kristina ohlsson book review
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Not Your Average Crime Novel – ‘Unwanted’

kristina ohlsson book review
Unwanted

‘In the middle of a rainy Swedish summer, a little girl is abducted from a crowded train.’

Suspicion immediately falls upon the husband who has previously been violent towards his estranged wife in the past, but is he really the killer? Despite hundreds of potential witnesses about on the platforms, no one notices that the girl  is taken from an arriving Stockholm train. Days later, she is found, dead, her body dumped outside the emergency department of a hospital, in the far north of Sweden.

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you will almost certainly know that I have a predilection for crime fiction. Especially Nordic crime fiction. Many of the Scandinavians write in a highly descriptive way that gives a depth to the narrative and the  visual imagery. This sets them apart, I feel, from crime writers from other regions. And it doesn’t help that I like the dark, rain-sodden, fog- filled descriptions of the Scandinavian countryside! Well, I am a winter person, living in a sun- soaked country where everything is hot and dry and brown, so can you really blame me?

‘UNWANTEDis a brilliant first novel by Swedish author, Kristina Ohlsson and gives me  no reason to change my overriding view of  Scandic crime novels. Yet it is better than your average read. Far better. Whilst the crime might be a tad more unsavory than that found in other novels, the reader is spared the goriest of details, yet remains fully aware of the terror taking place.  Skilled writing, I think!

In this novel, you are very much taken along for the ride with the detectives, seeing what they see, thinking what they think. Readers are given more insights into the police process and procedures. We see how it is they try to piece the murder puzzle together: what steps must be followed, what angles have to be investigated, when discovering a new lead and how collaboration reveals important snippets of information. I’ve not found this in other crime novels. So it comes as no surprise to find that Kristina Ohlsson herself has worked for a police organization in Sweden and no doubt this makes her writing all the more authentic, and readable. It seems like real life!

Many crime novels reach their climax via a detective/investigator fitting the pieces of information together by having a private epiphany of sorts, which is only partially  shared with the readers until the final reveal; thus the reader is usually left to figure out his or her genius in crime analysis, for themselves, before a later explanation is given.  But not so with Kristina’s writing. She takes you along, on the roller coaster, with her characters, and I found this terribly appealing and definitely a ‘can’t put down’ factor.

The reader is also reminded that police detectives are humans with their own sets of personal entanglements and dramas and the policeman’s families also suffer from a case. Peder, a mid level detective on the team, with ambitious, slightly misogynistic leanings, begins to have marital problems as he tries to juggle the needs of his infant twins, his tired depressed wife, his long working hours and his own personal needs outside of work. At one point, he breaks down and it is his Mother who attempts to console him in a profound statement:

‘Things will change, Peder,’ she says. ‘Misery has its natural limits. There comes a point when you know for certain that things can’t get worse, only better.’

Now that we have been introduced to Peder, I am sure his personal journey will continue in subsequent novels, in this crime series. I will surely ponder about that.

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

CPD (Can’t put down) Factor: 9.5/10

The good: Wonderful descriptive writing and imagery without being over the top

The bad: Haven’t found anything bad about this book yet.

The Ugly: We learn that police make blunders and have to live with that, somehow.

What will you think of it?

Will you enjoy it as much as me?

Who are your favourite crime authors?

 

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Enjoy Scandinavia without the long flight!

A while ago, I was invited to write a post about Scandinavian books and have reproduced some sections and updated others here:

Have you ever dreamt of visiting Scandinavia: the lands that gave us Ikea, Santa Claus, and Hans Christian Andersen? Perhaps you have thought of getting close and personal with a Viking in the fjords of Norway, or the unique landscape of Iceland, but have found neither the time nor the funds?

You can still experience the arctic world without leaving the comfort of your own home through the literary works of Scandinavians. Gaining popularity here not just because they write good crime mysteries, but also because they focus more on story and descriptive plot, giving the reader an impression of, “being there.”

So select your destination and read on:

Denmark

Visit the fairy tale land of Denmark through the eyes of writer Elsebeth Egholm, an excellent crime fiction writer, (Title: Next of Kin), set in the author’s hometown of Århus. Or you could get a feeling for Greenland and snow with Peter Høeg’s thriller “Smilla’s Feeling for Snow”, or even watch the 1997 movie version of the same name, starring Julia Ormond. But if historical fiction is more your thing, Per Olov Enquist will transport you to the Danish royal court of King Christian VII of Denmark and the 1700’s – the time of ‘enlightenment,’ with a tale of romance, lust, treachery and intrigue.

Sweden

A short train ride from Copenhagen, takes one to Sweden, across the Bridge over the Oresund, which is a central theme on the TV series, “The Bridge” (available on DVD). The first season was so popular a second one is set to come. Most people are familiar with Henning Mankell’s ‘Wallander’ books and film, but there are many other Swedish authors whose writings bring Sweden into your own home. Camilla Lackberg is an author who writes about Fjallbacka, a small town on the Swedish Bohuslan coast, with journalist turned home-maker Erica Falck, helping out her policeman husband solve puzzling murder mysteries such as The Ice Princess, which is first in the series.

No one can dispute Stieg Larson’s, ‘Millenium Trilogy’ has brought Swedish crime fiction to Hollywood, and the world, but not everyone likes crime fiction, even if it is Scandinavian. ‘Hanna’s daughters,’ (a story of three generations of woman and their journeys through life’s stages), together with  ‘Inge and Mira’, and ‘Simon and the Oaks’, are three fiction novels of human drama, peppered with a little history, and a central theme of  “friendship,” which the author believes, is more important than family.

Karin Altvegen’s describes marginal life in Sweden’s suburban fringes, in the psychological thriller, ‘Shame” whilst John Ajvide Lindqvist’s “Let the right one in”- is a horror fiction story about vampires, but don’t let that put you off. I would never read a story on vampires, yet this one is a more intimate account of childhood bullying than vampires themselves and, furthermore, was made into a successful movie, then remade by Hollywood. Very atmospheric and highly recommended!

Finally, Lars Kepler is selling out in bookstores as his atypical but brilliant Finnish detective solves even the most brutal and complicated crimes in a most unusual way. I would suggest The Hynoptist and The Fire Witness.

Hungry? Time for a coffee break? Enhance the full Scandinavian experience with an authentic Norwegian Waffle with Swedish Cloudberry Jam and cream?   Recipe found here

Norway

Waffles are delicious while reading works by Norwegian writers: Jo Nesbø with the infamous Harry Hole, Karin Fossum, whose character exist on the fringes of society, or Anne Holt, former Norwegian Justice Minister turned crime writer, with her detective Hanne Wilhelmsen series.Recently, I read “Finse 1222”, set at one of the highest points along the Oslo-Bergen train line, wherein Holt’s descriptions of a winter snowstorm are so real, that when you read it, you will be shovelling snow in your dreams. Again, if you prefer something that does not have dead bodies, I recommend Per Pettersen, (To Siberia, Out Stealing Horses) or Jostein Gaarder (Sophie’s World – a Fiction story that introduces you to philosophy in a fascinating way).

Iceland

Finally, your Scandinavian tour is complete when you get a taste for Icelandic landscapes and culture in Arnaldur Indridason’s police procedurals: Jar City, Arctic Chill, and Hypothermia. (my favourite detective stories), or a depiction of Icelandic rural life, is found in Halldor Laxness’, “Iceland’s Bell.”

Travel fiction of note:

Andrew Stevensen – Non- Fiction; “Summer light”; A Walk across Norway. Not a Scandinavian writer, but nevertheless a great travel account.

True North – Gavin Francis: Travels in the Arctic, following the travels of ancient Nordic explorers.

I recommend checking out Euro crime for seeking details of other Scandinavian authors and further listings of individual Scandinavian titles to ponder about. Bon Voyage!!

 

Something Scandinavian to Ponder About

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30 Day Book Challenge – Book You Couldn’t Put Down

DAY 30 – To SiberiaPer Pettersen

I was fourteen and a half when the Germans came. On that 9th April we woke to the roar of aeroplanes swooping so low over the roofs of the town that we could see the black iron crosses painted on the underside of their wings when we leaned out of the windows and looked up.

In this exquisite novel, readers will find the crystalline prose and depth of feeling they adored in Out Stealing Horses, a literary sensation of 2007.

And it is all true, I enjoyed every minute of this novel. Couldn’t put this one down until the final page, type enjoyment. Written by a Norwegian but set in Denmark, it is a beautifully written coming of age novel about a brother and sister growing up in a small coastal village in Denmark just prior to the Nazi occupation. The children’s life is their own, as their parents take little interest in their upbringing. With a authoritian mother, that is too distant, and a father that is too busy with work in order to provide income for the family, the children rely on each other for companionship and affection and develop divergent dreams as they get closer to adulthood.

There is an underlying sadness in this book, and this may in part be the author’s way of conveying the danish psyche, or it may have more to do with a child’s vanquished dreams and the realities of adulthood. If you do read it, let me know if you agree.

I read an English translation of this novel and it is a moot point just how the translation itself changes words and meanings of a text, sometimes quite radically from what the author may have intended. These nuances of language were the subject of long discussions at my Scandinavian bookclub when we reviewed this book.

Above all, it is a book you should read. It captures the impending fear of those who lived through that period of history.

I give it 9/10

And this is the final post of the 30 day Book Challenge. To see links to each of the previous days, click here (for those obsessed with numbers, and precision, the challenge took longer than a month, but I did anticipate this).

Something to Ponder About

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t

Day 20 – Harry Potter Series

Okay, I admit it – I haven’t read them!!! My kids have, and I half listened to their reading aloud, in their primary school years, so that counts??? and I read the first three chapters, but that was it.

This series just didn’t grab me like it did the entire population of the Western world.

Perhaps the heady commercialism of it all put me right off.

Perhaps if Harry and Hermione took off to Stockholm or Fjallbacka, I might sit up and take more notice.

Perhaps if I was interested in Twilight, I would like Harry Potter?

I really don’t know what more I can say on this day’s topic.

Oh! And I am not into Twilight either!

Something I don’t ponder about – ever.
DAY 22. – Least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually
enjoyed otherwise.
DAY 23. – Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months.
DAY 24. – Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like/liked.
DAY 25. – The most surprising plot twist or ending.
DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.
DAY 27. – Book that has been on your “to read” list the longest.
DAY 28. – Favorite quote from a book.

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30 Day Book Challenge – Author I wish people would read more.

DAY 17. –

Elsebeth Egholm  An Author I wish people would read more.

“Elspeth who?” I hear the Australians, who read my blog, say with a rising inflection!!!  For this author is almost unknown in that part of the world.  Hailing from Denmark, she has only had two of her six novels, translated to English, but given the rise in popularity of Scandinavian fiction in this country of late, and how good the books are, I am a little surprised.

In fact, the books are so good, she has, to my mind, toppled the great Nesbø of his pedestal! [Pondering the ensuing riot in the comments section, right now!]

Egholm, (pronounced “E” holm),  is a Danish born journalist who writes a series based on investigative journalist: Dicte Svendsen, who lives in the University town of Århus, in Denmark. There are I believe, plans for three films/mini-series based on the novels. Please correct me if anyone has more accurate information.

Elsebeth claims to have been inspired by Nesbø and Liza Marklund, another favourite author of mine, from Sweden, who also has a journalist heroine, ( although somewhat atypical). I also like that Egholm’s protagonist has come from a dysfunctional and rather unique background, that of being raised in a religious cult, and fell pregnant at 16.

In Egholm’s book Next of Kin, the author chillingly foresaw the videoing of the Muslim be-headings that were published on the net so very recently, except in the book’s case: a video CD was sent to Dicte’s newspaper, and not the net as a messenger. This story unearths some unpalatable moments from Dicte’s past and it is a story written at the time of the Iraq war and the pervading terrorism phase of our history, – so its very topical.

Next of Kin and the Later novel, which I am yet to read: Life and Limb, published 2011 and 2012 respectively. Take a look.

Next:

DAY 18. – A book you wish you could live in.
DAY 19. – A favourite author.
DAY 20. – Favorite childhood book.

Something to Ponder About

 

 

 

 

Book review, Mental Health

30 Day Book Challenge – Most thought-provoking book.

DAY 16 –

Endearing Love by Ian McEwan

This story is a surprising book about obsessional love and the actual psychiatric condition that underpinned the story added realism to the plotlines. It really make me think a lot about the mechanisms in the brain that trigger mental illness and those feelings and action that may not yet be classified as such, but have this same basis.

In this thought – provoking book, I found myself, as reader, really wanting the victim to mount an assertive response and understand he was contributing to the situation. I pondered how much this happened in reality. (After all, celebrities have, at times, contributed to their own stalking issues. For example: Agnetha Falskog from ABBA.

I was led to questioned his own sanity at one stage in the story as he delves into the criminal underworld for solutions to his problem. Had he really gone off the rails? Buckled under the constant pressure and stress?

This is a book that won’t grab your immediate attention, but once it has you in its grip, it won’t let go. I still think about some of the things that were said and discussed as well as the events that occurred in this book.

Something I will continue to ponder about.

Day 17 – An Author I wish People Would Read More

Book review, Community

30 Day Book Challenge – A Book that Disappointed You

Day 13 –  The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

I can hear the howls of protests now: that I dare speak of Annie Proulx’s books in these terms! But, it’s true. I WAS sadly disappointed with this book! After all the Pulitzer-prize -winning hype and hearing the author speak, not only in an interview about the book, but also of her insistence at hand-writing all her manuscripts to avoid a certain writing style she felt came with writing on a computer keyboard, my expectations were high for The Shipping News. Maybe a little too high?

Firstly, there was nothing much to love about ‘Quoyle’s character; well, there’s the fundamental problem! If you don’t like the protagonist, things aren’t going to go well with the book, generally speaking.

Quoyle’s character is that of a

…defeated man, He knows the taste of brack and seaweed.” Even his name, “Quoyle,” is a mariner’s term for a coil of deck rope to “be walked on.” People walk all over Quoyle, a clumsy man whose doughy and weak-chinned face is “camouflaged torment with smiles and silences.”says one Goodreads review.

And then, I didn’t like the plot, either. Boom! Another death knell in the coffin for the Shipping News, at least in my eyes. Seemingly predictable, the storyline ensured the ‘bored and skipping pages look’ started to appear in me, during my reading of the Shipping News.

So, if it was this bad, was there anything I did like?

The setting was different and it really made me want to visit Newfoundland. I was also intrigued by the eccentric and wiry characters in the Killick Claw community. I imagined them to possess a totally different persona from other parts of America, but I could be way off in my estimation there, as American anthropology is not my strong point. I do remember Newfoundland was a Viking area long before Columbus sailed in to America, wasn’t it? So there’s one point, at least in the book’s favour.

Furthermore, I liked the almost Dickensian names, the rich vocabulary, the scenic imagery and poetic adjectives often inherent in Proulx’s writing such as:

“Waves bursting. Exploding Water. Silence and the gnawing sea”… “and the woman with arctic eyes”. (Names like: Petal Bear, Wavey Prouse, Bunny and Sunshine, etc)

And finally, I loved the sailor’s knot depicted at the start of each chapter. That was a cute and unique addition to the book.

But overall…. if the plot fails, the book fails, and it fell ever so quickly and resoundingly on the ‘NRAP” – ‘Never read again pile’

My apologies to Proulx fans.

Something to Ponder About

DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry

 

 

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30 Day Book Challenge – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.

DAY 12. – The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

After selling more than 90 million copies and combining the genres of detective, thriller and conspiracy fiction, I must be the only person who has NOT read this book in the western reading world.

Being a fan of thriller and detective novels, I have always been intrigued, but there has been so much talk and media about this novel, that it never seemed a priority to buy it. (no pun intended).

I once read an account of the Historical figure of Jesus Christ, as opposed to the legendary or spiritual), and I was initially hoping this book would be of the same ilk, but it appears to be completely fictional or so it’s critics claim.

Did Jesus in fact, marry or have an intimate relationship with Mary Magdalene? Are these Kings really descended from Jesus? Even if Jesus died without a progeny, someone must be related to him, distant. I seem to be related to half of Denmark, from my Danish genealogical research going back 500 years.

Getting back to the book itself, one day I will have to obtain a copy, but because of the media hype, it will most certainly come from a library, and not a book shop!

Something to Ponder About

Still to come:

DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge– A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.

 DAY 10.

How often can you say that there was nothing at all you disliked about a book? Not too often but this is what  I said about Simon and the Oaks by Marianne Fredriksson. When I first heard the title and the subject matter, let me tell you, I wasn’t champing at the bit to read it, but it was on the list for the book-club, so read it I did. I didn’t regret it.

An uplifting and sad tale about a gifted boy growing up in Gothenburg, Sweden during World War II, who is sent to a school where sons of the working class do not go. Here he makes friends with a Jewish boy and during his formative years some truths are revealed about his own background that destroys his close relationships and makes him question his future.

There are so many layers to this story, and Marianne tells it with empathy, sensitivity, and a little bit of daring. The characters are highly believable, especially that of Simon and his parents, and the descriptive prose almost engrossing. A great book to discover the history of this era and its effects on everyday life, particularly in countries not directly involved in the conflict. ( Sweden maintained neutrality during WWII)

The book was made into a Swedish movie in 2011 and deservedly won a multitude of awards. A young Skårsgard (Stellan’s son) plays the leading role giving a outstanding performance as Simon.

If you haven’t read this book, please do.

Tomorrow DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.

Something to Ponder About

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge – Most Overrated Book

Day 9- The Shell Seekers

Despite being nominated by the British public as one of the top 100 novels (I am not sure where in the top 100 of the ‘Big Read’),  I thought the 1987 novel, The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher, to be lacklustre. It did not grab my attention at all, and I yawned all the way through, waiting for the fun to begin. It didn’t.

The only thoughts I have on this book are:

Did Penelope really love her children Noel and Mary or did she subconsciously resent them for being like Ambrose and therein affecting the relationship?

They also speak about the shock of epilepsy, but it was epilepsy, and not leprosy.

She claimed to be Bohemian and accepted Doris for her frailties but could not do the same for her own children.

As a parent of adult children, I can relate to some of these feelings, and there is one passage, that describes being in love, that did weave a little ‘magic’ for me:

Now day to day her inner vision cleared and her preceptions were sharpened by a new awareness…. a sharpened sensitivity.

Needless to say that was the first and last novel by Rosamunde Pilcher I have read.

Something I won’t be pondering about for long!

Upcoming posts  in this challenge-

DAY 10. – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.
DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.
DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.
DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.

Book review, Community

The 30 Day Book Challenge – Comfort Book

DAY 5. – Your “comfort” book.

Again, this challenge requires more thought than I imagined. A comfort book might be one that you read again and again or it might be one that is so good you go back to it in your mind’s eye remembering the plot, characters or storyline. As I don’t re-read books, (unless by accident), I must hatch a Plan B for finding a comfort book i.e. Find a book something so appealing you think back to it long after your have finished reading it.   That leaves out the majority of the mystery and crime fiction I normally read.

So Hanna’s daughters by Marianne Fredrikksson must be my comfort book.

Why?

Because it is a story with strong feminine roles, a story of resilience despite adversity, and to some extent, of continuity and immortality.  Three generations of woman, a grandmother, mother and daughter tell us a story of lives in Sweden over a century  from the late 1800’s. Society is dynamic, but the patterns of lives isn’t always so different. Having an avid interest in family history and in re-discovering my own Scandinavian past, this book was absorbing and comforting. This book also reminded me a little of the Chinese book, Wild Swans by Jung Chang, another chronicle of a family through several generations.

My own torturous relationship with my mother and respectful admiration for grandparents and great grandparents who were in “servitude, ” with few rights,  and how they battled to eek out a living in very difficult circumstances was echoed in the experiences of Anna, Johanna and Hanna in this book.

As Anna holds vigil at her mother’s bedside, she longs for reconciliation–not just with her mother, Johanna, but with her grandmother, Hanna, a woman she never really knew. Determined to piece together the fragments of her past, Anna sifts through tattered letters, cracked diaries, and old photographs, as the vivid lives of Hanna and Johanna at last begin to unfold.
Through shades of memory and history, longing to join the ancient threads of the family tapestry, Anna begins searching for answers to questions that have haunted her for a lifetime. What was it like for her grandmother, Hanna, more than one hundred years ago, when she married a miller and raised an illegitimate child in a staunch, rural community? What drove Anna’s own mother, Johanna, once a fiery revolutionary, to settle down? And why did the ties binding Anna to her mother and grandmother drive all three apart–only to bring them back together again?

I admired Hanna’s resilience and how she overcame adversity as did my great grandmother and grandmother; how a rebellious girl became a mother and housewife, and how Anna, the third generation, seeks to connect with the past and get to know her female ancestors through fragments of memory and photographs.

The concept of belonging and reconciliation with one’s estranged family, discussed in this book, is a concept that is endearing. As Anna realizes she is ‘of her mother and grandmother’ and ‘they are of her,’ her expectations of them diminish and her acceptance and love for them flourish.

Beautifully written, I am happy to recommend it and perhaps it also will be your ‘go to’ comfort book when seeking maternal connections and love.

Join in the 30 day book challenge by linking back with a comment or pingback

DAY 6. – Book you’ve read the most number of times.
DAY 7. – A guilty pleasure book.

DAY 8. – Most underrated book.
DAY 9. – Most overrated book.
DAY 10. – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.
DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.
DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.
DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.
DAY 18. – A book you wish you could live in.
DAY 19. – A favourite author.
DAY 20. – Favorite childhood book.
DAY 21. – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t
actually finished).
DAY 22. – Least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually
enjoyed otherwise.
DAY 23. – Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months.
DAY 24. – Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like/liked.
DAY 25. – The most surprising plot twist or ending.
DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.
DAY 27. – Book that has been on your “to read” list the longest.
DAY 28. – Favorite quote from a book.
DAY 29. – A book you hated.
DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.

Something to Ponder About

Book review

30 Day Book Challenge DAY 4. – Book turned into a movie and completely desecrated.

Which book have I read that was turned into a movie and completely desecrated?

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Even though I like horror films, I never, ever read books about Vampires, and that includes the popular Twilight series. Nah! No! Never!I have no specific reason, they just seem rather pointless to me. A little unreal, perhaps? So how did I come to read a book about people of the night?

I had to read a Swedish book for a book club, and this was the one I chose. And guess what, it was fantastic. This romantic horror is really about more serious life themes than Vampires. The ‘Vampiring’ is a minor side plot, that does not really take centre stage at all.

You’ll read more about relationships and adolescent bullying, love and revenge than sucking one’s blood and world domination! But I digress, we were talking about the movie that was completely desecrated.

The 2008 Swedish film version of Let the Right One in, won  a string of awards, but the American remake retitled: ‘Let me in’ [2010], failed dismally. Despite receiving positive reviews, it did not do well at the box office. Why? Because culture, atmosphere and “feel” is as difficult to translate as humour.  If you read any Scandinavian crime fiction, you will know what I am alluding to. A Scandi crime novel can be descriptive, foreboding, dark, yet entrancing to read. An American/Australian crime novel is raw, rough, in your face, and the descriptive elements are restricted to sex scenes or rape.  It is the same with the movies.

Americans are very good at making American stories, but I don’t feel the same emotion from watching an American story as a Swedish one. And it is not just the language. It can be cinematography, locations, lighting, dialogue, the chemistry between the actors, what is not said as much as what is.

Before I hear a protest from my American friends, I also think an Australian or other international version, would not have captured the essence or magic of the Swedish version, either.

The Director himself expressed reluctance about the American version and several changes were made for the English (American) version, such as altering the setting from Stockholm, Sweden, to New Mexico and renaming the lead characters. The film’s producers stated that their intent was to keep the plot similar to the original, yet make it more accessible to a wider audience.”What’s missing is the alluring otherness of Let the Right One In. Let Me In puts the emotional pressure in different places”, says one reviewer.

From IMDB

Everything about Let the Right one In is thought through. Where a more traditional horror film might have opted for endless ultra violence or else cut everything out in favor of a kiddie friendly rating. director Tomas Alfredson steers the line right down the middle. When the violence comes it is brutal and horrific, but it is never dwelt upon. We are left to question what we just saw rather than see kidneys on display.And then there is the quiet, understated ending. Some will find it haunting, others will find it whimsical, I went back and forth more than a few times. No two people will have the same understanding.

“Let the Right One In” is, at its heart, a sweet coming-of-age story which is so unique and different that it simply defies categorization. In this Swedish film, adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s bestselling book, director Tomas Alfredson dares to mix pleasure and pain in a way that is both horrifying and tender.

A romantic horror that is better in Book or subtitled movie form, the English version is something best not to ponder about.

Join in with this challenge by leaving a comment and pingback. Running through November 2014.

DAY 5. – Your “comfort” book.
DAY 6. – Book you’ve read the most number of times.
DAY 7. – A guilty pleasure book.

DAY 8. – Most underrated book.
DAY 9. – Most overrated book.
DAY 10. – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving.
DAY 11. – Favorite classic book.
DAY 12. – A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t.
DAY 13. – A book that disappointed you.
DAY 14. –  Book that made you cry.
DAY 15. – A character who you can relate to the most.
DAY 16. – Most thought-provoking book.
DAY 17. – Author I wish people would read more.
DAY 18. – A book you wish you could live in.
DAY 19. – A favourite author.
DAY 20. – Favorite childhood book.
DAY 21. – Book you tell people you’ve read, but haven’t (or haven’t
actually finished).
DAY 22. – Least favourite plot device employed by way too many books you actually
enjoyed otherwise.
DAY 23. – Best book you’ve read in the last 12 months.
DAY 24. – Book you’re most embarrassed to say you like/liked.
DAY 25. – The most surprising plot twist or ending.
DAY 26. – Book that makes you laugh out loud.
DAY 27. – Book that has been on your “to read” list the longest.
DAY 28. – Favorite quote from a book.
DAY 29. – A book you hated.
DAY 30. – Book you couldn’t put down.

 

 

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The 30 Day Book Challenge – Day 2. – Favourite Side Character

Book - The cop killer
The 30 Day Book Challenge

Day 2 really made me think. I have a lot of favourite side characters in film and television, particularly Scandinavian crime series, but do I have a favourite side character in a novel???

I really like the brash, but family-minded and a bit impulsive,  Martinsson, who often goes off half-cocked, in the Kurt Wallander (Henning Mankell’s) novels, but has my image been bolstered by the tele-series made from these books?

Yes, on second thoughts, I could take the easy road and pick Camilla Lackberg’s Patrik Hedstrom, whose partner, and later wife, is just as involved in solving the crimes, as he is. After all, he is a very important side character as the police detective. Patrik’s wife Erica, has a habit of poking her nose into each and every crime which makes her the main character, but her husband important no. 2. But do I like this Hedstrom character?

Frankly: NO! Hedstrom is a little bit unbelievable, and a tad annoying, with his bumbling of more than one criminal investigation, (which this reader finds screamingly frustrating), and his erratic highway driving which endangers the lives of those he holds dear. No, if there was a ‘don’t like’ button, I would press it.

I could, of course, talk about Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander, a poster girl for feminism if there ever one. Lisbeth is very different, has Asperger syndrome  and a chequered and dysfunctional past, is not only a strong, female heroine but calls a spade, a blunt object. I love her attitude, her unfaltering intelligence, her weaknesses and her differences. So many readers are fond of her character, yet she is the underdog, she is from the ‘other side of the tracks,’ from the vulnerable, and often, marginalized part of society. But I hesitate because I picked Stieg’s book for the topic on Day 1, so…I’ll think some more.

Nesbo? He is my favourite author, but Nesbo’s protagonist: Harry Hole, often acts alone. Is there really no side character, you ask? Well, Harry has several police partners in the series: a couple of them who die and there’s a third that is hospitalized in a mental institution, so they are not too promising a selection. However: Harry Hole does have an old school friend, (if Harry could ever be considered to have a ‘friendship’ with anyone), and it is he, that gets my vote as favourite side character.

Øystein Eikeland, is a fellow alcoholic, who drives taxis around Oslo for a living and is, according to Wikipedia, “possibly the person with whom he, [Harry Hole] is closest,” .  Øystein is the sort of friend we all want: reliable, trustworthy, resourceful, yet doesn’t get in your hair or crowd your style, but is there when we really need him. Øystein has no expectations of Harry, and does not try to ‘save’ him from his own vices, (sometimes aiding Harry’s wild alcoholic behaviour), but still, Øystein is there to empathize and supply critical information when things go so very wrong, which they do in Nesbo’s stories. In some novels, Øystein has even been instrumental in leading to breakthroughs in the investigations, yet he remains ,at all times, in the background never, for one minute,  taking the spotlight off Harry. Just the sort of character a good protagonist needs, one that has your back!!!

Yep: Øystein gets the prize for favourite side character in the Harry Hole series by Jo Nesbo

Who is your favourite side character?

Join in and find the topics for the book challenge here

Something to Ponder About