Month: April 2015

Review: The Silence Of The Sea by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

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

Hodder & Stoughton, 2014. Format: Kindle edition. File Size: 1484 KB. Print Length: 433 pages. Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. Originally published as Brakid, in 2011. ISBN:9781444734478. ASIN: B00FG26SIK.

isbn9781444734478-detailThe story begins when a luxury yacht crashes upon arrival into the docks in Reykjavik harbour. Soon it is discovered there’s no one on board, although it is known that the three members of the crew and a family of four had embarked in Lisbon bound to Iceland. The missing family had left behind a toddler in the care of her paternal grandparents. It so happens that her parents, shortly before starting the voyage, had taken out life insurance with an extravagantly high coverage. And now her grandparents resort to Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, a Reykjavik lawyer, to defend the interest of their granddaughter vis-à-vis the insurance company, and try to figure out what could have happened. The yacht is now owned by a resolution committee, appointed to wind up the affairs of one of Iceland’s failed banks. The committee had seized the yacht when the previous owner proved unable to pay back the bank loan used to purchase the vessel. In fact, the yacht was returning to Iceland now to be put up for sale. There is no clue on what might have happened to the people that were on board. And as the story proceeds we will find out the reasons why the family of four, comprising two adults and two twin sisters, had embarked in Lisbon. Interspersed within the storyline the reader will find out some chapters recounting life on board during the voyage.

I must admit I have had to make an effort to keep my attention in the book taking into account that, for my taste, the pace is extremely slow at times. Besides, without wanting to unveil any of the details of the plot, I must highlight that I have had difficulties to find believable several of the events narrated. It may be that I’m just one of the few discordant voices since, other reviewers, have rated more positively this book. But for me it has been a bit of a disappointment. Particularly, I have found much more interesting those chapters that unfold in Iceland than those in which the action takes place at sea.

Yrsa Sigurdardóttir (b. 1963) is the bestselling and award-winning Icelandic crime author of the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series as well as several stand-alone thrillers. She made her crime fiction debut in 2005 with Last Rituals, the first instalment in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, and has been translated into more than 30 languages. Her work stands “comparison with the finest contemporary crime writing anywhere in the world” according to the Times Literary Supplement. The second instalment in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series, My Soul To Take, was shortlisted for the 2010 Shamus Award. In 2011 her stand-alone horror novel I Remember You was awarded the Icelandic Crime Fiction Award and was nominated for The Glass Key. The Silence of the Sea is the sixth instalment in the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series and is shortlisted for this year Petrona Award. (Source: Salomonsson Agency)

My rating: B (I really liked it)

The Silence of the Sea has been reviewed more favourable by Sarah at Crimepieces (Sarah) and by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading

Hodder & Stoughton

Salomonsson Agency

El silencio del mar de Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

La historia comienza cuando un yate de lujo se estrella a su llegada a los muelles en el puerto de Reykjavik. Pronto se descubre que no hay nadie a bordo, aunque se sabe que los tres miembros de la tripulación y una familia de cuatro se habían embarcado en Lisboa con destino a Islandia. La familia desaparecida había dejado atrás una niña pequeña al cuidado de sus abuelos paternos. Se da la circunstancia de que sus padres, poco antes de iniciar el viaje, había contratado un seguro de vida con una cobertura extravagantemente alta. Y ahora sus abuelos recurren a Thóra Gudmundsdóttir, una abogada de Reykjavik, para defender los intereses de su nieta frente a la compañía de seguros, y tratar de averiguar lo que podría haber sucedido. El yate es ahora propiedad de un comité de resolución, designado para liquidar los negocios de uno de los bancos islandeses en quiebra. El comité se había apoderado del yate cuando el dueño anterior fue incapaz de pagar el préstamo bancario utilizado para la compra de la embarcación. De hecho, el yate estaba regresando a Islandia ahora para ser puesto a la venta. No hay ninguna pista sobre lo que podría haber sucedido a las personas que estaban a bordo. Y a medida que avanza la historia vamos a averiguar las razones por las cuales la familia de cuatro miembros, compuesta por dos adultos y dos hermanas gemelas, había embarcado en Lisboa. Intercalados dentro de la historia, el lector encontrará algunos capítulos que narran la vida a bordo durante la travesía.

Debo admitir que he tenido que hacer un esfuerzo para mantener mi atención en el libro teniendo en cuenta que, para mi gusto, el ritmo es muy lento a veces. Además, sin querer desvelar alguno de los detalles de la trama, debo resaltar que he tenido dificultades para encontrar creíbles varios de los acontecimientos narrados. Puede ser que yo sólo soy una de las pocas voces discordantes ya que otras reseñas han evaluado más positivamente este libro. Sin embargo, para mí ha sido un poco decepcionante. Particularmente, he encontrado mucho más interesantes los capítulos que se desarrollan en Islandia que aquellos en los que la acción tiene lugar en el mar.

Yrsa Sigurdardóttir (1963) es una autora de novela negra islandesa muy galardonada y con gran éxito de ventas por su serie protagonizada por Thora Guðmundsdóttir así como por varias novelas de suspense independientes.  Debutó en el 2005 con El último ritual, la primera entrega de la serie Thora Guðmundsdóttir, y ha sido traducida a más de 30 idiomas. Su obra debe “compararse con la mejor novela negra contemporánea que puede escribirse en cualquier parte del mundo“, según el Times Literary Supplement. La segunda entrega de la serie Thora Guðmundsdóttir, Ladrón de almas, fue finalista al Premio Shamus 2010. En 2011 su novela de terror independiente I Remember You fue galardonada con el Premio de novela negra de Islandia y fue nominada al Premio Glass Key. El silencio del mar es la sexta entrega de la serie Thora Guðmundsdóttir y es finalista al Premio Petrona de esta año.

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho)

Review: The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

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

Orion, 2005. Paperback edition. First published in the United States of America in 1934 by Alfred A. Knopf. Inc. ISBN: 978-0-7528-6436-5. Pages 128.

isbn9781409132370-detail The Postman Always Rings Twice is James M Cain’s debut novel. It was published in 1934 when Cain was forty-two years of age. At the time, it was banned in Boston, as it was considered that contained an explosive mixture of violence and eroticism. Now-a-days is a benchmark of the ‘roman noir’. The Postman Always Rings Twice served to established James M. Cain as an important novelist for his ruthless and gloomy vision of life in the United States. It is said, that Albert Camus used it as a model for his novel The Stranger.

The story is told in the first person by Frank Chambers, a jobless drifter, who narrates the fatal attraction he feels for Cora Papadakis, the wife of a Greek immigrant, the owner of a service station and of a roadside restaurant in California, and how they both become lovers, united by their passion and ambition. But they do have trouble to get rid of Cora’s husband and they must count as well with the inscrutable fate; that postman who always rings twice.

Although for my taste, it is not at the same level as Double Indemnity, see my review here, I do believe that The Postman Always Rings Twice is still a worthwhile read, given its particular significance within the ‘roman noir’ genre. Particularly, the characters in the book have become true archetypes and have expanded far beyond the limits of the genre.

My rating: A (I loved it)

James Mallahan Cain (1892 – 1977) was a first-rate writer of American hard-boiled crime fiction. Born in Baltimore, the son of the president of Washington College, Cain began his career as a reporter, serving in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I and writing for The Cross of Lorraine, the newspaper of the 79th Division. He returned from the war to embark on a literary career that included a professorship at St. John’s College in Annapolis and a stint at The New Yorker as managing editor before he went to Hollywood as a script writer. Cain’s famous first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice, was published in 1934 when he was forty-two, and became an instant sensation. It was tried for obscenity in Boston and was said by Albert Camus to have inspired his own book, The Stranger. The infamous novel was staged in 1936, and filmed in 1946 directed by Tay Garnett, starring Lana Turner and John Garfield, and in 1981, directed by Bob Rafelson, starring Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange. The story of a young hobo who has an affair with a married woman and plots with her to murder her husband and collect his insurance, The Postman Always Rings Twice is a benchmark of classic crime fiction and film noir. Two of Cain’s other novels, Mildred Pierce (1941) and Double Indemnity (1943), were also made into film noir classics. In 1974, James M. Cain was awarded the Grand Master Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Cain published eighteen books in all and was working on his autobiography at the time of his death. (Source: Penguin Random House)

The Postman Always Rings Twice has been reviewed at The Complete Review, Crime Fiction Lover, Spinetingler Magazine, Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog, Shotsmag, and A Penguin a week,

Orion books

Black Lizard

El cartero siempre llama dos veces de James M. Cain

9788498677706_300x456

El cartero siempre llama dos veces es la primera novela de James M Cain. Fue publicada en el 1934 cuando Caín tenía cuarenta y dos años de edad. En ese momento, fue prohibida en Boston, ya que se consideró que contenía una mezcla explosiva de violencia y erotismo. Hoy en día es un referente de la ‘novela negra’. El cartero siempre llama dos veces sirvió para consagrar a James M. Cain como un novelista importante por su visión despiadada y sombría de la vida en los Estados Unidos. Se dice, que Albert Camus la utilizó como modelo para su novela El Extranjero.

La historia está contada en primera persona por Frank Chambers, un vagabundo sin trabajo, que nos narra la atracción fatal que siente por Cora Papadakis, la esposa de un inmigrante griego, propietario de una estación de servicio y de un restaurante de carretera en California, y cómo ambos se convierten en amantes, unidos por su pasión y ambición. Pero ellos tienen problemas para deshacerse del esposo de Cora y deben contar además con el inescrutable destino, ese cartero que siempre llama dos veces.

Aunque para mi gusto, no está al mismo nivel que Pacto de sangre, ver mi reseña aquí, considero que El cartero siempre llama dos veces sigue siendo una lectura muy recomendable, dada su especial importancia dentro del género de ‘novela negra’. En particular, los personajes del libro se han convertido en verdaderos arquetipos y se han extendido más allá de los límites del género.

Mi valoración: A (me encantó)

James Mallahan Caín (1892-1977) fue un escritor de primera fila de novela negra americana. Nacido en Baltimore, hijo del presidente de la universidad de Washington, Caín comenzó su carrera como reportero, sirviendo en la Fuerza Expedicionaria de Estados Unidos en la Primera Guerra Mundial escribiendo para The Cross of Lorraine, el periódico de la 79º División. Regresó de la guerra para embarcarse en una carrera literaria que incluyó un puesto de profesor en la universidad de San Juan en Annapolis y una temporada en The New Yorker como jefe de redacción antes de establecerse en Hollywood como guionista. La famosa primera novela de Caín, El cartero siempre llama dos veces, fue publicada en 1934, cuando tenía cuarenta y dos años, y se convirtió en una éxito inmediato. Fue juzgado por obscenidad en Boston y según dijo Albert Camus le sirvió de inspiración para escribir su libro, El Extranjero. La infame novela fue convertida en obra de teatro en el 1936, y fue llevada al cine en 1946 dirigida por Tay Garnett, con Lana Turner y John Garfield como protagonistas, y en 1981, dirigida por Bob Rafelson, y protagonizada por Jack Nicholson y Jessica Lange. La historia de un joven vagabundo que tiene un romance con una mujer casada y planifica con ella asesinar a su esposo y cobrar su seguro, El cartero siempre llama dos veces es todo un referente de la novela negra clásica y del cine negro. Otras dos novelas de Cain, Mildred Pierce (1941) y Double Indemnity (1943) estrenada como Perdición en España, también se convietieron en clásicos del cine negro. En 1974, James M. Cain fue galardonado con el Premio de Gran Maestro por los Escritores de Misterio de América. Caín publicó un total de dieciocho libros y estaba trabajando en su autobiografía en el momento de su muerte. (Fuente: Penguin Random House)

RBA

Review: The Hummingbird by Kati Hiekkapelto

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

Arcadia Books, 2014. Format: Kindle edition. File Size: 636 KB. Print Length: 364. Originally published as Kolibri by Otava, 2013. Translated from the Finnish by David Hackston. ISBN: 978-1-909807-75-4. ASIN: B00NKQSCOC.

Hummingbird Cover

Gradually, I’m reading the shortlisted novels for The Petrona Award 2015. Today’s the turn of The Hummingbird, the debut novel of Finnish author Kati Hiekkapelto, originally published as Kolibri by Otava in 2013. The story revolves around Anna Fekete, a new senior detective at the Crime Unit with an immigrant background, and the rest of her colleagues in the northernmost region of Finland. When the action begins we find Anna on her first day on the job. Although Anna speaks Finnish fluently and with no accent, she was born in the former Yugoslavia within a Hungarian speaking community in what is currently Serbia. For this reason she won’t be equally well accepted by all her new comrades.

As the novel unfolds, two cases will be intertwined. One refers to the murder of a young woman in a running track that will soon be followed by two other murders of similar characteristics. The other case will be related to a call for help from a young girl of Kurdish origin that Anna believes might be related to a case of ‘honour violence’. At the same time, the reader will get to know more details about Anna’s life and of her colleagues in the police force. The title of the book refers to an Aztec pendant found in the possession of all three murder victims.

This young Finnish writer has been quite a discovery for me this year and I’ve very much enjoyed reading her book. Probably the novel is not exempt of some flaws that can be easily forgiven as it is her first published novel. Certainly, she attempts to address, in my view, far too many issues in this book. However the main character is well drawn and is extremely interesting. And, last but not least, this is a police procedural that takes place in a new and different environment. I have no doubt that she has many more things to tell, knows how to say it, and knows very well her craft. I’m looking forward to reading her next book, The Defenceless that will be published in 2015 by Orenda Books. Besides, I’ve very little doubt that Kati Hiekkapelto is a writer that is worth to follow.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Kati Hiekkapelto (b. 1970) is a special needs teacher by training, writer, punk singer and performance artist. She lives on an old farm on the island of Hailuoto in Northern Finland with her children and a sizable menagerie. Hiekkapelto has taught immigrants and lived in the Hungarian region of Serbia. So far she has published: The Hummingbird (Kolibri, 2013), and The Defenceless (Suojattomat, 2014).

The Hummingbird has been reviewed at Crimepieces (Sarah), Amazon Customer Review (Simon Clarke), Crime Fiction Lover (Marina Sofia) and at Crime Scraps Review (Norman).  

Arcadia Books

Otava Book Agency

Kati Hiekkapelto Website 

At the Bar with: Kati Hiekkapelto

Colibri de Kati Hiekkapelto

Poco a poco, estoy leyendo las novelas finalistas al Premio Petrona del 2015. Hoy es el turno de Colibrí, la primera novela de la autora finlandesa Kati Hiekkapelto, publicado originalmente como Kolibri por Otava en el 2013. La historia gira en torno a Anna Fekete, una nueva detective, de origen inmigrante, en la Unidad contra la delincuencia, y al resto de su colegas en la región más septentrional de Finlandia. Cuando comienza la acción nos encontramos con Anna en su primer día de trabajo. Aunque Anna habla finlandés con fluidez y sin acento, nació en la antigua Yugoslavia en el seno de una comunidad de lengua húngara en lo que actualmente es Serbia. Por esta razón, ella no será igual de bien aceptada por todos sus nuevos compañeros.

Conforme se desarrolla la novela, se entrelazan dos casos. Uno se refiere al asesinato de una joven en un circuito de running que pronto será seguido por otros dos asesinatos de características similares. El otro caso se refiere a una llamada de auxilio de una joven de origen kurdo que Ana cree que podría estar relacionado con un caso de “violencia de honor”. Al mismo tiempo, el lector podrá conocer más detalles sobre la vida de Anna y de sus colegas en el cuerpo de policía. El título del libro hace referencia a un colgante azteca encontrado en posesión de las tres víctimas asesinadas.

Esta joven escritora finlandesa ha sido para mi todo un descubrimiento este año y he disfrutado mucho leyendo su libro. Probablemente la novela no está exenta de algunos defectos que pueden ser fácilmente perdonados, ya que es su primera novela publicada. Sin duda, trata de abordar, en mi opinión, demasiadas cuestiones en este libro. No obstante el personaje principal está bien dibujado y es extremadamente interesante. Y, por último pero no por ello menos importante, se trata de un procedimiento policial que se desarrolla en un entorno nuevo y diferente. No tengo ninguna duda de que ella tiene muchas más cosas que decir, sabe cómo contarlas, y conoce muy bien su oficio. Estoy deseando leer su próximo libro, The Defenceless que será publicado en el 2015 por Orenda Books. Además, tengo muy pocas dudas de que Kati Hiekkapelto es una escritora que va a merecer la pena seguir.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Kati Hiekkapelto (b. 1970) es de formación profesora de educación especial, escritora, cantante punk y artista de performances. Vive en una antigua granja en la isla de Hailuoto en el norte de Finlandia con sus hijos y una colección de animales salvajes de tamaño considerable. Hiekkapelto ha enseñado a inmigrantes y vivió en la región húngara de Serbia. Hasta el momento ha publicado: Kolibri, 2013 y Suojattomat, 2014.

OT: Pasión de Bobal 2012

  • 20150426_133957 Winery: Bodega Sierra Norte. Polígono Industrial El Romeral. c/ del Transporte C2, 46340 Requena – Valencia. The winery was founded in 1999 in Requena by two local families with a long tradition in grape growing and winemaking.
  • Phone: +34 962 323 099
  • Winemaker: Manolo Olmo
  • Website: www.bodegasierranorte.com
  • Brand: Pasión de Bobal
  • DO: Utiel-Requena
  • Type: Young Red Wine aged 6 to 8 months in brand new French oak barrels
  • Alcohol: 13.5 %
  • Grape Variety: Bobal 100%.
  • Vineyards: This wine is made out of Bobal grapes from more than 60-year-old vines, which are planted at 3,000 feet above sea level in the interior of the province of Valencia, Utiel-Requena region. The climate is continental but influenced by the Mediterranean. At the end of October, a manual harvest using small cases was followed by a selection of bunches at the reception in the winery. Long and very careful maceration at low temperature preceded the fermentation, also started at low temperature. The wine then went through malolactic fermentation in new French oak barrels and was aged in barrel for six to eight months.
  • Soil Type: Limestone
  • Bottle Size: 75.0 cl.
  • Price: € 8.25 at a small wine shop in Madrid
  • My wine rating: 90/100 (a wine of very good to excellent quality) NEW!

This wine is the result of a great PASION on our indigenous grape variety BOBAL, growing in extreme continental conditions, with exceptional high potential and unique personality. Malolactic fermentation and then further stay in French-oak barrels for eight months.

Tasting notes: It is a dark-cherry coloured red wine, very intense in colour, and with purple hints. In the nose, it shows very clean aromas of red and black fruits, strawberries, raspberries, cassis, very well balanced with creamy and pleasant toasted notes from the barrel. It also shows a slightly spicy touch of liquorice. In the mouth, it is rich, fruity with round and ripe tannins. It has a good acidity, and shows nice notes of vanilla, smoke and coffee. A powerful wine but with a very elegant balance. (Source: Bodega Sierra Norte).

Further reading:

“La Bobal Revisited”: The Bobal grape is presented to the British market

Spain’s BOBAL–The Grape Sensation by Philip S. Kampe

OT: Sherry & The Mystery of Palo Cortado

Jerez & el misterio del palo cortado
Directed by José Luis López Linares
Synopsis: What we taste in a glass of Sherry is not just the fruit and its ferment but also the peculiar flavour of a place to which the Gods have been invited and where they have found a home. Jerez, where wine has been made for the last 3.000 years, is a place of stories, legendary tales, and, most of all, mysteries. (Source: You Tube)

Palo Cortado

Tasting Notes: A wine of great complexity which combines the delicate bouquet of an amontillado with the body and palate of an oloroso.
Chestnut to mahogany in colour with a complex bouquet which harmonises the characteristic notes of amontillados and olorosos, citric notes reminiscent of bitter orange and lactic notes suggestive of fermented butter. It has a deep, rounded, ample palate with smooth, delicate aromatic notes appearing in the aftertaste, leading to delicious lingering finish.

Production and Ageing: The production of Palo Cortado is the clearest example of how the bodegueros in the Jerez Region need to correctly identify the true vocation of each type of wine and act accordingly. These are wines produced from very fine must, initially fortified to 15% by volume and their casks are marked with a “palo” or slash. Once completed the sobretabla stage, if the tasters note the existence of certain very specific characteristics in some of the casks in which the flor has been maintained, they will mark it as a potential palo cortado by drawing a horizontal line across the original slash mark. The wine is then again fortified to above 17% by volume, thus redirecting the process of oxidative ageing. Only long years spent in the soleras will determine if the characteristics observed in the young wine have been confirmed by time and indeed produce a true palo cortado. (Source: www.sherry.org)

Here you have a highly recommended and still affordable Palo Cortado. More information at www.lustau.es/en/