A Grave for Two by Anne Holt #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts on A Grave for Two by Anne Holt. I received this book as part of a giveaway by Readers First. This is the first time I have read a book by this author and I Admit that I will be reading more!

Let me show you what it is all about…

‘Anne Holt is the godmother of modern Norwegian crime fiction.’ Jo Nesbø

Selma Falck has hit rock bottom. Having lost everything – her husband, her children and her high-flying job as a lawyer – in quick succession, she is holed up alone in a dingy apartment. That is until Jan Morell – the man who is to blame for her downfall – rings her doorbell, desperate to overturn a doping accusation against his daughter, Hege – Norway’s best female skier. He’ll drop his investigation into Selma, but only if she’ll help… With just weeks until the Olympic qualifying rounds, clearing Hege’s name, and getting Selma’s own life back on track, seems impossible.

But when an elite male skier is found dead in suspicious circumstances, the post-mortem showing a link to Hege’s case, it becomes clear to Selma that there is a sinister web of lies, corruption and scandals lurking in this highly competitive sport. As time starts to runs out, another person is found dead, and Selma realizes that her own life is at risk…

This is the first time I have read anything by this author and she has left me with a curiosity to read more. The main protagonist of this story is Selma Falck, a woman with a past history and intriguing life. I met her as she was in a dingy flat as she has no job prospects and things look grim and uncertain. She is given a second chance when the father of the number one women’s Norwegian skier comes to ask for her help. The skier is Hege Chin Morell, she has been accused of taking an illegal drug and it threatens her Olympic dreams.

Along with Hege, another athlete is also brought into the story. Though its his death that is in question. There are several threads of other story lines that the author has woven into A Grave For Two and she deals with corruption, cronyism, drug and doping accusations as well as a more personal look into Selma’s life.

This is a wonderful read and a slow burner that is intriguing and has well woven story-lines. The investigation that Selma embarks on takes her down some dubious and shady paths. I liked how the author flitted between all the different threads and gradually built up the story towards its climax. For the most of the story I was addicted and found it very interesting reading, but then as the end approached I found myself loosing that addiction. I felt that things were dragged out a little too much. At this point for me a lot of the questions had been answered and there was still the odd revelation to be revealed but it just felt like it slowed in pace a little. It may that my tiredness didn’t help as I was trying to finish the book before going to bed.

Even though I felt a little disappointed by the ending, I still enjoyed the vast majority of the story and it has left me wanting to know more about Selma and what has happened in her life up to this point. This is an author who I will be revisiting in the future.

This is a story that I would recommend to readers who like a slow burn to their mysteries, with suspicion and corruption and a personal side stories.

Many thanks for reading my post 🙂 xx

Wolves at the Door by Gunnar Staalesen Translated by Don Bartlett #RandomThingsTours #NordicNoir @annecater #Review

I am delighted to be sharing my review of Wolves at the Door by Gunnar Staalesen and the translation by Don Batlett. My huge thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for my spot on the Blog Tour and for my copy of the the book.

This is the second book by this author that I have read and I love his writing, atmospheric and addictive immediately spring to mind. Anyway, before I get too carried away let’s have a look and see what the book is about…

The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance… The next instalment in the international, bestselling Varg Veum series by one of the fathers of Nordic Noir…

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.

While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

Fearing for his life, Veum begins to investigate the old case, interviewing the victims of abuse and delving deeper into the brutal crimes, with shocking results. The wolves are no longer in the dark … they are at his door. And they want vengeance.

First off I am going to say that I am so glad there are translators, they give me a chance to read books that I would not otherwise be able to enjoy. Don Barlett doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to reading his translation of Wolves at the Door into English.

This is the latest instalment of the Varg Veum series. Varg is a Private Investigator and is looking into two old cases. The cases are based around those found guilty of child abuse. Now I will say straight off that while the author does not go into excessive detail, it does make the reading a little uncomfortable at times.

As Varg starts to gather the information he needs, he meets various characters and the job of trying to work out the who’s and the why’s begins. The problem with these other characters is that they all seem to have something to hide, or they are holding something back. This increases the tension as I was never sure who I could rely on for being truthful. Given that there are a few characters to follow, I found them easy to remember and to recognise. Varg has the same problem as I did when it came to working out who to trust. I was eagerly waiting for him to work through their stories and remarks so I could better understand the reasons and also the culprit behind the killings and also the attempt on Varg’s life.

The author is fabulous with his descriptions and it added to the slower style of the story adding suspense and a tense atmosphere. While the style of the story is slower the pace of it is not, I hope that makes sense!

I did take longer to read this book than I normally would. Rather than devouring it in one or two sittings, I read over several days. This is because my concentration levels at the time were not brilliant too many other things whizzing around my head. The bonus in doing this was that I was able to think about the story in between reading. I was able to mull over who I thought was behind it all, I had 3 people on my “Suspect list” and yes the actual guilty party was one of them. So I did not actually work it all out completely and I was not able to single out a definite character.

This is yet ano0ther fabulous Nordic Noir from an author who definitely keeps me on my toes. The story is like the cover, dark and atmospheric it is also full of suspense, surprise and with some wonderful descriptions. A book that crime and thriller readers will love.

It gets a “Highly Recommended” from Me!

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty-three titles, which have been published in twenty-six countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is currently being filmed. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.

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#BlogTour : The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl @ko_dahl : #TheIceSwimmer #NordicNoir @OrendaBooks #RandomThingsTours @annecater #BookReview

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I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for “The Ice Swimmer” by Kjell Ola Dahl. This book is available in various formats and published by Orenda Books.  My thanks to Orenda, Kjell and also Anne Cater for my copy of the book and also my spot on the tour.

Synopsis:

The Oslo Detectives are back in another slice of gripping, dark Nordic Noir… Introducing Detective Lena Stigersand Award-winning, critically acclaimed and international bestselling author

When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated. Not only is she dealing with a cancer scare, a stalker and an untrustworthy boyfriend, but it seems both a politician and Norway’s security services might be involved in the murder. With her trusted colleagues, Gunnarstranda and Frølich, at her side, Lena digs deep into the case and finds that it not only goes to the heart of the Norwegian establishment, but it might be rather to close to her personal life for comfort.

Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.

My Thoughts:

Lena Stigersand is called to attend the scene of a drowned man in the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour.  Her colleague Gunnerstranda is working on another case of suicide.  Amongst these cases a letter threatening a Member of Parliament arrives.

This book is broken down into chapters that then have several sub chapters, I found this really helpful as it meant I could get used to the names of the various characters and familiarise myself with their names. As the investigations proceed the presence of the other characters make themselves known and not always in the best of ways. I soon found myself getting used to their names, and some I am sure I have not  pronounced  correctly.

There are several plots that run together and the author has done a wonderful job of not blurring or mixing them up, this is where I think the sub-chapters really help.  I found myself taken around the streets of Oslo as well as the back alleys and also underground into tunnels. As well as this I discovered a variety of food that certainly whet my appetite and also a few Christmas traditions. By adding these little steps away from the hustle and bustle of the investigations it gave me a chance to almost catch my breath for a moment before being taken off again into the story.

Obviously murder and crime feature in this book, but the author focuses also on finding the who’s and the why’s of the case.  But also there is a good amount about Lena, the main protagonist in her personal life and newly diagnosis condition. She comes across as a mix of a logical thinking but also one that rushes headlong into trouble sort of person as well as being a guarded character regarding her personal life.

So this is a book I would highly recommend to readers of Nordic Noir, Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres.  It is a brilliantly twisted in a complex and well laid out story, with various investigations unfolding and all being brought to a satisfying conclusion. My first time reading a book by this author and it will not be my last.

About the Author:

Dahl-Kjell-Ola_Foto-Rolf-M-Aagaard.jpgOne of the godfathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries and sold over two million copies. He lives in Oslo.

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#BookReview : Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson @ragnarjo : @OrendaBooks

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“Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson is available in paperback, eBook and audio book.  It was published in 2015 by Orenda Books as part of the “Dark Iceland” series.  purchase from Amazon UK ~ Amazon US.

Synopsis:

Siglufjorour: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thor Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose. Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.

My Thoughts:

I have seen this authors books on various book bloggers sites, and thought it was about time I gave the Dark Iceland series a go.  I have had this book a couple months now and have finally got to read it.  So did I like it?

This is billed as a Nordic Noir, so I automatically expect certain things, and I admit to not being disappointed.  Ari Thor is the main protagonist and the reader is taken on his journey from Reykjavik and his police training to a new two year post in the old fishing village of Siglufjorour at the north of the island.  He leaves behind his girlfriend who is training to be a nurse. On arrival he finds that everyone knows of him, a village where most residents have been born and bred there.

Ari Thor’s story in the village begins in November 2008 through to the end of January 2009, though the Icelandic winter.  The descriptions Ragnar has given of the village, residents and setting were good, but for me I really liked the way he used Ari Thor’s character to  express how the dark, claustrophobia enveloped him.  From these descriptions I could imagine what he was describing, from the long dark winter months in a snow locked village, Ari Thor is used to a city setting and has not experienced the isolation like this before.

The plot of the story itself feels basic but at the same time has quite a complex layout.  As Ari Thor hunts for answers as well as getting to know the locals, he amasses his knowledge but the reader is not made aware of this until he starts putting the pieces together.  He then shares his thoughts more completely through conversations with others. Along the way there are a couple of red-herrings, these provided the reader with a chance to think up the wrong route.

There are quite a few characters, and given my complete lack of knowledge regarding Icelandic names, I found that I quickly got to know the characters and soon recognised them, though I did have a notebook to hand to make a note of them and their roles.  I took my time with this book, it was not a book I sat and read in one go, I do occasionally get books like this, it is almost like I need to read for a couple of hours and stop to digest.  I didn’t find the book too be fast paced, it had some wonderful narrative regarding the area and the people. I think this made it a slower read, but I think this is more a setting up book, but it did speed up a little towards the end. This is a really good setting up book for the series that follows and I am expecting the next ones to be easier to read as I have a prior knowledge  of cast and setting.

I would recommend this book for readers who like or are looking to read Nordic Noir, Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres.  The atmospheric feel of the book has been very well done, with a really good story that hits all the right notes.  After reading this first in the series, I have now ordered the next three, so this is my testament to how much I enjoyed this book, but I am also intrigued as to what comes next.

About the Author:

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Ragnar Jonasson is author of the award winning and international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

His debut Snowblind, first in the Dark Iceland series, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia. Snowblind has been a paperback bestseller in France.

Nightblind won the Dead Good Reader Award 2016 for Most Captivating Crime in Translation.

Snowblind was called a “classically crafted whodunit” by THE NEW YORK TIMES, and it was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015 in the UK.

Rights to the Dark Iceland series have been sold to UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Poland, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Croatia, Armenia and Iceland.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic.

Ragnar has also had short stories published internationally, including in the distinguished Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the US, the first stories by an Icelandic author in that magazine.

He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik.

Follow the Author on Website ~ Twitter

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