Friday, December 21, 2012

Reader's review - Linda Castillo (Sworn to silence)

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I have just had a great reading experience. Actually, I did not want to buy this book - mostly because it was a female author. It's no secret that I have great difficulty with female crime writers. It often ends up in some nonsense with exaggerated emphasis on feelings and relationships between people. But ... there are certainly exceptions!

I have previously reviewed Annika von Holdt's book "Sleep like the dead" (sorry, no English version), which is one of the best books I've read in the last few years. Now I bite the dust and recognize that I have encountered yet another crushing talented female writer. Linda Castillo has committed a powerful thriller set in a small community in Ohio, USA.

Very cunning, she describes the looming conflict and tension between Painter Mill's U.S. residents and the small enclave of Amish people living in the city's hinterland. The city's female station manager at the local police station, Kate Burkholder, are suddenly faced with a series of brutal murders of young women, leaving a bloody trail back to her own past as an Amish. Before long, she is torn between loyalty to the people whom long ago excluded her from their society, loyalty to herself and the dark secret she carries with her and the loyalty to the small urban communities she has pledged to protect.

Linda Castillo writes in a very intense way. She is able to describe the cruelty and violence, the victims experience, without going into too much detail that it might prevent the reader from the opportunity to use his own imagination and empathy - and that is what makes the novel work so well. I surrender unconditionally! I must admit: Women are really able to write. And they can do it in a gripping way and with real authority. Unfortunately,
they just don't do it too often. Linda Castillo does it! With style, and to the delight of the reader.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reader's review - Dean Koontz (Frankenstein volume 1 - 3)

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It is, with very few exceptions, always a pleasure to read Dean Koontz. With this trilogy, the author tries to continue the story about Frankenstein, where Mary Shelley left off. If you expect Koontz to continue the story in Mary Shelley's style, you will be inevitably disappointed. There is nothing left from the classic, dark story of Frankenstein's monster. Although Dean Koontz are referring to the old story in several places, new and probably younger readers can easily get into the story without knowing the old novel in detail.

What experiences awaits the tense reader?

Koontz uses a huge cast of characters, and as usual he throws the reader headlong into the story. Therefore, the story seem pretty messy until you get the hang of who is who. For my part, I had to read quite a bit of the first volume before I understood what was happening. However, if you have the patience to continue, you are rewarded with a really funny story.

I do not know if Koontz had the intention to write a serious thriller or a parody of the genre. My guess is, that he tried to mix the thrill and humor into his story and if that was his intention, he succeeded. It is true that the books has some dark and exciting moments, but even in these passages the
humor is dominant .

So, how should we respond to the books?

If you expect a classic thriller in the style of 'Twilight Eyes', you will be disappointed. But on the other hand,
if you are looking for black humor and clever lines, some really enjoyable hours awaits you.

Dean Koontz has a true sense of humor, and it shows very clearly in these three volumes, where he allows himself to express it without restraint. Frankenstein Volume 1 to 3 is definitely worth reading. A word of caution: Do not read the books before going to sleep. You might have ruined a good night's sleep, because the books are extremely hard to put down once you have started to read.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reader's review - Stieg Larsson (Millennium-trilogy)

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Stieg Larsson was a brilliant writer. And his Millennium trilogy is nothing but a masterpiece.
As I write these words, there is hardly a single bookworm who have not heard about, or read these books. Should you happen to be one of the few who hasn't read the books, I can just say one thing: The Millennium trilogy is one of the most important happenings in the crime genre, written in recent times.
The writing style is definitely not dazzling, bad choice of word, weak formulations which sometimes seems childish and a hopeless sentence structures marring the books. My review goes for the Danish version of the books, so of course it might be possible that we are just talking about a poor translation from the original language, unfortunately I think this is not very likely.

What remains, is the ingeniously conceived plot that is so eminent that it outshines Stieg Larsson's literary shortcomings. Another strong side is his choice of characters and the description of them.  

After reading the last pages of 'The girl that kicked the hornet's nest', I was almost left with a panicky realization that there would be no more reunion with Michael, Erika and last but not least, Lisbeth Salander. It was almost unbearable. Those strong personalities deserves to live on, but would they be able to do that without Stieg Larsson? Hardly. Therefore, unfortunately the conclusion has to be that the characters are better off, leaving this world with their Creator.

Here is the plot in brief description: The journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, are hired by an old man named Henrik Vanger who want to clear up an unsolved murder mystery. Detours are Mikael Blomkvist introduced to Lisbeth Salander - a highly controversial researcher.
What begins as a simple task, where skeletons from the past are let loose, suddenly turns out to be Pandora's box, where all the horrors of the world are hidden. And once you have let them out of the box, you have to capture and kill them all - or perish.

My best recommendation. This trilogy will haunt you for a long time. And that's what reading is all about, right?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Reader's review - Thomas Harris (Hannibal)

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It's hard to find a more fascinating character than Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Thomas Harris are able to unite the sympathetic with the vile.

Is dr. Lecter criminal? Of course. Cannibalism, no matter how sophisticated it is performed, is definitely illegal. But Dr. Lecter's complex nature makes it impossible for you to see him as the real enemy. There arises a peculiar understanding between the reader and Dr. Lecter.

Some chooses to catch criminals and putting them in jail or let the state execute them. Hannibal prepares delicious meals of them. As Barney, a supervisor who took care of dr. Lecter in six years while he was imprisoned, once said: "He (Hannibal) once told me, that if it was possible, he'd prefer to eat rude people. 'Free ranging uncivilized', he called them." - Hannibal P. 85.

Are we really able to hate a man, seeking perfectionism while defending himself and the high culture in the world? Can you really hate a man who admittedly kills, but only in self-defense or to curb corruption and decadence?

Thomas Harris does a wonderful job,
portraying a complex man that really appreciate and love the beauty of music, architecture and food and at the same time cultivate his dark tendencies, should the opportunity arise - and in some strange way, at the same time, are able to unite these diametrically opposite sides of his personality.

Read 'Hannibal' if you want a deep insight into culture and extravagance mixed with cynicism and merciless revenge. And... by the way...Enjoy your meal.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Reader's review - Stephen King (Duma Key)

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"Look for the image in the picture., It is not always easy to see, but it's always there. And if you miss it, you risk missing the world ..." - Stephen King (Duma Key) 

I just read 'Duma Key' - twice to be exact. It is not the first time I have read a book several times, and certainly not when we're talking Stephen King. Among the novels I have read several times, I can mention 'The Green Mile' and 'Bag of Bones'. But this is the first time that I, after having turned the last page in the book, just flipped the book and instantly started all over the very same day. 

'Duma Key' is a very special book! I shall return to that subject shortly. The story is basically about a contractor, Edgar Freemantle, who are involved in a very violent accident on a construction site when a construction crane runs into (and over) his car. Quite miraculously he saved his life, but unfortunately he loses the right arm, his pelvis gets crushed and he has got a serious skull fracture. After the accident, his wife, Pam, decides to leave Edgar because of his violent tantrums when his aphasia prevents him from expressing himself correctly. As a therapy for the trauma, Edgar's doctor suggests that he should move away from the familiar surroundings in a while and spend some time with his relaxing hobbies. The new location is an island, 'Duma Key' to be exact, and Edgar begins to paint - and it shows that he is a surprisingly talented painter. 

I will not reveal more of the plot. I will not spoil your reading experience! Just let me mention that Stephen King manages to create a gallery that you really are going to care about. I came to like Edgar Freemantle and his friends as much as I did with Sheriff Pangborn, who appears in several of King's earlier novels including 'The Tommyknockers', 'The Dark Half' and 'Needful Things'. The characters in 'Duma Key' became so vivid and so important to me, that I almost had a physical pain inside me when the story ended.  

'Duma Key' contains some really funny passages and dialogues. And the switch between the really scary part and the funny part is subtly balanced. 'Duma Key' are never going to be a funny book, neither are you going to meet the horror in a sudden event. Instead the horror develops slowly until it consumes the reader. It is really brilliant. Unconditional. But the most ingenious part of the book is what I am going to describe to you now...The book's ending is nothing short of astonishing and extremely surprising. In fact, I searched the Internet to figure out if there was a sequel to 'Duma Key'. There was not. That was the main reason why I immediately had to read the book over once again.  

To quote Stephen King's own words in paraphrased form: "Find the story in history. It is not always easy to find, but it is always there. And if you miss it, you risk missing the world ..." That's what 'Duma Key' is all about. This story is written in several layers. You read it, but you do not understand the depth of the story - yet. Not until you read 'Duma Key' again ... and again ... and again. Every time you read 'Duma Key', the story shows another layer and the incomprehensible becomes understandable.

Dear Mr. King. 'Duma Key' is not a book - it is art itself...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reader's revirw - Dean Koontz (Twilight Eyes)

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Dean Koontz was one of the first writers I became acquainted with. It has been a happy acquaintance with only a few disappointments. I have read dozens of his books - both in Danish and English - and I still have a pile of books just waiting to be read.

I do not know if you can truly classify Koontz as a horror writer. Most of the time, his novels belongs to the suspense / fantasy genre. But if I have to pick just one novel that are closest to the horror style, it must definitely be 'Twilight Eyes'.

Slim MacKenzie is a gifted person. He can do something most people can not. He can see THEM. Behind their human image, lives an unnatural and profane existence that Slim are committed to fight alone. The story takes us to a marketplace that is closed for the night. Closed? Yes indeed. Deserted? Absolutely not.

I do not know about you, but I have a weakness for closed or abandoned amusement parks and hotels. Just the thought of being located in a place which is normally filled with people, but
now are deserted and silent, seems scary to me. I once worked at a hotel which was closed between Christmas and New Year's Eve, and believe me, as soon as the last guest had left the building, a creepy feeling starts sneaking in on you.

Because of that, 'Twilight Eyes' just pushed all the right buttons in my mind. It feels like the sun never really shines brightly in this book. It is a dark and sinister story. Send the family on a trip to the countryside, lock all windows and doors, and read the book after dark. Quit the background music. S
ooner or later you will turn down the music anyway, and you will sit there - just listen for sounds in the house which probably has a natural explanation. Probably. But the thought might occur to you, that the noise you could hear probably is THEM. THEY have entered your house. Now YOU are the prey - and you are all alone...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Boganmeldelse - Annika von Holdt (Sov som de døde)

Køb bogen her.

(This book has not not been translated to English, and that is really a shame. If you ever come across a book by Annika von Holdt, please do not let the chance pass you by. You will get an experience out of the ordinary.)

Jeg er generelt ikke til kvindelige forfattere. Der er alt for megen venindefnidder, alt for mange problemer i parforholdet, og ofte bliver historierne unødigt lange og komplekse, mens plottet er tyndt og intetsigende. Nu er det sagt - og hvor det dog lettede!

Derfor var mine forventninger heller ikke særlig høje, da jeg modtog Annika von Holts roman, "Sov som de døde". Jeg ved faktisk ikke hvorfor jeg bestilte bogen i bogklubben. Jeg tror at det var omslaget der fangede mig. Der var noget gotisk og dystert over billedet. Stenenglen der grædende vogter over et gammelt gravsted. Stemningen tiltalte mig, men... det var en kvindelig forfatter.

Og så skete miraklet!

"Sov som de døde" er en af de mest fængslende bøger jeg har læst i umindelige tider. Jeg var grebet af historien fra side et. Det er sjældent at jeg har læst en så velskrevet og velfungerende historie. Der var absolut intet feminint og følelsesladet over bogen. Jeg måtte flere gange tage mig i at checke forfatterens navn, for at forvisse mig om at det virkelig var en kvinde der havde skrevet den. Den uhyggelige stemning var så intens, at jeg flere gange var overbevist om at det ikke kunne blive værre, men tro mig: Det kunne det. Sidste gang jeg læste en bog, der var skrevet med samme intensitet var da jeg læste Stephen Kings roman "Misery". Lige som dengang, sad jeg nu og tænkte: "Får rædslerne da aldrig ende?" Svaret på det spørgsmål lader vi blæse i vinden...

Dette er afgjort ingen femi-krimi. Dette er en hardcore thriller. En perle mellem alle de udgivelser der ustandselig prøver at påkalde sig opmærksomhed. Her er ikke tale om den bløde mellemvare. Læs den og gys!!!