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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pre-school reunion gone bad
I have read a few Scandinavian crime thrillers now, hooked in by Stieg Larsson. This story begins back in 1968 in a pre-school housed in an attractive building on top of a hill, surrounded by pine trees. However, within this idyllic setting an unpleasant regime of bullying is allowed to flourish: group dynamics and an uncaring teacher allow the brutal victimisation of two...
Published 22 months ago by maggiefb

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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obvious, linear storyline
I have never written a review before but feel compelled to in order to encourage you to save your money.

From the outset the motivation of the criminal is completely obvious and we learn nothing about the character as the story unfolds. From this point of view the story is like the tv show Columbo but it's missing the genius of Peter Falk in the protagonist of...
Published 7 months ago by Alex C


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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Obvious, linear storyline, 27 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Gingerbread House (Hammarby 1) (Paperback)
I have never written a review before but feel compelled to in order to encourage you to save your money.

From the outset the motivation of the criminal is completely obvious and we learn nothing about the character as the story unfolds. From this point of view the story is like the tv show Columbo but it's missing the genius of Peter Falk in the protagonist of Conny Sjoberg. Far from being the typical detective who has personal problems and stresses that must be fought in order to maintain productivity in work, Sjoberg has a fantastic home life and only fights with his wife once - when he has to work over the weekend in order to solve the murder case.

The story takes so long to unfold not because the police have competing theories or conflicting evidence but apparently Sweden is the only country in the developed world that does not have a centralised fingerprint database. As such it takes about three quarters of the way through before the cases are eventually linked when regional police forces post their fingerprint analyses to Stockholm. Yes, you read that correctly, the results of the analyses are posted in hard copy format, as if this story is set a hundred years ago.
After the confirmation that the murders are linked the case takes one day to solve. Huzzah for efficiency! Imagine if they had wanted to work this hard before, other victims would have been spared.

Do I need to tell you that this is a completely rubbish book? I must have been reading a different story to everyone else because they all seem to love it and have identified multiple twists. Where are these?
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pre-school reunion gone bad, 30 Nov 2012
By 
maggiefb (Famagusta, Cyprus) - See all my reviews
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I have read a few Scandinavian crime thrillers now, hooked in by Stieg Larsson. This story begins back in 1968 in a pre-school housed in an attractive building on top of a hill, surrounded by pine trees. However, within this idyllic setting an unpleasant regime of bullying is allowed to flourish: group dynamics and an uncaring teacher allow the brutal victimisation of two unfortunate children by their six-year-old classmates - children who, in the UK, would be in their second year of primary school.
In a different part of Sweden, in 2006, a murder occurs. Chief Inspector Conny Sjoberg, of the Violent Crimes Unit in Hammarby, Stockholm, leads the investigation. Rebus he is not - he is a happily married father of five who plays by the rules and gets on well with all his colleagues. After three more murders in other parts of the country he realises a serial killer may be responsible.
A fascinating portrayal of life in Sweden, Stockholm in particular, is presented to the reader. The Scandinavian character: understated and sometimes lacking in emotion, is described, along with the autumn weather and atmosphere. We experience family life - and lack of it in some cases, and are allowed to sample the food: unfamiliar (moose steak); tantalising (family meals prepared by Conny and his children), and unappealing: (burnt pork schnitzel with noodles).
We are also educated about the Middle East conflict and, in a sub-plot, encounter the use of Rohypnol, known as the 'date-rape' drug.
Throughout the book we read 'The Diary of a Murderer', which gives us insight into the reasons behind these gruesome killings.

The prose and dialogue often seem stilted - not unusual in books which have been translated from one language to another - and the language is American English. Also there is a somewhat implausible aspect to the resolution. Nonetheless I enjoyed this book and did not find the ending altogether predictable. I will try ro find time to read the remaining titles in the series.
After reading this, maybe any of us who ever participated in bullying as a child - and who didn't to some degree? - will wonder what the consequences have been, and hope that things have improved for today's children.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just because it's Scandinavian murder..., 29 Jun 2014
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...that doesn't mean it has to be any good. And this isn't.

A loner takes revenge against the kids who bullied him at school. That's the first plot. Then we get a second plot about a police officer who may or may not have been raped, which is more interesting than the main plot, but which has obviously been crow-barred in from another book, because (spoiler alert) the two storylines are completely unrelated to one another. Without giving too much away, one of these plots is bizarrely unresolved.

Worse that that are the pointless diversions. We get a five page lecture on the politics of Lebanon. We get an equally long diversion about the lead policeman cooking a meal for his family. None of the characters, other than our loner (who is a walking cliche) get any personality development at all (unless you count playing tennis as a defining trait).

And the title makes no sense... AVOID
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carin Gerhardsen--The Ginger Bread House, 22 Jun 2012
By 
Simon Clarke (Hackney, London) - See all my reviews
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This excellent novel,the first of a series,set in Stockholm,
is an example of Scandinavian crime fiction at its very best.
In 1968,relentless bullying occurs amongst very young school
children .Several years later a series of brutal murders take
place in the Stockholm area.Chief Inspector Conny Sjoberg and
his team eventually find a link between them.
The novel works on several levels.The police procedural aspect,
is skillfully done ,and never less than interesting,as the team
led by the intuitive Conny Sjoberg,a busy father of five children,
attempt to come to grips with the case.There is a sub-plot
concerning one of the female detectives.Suspense is maintained
throughout,whilst the long-lasting effects of bullying are
harrowingly portrayed.
First rate. Leaves one eagerly awaiting the second novel in
the series.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Average but not Amazing, 24 July 2014
This review is from: The Gingerbread House (Hammarby 1) (Paperback)
This is one of the recent collect of crime books coming out of
Scandinavia. Despite assertations on the cover that this was of the same
standard as "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", it wasn't. So please
don't go into this book expecting an outstanding, well constructed story
with wonderful characters. This is a fairly average detective novel
with a few flaws, some predictibility but good characters.
An elderly
lady coming home from hospital finds a murdered man in her kitchen. She
doesn't know who he is or why he is there. Conny Sjoberg heads the team
who need to find answers and end up discovering more questions as they
piece together a string of seemingly unconnected murders.
This is a
book with potential but which hasn't quite become a great read. It was a
good read but with some very glaring issues - some of which could be
explained by the difference in culture or translation. I was somewhat
surprised when the murderer (we have insight to their thoughts via diary
pages although we aren't told their identity until the end) rang the
tax office and asked for the address of someone they were looking for -
the tax office gave it to them? Really? I can't believe that Sweden is
that lax over security/privacy. This was a totally unconvincing piece of
the story which I feel the author was hoping to gloss over as they
couldn't find a better solution. I also found some of the translation
and Americanisms slightly jarring. They didn't fit with the style of the
story which led me to wonder if the translation had been done with the
American market in mind.
I have written in the past about
dysfunctional detectives. I have often wondered why no detective has a
normal home life and why they are often so bad at dealing with the
general public. Sojberg is a normal, family man with a wife and 5
children. They have family days out shopping and visit family for
dinner. This did make a nice change and I admire the author for creating
her detective in this way. Did this make him boring? I don't think so
but perhaps others will feel differently.
There is a sub plot in this
book concerning a female officer (sorry - I struggle to recall the
Swedish names). The author failed to integrate this into the plot and it
felt totally out of place. I do wonder if this is going to be taken
forward in further books in this series which would make more sense.
I
had worked out the murderer quite early on in the book despite the
twist at the end. I had forseen this and was way ahead of the police.
There were times that the police were quite incompetent - such as
ignoring important phone calls and taking several days to upload and
process fingerprints. I know I had the advantage of the murderer's diary
but at times the author gave the impression that the Swedish police
force were decades behind the rest of the world. I am sure this isn't
the case in reality.
So why have I given this a 4? After all I seem
to have found a great deal wrong with this book. Something kept me
interested in this story but I am not entirely sure what. Maybe it was
the novelty of a detective with a functioning home life or perhaps it
was the good description. Whatever it was, I do think that I would read
the next book in the series. Maybe the glaring mistakes and slightly
predictable criminals will be refined and the story will work much
better than this one. I am prepared to give it a chance and try another.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring, 24 Mar 2014
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I can't say I particularly enjoyed this book. I thought the translation was a bit clunky and dissonant in parts, I felt the narrative tone was distant, there was a bit too much cod psychology in it for me and I couldn't relate to the plot premise. The characterisation was better but again, I don't particularly like books where the main suspect gets his say right from the start. Having said all that I would probably read the next book in the series to see if I liked it better so there must be something in this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good writing style but predictable end, 11 April 2014
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I enjoyed the style of writing but the main plot was predictable from the beginning which meant reading the book was like 'going' through the motions.

The Police characters and their sub plot were interesting and well formed but didn't really integrate with the main plot.

I would read another of Carin's books in the hope that her plots strengthen and develop.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AMAZON START PAYING TAX IN THE UK, 9 Nov 2013
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Enjoyable story, good premise and characterisation, the twist wasn't that out of the blue though and from the point it happened it seemed a rush to the conclusion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sting in the tale, 7 May 2014
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This is a great read. The Scandinavians seem to have a fantastic dark grasp on the thriller genre. I would recommend it
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ginger bread house, 4 May 2014
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Five stars because I really enjoyed it never read any this author's books before but will definitely read more and pass on to friends
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The Gingerbread House (Hammarby 1)
The Gingerbread House (Hammarby 1) by Carin Gerhardsen (Paperback - 5 Dec 2013)
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