Month: June 2015

June 2015 Round-Up and Pick of the Month

Crime fiction books read and reviewed this month:

The Consorts of Death (Arcadia Books, 2009) Translated from the Norwegian by Don Bartlett. Originally published as Dødens drabanter in 2006 by Gunnar Staalesen (A+)

Arab Jazz (MacLehose Press, 2015) Translated from the French by Sam Gordon, 2015. Originally published as Arab Jazz in 2012 by Karim Miské (A+)

Maigret (Penguin Books, 2015) This edition translated by Ron Schwartz in 2015. First published in book form by Fayard in 1934 by Georges Simenon (C)

Camille (MacLehose Press. 2015) Translated by Frank Wynne, 2014. First published in the French language as Sacrifices by Editions Albin Muchel in 2012 by Pierre Lemaitre (A)

Cobra (Hodder & Stoughton, 2014) Translated by K- L- Seegers, 2014. Originally published in Afrikaans as Kobra in 2013 by Deon Meyer (A)

And my choice for this moth pick of the month will be:

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Book description: Kosher sushi, kebabs, a second hand bookshop and a bar: the 19th arrondissement in Paris is a cosmopolitan neighbourhood where multicultural citizens live, love and worship alongside one another. This peace is shattered when Ahmed Taroudant’s melancholy daydreams are interrupted by the blood dripping from his upstairs neighbour’s brutally mutilated corpse. The violent murder of Laura Vignole, and the pork joint placed next to her, set imaginations ablaze across the neighbourhood, and Ahmed finds himself the prime suspect. However detectives Rachel Kupferstein and Jean Hamelot are not short of leads. What is the connection between a disbanded hip-hop group and the fiery extremist preachers that jostle in the streets for attention? And what is the mysterious new pill that is taking the district by storm?

In this his debut novel, Karim Miské demonstrates a masterful control of setting, as he moves seamlessly between the sensual streets of Paris and the synagogues of New York to reveal the truth behind a horrifying crime. (Source: MacLehose Press)

Arab Jazz has been shortlisted for this year CWA International Dagger and the winner will be announced tonight at the CWA annual dinner together with the Short Story, the Non-Fiction, the Endeavour Historical and the CWA Debut Dagger awards.

Needless to say Arab Jazz is my favourite. The rest of contenders are here.

Crimes of the Century

This June the chosen year is 1934, see more details at #1934book sign-up page, and I was willing to participate with The Nine Taylors by Dorothy L. Sayers.  Unfortunately, for reasons of no real relevance, my reading pace has slowed down a bit and I won’t be able to finish its reading in due time. Anyway I’m fully enjoying this book and I hope to write my post in the following days. Stay tune and do not forget to visit Rich Westwood’s blog Past Offences and read what other fellow participants have chosen for the year 1934.

Review: Cobra by Deon Meyer

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

Hodder & Stoughton, 2014. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 1255 KB. Print Length: 352 pages. Translated by K- L- Seegers, 2014. Originally published in Afrikaans in 2013 as Kobra. ASIN: B00IORP8GW. eISBN: 9781444723786.

isbn9781444723786If my count is correct, Cobra is the ninth novel published by Deon Meyer and the fourth book featuring Captain Benny Griessel from the Directorate of Priority Crime  Investigation, DPCI or the Hawks. It has been shortlisted for this year CWA International Dagger and can be read as a standalone book, however I strongly recommend reading the four books in chronological order. It will be worth your while.

Two men with the same military haircut, same built and similarly dressed have appeared shot to death at La Petite Margaux, a guesthouse located on a wine farm in the Franschhoek Valley. One of the farm workers, a coloured man, has also appeared shot dead in the vineyard. A fourth victim does not appear anywhere, though it is known that there were three people hosted there. It soon becomes clear that the two bodies found in the house were of two bodyguards and that the fourth victim might have been kidnapped. The missing person is a British citizen named Paul Anthony Morris who hired, just a few days ago, the services of Body Armour, a private security company in Capetown. Benny Griessel has been appointed head of the JOC, the acronym for Joint Operations Command, in charge of the investigation. The only clue available is that each shell casings found is engraved with the figure of a spitting cobra. To complicate matters the passport in the name of Paul Anthony Morris turns out to be fake and finally, when it seems to arise a possible line of investigation, the Hawks are forced to drop the case and handing it over to the secret services of South Africa.

Simultaneously, the investigation will be alternating with the story of a coloured pickpocket called Tyrone Kleinbooi. Tyrone is a bright young man who aims to help his sister to pay her medical studies at the University. Orphans since their childhood, Tyrone is determined to providing to his little sister a good education, making her believe that he works as a contract painter. She ignores the true origin of his brother’s income.  Finally both stories will converge.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Deon Meyer books and Cobra has been no exception. I’ve really enjoyed reading it. The story captures the reader attention from the very first page and I was left completely hooked until the end. Even at the risk of using a very worn-out expression, the book is truly unputdownable. In fact I was left slightly disappointed with what seems to me an ending just a bit brusque. I wanted to know more about the fate of the characters. Despite its extent, it went very quickly. Some of its main characters are extremely attractive and, along its pages, the reader will also find a lively portrait of South Africa after the apartheid. Another highly recommendable book, between a thriller and a police procedural, by a master storyteller.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Deon Meyer lives near Cape Town in South Africa. His big passions are motorcycling, music, reading, cooking and rugby. In January 2008 he retired from his day job as a consultant on brand strategy for BMW Motorrad, and is now a full time author. Deon Meyer’s books have attracted worldwide critical acclaim and a growing international fanbase. Originally written in Afrikaans, they have now been translated into twenty-eight languages. Thirteen Hours was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger and won the Boeke Prize in South Africa – the first time in the prize’s sixteen year history that a South African book has won. His novels have also won literary prizes in France, German, the Netherlands and Sweden, and the film rights of seven of his novel have been optioned or sold. In his Benny Griessel series, Deon Meyer has published: Infanta, 2004 (English title: Devil’s Peak); 13 Uur, 2009 (English title: Thirteen Hours); 7 Dae, 2011 (English title: Seven Days), Kobra , 2013 (English title: Cobra) and Ikarus, 2015. The rest of his books are: Feniks, 1996 (English title: Dead before Dying); Orion, 2000 (English title: Dead at Daybreak); Proteus, 2002 (English title: Heart of the Hunter); Onsigbaar, 2007 (English title: Blood Safari) and Spoor, 2010 (English title: Trackers). (To access my reviews, click on the title of the book).

Cobra has been reviewed at Crimepieces (Sarah Ward), Euro Crime (Terry Halligan), The Complete Review (M.A.Orthofer), Seeing The World Through Books (Mary Whipple), Amazon Customer Review (Simon Clarke)

Hodder & Stoughton

Deon Meyer Official site 

The story behind Cobra by Deon Meyer

Cobra de Deon Meyer  

Si mis cálculos son correctos, Cobra es la novena novela publicada por Deon Meyer y el cuarto libro protagonizado por el capitán Benny Griessel de la Dirección para la Investigación de Delitos Preeminentes, más conocida por sus siglas DPCI o como los Hawks (Halcones). Ha sido seleccionada para el Premio Dagger International de la CWA de este año y se puede leer como un libro independiente, sin embargo yo recomiendo encarecidamente leer los cuatro libros en orden cronológico. Merece la pena.

Dos hombres con el mismo corte de pelo militar, misma constitución física y vestidos de forma similar han aparecido muertos a tiros en La Petite Margaux, un hotelito situado en un viñedo en el valle de Franschhoek. Uno de los empleados de la finca, un hombre mestizo, también ha aparecido muerto a tiros en el viñedo. Una cuarta víctima no aparece por ninguna parte, aunque se sabe que había tres personas alojadas allí. Pronto resulta evidente que los dos cuerpos encontrados en la casa eran dos guardaespaldas y que la cuarta víctima podría haber sido secuestrada. La persona desaparecida es un ciudadano británico llamado Paul Anthony Morris que contrató, hace apenas unos días, los servicios de Body Armour una empresa de seguridad privada en Ciudad del Cabo. Benny Griessel ha sido nombrado jefe de la JOC, el acroónimo de Comando Conjunto de Operaciones, a cargo de la investigación. La única pista disponible es que cada uno de los casquillos de bala encontrados están grabados con la figura de una cobra escupidora. Para complicar más las cosas el pasaporte a nombre de Paul Anthony Morris resulta ser falso y finalmente, cuando parece surgir una posible línea de investigación, los Hawks se ven obligados a abandonar el caso y entregarlo a los servicios secretos de Sudáfrica.

Al mismo tiempo, la investigación se alterna con la historia de un carterista de color llamado Tyrone Kleinbooi. Tyrone es un joven brillante que tiene como objetivo ayudar a su hermana a pagar sus estudios de medicina en la Universidad. Huérfanos desde su infancia, Tyrone está determinado a proporcionar a su hermana pequeña una buena educación, haciéndola creer que él trabaja como pintor contratado. Ella ignora el verdadero origen de los ingresos de su hermano. Finalmente ambas historias convergerán.

No es ningún secreto que soy un gran fan de los libros de Deon Meyer y Cobra no ha sido ninguna excepción. Realmente he disfrutado leyéndolo. La historia capta la atención del lector desde la primera página y me quedé completamente enganchado hasta el final. Aun a riesgo de utilizar una expresión muy desgastada, el libro es verdaderamente absorbente. De hecho, me quedé un poco decepcionado con lo que me parece un final un poco brusco. Quería saber más sobre el destino de los personajes. A pesar de su extensión, se me hizo muy corto. Algunos de sus personajes principales son extremadamente atractivos y, a lo largo de sus páginas, el lector encontrará también un vivo retrato de Sudáfrica después del apartheid. Otro libro muy recomendable, entre un thriller y un procedimiento policial, por un maestro de la narración.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Deon Meyer vive cerca de Ciudad del Cabo en Sudáfrica. Sus grandes pasiones son el motociclismo, la música, la lectura, la cocina y el rugby. En enero de 2008 dejó su trabajo diario como consultor de estrategia de mercado para BMW Motorrad, y ahora es autor a tiempo completo. Los libros de Deon Meyer han alcanzado el reconocimiento internacional de la crítica y una base creciente de admiradores en todo el mundo. Originalmente escritos en afrikaans, han sido traducido a veintiocho idiomas hasta el momento. Trece horas fue finalista del premio Internacional Dagger de la CWA a y ganó el Premio Boeke en Sudáfrica – la primera vez en los dieciséis años de historia del premio que lo ha ganado un libro sudafricano. Sus novelas también han obtenido premios literarios en Francia, Alemania, Países Bajos y Suecia, y ha vendido o existe una opción sobre los derechos cinematográficos de siete de sus novelas. En su serie protagonizada por Benny Griessel Deon Meyer ha publicado los siguientes libros: Infanta, 2004 (en castellano El pico del diablo); 13 Uur, 2009 (en castellano Trece horas; 7 Dae, 2011; Kobra, 2013 e Ikarus, 2015. El resto se sus libros son: Feniks, 1996; Orion, 2000; Proteus, 2002 (en castellano El corazón del cazador); Onsigbaar, 2007 (en castellano Safari sangriento) y Spoor, 2010. (Para acceder a mis reseña, hagan clic en el título del libro en inglés).

Review: Camille by Pierre Lemaitre

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

MacLehose Press. 2015. Format: Kindle Edition. File Size: 620 KB. Print Length: 320 pages. Translated by Frank Wynne, 2014. First published in French as Sacrifices in 2012.  ASIN: B00RXX5BXS. Ebook ISBN: 9781782066217.

getImage.phpAnne Forrestier finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. During an armed robbery on a jewellers on the Champs Elysées, she is savagely beaten and left for dead. Fortunately, after being taken to a hospital, she survives. However her attacker is determined to find her, to finish his work. Meanwhile, Commandant Camille Verhoeven is also determined to be appointed to this case. He won’t hesitate to break all the rules to achieve it. Even, hiding to everyone his particular interest in it. Camille is sentimentally attached to Anne.  

Camille is the third book in The Commandant Camille Verhoeven Trilogy, after Irène and Alex. I’ve not had the chance to read Irène yet, but you can find my review of Alex here. English translations were published out of order, but it is advisable to read them chronologically to avoid spoilers, even if each story can be considered a standalone book.

Camille is a fast paced thriller. In my view it’s very well written and I found it a fascinating read, although it is not without some flaws. The story takes place in a time span of three days. The narrative uses mainly the third-person alternating the perspective of Anne and Camille. Occasionally, both narratives are intertwined with the perspective, in the first person, of the potential killer whose identity remains unknown. In this sense Pierre Lemaitre manages to keep the reader’s attention until the last page and, as usual, things are not always as they seem. Probably some readers will find rather unpleasant some scenes. Although at the end, I had some difficulties finding the plot fully credible, it was worth the ride.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Born in Paris in 1951, Pierre Lemaitre has established himself as a standout writer of the French contemporary roman noir genre. His literary career is rather unusual: founder of a training agency, he used to teach American and French literature to librarians before dedicating himself, in his fifties, into the process of writing thrillers. Since the publication of his first book Travail soigné in France in 2006, Lemaitre has been publishing novels at an astounding rate. By the time he was awarded the Goncourt, France’s most prestigious literary award, in 2013, for his novel Au revoir là-haut, he had seven books and numerous other awards under his belt. (Source: French Culture) In 2013 he was awarded the CWA International Dagger for Alex, the second in a crime series known as the Commandant Camille Verhoeven trilogy that began with Irène, and concludes with Camille. According to my information Camille Verhoeven returns in another novel, Rosy & John (Le Livre de Poche Thrillers, 2013). Camille is shortlisted for this year CWA International Dagger Award.     

Camille has been reviewed at Crimepieces (Sarah), Crime Thriller Fella (Mark Hill), The Complete Review (M.A.Orthofer), Euro Crime (Ewa Sherman), Thriller Books Journal (Nicola Mira), Crime Scraps (Norman Price), Crime Fiction Lover (MarinaSofia), Crime Review (Arnold Taylor) 

MacLehose Press 

Interview with Pierre Lemaitre

Camille de Pierre Lemaitre

Anne Forrestier se encuentra en el lugar y en el momento equivocado. Durante un robo a mano armada en una joyería en los Campos Elíseos, es salvajemente golpeada y dada por muerta. Afortunadamente, después de haber sido trasladada a un hospital, sobrevive. Sin embargo su atacante está decidido a encontrarla, para terminar su trabajo. Mientras tanto, el comandante Camille Verhoeven también está decidido a ser asignado a este caso. No dudará en romper todas las reglas para lograrlo. Incluso, ocultando a todos su interés particular en el mismo. Camille está sentimentalmente unido a Anne.

Camille es el tercer libro en la trilogía del Comandante Camille Verhoeven, tras Irene y Alex. No he tenido la oportunidad de leer Irene todavía, pero pueden encontrar mi opinión de Alex aquí. Las traducciones al inglés fueron publicadas sin seguir su orden, pero es aconsejable leerlos cronológicamente para evitar spoilers, aunque cada historia se puede considerar un libro independiente.

Camille es un thriller de ritmo trepidante. Desde mi punto de vista está muy bien escrito y me pareció una lectura fascinante, aunque no deja de tener algunos defectos. La historia tiene lugar en un lapso de tres días. La narración utiliza principalmente la tercera persona alternando la perspectiva de Anne y de Camille. En ocasiones, ambos relatos se entrelazan con la perspectiva, en primera persona, del posible asesino cuya identidad se desconoce. En este sentido Pierre Lemaitre consigue mantener la atención del lector hasta la última página y, como de costumbre, las cosas no siempre son lo que parecen. Probablemente algunos lectores encontrarán bastante desagradables algunas escenas. Aunque al final, tuve algunas dificultades para encontrar la trama totalmente creíble, valió la pena el viaje.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

Pierre Lemaitre nació en París en 1951. Escritor y guionista, creó su propia empresa de formación pedagógica dirigida a colectivos como el de los bibliotecarios, para los que ha impartido clases de literatura, y es autor de cinco novelas policíacas, todas ellas profusamente premiadas. Nos vemos allá arriba ha supuesto un punto de inflexión en su trayectoria literaria: se ha convertido en un fenómeno de ventas (más de medio millón de ejemplares vendidos en Francia), ha sido recibida por la crítica como todo un acontecimiento literario y está en proceso de traducción a dieciocho idiomas. Aparte del más prestigioso galardón francés, el Premio Goncourt, ha obtenido el Prix Roman France Télévisions, el Premio de los Libreros de Nancy Le Point, y el Premio a la mejor novela francesa de 2013 otorgado por la revista Lire. Asimismo, fue elegida mejor novela del año según los libreros franceses en la revista Livres Hebdo. En el 2013 fue galardonado con la Internacional Dagger de la CWA por Alex, el segundo de una serie de novelas negras conocidas como la trilogía del Comandante Camille Verhoeven, que comenzó con Irène, y concluye con Camille. Según mi información Camille Verhoeven regresa en otra novela, Rosy & John (Le Livre de Poche Thrillers, 2013). Camille es finalista este año al Premio Internacional Dagger de la CWA.

A Visit to The Prado

Finally I had the opportunity to visit today at the Prado Museum some temporary exhibitions that are being displayed these days.

Begoña and I were much in a hurry to see Rogier van der Weyden (ca.1399-1464) which will be on view only up to the 28th of June, and we took this opportunity to see as well:

10 Picassos from the Kunstmuseum Basel,

Monumental Views of Spanish Cities. The Romantic Painter Genaro Pérez Villaamil and

The invited work: The young Saint John the Baptist, Michelangelo.

If you happen to be in Madrid around these days, don’t miss the opportunity to go see these exhibitions.