Thursday, March 28, 2013

Reader's review - Robert Wilson (The Ignorance of Blood)

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I am a little confused having read 'The Ignorance of Blood' by Robert Wilson. The book sets the stage at Costa del Sol, Spain. The Russian mafia are controlling extortion, prostitution and drug trafficking.
One should not many pages into the book before the action heats up, which is definitely a positive thing. A Russian courier chooses to switch to a rival Russian mafia family and with him he brings a little more than 8 million euros and a bunch of CDs containing incriminating material with various important and famous people as involuntary protagonists. Unfortunately, he dies in a car accident while both the money and the CDs are in his possession. The investigating police force are
confiscating both part. Both the mafia families are ready to do whatever it takes to recover the blackmail material, and it proves to be very dangerous and difficult to get in their way.

This part of the story is very well written and it is an exciting and interesting reading. I found it a little difficult to keep up with the cast, mostly because people have Spanish names and I find it difficult to
differentiate one from another. It was not something that disfigured my literary experience, though.

Where it really went wrong was when Robert Wilson, decided to bring Al Qaeda on the pitch. It's still a mystery to me why these
insane terrorists are to be involved in this story. It seems to me, that Robert Wilson has had two stories he wanted to tell - a crime novel about the Russian mafia and a spy story about Al Qaeda's recruitment of young fanatics. It may have seemed like a good idea at the planning stage, but in practice it does't work out.

The Ignorance of Blood' is definitely worth reading, if only you are able mentally to ignore the Al Qaeda part. My assessment is: Read the book, but be prepared for some unexpected and rather confusing twists in the plot.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Reader's review - Aj Davidson (An evil shadow)

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A dead woman from Haiti has been found dead in a shabby apartment in New Orleans. Her head was chopped off with excessive force and when the police investigators enters the crime scene, they find her nine-year-old girl sitting in a tree with a bloody ax in her hand. The girl's name is Marie Duval, and during the investigation, it is revealed that she probably has been the object of a failed voodo ritual. 

Has this nine-year-old girl really been able to assault and behead her mother all alone? What unknown ferocity drove her to commit that brutish murder? What happened in the dilapidated house shortly before the murder? These are some of the questions homicide detective Val Bosanquet seeks to find an answer to. 

Ten years later, Marie Duval reappear in Val Bosanquet's life when she receives a scholarship, given access to a school of art. Suddenly demons from the past are unleashed and Val Bosanquet finds himself in a race against time where there is more at stake than just his own life ...

 'An evil shadow' is an excellent thriller. I would say that Aj Davidson has a little trouble separating past from present at the beginning of the book. The reader is thrown headlong into the action. Normally, I like these kinds of introductions, which in a short time pulls the story off, but maybe things goes a little too fast. Similarly, the ending of 'An evil shadow' are also very abrupt. I was actually momentarily convinced that I had missed a chapter, which was not the case. 

Having said that, I must say that it has been a pleasure to read 'An evil shadow'. As mentioned, the history takes place in New Orleans and in the surrounding swamps. In my opinion, there are no more evocative location for that kind of stories than the one you find in the French Quarter in New Orleans. There is something mysterious and obscure in this part of town, and it really brings the story to life.  

'An evil shadow' could easily have been longer than the 230 pages it occupies now, without making the story dull. Aj Davidson describes the events vividly and with sufficiently details for you to feel that you are present along with the main characters in the book. Aj Davidson is going to be on my list of authors I like to read another time.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Boganmeldelse - Tove Alsterdal (Kvinderne på stranden)

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 NOTE: This review are written in danish, since the book has not been translated to English (You are not missing anything - believe me)

En amerikansk journalist kommer på sport af en europæisk menneskesmuglerliga, der trækker spor helt op til EU's top.
Under sin research forsvinder journalisten sporløst, kort efter at han her sendt sin gravide kone en lille lommebog, med nogle uforståelige notater.
Fast besluttet på at finde ud af hvad der er sket med manden, tager hustruen til Paris for at følge de sparsomme spor og tage hævn over de personer der er ansvarlige over for hendes mands forsvinden...

Ovenstående er i korte træk plottet i Tove Alsterdals debutroman "Kvinderne på stranden". Det kunne have været blevet til en rigtig spændende historie. Alle ingredienserne er til stede, men Tove Alsterdal formår tydeligvis ikke at opretholde spændingsniveauet ret længe af gangen. Bevares, bogen har da sine højdepunkter. Kulminationen, da bagmanden endelig får hvad han fortjener, er rigtig god. Men der er alt, alt for langt mellem højdepunkterne. Det meste af tiden er man lukket inde i hovedet på en frustreret gravid kvinde, der desperat leder efter sin mand. Der er en del parallelhistorier som Tove Alsterdal forsøger at knytte sammen. De virker bare ikke særligt relevante og vedkommende, og er ikke med til at skabe et medrivende plot.

Det virker som om Tove Alsterdal er blevet personligt engageret i den lyssky slavehandel der finder sted i Europa, og at det er det budskab, frem for den gode historie, hun ønsker at få læserne til at tage stilling til. Det er bare ikke godt nok når man tror at man skal underholdes!
"Kvinderne på stranden" kunne have været en god bog. Desværre bekræfter den alle fordommene i forbindelse med en femi-krimi. Som nævnt er det Tove Alserdals debutroman, så det er selvfølgelig i orden at lave nogle mindre fodfejl som debutant. Her er der dog tale om så fundamentale fejl, at det ville kræve en ganske anden forfatter, hvis historien skulle reddes. Tove Alsterdal skriver tydeligvis om kvinder, til kvinder - og alle vi andre må så lede efter den gode, underholdende historie hos andre forfattere.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Reader's review - Richard Russo (Empire Falls)

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I am a little bit confused. I have no doubt about what I am thinking about 'Empire Falls', but I'm a little unsure about what I've just read ... 

'Empire Falls' is a saga which is about the people who live in the city of the same name. The whole town revolves around the family Whiteing, which for generations has driven a spinning mill and a shirt factory in Empire Falls. After these two big factories have closed down, life in the city slowly loose its vitality. The once-affluent neighborhoods are now not so nice, now that many houses are left empty. Most stores are closed, and the remaining ones still standing, fights for their legitimacy and survival while owners are struggling to pay the rent to the Whitening widow, which now owns half of the city (the other half is not worth anything). 

Richard Russo are juggling with a large cast of characters in the book, and I must honestly say that I was a little bit nervous about whether I would be able to keep track of all these people and their relationships. But it turned out that it was not a problem at all. Richard Russo manage skillfully, to introduce each person in a logical order and only when the other gallery of people are in place. This is in itself quite an achievement. The reader will quickly feel familiar with Empire Falls and its inhabitants.

I get a little confused when comes to the mood of the book. Richard Russo writes in a very easy and often humorous way. Maybe that is why I have a little difficulty accepting the seriousness of the book, because a lot of things in the book really makes you think. My question regards, whether the book was written as a comedy or a drama, but after considering some pros and cons, I agreed with myself that 'Empire Falls' is a portrayal of life for good and evil. No life is just fun, and no life is just a drama. I believe that Richard Russo must be quite happy with the outcome of 'Empire Falls'. For my part, I just needed to read the book with the right state of mind, but when I first did that, the pleasure was certainly on my side.