A death in Oslo-Anne Holt

The story revokes around a fictional US President, who has come to power after George W Bush, no Obama in this alternative history. The author Anne Holt is Norwegian and this fits well with my interest in Scandinavian crime fiction.It is a story of secrets, the obvious and not so obvious. The action, as the title would suggest takes place in and around Oslo. The other significant part of this story is that the president is a woman.

This is the first overseas visit by the new president in the land of her forebears. The story unfolds with a mysteries puppeteer who is pulling the strings from afar. The plot moves along at an easy but interesting  pace. The resolution is a once surprising and a little disappointing. However unlike the great tradition of American films there is little scope for a sequel.

This is first and foremost a political thriller but there are elements of a detective story embedded within it. In the end I am keen to read more by this author. 

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Dark Voyage – Alan Furst

This Alan Furst novel has a decidedly nautical favour and gives a Dutch flavour to the war in Europe. The story is set largely at sea and follows the intrigue of ports across the Mediterranean and northern Europe. As would be expected on a merchant ship there are a variety of characters from all over the place.

The central character DeHaan is a resourceful old salt who is master of his own world. A great yarn with a great finish. Predictably the infamous Brassiere Heininger is featured but in a very unusual way.

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Alan Furst Double “The World at Night” & “Red Gold”

This turned out much to my surprise a two part story. I read the first book The World at Night and when I started the next novel Red Gold I was confused. I know that there is very little cross over in characters in the Furst novels. It took a few pages to realise that Red Gold is a continuation of The World at Night.

The World at Night follows a reasonably well to do movie producer and his comfortable life as the Germans are rolling across Europe. The central character Jean Casson fortunes slowly slide downwards as he becomes drawn into the conflict. Almost inevitably he falls foul of the new authorities as they assert their control over his beloved Paris.

As with all the novels the Brassiere Heininger with its infamous table with a bullet hole in the wall. This is the connector in all the novels. Makes you wonder if they all see each other. The hero of the piece is put in a position where he is played off between the various secret service and resistance groups.

The story ends quite soddenly.

Luckily Red Gold comes along and as the name suggests this has a Russian flavour as Jean becomes more entangled with communists.

On the run and down on his luck he can only watch his old life from a distance. He lives in the shadows of his own city.  Always looking for his past. These stories evoke a sense of being there. There is much made of the deprivation suffered by the occupied people.


Hypothermia – Arnaldur Indridason

This crime novel is set in Reykjavik in Iceland and follows the seasoned detective Erlendur as he strikes out on his own on an “unofficial investigation”. The setting is contemporary without being tied to any particular recent events. It is at a time when the office is quiet which gives him the flexibility to follow up on this mystery. Erlendur is troubled by an apparent suicide. He is dogged determination pushes and probes till you can come to the end what is essentially an unsettling conclusion. The book gives a sense of the  sparse and unforgiving landscape which has its own beauty lakes and penetrating cold.

Erlendur is throughout the story haunted by the death of his brother and father and his akward relationship with his children and his former wife. This subplot is an undercurrent throughout the entire book. These personal demons are in many ways a driver for his “unofficial investigation”.

Much as his personal journey in this book is set in both the present and the past so is the crime has been committed. This moving backwards and forwards in time shows a sympathetic and caring side to the weary Erlendur.

This continues my fascination with Scandinavian crime fiction. This is the first novel that I’ve read that has an Icelandic backdrop. This is not the first novel by this author Arnaldur Indriason so an exploration of the earlier volumes seems necessary.

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Book Reviews

I have added a nice little feature which is seen in one of the side bars on the right hand side of the web page. I can now add the books I am , going to and have read recently. The plugin picks up the book cover and other detail by linking to  amazon.com . I haven’t set up a referral system which I can and get discounts based on people who buy after coming here. Given the low traffic of this site its probably not going to matter. The plugin was written by Rob over at Roblog.

I did look at another similar plugin in based in an open source library net work, but try as I might I couldn’t get it to work. By contrast this worked relatively easily.

Any way if you dare you can look at what I read.  I kicked off with Silesian Station which is  a crime novel set in Pre WWII Germany.