a dangerous line: the king is volatile and could well turn against him, and his family are not going to be willing to reveal deep secrets willingly.

    Eventually we learn David's life history, taking us right through to the declaration of his heir. According to the author "David is the first man in literature whose story is told in detail from early childhood to extreme old age." I was staggered at how violent his life was, how much time was spent in waging war, and how his family almost self-combusted.

    A fascinating read.

    My rating: 4.5

    About the author
    Australian-born Geraldine Brooks is an author and journalist who grew up in Sydney's western suburbs. In 1982 she won a scholarship to the journalism master's program at Columbia University in New York. Later she worked for the WALL STREET JOURNAL, where she covered crises in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. In 2006 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction for her novel MARCH. Her novels CALEB'S CROSSING and PEOPLE OF THE BOOK were both NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, and YEAR OF WONDERS and PEOPLE OF THE BOOK are international bestsellers, translated into more than 25 languages. She is also the author of the acclaimed non-fiction works NINE PARTS OF DESIRE and FOREIGN CORRESPONDENCE. In 2011 she presented Australia's prestigious Boyer Lectures, later published as THE IDEA OF HOME.
    Geraldine Brooks lives in Massachusetts with her husband, author Tony Horwitz, and their two sons.

    16 August 2015

    Books on the Go

    Right now I have far more books listed than I have any hope of coping with.

    TBRN - To Be Read Next - lists to give me direction, but I often ignore them :-)
    On my blog this list is always stored in the right hand margin. I'm not really sure how it grows.

    Library Book
    • THREE-CARD MONTE, Marco Malvaldi
    • THE BISHOP'S WIFE, Mette Ivie Harrison
    • THE SECRET PLACE, Tana French
    • THE SHUT EYE, Belinda Bauer
    • THE ICE TWINS, S.K. Tremayne
    • THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF, Helen Garner
    • BLOOD REDEMPTION, Alex Palmer
    from Net Galley
    • KING OF THE ROAD, Nigel Bartlett
    • EDEN, Candice Fox
    • PAINTED BLACK, Greg Kihn
    • THE SECRET CHORD, Geraldine Brooks
    from my TBR
    • PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentil
    audio books on the go
    • THE GHOST FIELDS, Ruth Galloway
    • THE SLAUGHTER MAN, Tony Parsons
    from my Kindle
    • SILENT SCREAM, Angela Marsons
    • THE BLEEDING HEART, Christopher Fowler
    • CLOSE YOUR EYES, Michael Robotham
    • IN THE DARK, Chris Patchell
    • BURIED: Department Q #5, Jussi Adler-Olsen
    • ASHES TO DUST, Yrsa Sigurdardottir
    • THE SECRET ARTS, Azmar Dar
    • IT HAPPENED IN EGYPT, Charles Norris Williams
    review books
    • ONE TOO MANY, Maureen Jennings
    • THE FOURTH REICH, Helen Goltz
    • DEATH BY DISGUISE,, Helen Goltz

    15 August 2015

    Review: SUMMERTIME, ALL THE CATS ARE BORED, Philippe Georget

    • this edition published Europa Editions in 2013
    • translated from French By Steven Rendall
    • originally published in 2009 by Editions Jigal
    • ISBN 978-1-60945-121-9
    • 429 pages
    • source: my local library.
    Synopsis (Amazon)

    It’s the middle of a long hot summer on the French Mediterranean shore. The town is full of tourists and at the Perpignan police headquarters, Sebag and Molino, two tired cops who are being slowly devoured by dull routine and family worries, deal with the day’s misdemeanors and petty complaints without a trace of enthusiasm. But out of the blue a young Dutch woman is brutally murdered on a beach at Argel├Ęs, and another disappears without a trace in the alleys of the city. A serial killer obsessed with Dutch women? Maybe.

    The media goes wild. Gilles Sebag finds himself thrust into the middle of a diabolical game. If he intends to salvage anything, he will have to put aside his domestic cares, forget his suspicions about his wife’s faithfulness, ignore his heart murmur, and get over his existential angst. He waits joylessly, patiently, and lets himself go. The stone house may end up being his grave. Who’s doing what, who’s chasing who?

    My Take

    The setting of the novel is Perpignan, in the Catalan region of France, near the Spanish border, where the author himself now lives. It is the height of summer; many including Gilles Sebag's own family are on holiday, and tourists from the north are flooding into the district.

    Years of police work have left both Sebag and his partner Molino jaded and they have a reputation of being hard to motivate. Sebag does his best to work an "ordinary" working day but as his children and his wife leave for their summer holidays and he becomes an "empty-nester" he begins to think of nothing else but the cases he is working on: primarily the disappearance of a local taxi driver and his final passenger, a Dutch tourist.

    An engrossing read. Does the town now have a serial killer or are the three cases on the books all separate events?

    My rating: 4.5

    Read another review on Reactions to Reading.

    About the author

    Born in 1962, Philippe Georget is a TV news anchorman for France-3, but he is an equally successful crime writer. His debut novel, Summertime All the Cats are Bored (2013), won the SNCF Crime Fiction Prize and the City of Lens First Crime Novel Prize. His second novel is AUTUMN, ALL THE CATS RETURN.

    11 August 2015

    Celebrating 1,000 reviews

    Yesterday I posted my 1,000th review on this blog since I began at the start of 2008.

    The titles are almost all crime fiction, largely British, Australian, American, and translated titles.
    You can check the list here.


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