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The Fifth Woman: Kurt Wallander
The Fifth Woman: Kurt Wallander
by Henning Mankell
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Wallander?, 1 Oct 2012
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Henning Mankell has a very personal and highly distinguishable way of writing his stories. Its main characteristic is the juxtaposition between particularly gruesome crimes and the everyday slow, tedious, plodding reality of police work. His main protagonist, Inspector Kurt Wallander, is neither a superhero nor a magician. He is a regular guy, intelligent and dedicated, who has his work as the only "anchor" in an otherwise lonely existence. His results and successes are a product of hard work and hard work only.

Now, all this is perfectly illustrated in this novel. It's very well paced and meticulously planned. Every characteristic of Mankell's writing is present and everything seems to be in the right place.

There is a string of some very cruel and gruesome murders. Wallander quickly realises that it must be the work of the same killer and begins a long process of identifying him and eventually catching him. Mankell gives the reader glimpses of the killer's life and motivations, but he does not "give" anything to his hero. Every new "breakthrough" Wallander makes is hard earned and comes after long hours of work. He even makes a couple of mistakes and follows leads that go nowhere. In the same time a lot of things are happening in his personal life and it seems at times that his work is the only thing that keeps him going.

There are also a couple of other things worth mentioning:
First, Mankell, although active in a typically non-political literary genre, is a very politically active individual. In almost all of the novels that I have read he includes some kind of a "message" or "statement" in his plot. This is present here also. As for what it is, just read the novel and you'll figure it out (even a tired Wallander realises it in the end of the novel).
Second, although Mankell's books are as close to reality of police work as any crime fiction you'll ever read, there is thing that I find particularly hard to swallow. Others have mentioned it also and yes it's not very plausible to have all these horrible crimes, murders, conspiracies etc etc happening in a 20000 people town of Southern Sweden and its surrounding area. I live in a 20000 people town and we never even had a single murder!

Apart from that, everything else is perfect...


Persuader: (Jack Reacher 7)
Persuader: (Jack Reacher 7)
by Lee Child
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.59

3.0 out of 5 stars Child keeps it simple ... again!, 23 Sep 2012
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(this review might contain spoilers)

From the beginning of my "exploration" of Lee Child's Reacher series I've decided to read the books in the strict chronological order. So this is my 7th novel and I think that I have a pretty good idea of both the character's development and the writer's style.

I must say I like a lot of things in these stories:
First, their originality. They are all action thrillers of course but they are also pretty unique and different from each other. "The Persuader" is no exception.
Second, the variety of the locations of the stories. Until now we had Georgia, New York City, Oregon, Montana, Washington, Texas and now Portland, Maine.
Third, Child's knowledge of guns and the way American government agencies work (not bad for a guy who until 1997-98 was living in the UK). We've had, police, army, FBI and now the DEA.

But there are also some downsides.

First of all, the actual writing. Child began his stories writing in a very elaborate and complicated style. For the first 4 novels, we had of course Reacher's POV but we had also small chapters that gave different and sometimes conflicting views of the story. They all came together in the final "scenes" (that seemed minutely and painstakingly planned in advance). I really liked this setup, although it always kept me second-guessing myself. Then, beginning with "Echo Burning" the stories became way more straightforward and direct. We got only Reacher's POV and nothing more, no other aspect of the story. This was good for a novel maybe, but it continued from then on and I don't like it because I think it "banalises" the story.
Then, we have the women of the novels. I mean, I'll buy everything that Child throws at me, that Reacher is almost a superhero, that he knows everything there is to be known about guns and human behavior, that he's smart and cool as hell but the fact that always the second most important person of the story is a woman that turns out to be an Uma Thurman or an Eva Longoria lookalike (and 6 out of 7 times ends up having sex with Reacher) is a little difficult to stomach. I know these books are not Nobel winner material but at least vary a little, please...

"The Persuader" is a typical example of both downsides as everything happens according to the formula established previously. Yes, Reacher feels somewhat *afraid* for the first time, but c'mon this is Reacher, you think that'll stop him?

Anyway this novel sinks more into run-of-the-mill begging-to-be-made-into-a-movie territory than I would like it to. I'll continue the series but if "The Enemy" is again like that...


A Clockwork Orange (Penguin Essentials)
A Clockwork Orange (Penguin Essentials)
by Anthony Burgess
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everything happened, 23 Sep 2012
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What can you say about a classic?
Not much really, just that everything you have heard about it is true.
Equally disturbing and gripping, this can easily stand on its own WITHOUT the "help" of the movie.

Anthony Burgess said that he didn't like being remembered only as the writer of the novel that inspired Kubrick's movie. I can understand that. The movie puts the focus on the most "controversial" aspects of the book: the violence (of course the book also contains a lot of it), the sex (now that's a major difference, as the book is not so oversexed as the movie might lead you to believe) and the omission of the final "redeeming" chapter (which contrary to what Kubrick believed fits perfectly with the rest of the book and seems very real to me). But it's still more or less Burgess' story, his idea, his genius.

And what in my opinion makes this book so special and the one Burgess will be remembered for, is not the movie but something else: almost everything that is described inside ...well... happened! This is easily the most prescient book I have ever read (more than "1984" and "Brave New World"). So much so that it seems it was written 20 and not 50 years ago. Add to that the stylistic flourishes (the language, the playful narration) and the description of a future that seems just like the present and you have a complete picture. Of a novel that everyone must read for its own merits and not as a supplement to a movie.


My Appetite for Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns 'N' Roses
My Appetite for Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns 'N' Roses
by Steven Adler
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but genuine, 19 Aug 2012
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OK, what you already read about this book is true. It is not a good example of the proper use of the English language (probably like this review :-)). Especially in the second part (after Steven is kicked from GNR), you completely lose track of what is happening and when did it happen (as I guess Steven himself did...). The chapter about his stroke is a prime example of this...

But on the other hand, all this makes the book much more genuine. You know that this is Steven Adler speaking, you have a clear idea about the man's character and motives, he is not hiding behind a masterful "ghost writer", that's really him.

In the first part we have the GNR story. I don't know if his account of events is "truer" than Slash's for example, but one thing is clear: Steven Adler was a big fan of rock'n'roll music and an even bigger fan of the rock'n'roll lifestyle who actually BECAME everything he hoped for. It's like one day I am sitting in my room looking at posters and the next I am IN the same posters. And he couldn't handle it...
In the second part we have the aftermath of his exit from the band. This part is in fact more interesting than the first. It is obvious that Steven Adler wasn't ready for what happened. It gradually becomes clear that his life STOPPED that fateful day in June 1990 when he was kicked out of GNR. Since then, he has passed most of the time (something like 20 years) doing ABSOLUTELY nothing (except of course getting stoned on crack and heroin).

Still, in the and Steven Adler comes out of this book as somewhat of a sympathetic figure. I mean in the end you feel sorry for the guy...
And (although he doesn't seem to believe in himself so much) he WAS the best drummer GNR ever had. I sincerely hope that he finally lets go of the past...


The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6)
The Leopard: A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 6)
by Jo Nesbo
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars This book goes to 11!, 19 Aug 2012
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First, let me tell you something about the size of the book.
All the other Nesbo books that I've read so far were about 600 pages, had a large typeface and contained the first chapter of the next book in the end. Now, this book has about 720 pages, a considerably smaller typeface and no first chapter in the end (as the next book has just been released). So it's the Nesbo's biggest so far.
It is also one of his most complicated. It is of course a "classic" Harry Hole case, but there are TWO big climax scenes (involving something very cold and something very hot) and I can assure you that as you read the book you will "suspect" at least 6 of its characters as being the criminal mastermind that everyone looks for. Right till the end Nesbo "toys" with his readers, even when it's all said and done, he keeps you second guessing about what's actually happening.
Now, add to this an internal power battle in the Norwegian police and a new "affair" for Harry and you get the picture...
It's everything you expect and even more. Nesbo probably intended this to be his "magnum opus" but it comes out more like a "flawed masterpiece". Still very enjoyable though.


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