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Review: We Shall Inherit the Wind (Varg Veum #1) by Gunnar Staalesen, Don Bartlett (Translator)

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About We Shall Inherit the Wind

1998. Varg Veum sits by the hospital bedside of his long-term girlfriend Karin, whose life-threatening injuries provide a deeply painful reminder of the mistakes he’s made. Investigating the seemingly innocent disappearance of a wind-farm inspector, Varg Veum is thrust into one of the most challenging cases of his career, riddled with conflicts, environmental terrorism, religious fanaticism, unsolved mysteries and dubious business ethics. Then, in one of the most heart-stopping scenes in crime fiction, the first body appears…

A chilling, timeless story of love, revenge and desire, We Shall Inherit the Wind deftly weaves contemporary issues with a stunning plot that will leave you gripped to the final page. This is Staalesen at his most thrilling, thought-provoking best.

My Review

The narrative is refreshing Eco-Warriors, wind turbine farms, religion, family tension, secrets, questionable business practices, disappearances and murder. The pace is incredibly quick and interesting making it difficult to put down.

The translation is excellent, wonderfully descriptive writing. Varg Veum is an enigma of sorts, the fact he’s mature was different within itself and a welcomed change. He possesses enough charisma fascinating the reader, professional with a strong sensitive side without being overly dramatized.

A slight edginess makes this a standout, between plot, characters and presentation more than satisfying read.

About Gunnar Staalesen18776

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. The next instalments in the Varg Veum series – Where Roses Never Die and No One Is So Safe in Danger – will be published by Orenda Books in 2016 and 2017.

Published May 8th 2015 by ORENDA BOOKS (first published May 1st 2015)

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Review & Giveaway: Messandrierre (Jacques Forêt #1) by Angela Wren

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at Crooked Cat Publishing Ltd
119 pages
ISBN: 978-1910510759

Website | Goodreads

About Messandrierre

Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre. But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case. Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim? Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

My Review

A wonderful preamble to a hearty series.

The plot moves at a rapid fire pace. I was surprised the culprits were revealed so early on yet it didn’t diminish the storyline at all. At first I thought the premature unveiling was a red herring, I quickly learned this was not the case. The story progresses subtely demonstrating the menacing intentions of predators. I also enjoyed the gentle romantic undertones between Jacques and Beth in combination with other plot threads, especially of Beth’s late husbands shenanigans and secrets.

Jacques is warm and charming, difficult not to find him appealing, enough mystique surrounds him spiking your curiosity. He loves his job although at a crossroads career wise. He appreciates the leisurely pace of village life but misses the intensity of policing a city such as Paris. He attempts to reignite the moody romantic flame with Beth since their interaction has tempered. Overall his essence is palpable. Beth isn’t as easy to like as Jacques. She’s tepid, self-absorbed, aloof. She seems hot and cold in both behavior and actions regarding Jacques. Tension is thick when Jacques questions Beth in the investigation. Enough is drawn between these two to pique my interest further, the future is up in the air in with this intriguing couple.

A hefty mystery, pleasant setting creating a quaint ambiance. Colorful characters with a mystery offering much more to come leaving the reader guessing at possibilities. Perfect ending causing great anticipation. Looking forward to the plethora of unanswered questions left lingering.

About Angela Wrenmessandrierre-angela-wren-1

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre. I’ve been writing, in a serious way, for about 5 years. My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life. I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work. My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical. I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio. The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

Visit her website and her blog. Follow her on Facebook, Google +

Connect with her on LinkedIn

Buy the book on Amazon or on Smashwords

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Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson, Quentin Bates (Translator)

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About Snowblind

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór 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,

My Review

Classic mystery feel with a solid narrative, remove the mystery, thriller, suspense elements and you have a plot still keeping your interest a must for this reader, when combined you have a fantastic union. Great characters, enough threads of backstory’s and subplots. Ari Thór Arason sparked my interest, lots to build upon his character, loads of potential, looking forward to seeing how his personal and professional life pans out. The small hamlet where nothing ever happens leads to tension and guessing when a crime hits, secrets unraveled, no one is immune to suspicion, marvelous depiction of everyone knows everyone along with their business mentality.  As the story’s layers are slowly peeled away clues fall together providing a satisfactory ending. I had no idea of the culprit until it became obvious with great calculated skill. Low on graphic gore which I prefer, heavy on mystery penned with a lovely contemporary literary feel. Excellent translation, Quentin Bates outdoes himself.

About Ragnar Jónasson32B9843or-300x200

Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters. Nightblind will be published by Orenda Books in 2016.

Published April 20th 2015 by ORENDA BOOKS (first published 2010)

Review: The Last Days of Disco by David F. Ross

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About The Last Days of Disco

Early in the decade that taste forgot, Fat Franny Duncan is on top of the world. He is the undoubted King of the Ayrshire Mobile Disco scene, controlling and ruling the competition with an iron fist. From birthdays to barn dances, Franny is the man to call. He has even played ‘My Boy Lollipop’ at a funeral and got away with it. But the future is uncertain. A new partnership is coming and is threatening to destroy the big man’s Empire … Bobby Cassidy and Joey Miller have been best mates since primary school. Joey is an idealist; Bobby just wants to get laid and avoid following his brother Gary to the Falklands. A partnership in their new mobile disco venture seems like the best way for Bobby to do both at the same time. With compensation from an accident at work, Bobby’s dad Harry invests in the fledgling business. His marriage to Ethel is coming apart at the seams and the disco has given him something to focus on. Tragic news from the other side of the world brings all three strands together in a way that no one could have predicted. The Last Days of Disco is a eulogy to the beauty and power of the 45rpm vinyl record and the small but significant part it played in a small town Ayrshire community in 1982. Witty, energetic and entirely authentic, it’s also heartbreakingly honest, weaving tragedy together with comedy with uncanny and unsettling elegance.

My Review

This book was not to my taste but I cannot deny the authors talent. This was too coarse and masculine for my liking, nonetheless it is a masterpiece in its own right.

The setting is brilliant. The Falklands War is highlighted along with government excerpts dispersed throughout. This really gives you a sense of the time and tension of country and people. Politics pepper the narrative just enough to add as opposed to take away from the overall plot and players. Another strength, I felt immersed in Kilmarnock – the dialogue, the slang, the people. The area felt too familiar which isn’t a surprise since Ross is more than familiar with the area, he manages to pull the reader into this colorful hamlet. At times the accent was a challenge to read, however, it made the reading experience totally authentic.

The characters are a motley bunch. There are numerous players a few stronger than others, some bit players with a known presence, as the story unfolds you become more familiar with their roles, and each one fits into the narrative with great surprise.

Ross captures the Cassidy family perfectly. Each member is sketched with great emotional detail. There are a few moments displaying such feeling and emotional clarity you will be moved. The family endures much yet despite their many fractures and dysfunctionality they pull together.

The music references will jar your memory to the sounds of the 80’s. The 80’s vibe is clearly felt, lots of nostalgia claiming your memories.

Despite this not being my cup of tea, it is well crafted and quite a showpiece. I look forward to more from Ross, his gift cannot be denied. Stirring debut.

About David F. RossDavid-Ross-195x300

David F. Ross was born in Glasgow in 1964, and he lived in various part of the city until the late ‘70s. He subsequently moved to Kilmarnock, where he has lived since. He was educated at James Hamilton Academy until being politely asked to leave.
 (Expulsion is such a harsh word, isn’t it?)
 Following a frankly ludicrous early foray into sporadic employment (Undertakers, Ice Cream Parlour, Tennis Groundsman, DJ … he’ll save these stories until he knows you better), David found himself at Glasgow School of Art, studying architecture.
In 1992, he graduated from the Mackintosh School of Architecture. He is now the Design Director of one of Scotland’s largest, oldest and most successful practices, Keppie Design. (Funny old world, eh?)

David has worked all over the world and he led his practice strategy for projects in countries as diverse as China, Egypt, Malaysia, India and Libya. He is a designated business leader for East Ayrshire Council, a Board Mentor for Entrepreneurial Spark and he was design advisor to Strathclyde Passenger Transport for their modernisation programme of the Glasgow Subway in advance of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
 
He is married to Elaine and has two children, Nathan and Nadia, who have both signed legally binding agreements to house him in the best Old Folks Home his money can buy. He is a Chelsea fan – from long before the cash-rich days – and occasionally writes stream-of-consciousness rubbish for @ByTheMinChelsea and other @ByTheMinSport feeds on Twitter.

David’s most prized possession is a signed Joe Strummer LP, and The Last Days of Disco is his first novel.

 Anything else you’d like to know?

Published December 5th 2014 by ORENDA BOOKS

Review: Reunion by Hannah Pittard

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About Reunion

Five minutes before her flight is set to take off, Kate Pulaski, failed screenwriter and newly-failed wife, learns that her estranged father killed himself. More shocked than saddened by the news, she reluctantly gives in to her older siblings’ request that she join them–and her many half-siblings, and most of her father’s five former wives–in Atlanta, their birthplace, for a final farewell.

Written with huge heart and bracing wit, REUNION takes place over the following four days, as family secrets are revealed, personal deceits are uncovered, and Kate–an inveterate liar looking for a way to come clean–slowly begins to acknowledge the overwhelming similarities between herself and the man she never thought she’d claim as an influence, much less a father.

My Review

Pittard’s book forced me to contemplate my relationship with my siblings. I also reflected on the tight bond I possessed with my late mother. I kept asking myself how well I know my siblings and what secrets/issues are they harboring from me since I’m not exactly an open book. Provoking read.

I enjoyed the plausible individual struggles the trio faced, as they ferreted their unresolved feelings towards their father, and as they maneuver the present with their blended siblings and the feelings attached.

Pittard weaves an incredible story, powerful yet splattered with dark humor. The emotions are evident, Kate is a challenging character. She’s a train wreck yet she’s captivating as you wait for her next fumble, you know what’s coming as you hope she miraculously changes the outcome. Pittard excels in creating an unappealing character you can’t get enough of in a weird way, all the characters make you bristle or gasp at some point in some way.

Enjoyable read, Pittard is on my list of authors I want to keep track of, wonderfully written, emotionally charged characters.

About Hannah Pittard4079377

Hannah Pittard is the author of four novels, including two forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: LISTEN TO ME and ATLANTA, 1962. Her second novel, REUNION, was named a Millions’ Most Anticipated Book, a Chicago Tribune Editor’s Choice, a BuzzFeed Top-5 Great Book, a Best New Book by People Magazine, a Top-10 Read by Bustle Magazine and LibraryReads, a Must-Read by TimeOut Chicago, and a Hot New Novel by Good Housekeeping. Her debut, THE FATES WILL FIND THEIR WAY, was an Oprah Magazine selection, an Indie Next pick, a Powell’s Indiespendible Book Club Pick, and a “best of” selection by The Guardian, The Chicago Tribune, Details Magazine, The Kansas City Star, Chicago Magazine, Chicago Reader, and Hudson Booksellers. She is the winner of the 2006 Amanda Davis Highwire Fiction Award, a MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a consulting editor for Narrative Magazine. She teaches English at the University of Kentucky.

Published October 7th 2014 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2014)

On This Day In Literary History~

Feb 28, 1894:
Ben Hecht is born

Novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Ben Hecht was born on this day in New York City to Russian Jewish immigrants.

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Hecht’s family moved to Racine, Wisconsin, where Hecht attended high school. He started studies at the University of Wisconsin but soon quit and took a job chasing down photos of crime victims for the Chicago Journal, which paid him $12.50 a week. Hecht later became a star reporter, known for his sensational and colorful, if not always accurate, stories. Another paper, the Chicago Daily News, sent him to Berlin to cover the aftermath of World War I, which inspired his first novel, Erik Dorn (1921).

Hecht later wrote a column in which he sketched Chicago’s wide variety of characters. His columns were collected in his popular 1922 book, A Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago. But his literary work was bringing in little money, and by 1925 he was broke. But an old friend invited him to Hollywood to try his hand at screenwriting, which he did with great success. He wrote more than 70 screenplays, including Underworld (1927), for which he won an Oscar. He collaborated on the screenplay for Gone with the Wind and many others.

In 1928, Hecht turned his madcap newspapering adventures into a hit play called The Front Page, which he wrote with Charles MacArthur, who also collaborated with him on other plays and movie scripts. Hecht died in New York in 1964.

 

A Flower in the Snow by Mark G. Cosman

A Flower in the Snow Cover Art・Kindle Edition, 155 pages
・Published July 21st 2014 by Summer Solstice
・ASINB00M0DTXY4

My daughter. Berlyn, was asleep on a fold-out couch at her high school prom party when a former classmate and high school dropout shot her in the head for no apparent reason. Her murder prompted me to leave the rubble of my beliefs and assumptions to go in search of answers to the most profound questions we ask ourselves. “A Flower in the Snow” is the result of that odyssey.

A heartbreaking story of a young girls life extinguished by a senseless murder. Mark Cosman intimately shares his struggle to grasp the murder of his 17-year old daughter Berlyn.

I begin thinking about Paul, the young man who murdered our daughter. I don’t have the rage or hatred for him I think I should. To me, he’s a stooge, a pawn for a greater evil with which he aligned himself. I don’t think he realized where his malevolent allegiance was taking him.

Mark searches for answers embarking on a spiritual sojourn of sorts. An existential quest on the meaning of life and death as Mark tries to come to grips with his unimaginable loss. Eastern philosophy, Judeo-Christian beliefs are questioned as Mark seeks the many questions he formulates on his daughters inane murder. As he searches his soul, his anguish almost inconsolable, desperate to find solace in some manner – for himself and Berlyn.

Mark generously shares portions of his spouse and his surviving daughters path to understanding their individual struggles. Each harboring varying feelings, each trying to regain their footing from Berlyn’s noted absence. Their world undeniably turned upside down. I admire the strength of the entire Cosman family and their openness to share their emotional trek.

I found Mark’s perspective and thoughts interesting and enlightening. His relentless quest a necessity for his survival, he went to extreme lengths to find a balm for his gaping wound. This story certainly left a stain, as a mother I cannot imagine the incredible void compounded by such heinous violence. I was also pleased the story reflected on Berlyn, her family and specifically her father, covering very little of the murderer. Mark found peace as his voyage ended.

A compelling story, bemoaning. My heart aches for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one or have fallen victim through pointless violence, the pieces virtually impossible to reassemble, the ones left behind haunted as they negotiate life without the one nonsensically stripped from life.

Read Excerpts

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Author Mark CosmanR1- 1A_0001
Mark Cosman’s writing began when his daughter, Berlyn, was murdered following her high school prom. It was when Mark left the rubble of his beliefs and assumptions to go in search of answers to the most profound questions we ask ourselves. “A Flower in the Snow” is a result of that odyssey.

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