New Year Eve’s Tradition


 Las doce uvas de la suerte, (The twelve grapes of luck).

People in Spain have a peculiar way of celebrating New Year’s Eve. On the 31st of December, we wait until 24:00 with twelve grapes ready to eat with each bell strike.

This tradition is linked to the Puerta del Sol tower clock in Madrid, where the tradition began in 1897 as I’ve found out today. Click HERE.

My best wishes to you all for 2011.


The Devil’s Star (Marekors) by Jo Nesbø

The plot summary at Jo Nesbø official website reads:

It’s a sweltering summer in Oslo when a young woman is found murdered in her flat. One finger has been cut off, and beneath her eyelid is a tiny red diamond in the shape of a five pointed star. Detective Harry Hole is assigned to the case with Tom Waaler – a colleague Harry suspects of running an arms smuggling gang and of having murdered his partner – and initially he refuses to become involved. But he is already on notice to quit the force and is left with no choice but to drag himself out of his alcoholic stupor and get to work. Five days later, a man reports his wife missing. When her severed finger is found wearing a ring mounted with the same star-shaped red diamond, it seems Oslo has a serial killer on its hands. A riddle of fives: five points to the star, five fingers on the hand, and every fifth day a new victim to be counted. Harry is determined to prove that his hunch about Waaler is right, and he begins to wonder whether his enemy is somehow bound up with the killings. In his pursuit of the truth behind both mysteries, Harry unwittingly finds himself on the run from the police and forced to make difficult decisions about his future as a detective.
The Devil’s Star was awarded with The Finnish Academy of Crime Writers 2007 Special Commendation for Excellence in Foreign Crime Writing.”

Jo Nesbø delivers once again a superb and fascinating book and a rather intricate story. The Devil’s Star, the fifth instalment in his series featuring Harry Hole, is an intelligent and complex reading with a labyrinthine plot made up of different pieces, like in a puzzle, that finally fit together. Very well told, full of action and suspense, and very exciting. It is nicely constructed, provides a totally new vision of a serial killer and explores the darkest aspects of the human condition. The characters are credible and well drawn. And Harry Hole is a troubled but appealing detective. The following lines, on page 517 of my edition, offers a fine summary:

‘Did you know that Duke Ellington used to ask the piano tuners not to tune the piano to perfect pitch?’
‘When a piano is tuned to perfection, its doesn’t sound good. There’s nothing wrong, it just loses some of the warmth, the feeling of genuineness.’

The Devil’s Star is genuine and, fortunately, I still have more books by Jo Nesbø to read in the new year. Frelseren (The Redeemer, 2009); Snømannen (The Snowman, 2010) and Panserhjerte (The Leopard, 2010). All translated by Don Bartlett, who deserves a special mention for his excellent job.
The Devil’s Star has been reviewed by Norman Price at Euro Crime, Karen Chisholm at Euro Crime, Spinetingler, the complete review, Nordic Bookblog, reviewing the evidence, january magazine, Words without Borders, Mysterious Reviews, bookgeeksIrresistible Targets, The Year in Books: 2010, Golem – Memorias de lecturas (in Spanish)
Additional information at Jo Nesbø official website, Jo Nesbø official UK site, Vintage Books publicity page, Harper Collins publicity page, RBA publicity page (in Spanish).

Jo Nesbø

The Devil’s Star

Original title: Marekors (2003)

Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett (2005)

Published by Vintage 2009

Pages: 522

ISBN: 9780099546764

Sweet Money (original title: Delincuente Argentino) by Ernesto Mallo

Delincuente Argentino, the sequel to La aguja en el pajar (Needle in a Haystack), by Ernesto Mallo will be published under the title Sweet Money by Bitter Lemon Press. The release date is planned for July 2011 in the UK/Europe and in October 2011 in the US/Canada, as reported by Ernesto Mallo. See also the crime segments.

2010 Best Reads

Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise is collecting a list of the best crime fiction reads from readers of her blog.  The rules are simple – books read in 2010, regardless of when they were published. My total book count for 2010 was 73 books. I’m currently reading The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbø (73) and I’ll tackle next No hay que morir dos veces (No Need to Die Twice) by Francisco González Ledesma (74), but I doubt I will finish this one prior to the 31st of December. My absolute favourites with no particular order were:

Far too many? Then just to comply with Kerrie’s request I’ll choose:

2011 Eastern European Reading Challenge

Amy, who blogs at The Black Sheep Dances, after a successful 2010 Scandinavian Reading Challenge is hosting a new challenge as of 1st January 2011: The 2011 Eastern European Reading Challenge. Click HEREto find out more details. I’m planning to participate at the tourist level: Read 4 books over the next 12 months. This challenge is open to any genre, but I’m restricting myself to crime fiction books only.

So far I have Entanglement by Zygmut Miloszewski (Poland), Muerte y un poco de amor (Death and a Bit of Love) by Alexandra Marinina (Russia) and I’m interested in The Widow Killer by Pavel Kohout (Czech Republic). It shouldn’t be all that difficult to find a fourth book to complete the challenge.

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