‘a delightful amateur sleuth novel with a well balanced mix of domestic and academic life and a strong sense of place.’ [Stage Fright]

A Book by its Cover

A Book by its Cover

Posted on Apr 19, 2014 in Hakan Nesser, The Strangler's Honeymoon | No Comments

Some of the problem of deciding which books to pack for a trip away has been solved by having an e-reader. One can take any number. I’ve got the latest Bryant and May by Chrisopher Fowler, the new Fred Vargas, and the latest Sue Grafton all stacked up. I’ve also got The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C.Kasasian and masses of classics: Middlemarch, lots of Trollope, Jane Austen, Lettres de mon Moulin, and another French novel, Rue des boutiques obscures by Patrick Modiana (our  book group choice which I’m trying to read in French).
But – of course there’s a but – this isn’t the complete answer.  My book addict like myself has to have back-up. What if the e-reader gets lost or stolen or just plain stops working. Disaster!  Besides it’s still very nice to have a crisp new paperback or four (or more) to take away. It’s part of the pleasure of getting ready for a holiday.
But having said this, one of my choices this year is The Strangler’s Honeymoon by Hakan Nesser and I only bought this because I like Nesser and sadly I wouldn’t have found it enticing if I hadn’t already read his novels. It’s a terrible title and the cover is no better. When Nesser was first published in the UK, I seem to remember that the covers were atmospheric landscapes which suited the mood of the novels. Now they have all been repackaged with close ups of sulky-faced women with lots of hair on the covers, whether it’s relevant to the story or not.  I don’t think these are the kind of images to appeal to the readers like me who enjoy intelligent crime fiction. It reminds me of when my friend Sue Hepworth’s comedy of middle-aged love was packaged as chick lit. She was furious and I don’t blame her. Don’t publishers realize that some readers will feel cheated if the cover doesn’t match the contents of the book and that others will be put off buying a book they might actually enjoy? Interestingly both the US and the Germany editions have better covers.

The Rabbi and Others

Posted on Sep 7, 2010 in Hakan Nesser, Laura Wilson, The Rabbi Books | No Comments

During the fortnight since I wrote about Harry Kemelman I have been reading my way contentedly through FRIDAY THE RABBI SLEPT LATE, SUNDAY THE RABBI STAYED HOME, TUESDAY THE RABBI SAW RED, WEDNESDAY THE RABBI GOT WET, THURSDAY THE RABBI WALKED OUT and have got MONDAY THE RABBI TOOK OFF on my reading pile. At only a few pounds each on Abebooks, they are good value. In some ways I do miss those pre-internet days of prowling around second hand bookshops, the thrill of the chase, and the excitement of finally coming across a book you’d been wanting for ages. Now it’s just a matter of a few clicks of the mouse and the books are winging their way to you, but of course that’s great too. I like the titles of the Rabbi books and wonder if Kemelman had expected to write a series. Once he had worked his way through the days of the week, he moved on to ‘Someday’ and ‘One Fine Day.’ I still intend to read those too.
I’ve also managed to get through a fair number of contemporary crime novels over the summer and two that stand out are Hakan Nesser’s WOMAN WITH BIRTHMARK and Laura Wilson’s AN EMPTY DEATH. I very much like Nesser and have read all his books as they’ve been published in English. In this one we know who the killer is from the start, though we don’t know her precise motivation, and the suspense lies in whether she will get to the end of her list before Inspector Van Veeteren tracks her down. Laura Wilson’s novel is the second in her historical series set in the forties and is a perfect holiday read: dense and meaty with a plot twist that took my breath away. I recommend them both.