Review: The Caveman (2015) by Jørn Lier Horst (trans: Anne Bruce)

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Sandstone Press Ltd, 2015. Book Format: Kindle edition. File size: 2403 KB. Print Length: 370 pages Originally titled Hulemannen, 2013. Translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce, 2015 ISBNe: 978 1 910124 05 5. ASIN: B00RKPCFKQ

9781910124048 The story unfolds after the events narrated in The Hunting Dogs (you can access my review by clicking on the title). Although this is the fourth instalment in a book series featuring Norwegian Chief Inspector William Wisting published in English, it can be read as a standalone. It should be noted, however, that as far as I know it is the ninth book in the original series. The Caveman has been shortlisted in 2016, for the Petrona Award to the Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. The next book in the series, Ordeal (Originally titled Blindgang, 2015), has been published by Sandstone Press Ltd, in March 2016.

The setting is Vestfold county on the south-west coast of Norway. The principal town. Lervik, where Wisting is based, is located 105 km southwest of Oslo. At the beginning of The Caveman, Wisting has returned to work following his suspension from duty that featured in The Hunting Dogs, and is readjusting to life on his own after parting from Suzanne. As the winter weather closes in, he is faced with his most challenging case to date, in which he has to collaborate with transatlantic colleagues as well as the national crime team and Emergency Squad from Oslo (from an Introduction to William Wisting in the book).

The almost mummified corpse of Viggo Hansen has been found sitting in his living room, in front of the television. He had been dead close to four months. And nobody had noticed his absence, no one had been aware of it. There are no sign of a struggle and no reason to suspect of a criminal act, even though it’s been impossible to ascertain a cause of death.  But the case is that Hansen’s house is nearby to where Wisting lives together with his daughter, Line. Now Line, a journalist, wants to write about how such thing can happen. ‘How it’s possible to be so lonely and forgotten that it takes four months before anyone makes the chance discovery that you are dead.’ And Line gets three days to write an article about him. Her investigation on Viggo Hansen will alternate with another case. This time a serious crime, in which William Wisting will have to investigate one of the most difficult cases in his career. A case related with a corpse found by coincidence that  given the amount of time passed since his death, makes of his identification a very difficult task. From the remains of his clothes and shoes, it seems clear that the body belonged to a man, and that his death occurred during the last summer. But the police has no missing person in that time period and the fact that they have over 40,000 tourists during the summer months, doesn’t make things easier.  

Once again I have enjoyed reading a book by Jørn Lier Horst, beautifully translated by Anne Bruce. A superb police procedural with enough elements of a thriller that, no doubt, help to increase our enjoyment. The author’s background as a police officer and head of investigations, before turning into a full-time author, helps to provide us with very real cases, regardless of how complicated the cases may seem to be, at first sight. There are also some elements of social criticism in Horst’s books, thereby offering the reader some food for thought. Last, but not least, the story is carefully made with intelligence and imagination. 

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

Jørn Lier Horst (b.1970) is a Norwegian author of crime fiction and a former Senior Investigating Officer at Vestfold Police district. He made his debut in 2004 with the crime novel Key Witness, based on a true murder story. The detective character in his novels is William Wisting. He has also written children books. (From Wikipedia)

The Caveman has been reviewed at Euro Crime, Crime Time, Mrs Peabody Investigates, Crime Fiction Lover, and Crime pieces, among others.

Sandstone Press publicity page

Solomonsson Agency publicity page

Gyldendal Agency

Jørn Lier Horst

The Caveman de Jørn Lier Horst

La historia se desarrolla después de los acontecimientos narrados en The Hunting Dogs (se puede acceder a mi resña haciendo clic en el título). Aunque esta es la cuarta entrega de una serie de libros protagonizados por el inspector jefe William Wisting de Noruega publicada en Inglés, puede ser leído como un libro independiente. Cabe señalar, sin embargo, que por lo que sé que es el noveno libro de la serie original. The Caveman ha sido seleccionado como finalista en el año 2016, al Premio Petrona a la Mejor Novela policíaca escandinava del año. El siguiente libro de la serie, Ordeal (originalmente titulado Blindgang, 2015), ha sido publicada por Sandstone Press Ltd en marzo de 2016.

El escenario está en la provincia de Vestfold en la costa suroeste de Noruega. La ciudad principal. Lervik, en donde trabaja Wisting, se encuentra 105 km al suroeste de Oslo. Al comenzar The Caveman, Wisting ha regresado al trabajo tras la suspensión en sus funciones que se narra en The Hunting Dogs, y se está readaptando a vivir por su cuenta tras su separación de Suzanne. Conforme avanza el invierno, se enfrenta a su caso más difícil hasta la fecha, en la que tiene que colaborar con sus homólogos del otro lado del Atlántico, así como con el equipo de nacional para la prevención del crimen y con la brigada de emergencia de Oslo (tomado de la introducción a William Wisting en el libro) .

El cadáver casi momificado de Viggo Hansen se ha encontrado sentado en su sala de estar, en frente de la televisión. Llevaba muerto cerca de cuatro meses. Y nadie había notado su ausencia, nadie se había dado cuenta de ello. No hay señales de lucha y no hay razón para sospechar de un posible acto criminal, a pesar de que ha sido imposible determinar la causa exacta de su muerte. Pero el caso es que la casa de Hansen está cerca de donde vive Wisting junto con su hija, Line. Ahora Line, una periodista, quiere escribir acerca de cómo puede suceder tal cosa. “Cómo es posible estar tan solo y olvidado que sea necesario que pasen cuatro meses para que alguien descubra por casualidad que estás muerto.” Y Line consigue tres días para escribir un artículo sobre él. Su investigación sobre Viggo Hansen se alternará con otro caso. Esta vez un delito mayor, en el que William Wisting tendrá que investigar uno de los casos más difíciles de su carrera. Un caso relacionado con un cadáver encontrado por casualidad que, dada la cantidad de tiempo transcurrido desde su muerte, hace de su identificación una tarea muy difícil. A partir de los restos de su ropa y zapatos, parece claro que el cuerpo pertenecía a un hombre, y que su muerte se produjo durante el verano pasado. Pero la policía no tiene ninguna persona desaparecida en ese período de tiempo y el hecho de que reciban más de 40.000 turistas durante los meses de verano, no hace las cosas más fáciles.

Una vez más he disfrutado de la lectura de un libro de Jørn Lier Horst, muy bien traducido por Anne Bruce. Un excelente police procedural (procedural) con suficientes elementos de thriller que, sin duda, ayudan a aumentar nuestro disfrute. Los antecedentes del autor como antiguo oficial de policía y jefe de investigaciones, antes de convertirse en un escritor a tiempo completo, ayuda a que nos proporcione casos muy reales, independientemente de lo complicado que los casos nos puedan parecer, a primera vista. También hay algunos elementos de crítica social en los libros de Horst, lo que ofrece al lector algunos elementos de reflexión. Por último, pero no por ello menos importante, la historia está cuidadosamente construida con inteligencia e imaginación.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro) 

Jørn Lier Horst (n.1970) es un autor noruego de novela negra y antiguo oficial de policía investigador en el distrito de Vestfold. Hizo su debut en el 2004 con la novela negra Key Witness, basada en la historia real de un asesinato. Sus novelas están protagonizadas por el detective William Wisting. También ha escrito libros para niños. (De Wikipedia)

Review: A Devil Under the Skin (2015) by Anya Lipska

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The Friday Project, 2015. Format: Paperback. ISBN: 9780008100353. Size: 320 pages.

A Devil Under The Skin layout.indd

Having enjoyed much the reading of the two previous novels by Anya Lipska, I still wonder myself why I waited that long to read her latest instalment in the Kiszka and Kershaw series. You can access my review of the two previous books, Where the Devil Can’t Go and Death Can’t Take a Joke, by clicking on the book titles. If you have read the first two, I’m sure I don’t need to encourage you to read this one. But, if you have not yet read any of them, I hope I’ll be able to convince you. Even if it’s best to read them in order, A Devil Under the Skin can be read as a standalone.  

Finally Kasia has decided she will abandon her husband to start a new life together with her long-standing boyfriend Janusz Kiska, but before moving to live with him, Katia disappears without trace. Kiska is convinced she has been abducted and seeks the assistance of an old acquaintance, PC Natalie Kershaw who is currently dealing with her own problems. Though Kershaw was acquitted of any wrongdoing for shooting and killing a man who rushed towards her brandishing a samurai sword, she still needs to undergo extensive psychological assessment to decide whether she is fit to return to operational duties. But the search swiftly takes an even darker turn… What connects Kasia’s disappearance and a string of brutal East End murders? And who is the mysterious and murderous enforcer stalking the streets of London? Meanwhile, time is running out for Kasia. To reach her, Kiszka must confront a gut-wrenching dilemma that will shape the rest of his life.

In the novel as in life itself the characters happen to be pawns in a game of unknown dimensions. In this particular case, Anya proposes us once again a very realistic story that unfolds mainly among the Polish Community located in London. The narrative is dotted with some Polish terms that, in my view, have some similarities with Spanish terms. In any case I’ve not found difficult to identify their meaning and have not bothered me in any way . Besides, the book includes a full glossary of Polish terms at the end, to meet the needs of the most demanding reader. It can also be highlighted that throughout the text, the reader can encounter some doses of good humour, to further enhance the reading pleasure. The leading characters continued to be highly appealing and the plot turns out to be genuinely fascinating. On the other hand, the life of the characters is kept perfectly integrated within the main plot. In short, a highly recommended read that keeps a good balance between character development and action.

My rating: A+ (Don’t delay, get your hands on a copy of this book)

Originally trained as a journalist, Anya now writes and produces TV documentaries. Her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and the Kiszka & Kershaw books have been optioned by BBC Drama for a potential TV crime drama series. Anya’s first book led to her being chosen by Val McDermid for the prestigious New Blood Panel at the Harrogate Crime Festival in 2013.

A Devil Under the Skin has been reviewed at Euro CrimeOrange Pekoe Reviews, For winter nights, Crime Review, Raven Crime Reads, Crime Fiction Lover, among others. 

Anya Lipska Website

HarperCollins Publishers publicity page

Audible

A Devil Under the Skin (Un diablo bajo la piel) de Anya Lipska

Después de haber disfrutado mucho la lectura de las dos novelas anteriores de Anya Lipska, todavía me pregunto por qué esperé tanto tiempo para leer su última entrega de la serie Kiszka y Kershaw. Pueden acceder a mi reseña de los dos libros anteriores, Where the Devil Can’t Go y Death Can’t Take a Joke, haciendo clic en los títulos de los libros. Si usted ha leído los dos primeros, estoy seguro de que no necesito animarle a leer éste. Sin embargo, si usted todavía no ha leído ninguno de ellos, espero que seré capaz de convencerle. Incluso si es mejor leerlos en orden, A Devil Under the Skin puede leerse como un libro independiente.

Finalmente Kasia ha decidido que va a abandonar a su marido para comenzar una nueva vida junto a su novio de toda la vida Janusz Kiska, pero antes de trasladarse a vivir con él, Katia desaparece sin dejar rastro. Kiska está convencido de que ha sido secuestrada y busca la ayuda de un viejo conocido, la agente de policía Natalie Kershaw que actualmente está lidiando con sus propios problemas. Aunque Kershaw fue absuelta de toda culpa por disparar y matar a un hombre que se precipitó hacia ella blandiendo una espada de samurai, todavía tiene que someterse a una amplia evaluación psicológica para decidir si está en condiciones de regresar a desempeñar funciones operativas. Pero la búsqueda pronto toma un giro aún más oscuro … ¿Qué relación puede tener la desaparición de Kasia con una serie de brutales asesinatos en el East End? ¿Y quién es el misterioso y criminal ejecutor que está al acecho en las calles de Londres? Mientras tanto, para Kasia el tiempo se acaba. Para llegar hasta ella, Kiszka debe enfrentarse a un compleo dilema que marcará el resto de su vida.

En la novela, como en la vida misma, los personajes resultan ser peones en un juego de dimensiones desconocidas. En este caso particular, Anya nos propone una vez más una historia muy realista que se desarrolla principalmente entre la comunidad polaca ubicada en Londres. El relato está salpicado de algunos términos polacos que, en mi opinión, tienen algunas similitudes con términos españoles. En cualquier caso, no he encontrado difícil identificar su significado y no me han molestado en modo alguno. Además, el libro incluye un glosario completo de términos polacos al final, para satisfacer las necesidades del lector más exigente. También se puede destacar que a lo largo del texto, el lector puede encontrarse con algunas dosis de buen humor, para aumentar aún más el placer de la lectura. Los personajes principales siguen siendo tremendamente atractivos y la trama resulta ser realmente fascinante. Por otra parte, la vida de los personajes se mantiene perfectamente integrada dentro de la trama principal. En resumen, una lectura muy recomendable que mantiene un buen equilibrio entre el desarrollo de los personajes y la acción.

Mi valoración: A+ (No se demore, consiga un ejemplar de este libro)

Formada como periodista, Anya ahora escribe y produce documentales para la televisión. Su trabajo ha sido transmitido en Radio 4 de la BBC, y los derechos de sus libros Kiszka y Kershaw han sido adquiridos por BBC Drama para una posible serie dramática de televisión. El primer libro de Anya la llevó a ser elegida por Val McDermid para formar parte del prestigioso New Blood Panel en el Crime Festival de Harrogate del 2013.

Film notes: Identity Unknown (1945) directed by Walter Colmes

US / 71 min / b&w / Republic Pictures Corp Dir: Walter Colmes Pro: Walter Colmes (associate producer) and Howard Bretherton (associate producer)  Scr: Richard Weill (writer) and Robert Newman (original story) Cine: Ernest Miller Cast: Richard Arlen (Johnny March), Cheryl Walker (Sally MacGregor), Roger Pryor (Rocks Donnelly), Bobby Driscoll (Toddy Loring), Lola Lane (Wanda), Ian Keith (Major Williams), John Forrest (Joe Granowski), Sarah Padden (Mrs. Anderson), Forrest Taylor (Mr. Anderson), Frank Marlowe (Frankie), Harry Tyler (Harry Parker), Nelson Leigh (Colonel F. A. Marlin), Charles Williams (Auctioneer), Charles Jordan (Needles, Rocks’ Henchman), Dick Scott (Spike, Rocks’ Henchman), Marjorie Manners (Nurse) and Eddie Baker (Motorcycle Cop) Plot Summary: A soldier (Richard Arlen) who survived a bombing in which three others, who were burned beyond recognition but who possessed similar physical descriptions, perished. Hospitalized, and suffering from amnesia as a result, he adopts the name of “Johnny March” and sets out to visit the locales where service records indicated the four victims lived in hopes of establishing his identity. Release Date: 2 April 1945 (USA) IMDb Rating: 6.1

With my most sincere thanks to John Grant/Paul Barnett for his suggestion, see the review of Identity Unknown at Noirish, I had the opportunity to watch this film recently. As far as I know, the film is in the public domain. And I believe it’s worth seeing, given the meaning that could have had at that time.

Identity Unknown at American Film Institute

Identity Unknown at IMDb

Identity Unknown at Wikipedia

Film notes: The Lost Weekend (1945) directed by Billy Wider

US / 99 min / b&w / Paramount Pictures (as Paramount Pictures, Inc.)  Dir: Billy Wilder Pro: Charles Brackett Scr: Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, based on the novel by Charles R. Jackson Cine: John F. Seitz Mus: Miklós Rózsa Cast: Ray Milland (Don Birnam), Jane Wyman (Helen St. James), Phillip Terry (Wick Birnam), Howard Da Silva (Nat), Doris Dowling (Gloria), Frank Faylen (‘Bim’ Nolan),  Mary Young (Mrs. Deveridge), Anita Bolster (Mrs. Foley), Lilian Fontaine (Mrs. St. James), Frank Orth (Opera cloak room attendant), and Lewis L. Russell (Mr. St. James) Plot Summary: Adapted from the 1944 novel of the same name by Charles Jackson, The Lost Weekend recounts the life of a writer in New York over the last half of a six year period and particularly during an alcoholic binge of almost 5 days. He has a severe alcohol problem and the movie pulls no punches in depicting it. (Source: Hollywood’s Golden age) Release Date: 16 November 1945 (USA), 14 February 1948 (Spain) Spanish title: Días sin huella IMDb Rating: 8.0

In summer 1946, with the war ended and American films once again appearing on Paris movie screens, several French critics became immediately attracted to certain dark movies with arresting visuals and a focus on psychology. French writers figured out what to call them. Nino Frank, writing for a French film journal, dubbed the movies film noir. The term was deliberately analogous to roman noir used to describe American “hard boiled” fiction. (Série noire was the title of a popular series of “hard-boiled” books first put out in ’45. The most popular were translations of English and American crime novels including James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity and W. R. Burnett’s Little Caesar) The five films mentioned in Frank’s August 1946 article about “film noir” were The Maltese Falcon; Double Indemnity; Laura; Murder, My Sweet; and The Lost Weekend. Citizen Kane was also listed but was rightly put in a category by itself. American film noir was an immediate hit amongst film critics and movie goers in France. It would be years before the term was used in America. The Lost Weekend today isn’t categorized as a noir by most but I think it probably should be. The film fits nicely between Wilder’s Double Indemnity and Sunset Blvd. (A note from the editor of Film Noir of the Week)

At the 18th Academy Awards in May 1946, The Lost Weekend received seven nominations and won in four categories (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay). In 2011, The Lost Weekend was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. The Registry said the film was “an uncompromising look at the devastating effects of alcoholism” and that it “melded an expressionistic film-noir style with documentary realism to immerse viewers in the harrowing experiences of an aspiring New York writer willing to do almost anything for a drink.” (Source: Wikipedia)

The Lost Weekend at American Film Institute

The Lost Weekend at IMDb

The Lost Weekend at Wikipedia

The Lost Weekend Film Site Movie Review

Film notes: Mildred Pierce (1945) directed by Michael Curtiz

US / 111 min / b&w /Warner Bros (as Warner Bros.-First National Pictures) Dir: Michael Curtiz Pro: Jerry Wald Scr: Ranald MacDougall, based on the novel by James M. Cain Cine: Ernest Haller Mus: Max Steiner Cast: Joan Crawford (Mildred Pierce), Jack Carson (Wally Fay), Zachary Scott (Monte Beragon), Eve Arden (Ida Corwin), Ann Blyth (Veda Piece), Bruce Bennett (Bert Pierce), Lee Patrick (Maggie Biederhof), Moroni Olsen (Inspector Peterson), Veda Ann Borg (Miriam Ellis), Butterfl y McQueen (Lottie), John Compton (Ted Forrester) Plot Summary: While the novel is told by a third-person narrator in strict chronological order, the film uses voice-over narration (the voice of Mildred). The story is framed by Mildred’s interrogation by police after they discover the body of her second husband, Monte Beragon. The film, in noir fashion, opens with Beragon (Zachary Scott) having been shot. He murmurs the name “Mildred” before he dies. The police tell Mildred (Joan Crawford) that they believe the murderer is her first husband, Bert Pierce (Bruce Bennett). Bert has already been interrogated, and confessed to the crime. Mildred protests that he is too kind and gentle to commit murder, and goes on to relate her life story in flashback. Release Date: 20 October 1945 (USA), 1 November 1948 (Spain) Spanish title: Alma en suplicio IMDb Rating: 8.0

Mildred Pierce features a compelling comeback performance by Joan Crawford in the starring role, after a slump in her career and a two year absence from movies. As well as Crawford’s unforgettable performance, the acting of the supporting cast, particularly Ann Blyth, Jack Carson and Eve Arden, is first class and makes the film completely believable. The black and white cinematography of Ernest Haller is memorably evocative and adds to the film’s noirish quality with frequent use of contrasting light and shadow. The film was a major box-office hit and was critically acclaimed. It was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Eve Arden and Ann Blyth), Best Screenplay (Ranald MacDougall), and Best B/W Cinematography (Ernest Haller). Joan Crawford won the film’s sole Academy Award for Best Actress for her title role.In 1996 the movie was selected for preservation in the United States Library of Congress National Film Registry. (Source: Hollywood’s Golden Age)

Mildred Pierce at American Film Institute

Mildred Pierce at IMDb

Mildred Pierce at Wikipedia