My wife says she has never known me be so down on a book as I was as I was reading this one.
I bought this book 7 or 8 years ago, after reading a very favourable review. At that time I read about 20 pages before giving up. Then a few weeks ago I decided to pick it up again…
This writer and this book have won prizes. Apparently it will be no surprise if he is awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Look at the blurb quoted in the image above (the cover of the edition I have just finished). Sorry, but it did nothing for me. Well, actually, it provoked some fairly strong negative reactions.
Very little happens. That is not a problem: I enjoyed The Remains Of The Day, notwithstanding the lack of ‘action’. Most of this is conversation over the course of a weekend.
Unfortunately, this writer likes extremely long sentences – some were over a page long. I found myself spending so much time trying to work out and make sense of the long sentences, with all their semi colons, brackets and digressions, that I lost track of where the book was going. And the conversations were wordy and verbose in the extreme, filled with thesaurus phrases – endless series of words all meaning the same or similar things. People who speak like that are pompous bores.
The book itself appears to be a study of human character, and how by observation it is possible to deduce whether another person is capable of killing, or is likely to betray trust.
Funnily enough, there was only one paragraph in the entire book that properly engaged me, and had me wanting to read more. That was the very last paragraph.
My conclusion: an over-hyped disappointment. 0 out of 10 (as I am not going to start giving negative marks).
This crime thriller set in Iceland and then Greenland is the 5th in Michael Ridpath’s ‘Fire and Ice’ series. Previously Magnus, the Icelandic born but American raised homicide detective seconded from Boston to Reykjavik has solved 4 murders, while at the same time over those 4 novels resolving the unsolved mystery of who murdered his father (the genre requires this kind of old family mystery).
Her we are a few years later. Magnus had gone back to Boston, but has now returned to Iceland.
A television crew is filmng a documentary series about Guðríðr Þorbjarnardóttir, who about 1000 years ago sailed from Iceland to Greenland and then somewhere in North America, and later visited Rome*. Of course there is a murder. As Magnus investigates, there is another, and then after the tv crew has moved on to Greenland, a third. There is also a (recent) historical element to the story, but this time not involving Magnus’ family.
The plot and the narrative develop well. This is certainly a page-turner, although I felt that it wasn’t quite as strong as the first four, set in Magnus’ first stint in Iceland. Thie difference is small, however: only 1 mark on my scale.
This is an interesting little book, set in an alternative version of reality. The setting is a small group of islands (possibly the Faroes, I had that impression) in some alternative reality or possibly post-apocalyptic future. I only cottoned on to what an “Errid Shelter” might be after the reference to “guess masks”.
This is another book where the characters seem charmingly simple and naive. Possibly there is an element of Aspergers, particularly in the character who sees the number of everyone and everything.
I don’t really know how to describe this other than to say it is a sweet little book.
Someone suggested to Peter May that he ought to write a thriller set in the Coronavirus/Covid-19 lockdown. It turned out that he had written just such a book, about 15 years ago. He had predicted a very dystopian locked down London in the midst of a pandemic – but the publishers had thought it unlikely. Well, now it has been published.
Lockdown is set in a dystopian London, the centre of the pandemic of a highly virulent and lethal mutation of the H5N1 flu virus. The army is on the streets, Battersea Power Station has been brought back into use as a crematorium.
I read the passage in which the death of the Prime Minister is reported on the day our PM went into intensive care.
In the midst of this all, a bag of human bones is found. Our detective hero investigates. He is hampered every step of the way by people who don’t want him to uncover the truth. It’s all a bit James Bond like, with plenty of action and lots of violent deaths. In the denouement our hero rescues the girl.
This is an early Peter May, not up to the standards of his more recent novels. A good romp, but I’ve read better. 5 out of 10.
My last review was of The Killing Bay, and I said I was going straight on to this final part of Chris Ould’s trilogy set in the Faroe Islands. Please don’t read or listen to this book without having first read or listened to The Blood Strand, and The Killing Bay (in that order). This is a trilogy of books that develop the story, and I think a good deal is lost if you don’t follow the sequence.
But, that said, what a trilogy! I really cannot recommend too highly this series about Jan Reyna, a British DI of Faroese parentage, and the crimes on the Faroes. The author widens the net of characters, so that we also follow the Faroese detective Hjalti Hentze and Lisbeth Salander clone Tove, as well as others. The action in this third part moves to Denmark. The story line hangs together well across the three books, leading to a climax, that as the cliche goes, is certainly explosive.
There is definitely an 8 or 10 part TV series in these 3 books. I will be hooked to it.
The narration by Matt Addis is equally flawless. I assume that his Faroese and Danish pronunciation is perfect, and he has a convincing different voice for each character.
If you are at home in the Covid-19 lockdown, why not binge listen to these 3 audiobooks?
This is the second in Chris Ould’s trilogy of crime novels set on the Faroe Islands, coming after The Blood Strand. I am not sure how well it works as a stand alone novel; this book comes across very much as part 2 of 3.
That said, it is a very good continuation of the story of English DI Jan Reyna, and his return to the islands where his mother was born. Of course there is a murder, this time the victim is one of a group protesting the slaughter of whales. Reyna is not centrally involved in the investigation this time, that is left to Faroese detective Hjalte Hentze while Reyna digs into his mother’s story, although the strands of the various parts of the story seem likely to come together in the third part. That third part is set up in the final scenes of this book.
I was so enthralled by the story that when I got to the end of this audiobook on my drive to work I bought and downloaded the third in the series to begin listening on the drive home.
An obvious comparison is with Ann Cleeves’ Shetland series.
I will write more when I have finished The Fire Pit, the third in the series. I’m giving this 8 out of 10.