27 October 2009

Mini- Review Roundup #3

This is the third of my mini-review roundups, the result of an offer I made about two weeks ago.
Just 3 mini-reviews this time.

Gavin, who blogs at Page 247, reviewed THE SILENCE OF THE GRAVE by Arnaldur Indridason.

The Silence of the Grave by Arnaldur Indridason
Translated from the Icelandic by Bernard Scudder
Thomas Dunne Books, New York, 2006
Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award 2005

Gavin writes
At a birthday party for an eight-year-old boy a medical student discovers a toddler chewing on a human bone. The bone, a rib, was found at a construction site on the edge of the growing city of Reykjavik. With this discovery Detective Inspector Erlender Sveinsson and his colleagues must solve a crime that is decades old.

Erlender has his own problems, his estranged daughter is gravely ill, and his colleagues are not always as helpful as they could be. The detectives dig back into the 1940’s, trying to find out who owned the land and identify a 60-year-old corpse.

Within this well crafted crime drama Indridason draws a devastating portrait of domestic violence. With clarity and compassion he tells of a mother’s loss of self at the hand of her abusive husband, and of her childrens suffering. This is one of the most honest descriptions of an abusive relationship that I have read. Indridason is a master storyteller, weaving different times together in a graceful novel of love and heartbreak.


Greg is a friend who shares my delight in crime fiction and to whom I lend my books. Here is his take on THE SWEETNESS OF LIFE by Paulus Hochgatterer.

Quercus, 2008, ISBN 978-1-84724-389-8, 248 pages, translated from German by Jamie Bulloch.
Originally published in Germany in 2006 as Die Süße des Lebens.

Reminds me of a Samuel Beckett play- not too many characters with endearing qualities. A lot of tortured souls and not just the psych patients. Although there were a few with some humanity.

Good physical description of place and character development. The translation was stilted in parts. Liked the references to Dylan’s ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ which added to the feelings of despair and desolation.

Was a bit of a struggle getting into – suspect too many characterisations early on.

Mid section developed a sense of drama and anticipation and rapidity. But the ending which I think the author tried to craft as ‘very clever’ left me dissatisfied. Partly due to the lack of closure on so many aspects of the book’s characters. Partly it was that I don’t think I understood it!!

My own review is here.

Here is a mini-review from my own records.

THE NAUTICAL CHART by Arturo Perez-Reverte, published in English 2002. Originally written in Spanish 2000.

Coy, a sailor down on his luck meet Tanger Soto, a mysterious scholar who needs him to help search for a shipwreck. He falls for Tanger and ends up involved in a search for the ship and a treasure that may or may not be on board. A romance develops even as Coy learns that Tanger may be using him for his ability to navigate in dangerous waters. This story is set in Spain and contains lots of Spanish history.
Almost a combination of Clive Cussler and Alistair Maclean. There's a lot of detail about navigation and the Jesuits and meridians. Not so much a mystery as a thriller.

Read the first chapter online.


The mini-roundup will be an ongoing feature of this blog, so if you'd like to submit a mini-review to be published at a later date, you can do it through the form I have set up at Google Docs. Leave a comment somewhere on my blog too so I know you've done so.

2 comments:

Philip said...

Yes, you are right, Kerrie, and I am very unhappy with the cover of The Nautical Chart: the references to The Flanders Panel and The Seville Communion -- vastly different novels in kind to this one -- and the description of NC as a novel of suspense. All designed to take advantage of the success of those other works among crime fiction readers, while The Nautical Chart is really a novel of adventure, of which Perez-Reverte has written many -- he's a great admirer of Dumas. Anyway, this is not one of his crime fiction novels. I wonder who might be the publisher of the edition you show. The cover of the first UK edition has under the title: "A Novel of Adventure". There are numerous editions from various publishers -- a comparative study of how they tout it on the covers would be a very instructive study in marketing versus honesty.

Philip said...

P.S. I think the one you picture is from Houghton Mifflin, Kerrie. The Harvest edition has a quote calling it "A swashbuckling tale of mystery" and says it's by "The Author of Queen of the South" -- and that's an adventure. The first UK publisher I mention in my first comment simply calls it what it is. Houghton Mifflin flat-out misrepresents it. Great gobs of gooey gravy, it's a tale of a sea-borne search for lost treasure and a romance that blossoms along the way. It's hardly difficult to figure out and they won't making any friends by misleading readers.

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