broken verses

In broken verses, there are two essential relationships. Pakistani’s greatest poet and his muse, as well as the muse’s relationship with her daughter. The story is told from the daughter’s perspective, years after the poet was murdered by government thugs and her mother went missing. Aasmani has never recovered from her mother’s desertions after the poet’s death, nor the many, many times she left her when he poet was exiled.

Through letters written in the poet’s secret code, Aasmani tries to unravel the mystery behind the poet’s death and her mother’s desertion. Having believed that the only ones who knew the code were dead, Aasmani doesn’t know what to make of the letters until she starts to believe one or the other didn’t die. Her current romance and her relationship with her family become strained as Aasmani investigates the source of the letters and confusion builds as more letters are received.

Beautifully, poetically written.

Read June 2017

The Cold Song

Linn Ullmann’s The Cold Song tells the story of a family unravelling. Siri, a well known chef; John, a novelist with writer’s block; Jenny, Siri’s mother; young kids in the house and neighborhood; and the nanny. The stories of the characters intertwine and change from blaming themselves to blaming each other. What happens to an already disruptive family when the nanny, a beautiful young woman, ends up missing after a birthday party for Jenny. A party Siri plans but no one else wants.

Is it the philandering husband? The jealous wife? The alcoholic grandmother? One of the children? Or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time? The narrative weaves the guilt of each person and their relationships until we finally learn what happened.

This was a slow read for me, but I think the pacing of the book is meant to mimic the coldness in the family. When no one can trust or talk to one another, a frigidness and slowness seeps in.

Read November 2016.

The Dead of Summer

Its been a hectic time here in my life. This and the next couple of books were read slowly, in between lots of homework and crazy schedules. I couldn’t find the time or head space to read very often, so each of the next 3 books were read over weeks, which is unlike me. I blame me, not the novelist.

The Dead of Summer, by Mari Jungstedt is about murders that are well planned and executed for an unknown reason. At first, assistant Karin Jacobsson is given the job to begin the investigation, but her boss, Anders Knutas returns from vacation to take over. There is some resentment, but that doesn’t deter Jacobsson from her investigation. Intermingled with the present day investigation, is the story of a German family who vacationed on the Baltic Sea many years ago.

It isn’t until the motive for the murders is revealed can we understand the reason for the backstory. This was a good mystery with all the clues planted in plain sight, but it isn’t until the final connection is made can we, and Jacobsson, understand what happened.

Read November 2016.

The Man Who Smiled

The Man Who Smiled, by Henning Mankell, has Detective Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander recovering on the coast of Finland. He spent much of the last few months depressed about shooting a man during a police investigation. So depressed that he wasn;t able to help a friend who asked him to look into his father’s death. When this friend turns up murdered a few weeks later, Wallander cannot help but investigate. This tragedy brings Wallander back to what he does best.

This novel really shows the dark, brooding side of Wallander that we catch glimpses of in other novels. He cannot take no for an answer and pushed hard to uncover facts other colleagues have missed.

Great read.

Read September 2016.

The Killing Forest

Sara Blaedel’s The Killing Forest is just as dark and thrilling as her other novels. Louise Rick and Camilla Lind usually work from different sides; police vs. journalist, but in this case of a missing boy from Hvalsoe, Camilla ends up finding him deep in the woods and trying to save him.

The truth behind the boys disappearance has ties to Louise’s former boyfriend’s suicide years earlier. Louise encounters the same level of secrecy surrounding what happened the weekend her boyfriend killed him as the boy whose currently missing. Many of same friends/acquaintances seem to be hiding information and theres a dark religion that many follow that encourages their secrecy.

A great mystery! Read June 2016

Call Me Princess

Call Me Princess is about the horrors that can be encountered with online dating. Meeting people online allows a certain anonymity that doesn’t usually occur in the real world. Inspector Louise Rick is called out to meet with the victim of a horrific date rape and has to piece together how the rapist met and chose his victim. Based on the evidence, this was a planned attack and Rick needs to determine if there’s been any other victims.

The clock is ticking and another victim is found, worse off than the first victim. Once again, journalist Camilla Lind investigates the crime from a more personal perspective and  gives the victim an outlet for her pain. This time Camilla and Louise’s personal lives are at odds and the tension in their relationship causes a potential gap in catching the criminal.

I really enjoy how Blaedel delves past the basics of a crime and tries to figure out how the criminal and society in general contribute to the problems.

Another good read by Sara Blaedel.

Read June 2016

Only One Life

Only One Life by Sara Blaedel is not the first, and won’t be the last, Scandinavian novel that dives into Islamic immigration into an insular Scandinavian country. Inspector Louise Rick and journalist Camilla Lind try to determine if the death of a young, Jordanian girl was a honor killing. Members of Samra’s family are evasive and secretive, making it seem as if they may suspect each other of her death. After Samra’s best friend, a young Denmark girl named Dicta is found dead, the hunt for the killer intensifies.

Both Rick and Lind attempt to break the family’s tight circle, again in different ways. Camilla wants to understand how hard it is for a young immigrant to live between 2 cultures and live her own life while trying to please her family. Louise wants to find out why someone would feel the need to kill a young woman for honor.

Blaedel sensitively moves between cultures as the characters investigate these horrific crimes and shows that making assumptions based on stereotypes is not the best way to run a murder inquiry.

After reading, The Forgotten Girls, I had to read another Blaedel novel. Only One Life was written first and Blaedel evolves as a writer, both novels are fantastic.

Read June 2016