Month: August 2011

The Gunnarstanda-Frolich series

This post is just a reminder for my own use, but since it might be of interest to some readers, I copy and paste from Crime Scraps. Just added to my wish list Lethal Investments by K.O. Dahl, release date: 1 September 2011. I’m looking forward to reading the series in order now, thank you Norman.

The Gunnarstanda-Frolich series. Norwegian titles and publications dates [with English titles and dates in brackets] Besides the books are translated by Don Bartlett, although the publisher’s pages do not mention it.

The Damned Season by Carlo Lucarelli

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse por la pantalla hacia abajo.

Translated from the Italian by Michael Reynolds. Original title L’estate torbida, 1991. First Publication 2007 by Europa Editions. Third printing, 2009. 118 pages. ISBN: 978-1-933372-27-3.

This is the second book in “De Luca trilogy”. At the end of Carte Blanche the Allies had crossed the river Po and the days of Mussolini’s regime were numbered. When The Damned Season opens Comissario De Luca is on his way to Rome under a false identity. As Giovanni Morandi, an engineer from Bologna, he is trying to avoid being recognised and arrested by the partisans in control of the Romagna region. During a brief encounter De Luca is recognised by Brigadier Leonardi, Partisan Police. Leonardi had met him before during a police-training course in Genoa. De Luca was a legend, “the most brilliant detective in the Italian police force”.

Leonardi likes his profession. He thinks he is good at it. But needs experience. The experience he gained by his own won’t be enough before long. Everything’s about to change; but the police force always stay the same, doesn’t matter if Togliatti is in power or De Gasperi.

Leonardi has a first case, nothing to do with politics. And it’s a big deal. He wants to solve it. He wants to go to the carabinieri and tell them this and that happen, so-and-so did it and here’s the evidence. But he needs the help of  …of an engineer.

“So, Signor Engineer, are you going to help me with this case or not?
“Why,” he said. “Do I have a choice?”
Leonardi smiled. “No you don’t.”

I loved this book for its capacity to evoke the difficult times of post-war Italy and for the realistic drawing of its characters. A very satisfactory read indeed. It won’t take me long to read the third one in the series. As pointed out by Rob Kitchin, Lucarelli writes on a show don’t tell style that is very effective.  

The Damned Season has been reviewed by Karen at Euro Crime, Rob at The View from the Blue House, Peter at Detectives Beyond Borders, Norman at Crime Scraps,  

El verano turbio de Carlo Lucarelli (El comisario De Luca)

Este es el segundo libro de la trilogía El comisario De Luca. Al final de Carta blanca los aliados habían cruzado el río Po y los días del régimen de Mussolini estaban contados. Cuando comienza El verano turbio el comisario De Luca se dirige a Roma con una identidad falsa. Como Giovanni Morandi, un ingeniero de Bolonia, está intentando evitar ser reconocido y detenido por los partisanos que controlan la región de la Romaña. En un breve encuentro, De Luca es reconocido por el brigadier Leonardi de la policía partisana. Leonardi lo había visto antes, durante un curso de entrenamiento de la policía en Génova. De Luca era una leyenda, “el detective más brillante de la policía italiana“.

A Leonardi le gusta su profesión. Piensa que tiene capacidad para ser policía. Pero le falta experiencia. La experiencia acumulada hasta el momento no le será suficiente dentro de poco tiempo. Todo está a punto de cambiar, pero la policía siempre es la misma, no importa si es Togliatti quien está en el poder o De Gasperi.

Leonardi tiene que resolver su primer caso, un caso que nada que ver con la política. Y es un gran asunto. Él quiere resolverlo. Él quiere ir a los carabineros y decirlos que fue esto o aquello lo que sucedió, que tal o cual lo hizo y que aquí tienen las pruebas. Pero necesita la ayuda de … de un ingeniero.

“Así que, señor ingeniero, ¿Va a ayudarme con este caso o no?
“¿Por qué”, dijo. “¿Tengo alguna opción?”
Leonardi sonrió. “No, no la tiene.”

Me encantó este libro por su capacidad para evocar los tiempos difíciles de la posguerra italiana y por el dibujo realista de sus personajes. Una lectura muy satisfactoria. No voy a tardar en leer el tercero de la serie. Como ha señalado Rob Kitchin, Lucarelli muestra no dice, un estilo que resulta muy eficaz.

SinC25 and Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass – Thy (Denmark)

Sisters in Crime Book Bloggers Challenge is Barbara Fister’s idea to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Sisters in Crime, an international organization founded in 1986 to promote the professional development and advancement of women writing crime fiction.

Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass is a community meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise. The idea behind is that participants write a post linked to the country of the week. This week’s country is Denmark. You can visit HERE the contribution of other fellow participants.

Whenever possible I will try to combine in a single post both challenges.

Thy is  a traditional Danish district located in the upper north west of the Jutland peninsula. The main towns are Thisted, Hanstholm and Hurup. The west of Thy has been designated as the first Danish national park.  You can visit Thy National Park webpage and Vacation in Thy for additional information. (The Jutland map was taken from Wikipedia)

Thy did call my attention thanks to Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen whom I met thanks to her blog, djskrimiblog. Dorte is a teacher from Denmark, teaching English at upper secondary level. In her spare time she reads and writes crime fiction in English and Danish, and in 2010 she sold her first flash stories to American magazines and publishers. Since then she has published two collections of flash fiction, Candied Crime (humour) and Liquorice Twists (a bit darker). Her bestseller is the romantic ghost story Heather Farm (suspense plus romance in the Dunes near the Danish west coast). Her latest mystery The Cosy Knave is a cosy mystery featuring village constable Archibald Penrose and the librarian Rhapsody Gershwin. If you are curious, try the free story Zed Alley, featuring Rhapsody Gershwin. (From Smashwords).

I’ve always wondered, what features should have a cosy crime fiction to make it cosy?  According to Dorte:

  1. an amateur sleuth with a useful job or position, but also someone who can get help from the police when she needs it: the librarian Rhapsody, engaged to the local constable.
  2. a suitable setting: a small village where everybody knows everybody else, including their sordid – or silly – secrets, the kind of place that tend to make you forget that the good, old days never really existed.
  3. the right kind of crimes, meaning a couple of murders are all right, as long as the readers are spared the dirty truths about the shock and pain they cause. For once, bloodthirsty old Macbeth got it right when he said:”If it were done when ’tis done, thentwere well / It were done quickly.”
  4. plenty of quirky characters: readers will expect prattling dog walkers, stuck-up mushroom ‘experts’, taciturn farmers and constables called Smith, Wesson and Winchester.
  5. finally, the traditional cosy is expected to be free of sex scenes and swearing – so this is the perfect gift for granny, your young daughter, or anyone who likes having their crime candied.

My review of The Cosy Knave is coming soon. Stay tuned.

Recently other female crime writers from Denmark have been translated into English, but they do not fit into the cosy category. I’m afraid I have not read any of them yet but we can find books by Lene Kaaberbøl (co-author with Agnete Friis of The Boy in the Suitcase), Sissel-Jo Gazan. Sara Blædel, Elsebeth Eglholm. I’m particularly interested in The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbøl & Agnete Friis. It will be published next November for English readers by Soho Press. This is the first instalment in the long-running Danish bestselling series featuring Red Cross nurse Nina Borg and you can find HERE Dorte’s review.

The Locked Room by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse por la pantalla hacia abajo.

Translated from the Swedish by Paul Britten Austin. Introduction from Michael Connelly. Original title Det slutna rummet, 1972. This translation first published by Random House Inc. New York, 1973. Third edition published by Harper Perennial 2007. 303 pages. ISBN: 978-0-00-724298-6.

The Locked Room is the eighth book in the Martin Beck mystery series. Beck, while still recovering from the gunshot wounds received at the end of the previous book, returns to his job as head of the National Murder Squad and receives a case file to look into. It happens to be an unsolved case. A man was found shot to death in a room locked from the inside. It could have been a suicide, except for a minor detail, “to shoot yourself without a gun – that’s not easy”. No weapon has been found in the room.

Meanwhile Kollberg, and Larsson have been assigned to a special squad headed by a district attorney, the incompetent Sten “Bulldozer” Olsson, to investigate a bank robbery in which a customer was killed. The two cases seem unrelated and both investigations will run in parallel through the book.

I have very much enjoyed reading The Locked Room. The story did captured my attention from the first pages. It is peppered with some doses of humour and the plot is clever and nicely woven.

‘…. Among other things, an Australian cavalryman gave a million to a kid who held his horse for him when he took a piss.’
‘Does a horse have to be held while it pisses?’

It is also interesting to contrast how each, Beck and Olsson, manages their case. Besides Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö address social and political issues, and offer a critical view of the Welfare State. This is Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö at their very best. 

‘Stockholm has one of the highest suicide rates in the world……For the fact of the matter is that the so-called Welfare Sate abounds with sick, poor, and lonely people, leaving at best on dog food, who are left uncared for until they waste away and die in their rat-hole tenements.’

The Locked Room has been reviewed by Maxine at Euro Crime, NacyO at the crime segments, Norman at Crime Scraps, Terry Halligan at Euro Crime (2), Simon Quicke at inside books,   

La habitación cerrada de Maj Sjöwall y Per Wahlöö

La habitación cerrada es el octavo libro de la serie de misterio protagonizada por Martin Beck. Beck, mientras se recupera de las heridas de bala recibidas al finalizar el libro anterior, regresa a su puesto como Jefe de la brigada nacional de homicidios y recibe un expediente para echarle un vistazo. Resulta ser un caso sin resolver. Un hombre fue encontrado muerto a tiros en una habitación cerrada con llave desde el interior. Podría haber sido un suicidio, a no ser por  un detalle insignificante,  “pegarse un tiro, sin un arma de fuego – no resulta fácil“. No se ha encontrado ningún arma en la habitación.

Mientras tanto Kollberg y Larsson han sido asignados a un escuadrón especial encabezado por un fiscal de distrito, el incompetente Sten “Bulldozer” Olsson, para investigar el robo de un banco en el que murió uno de los clientes. Los dos casos parecen no estar relacionados. Ambas investigaciones se desarrollarán en paralelo a lo largo del libro.

He disfrutado mucho con la lectura de La habitación cerrada. El relato ha captado mi atención desde las primeras páginas, Está sazonado con algunas dosis de humor y la trama es inteligente y está muy bien entrelazada.

“…. Entre otras cosas, un soldado de caballería australiano le dio un millón a un niño para que sujetara a su caballo mientras hacía pis. “
“¿Hay que sujetar a un caballo cuando mea?

También es interesante contrastar cómo cada uno, Beck y Olsson, dirige su caso. Además Maj Sjöwall y Per Wahlöö abordan cuestiones sociales y políticas, y nos ofrecen una visión crítica del Estado del Bienestar. Se trata de Maj Sjöwall y Per Wahlöö en su mejor momento.

“Estocolmo tiene uno de los mayores índices de suicidio en el mundo … … El hecho es que en el ‘llamado’ Estado del Bienestar proliferan las personas enfermas, pobres y solitarias, viviendo en el mejor de los casos a base de comida para perros, que han quedado desamparadas hasta que se consumen y mueren en casas de vecinos que son como ratoneras.”

International Dagger Speculation (2012)

Karen at Euro Crime has already published the list of translated crime novels released between June 2011 and May 2012 ie the period of eligibility. There’s 51 already but I do expect more to come. Just wanted to highlight the titles that have caught my attention.

Read so far:

Don’t want to miss:

  • Andrea Camilleri – The Track of Sand
  • Arnaldur Indridason – Outrage 
  • Johan Theorin – The Quarry 
  • Jan Costin Wagner – The Winter of the Lions 
  • Karin Fossum – The Caller
  • Yrsa Sigurdardottir – The Day is Dark
  • Asa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past
  • Gianrico Carofiglio – Temporary Perfections
  • K O Dahl – Lethal Investments
  • Deon Meyer – Trackers
  • Hakan Nesser – The Unlucky Lottery
  • Friis & Kaaberbol – The Boy in the Suitcase
  • Leif GW Persson – Another Time, Another Life

A difficult task if my priority is to reduce the amount of books in my TBR shelves. I’ll have to get rid of some books I still have to read.