This is a novel. Everything is true and everything is false

I have just started reading Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti. Winner of the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger Award 2008.

As soon as I open the book I find the following sentence:


This is a novel. Everything is true and everything is false.

Some food for thought, an article from Le Monde diplomatique, October 1997.

Bitter fruits of modernisation in Lorraine by Pierre Rimbert and Rafael Trapet

“Twenty years after the steel crisis Lorraine is a remarkable case study. Following the disappearance of its traditional industry the region was earmarked for modernisation. It has come down to earth with a shock. Like other parts of Europe it has fallen prey to bounty hunters attracted by relocation subsidies, firms that set up shop for few years and move out again as soon as they are offered better conditions elsewhere, with no regard for the unemployment and suffering they leave in their wake. Lorraine was the scene of one of the French labour movement’s fiercest battles. Despite defeat, its memory lives on. And with fresh closures announced, resistance is building up once more.”

Read the complete article HERE.

In May 2006 Kim Woo Choong, founder of the Daewoo Group, was sentenced to 10 years in jail after being found guilty of charges including embezzlement and accounting fraud. 21 trillion won ($22bn) of his fortune was seized and he was fined an additional 10m won. On 30 December 2007, he was granted amnesty by President Roh Moo-hyun. (South Korean presidents traditionally hand out pardons for the new year.) Taken from Wikipedia.

Lorraine Connection begins in Pondange, a fictional town in the former Lorraine steel basin, where Daewoo built a factory which subsisted with the help of European credits and laundered money through an exchange with a Polish Daewoo factory. The workers go on strike because of their deplorable work conditions, then the factory burns down: one of the strikers is accused. At the same time, in Paris, the Daewoo company, associated with Matra, seals the deal for the privatization of Thomson even though Alcatel was expected to be the winner. Alcatel refuses to accept the decision and decides to contest it, both in Paris, by investigating corruption and collusion at the highest level; and in Pondange, by proving, if need be by inventing evidence, that the owners set fire to their own factory. (South Central Review. Volume 27, Numbers 1 & 2, Spring & Summer 2010. From Politics to the Roman Noir by Anissa Belhadjin).

To be continued….

The Olive Labyrinth by Eduardo Mendoza

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse por la pantalla hacia abajo

Telegram Books, Release date: 1 October 2011. 240 pages. ISBN: 9781846590542.

The Olive Labyrinth, El laberinto de las aceitunas (Seix Barral, 1982), is the second book in the trilogy featuring an amateur detective, an inmate in a mental asylum whose name is unknown. The first book in the series, El misterio de la cripta embrujada (Seix Barral, 1979), is also available in English, The Mystery of the Enchanted Crypt (Telegram Books, 2008). You can read my previous post HERE. The third and last instalment, La aventura del tocador de señoras (Seix Barral, 2001), The Adventure of the Powder Room,is not available in English yet.

The argument is quite surreal and, therefore, difficult to summarize. The story begins with our ‘hero’ on a flight from Barcelona to Madrid. He has just left the psychiatric hospital where he is being held in a rather unusual way. He has been kidnapped by the police. His mission is to deliver a portfolio full of money. Soon he will find himself involved in a series of absurd situations, bizarre sometimes, and pretty funny.

“Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of captain Flippo, who, incidentally, has rejoined service today after his recent cataract surgery, we welcome you aboard Flight 404 to Madrid ……”

This is a light comedy, a parody of detective fiction but quite entertaining and very well written. It can be placed within the Spanish tradition of the picaresque novels. Most situations are completely absurd, though. The contrast between the literary language of the main character and his lack of formal education is great fun, the best of the book, for my taste, together with the philosophical observations of our ‘hero’. If you read it I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

El laberinto de las aceitunas de Eduardo Mendoza

Seix Barral, 1982. 276 pages. ISBN: 84-322-4500-3

El laberinto de las aceitunas (Seix Barral, 1982), es el segundo libro de la trilogía protagonizada por un detective aficionado que vive encerrado en un asilo para enfermos mentales, cuyo nombre desconocemos. El primer libro de la serie, El misterio de la cripta embrujada (Seix Barral, 1979), también está disponible en Inglés, AQUIpueden leer mi entrada anterior. La tercera y última entrega, La aventura del tocador de señoras (Seix Barral, 2001), no está disponible en inglés todavía.

El argumento es absolutamente surrealista y, por lo tanto, resullta difícil de resumir. La historia comienza con nuestro “héroe” en un vuelo de Barcelona a Madrid. Acaba de salir del  hospital psiquiátrico donde se encuentra recluído de una forma bastante inusual. Ha sido secuestrado por la policía. Su misión es entregar una cartera llena de dinero. Pronto se verá envuelto en una serie de situaciones absurdas, a veces extrañas, y bastante divertidas.

“Señores pasajeros, en nombre del comandante Flippo, que, por cierto, se reincorpora hoy al servicio tras su reciente operación de catarats, les damos la bienvenida a bordo del vuelo 404 con destino Madrid….”

Se trata de una comedia ligera, una parodia de la novela policíaca, pero muy entretenida y muy bien escrita. Se puede situar dentro de la tradición española de las novelas picarescas. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las situaciones son completamente absurdas. El contraste entre el lenguaje literario del personaje principal y su falta de educación formal es lo más divertido, lo mejor del libro. para mi gusto, junto con las observaciones filosóficas de nuestro “héroe”. Si lo leen espero que lo disfruten tanto como yo.

Bad Intentions by Karin Fossum

Esta entrada es bilingüe. Desplazarse hacia abajo para ver la versión en castellano.

Translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Braslund. Vintage Books, 2011. First published with the title Den onde vilgen in 2008 by J. W. Cappelens Forlag AS, Oslo. First published in Great Britain in 2010 by Harvill Secker. 186 pages. ISBN: 978-0-099-53584-3.

Three young men, childhood friends, are spending a weekend in a cabin near a lake, commonly known as Dead Water Lake. Axel Frimann, Philip Reilly and Jon Moreno. It is almost midnight when someone suggests to take a trip on the lake. Suddenly, Jon falls overboard, he can’t swim, but neither Axel nor Philip make an effort to help him. The morning after, they invent a story suggesting that Jon killed himself while they were sleeping. After all Jon has been hospitalized for depression. Inspectors Sejer and Skarre are assigned to the case. They suspect that the both survivors have something to hide, but have no evidence. Days later, the body of another teenager appears floating on the surface of another lake.

Bad intentions is a disturbing and intense psychological thriller. The argument revolves around the feelings of guilt, bad conscience and remorse. The plot is intelligent and is well developed. There are also some very attractive female characters. It is not Fossum at her very best but it is certainly a worthwhile read if somewhat gloomy. You can read it as a standalone book.

Karin Fossum, often known as the “Norwegian queen of crime”, made her literary debut with a collection of poetry in 1974, she was awarded with the Tarjei Vesaas’ Debutant Prize. Later she has written another book of poetry and two short story collections. Today she is internationally renowned for her crime fiction series featuring Inspectors Konrad Sejer and Jacob Skarre. She won the Glass Key Award for Don’t Look Back, which also won the Riverton Prize, and Calling Out For You was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger in 2005. Bad Intentions is the seventh book available in English but, actually, it is number nine in the series. The last one in the series, The Caller (Varsleren), is already available in English.

Bad intentions has been reviewed by Kimbofo at Reading Matters, Karen at Euro Crime, Norman at Crime Scraps, Peter at Bookblog, Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise, Maxine at Petrona.

Vintage Books

Malas intenciones de Karin Fossum

Tres muchachos jóvenes, amigos de la infancia, están pasando un fin de semana en una cabaña cerca de un lago, comúnmente conocido como el lago Dead Water. Axel Frimann, Philip Reilly y Jon Moreno. Es casi media noche cuando alguien sugiere dar un paseo por el lago. De repente, Jon cae por la borda, no sabe nadar, pero ni Axel ni Philip hacen un esfuerzo por ayudarle. A la mañana siguiente, se inventan una historia que sugiere que Jon se quitó la vida mientras ellos dormían. Después de todo Jon ha estado hospitalizado por depresión. Los inspectores Sejer y Skarre se hacen cargo del caso. Sospechan que los dos sobrevivientes tienen algo que ocultar, pero no tienen pruebas. Días después, el cuerpo de otra adolescente aparece flotando en la superficie de otro lago.

Bad Intentions es un thriller psicológico inquietante e intenso. El argumento gira en torno a los sentimientos de culpa, la mala conciencia y los remordimientos. La trama es inteligente y está bien desarrollada. También tiene algunos personajes femeninos muy atractivos. No es Fossum en su mejor momento, pero sin duda es una lectura muy recomendable aunque algo sombría. Se puede leer como un libro independiente.

Karin Fossum, es conocida como “la reina noruega del crimen”. Debutó en 1974 con una colección de poesía que fue galardonada con el Premio Tarjei Vesaas’ Debutant. Más adelante escribió otro libro de poesía y dos colecciones de relatos cortos. Hoy es conocida internacionalmente por la serie de novelas de suspense e intriga protagonizadas por los inspectores Konrad Sejer y Jacob Skarre. Ganó el premio Glass Key por No mires atrás, que también fue galardonada con el Premio Riverton, y Una mujer en tu camino fue seleccionada por la CWA para la Gold Dagger en el 2005. Bad Intentions es la séptima novela en Inglés, pero, en realidad, es la novena de la serie. La última, The Caller (Varsleren), ya está disponible en Inglés.

Más información sobre Karin Fossum en Mis detectives favorit@s.

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