Prim and Improper

Joanna Moorhead, The Surreal Life of Leonora Carrington (2017, revised edition)

The journalist Joanna Moorhead knew that she had an older cousin, Prim, who was estranged from the rest of her family and was some kind of artist in Mexico. At a party, she discovered that Carrington was not only an artist, but one of the most respected artists in Mexico and was still alive. Moorhead decided to travel across the Atlantic to meet her and the two became friends, with Carrington agreeing that she could write a biography.

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Oslo Blues

Anne Holt, 1222 (2007, translated by Marlaine Delargy)

Anne Holt, Salige er de som tørster (Blessed Are Those Who Thirst, 1994, translated by Anne Bruce)

Anne Holt, Demonens død (Death of the Demon, 1995, translated by Anne Bruce)

Anne Holt and Berit Reiss-Andersen, Løvens gap (The Lion’s Mouth, 1997, translated by Anne Bruce)

I prefer, where possible, to read series in order — but not all novels necessarily get translated and I found a copy of 1222 so figured I should go for it, although this is several titles after the first. So, the detective Hanne Wilhelmsen is in a wheelchair, she seems to have split from her girlfriend and a minor character has been killed off. I’ve missed a lot.

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To Tie Firmly

Daphne Du Maurier, Rebecca (1938)

Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)

Rebecca (Ben Wheatley, 2020)

It may be, of course, that I read Rebecca years and years ago — I know I started it and I studied the opening paragraph, the dream of the Manderley mansion from years later, but I’m not sure I got much further. And when I bought two Du Maurier boxsets, I don’t think Rebecca was part of them. It took me a while to track down a copy — although naturally I found several since, as a battered paperback 1992 reprint got more battered as it got carried around.

The conceit should be familiar: lady’s companion Rebecca meets aristocratic widower Maxim de Winter in Monte Carlo and the two have a whirlwind romance, before returning to the ancestral pad in … where we take to be Cornwall but it isn’t named in the book. The new bride finds life at Manderley difficult and the ghost of the dead Rebecca hangs over her, especially through the behaviour of housekeeper Mrs Danvers. A ball would be useful, perhaps, but Mrs Danvers persuades her to wear the same costume as Rebecca had and then it seems as if a wedge has been driven between the loving couple. Then a body is discovered in a sunken boat… Continue reading →

Not the Typeface

Kjell Ola Dahl, The Courier (2015, Kureren (translated by Don Bartlett))

I had a moment of panic as I reached the last twenty pages of this book.

There appared to be a ten page leap, when in fact a cluster of pages had come adrift and had been wrongly inserted. After about 300 pages I was definitely worried that I’d miss something vital from the denouement.

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Justitia or Dike

Anne Holt, Blind Goddess (Blind Guddine (1993), translated by Tom Geddes)

I’ve temporarily stopped reading Kjell Ola Dahl’s Gunnarstranda and Frølich novels — which I wasn’t writing up — but then I’ve only read about two books this year, both catalogues. Noodling around Bigsouthamericanriver.con I found Anne Holt, who wrote the books (including Frukta inte, on which the Copenhagen-set Modus was based). A ex-lawyer, ex-journalist, ex minister of justice in the Norwegian government, this is her first novel.

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Crime and Titillation

Kjell Ola Dahl, Lethal Investments (Dødens investeringer (1993), translated by Don Bartlett, 2011)

Lethal Investments coverJo Nesbø has been lucky – whilst they didn’t start with the first Harry Hole novel, all have been translated. Gunnar Staalersen and Jørn Lier Horst’s series have large gaps. And here Lethal Investments has made it into English, but only after a few other novels – Seksognitti (1994), Miniatyren (1996) and Siste skygge av tvil (1998) have yet to follow. At this point he was still K.O. Dahl – perhaps we would have been scared by … Kiel …? Shell…?

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Who Let the Dogs Out?

Wolves at the Door (Utenfor er Hundene (2018), translated by Don Bartlett, (2019))

wolves at the doorAnd so, rather more rapidly than expected, I’ve caught up – at least until I can get hold of Fallen Angel. If I want any more Varg Veum, I either need to read in Norwegian or watch the television movies.

Oh. Continue reading →

Sister see, sister do / She’s got to save me

Gunnar Staalesen, Big Sister (Storesøster (2016), translated by Don Bartlett (2018))

Big Sister

He automatically stepped back and tried to close the door, but I could be the pushy salesman if I wanted, so I leaned against it and followed him in before he had a chance to complete his action.

A trope of the series detective is to suddenly find a sibling, never mentioned before, from whom he is estranged. The sibling is in trouble and/or committed a crime and frankly should wearing a red jumper. Continue reading →

The Star is High Above the Dust

Gunnar Staalesen, Wolves in the Dark (Ingen er så trygg i fare (2014), translated by Don Bartlett, (2017))
wolves in the dark

No one is as safe in danger
as God’s small flock of children,
the bird is not hidden behind the leaves,
the star is high above the dust.

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