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This ninth book in the Norwegian Hanne Wilhemsen series, which takes place in 2011, certainly kept my interest, but it was tough going at times. Having previously read book 5, Dead Joker, a lot has happened in four installments. The problem also is that the books aren’t being translated in order, so readers can get totally confused.

Hanne Wilhelmsen is now confined to a wheelchair as a result of something occurring in a previous book. She had pretty much isolated herself after said occurrence but has finally emerged enough to return to the police force and take on cold cases, many of which she hopes can be solved from the isolation of her apartment. She’s assigned a young policeman, Henrik Holme who has a few ‘idiosyncracies’, to work with her.

The first case this new team tackles is the disappearance of a seventeen year old girl many years ago. In the meantime, the police force is dealing with the deadly bombing of a local Muslim community center and Hanne’s former best friend, Billy T., is afraid that his son might be mixed up in the bombing.

It should come as no surprise that Hanne solves both cases.

As I said in the beginning, the book was tough going at times. Holt skips around among Hanne’s search, the bombings and Billy T.’s efforts to find the truth about his son. The skipping around becomes disconcerting at times and makes it difficult to following which path we are reading about at any point in time.

Hanne and Henrik Holme make an interesting team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they return, however, I’ll have to think twice or reserve a lot of time if I’m going to read another Hanne Wilhelmsen novel because it was definitely a slow read.

 

 

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Detective Inspector Annie Cabbot gets a case in which a man is found hanging from a tree. There are no signs of a struggle and by all appearances, it is suicide. When she learns that his name is Mark Hardcastle and he directs plays at a local theatre, she pays a visit and learns that Hardcastle has a boyfriend, Laurence Silbert. Silbert is the next stop on her quest for information and when no one answers the doorbell, Annie becomes skeptical. She breaks in and calls Silbert’s name. When still no answer, she and Winsome Jackman begin a search and find Silbert’s beaten body. At this point, Annie’s boss, Detective Superintendent Gervaise, suggests they call Detective Chief Inspector Banks home from his holiday.

Of course, what for all intents and purposes begins to look like a jealous lover’s murder/suicide, to Banks’ imaginative mind there are sinister doings. I won’t spoil the intrigue by describing these sinister doings, though.

I picked up All the Colours of Darkness, written in 2008, at Warwick’s Albert Wisner Public Library’s Friends bookstore and although it’s signed and normally I’d keep it, I think I’m going to re-donate it and let someone else get some reading pleasure. As always, Robinson’s DCI Banks books are great reading. In this particular book he does not deal with a cold case alongside a current one, which he has in many previous books.

There is intrigue, suspense, espionage, action. Of course, there’s Banks’ extensive and variable taste in music, some of which I want to write down. (Has anyone compiled a list of his music, similar to Michael Connelly’s Bosch CD?…actually there is, so click here.)

Other reviews here include: When the Music’s Over, In the Dark Places, Children of the Revolution, and Before the Poison.

I just received my copy of Robinson’s latest book, Sleeping in the Ground, which I can’t wait to read. It will be great vacation reading.

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Crow was set adrift in a small skiff when she was only hours old. Osh, a hermitic man, finds her and takes her into his isolated hut in the Elizabeth Islands near Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts and raises her as his daughter with the help of local resident, Miss Maggie and a cat called Mouse.

Osh made his way north from his southern home because things were getting bad, leaving whatever family he had. Over time, he tries to forget his past. However, Crow’s past is unknown and as she grows she wants to know where she came from, especially whether she came from nearby Penikese Island, a former leper colony. The townspeople assume that was her heritage and keep their distance although Crow has shown no sign of the disease.

Lauren Wolk, author of the Newbery Award winning Wolf Hollow, has written an adventurous coming of age, “family isn’t necessarily biological” story that keeps readers attention from the first page, which starts “I’ll never know for sure when I was born. Not exactly.”

In telling Crow’s story in Beyond the Bright Sea, Wolk weaves in some of the history and folklore surrounding Penikese  and other of the Elizabeth Islands, especially rumors of buried treasure. However, it is the stories of Crow, Osh and Maggie and their relationships that make Beyond the Bright Sea a beautiful book. Taking place in the 1920s, readers also get a flavor of life in the remote islands and also in ‘bustling New Bedford’, only miles away geographically but light years away in life style.

Beyond the Bright Sea is a heartwarming story. Even if you’re not much of a middle grade reader (which I’m not), it is worth reading. An excellent book.

 

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I’m a sucker for memoirs about selling old, family owned Cape Cod homes since I love the island that much. That’s why I loved The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home by George Howe Colt. He evoked the charm, the family, the sadness when his family sold their summer home. I hope To the New Owners by Madeleine Blais would evoke the same emotions, but alas, it did not.

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Instead, Ms. Blais, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, described life on Martha’s Vineyard, the growth of the Vineyard from a whaling town to a summer destination for the elite, and then, to some extent, life with her family.

To the New Neighbors is not a love story about a somewhat ramshackle summer home, lived in for fifty years by her in-laws’ family, that the author is sure will be knocked down and replaced by a McMansion. It is more a psychological study of the island, the residents’ desire for privacy, the way the island makes summer guests forget the rest of the world (until a president or two decide to vacation there), the ramifications of a breach of that privacy, etc. She touches on the life of year-round residents facing many of the same issues found on the mainland.  She name drops quite a bit.

Ms. Blais is an award winning journalist and To the New Neighbors comes across more as a newspaper article than a memoir. If you are looking for a more poignant story, The Big House will be more your speed.

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Set in Australia. Rachel moved away but not before sending Henry (her best friend) a love letter to which he never responded. “Sending” means sticking said letter in Henry’s favorite book in his family’s bookstore in the Letter Library section, a section devoted to people’s notes in books, either in the margins or between  the pages.

After her brother, Cal, drowned, Rachel decides to move back and live with her Aunt Rose. In the interim she’s had a boyfriend and theoretically gotten over Henry. He, too, has had girlfriends, primarily Amy who no one likes but Henry.

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Not only is Rachel back, but she’s taken a job at the bookstore and will be working side by side with Henry. I wonder how that will go!

Everyone in Words in Deep Blue is having issues. Rachel and her mom are trying, rather unsuccessfully, to deal with Cal’s death. Henry’s parents are divorced, the bookstore barely makes a profit and his mother is trying to convince everyone to sell it…the property being worth a fortune. Henry, his parents and his sister each have a vote in the decision. Meanwhile, Amy constantly breaks up with Henry, in part because of his poor financial position.

The concept of a Letter Library is really interesting, especially since Cath Crowley interspersed random notes throughout the book.

The characters in Words in Deep Blue are unique but you don’t find that out until the end…which makes the book more worthy of a read. Any story taking place in a bookstore has an appeal to me, as you probably know. The Letter Library just adds to the attraction.  But basically, Words in Deep Blue is a teen romance. So, if that’s your genre, go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

 

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This debut mystery by Danish authors Kaaberbol and Friis is an absorbing read. Not only is it a mystery but it delves into the personalities of the characters. The only confusion is what country/countries the action takes place in.

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In brief, Sigita’s son Mikas is kidnapped by a woman who has previously offered him chocolate in the schoolyard and playground. Karin, at the behest of her boss Jan, retrieves an extremely heavy suitcase from a baggage check in the local train station. Curious, she opens it to find a young child, unconscious but alive, curled up in the suitcase. What nefarious activities was the boy headed for? Unsure what to do, she calls her long lost friend, Nina Borg, tells her about the suitcase, but not its contents. A long time ‘savior of the world’, she knows Nina will know what to do. The end result (not a spoiler), her boss doesn’t have what he wants and the abductor doesn’t have what he wants leading to two days of tension, terror  and murder.

Recommended by a bookseller from Soho Press at the Brooklyn Book Festival, The Boy in the Suitcase, the initial book in the Nina Borg series, was well worth the read. Towards the end, I was constantly reading because I wanted to know how it ended. The authors did leave some characters unsettled, I guess is the word I would use. I would have liked to find out what happened to some of them…the ones you get attached to.

The Boy in the Suitcase is a welcome addition to the Scandinavian mystery scene.  It has action, tension, mystery. It h as a plausible plot, a few surprises and a surprise ending…or more to the point, it has an end you don’t see coming until…presto, at one point you do see coming. If you’re a Nordic mystery fan, go for it.

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Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner picks up where her debut novel Missing, Presumed leaves off. Manon Bradshaw has adopted twelve year old Fly (from the previous book) and moved back to Huntingdon, living with her sister and nephew Solly. When a finance executive is stabbed to death in a local park, Fly is charged with the murder, even though there is no evidence to support the charge. He was seen walking in the park at the time of the murder and his footprint was found in some blood on the ground.

Manon, five months pregnant, is obviously beside herself, bemoaning the move which was theoretically to benefit Fly by getting him out of his old neighborhood. Barred from participating in the murder investigation, she of course, does so anyway, along with hired attorney Mark Talbot.

There are a lot (a lot) of twists and turns in Persons Unknown, that’s for sure. And it is a good read. However, it is short on solving the mystery and long on Manon’s bemoaning her fate: single, pregnant, tired, not keeping Fly safe in his new environment…and the list goes on. So, here you have the plusses and minuses. Do what you will.

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