on 3 July 2013
I was very excited when this new book arrived ; a new scandi thriller but now I am just not sure . The story began at a good pace , plenty of urgh to keep me interested and I found the idea of the killer sending pizza to the police and then the internet frenzy over paedophiles and retribution really exciting and topical . What a great book I thought , this would make great tv . Then about half way into the story it all became flat , the writing style became heavy and suddenly I was becoming confused. Which cop was saying what , which was the journalist , who was the good guy? Every character seemed to be Arne or Annie or Ann [ or was I just falling asleep ] , the translator seemed to have been asleep too [ or maybe because it was written by 2 people? ] and by end [ which was far from thrilling ] I felt that I had just been let down .
I've been a huge fan of Scandinavian Crime fiction for a number of years, they've known how to wind me in, give me a cracking story and for me the landscape fits the culture wonderfully giving each story its own feeling behind the lines.
Add to this a story arc that just grabbed me and to be honest this book was thrust to the top of my TBR pile before anything else. What unfurled sadly was a story that felt like the old fashioned Video's where the blurb is so much better than the actual product. In short, the pace was jumpy, the prose misplaced so that you would even have to reread lines to get them to make sense and sadly the suspense that I was expecting was over to fast as the criminals were revealed way to early. All in, this could well have been a book that would have been better as a novella rather than the full fledged book that arrived. A great shame all in.
on 6 June 2013
This fine thought provoking debut novel from Danish brother and
sister authors is the first of a series.
The tale begins gruesomely when two children come across five
naked men,hanged with their bodies mutilated,in the school
gymnasium.Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen from the murder
squad in Copenhagen is brought back from his holiday to lead the
investigation.When it becomes clear that the five murdered men
were paedophiles ,the media and the public close ranks on the
police,fervently holding that the victims got what they deserved,
and not wanting the perpetrators to be caught.
As the novel progresses ,DCS Simonsen and his team are well characterised,
which bodes well for the rest of the series,but essentially this is an
accomplished crime novel which raises issues of revenge,justice in a
democratic society,and the manipulation of public opinion.
on 14 July 2013
Maybe it is my fault but I simply cannot follow the story. I don't get it who is who, who is talking to who, the sentences are confusing. I often find myself just going over the text looking for the actual investigation (not much so far). Conversations are so long and irrelevant that by the time I get to the end of it I already forgot the circumstances. I have the impression that I could even listen to random people speaking on the street, it would mean the same. I think the writers wanted to introduce their characters really well (hoping for more novels in the series?), but they would have been better off my doing it gradually and not pouring it out all at once. I really would like to stop reading this book but I have the habit of finishing. But I will jump the long conversations, I hope I won't miss anything important.
Update: I forgot to finish it. I read at least one book a week, and I don't remember the last time I did not finish a book. I wish I stopped earlier, it was a real pain to read.
on 30 August 2013
With the current popularity of Danish murder mystery I looked forward to starting this, the first of a series set in Copenhagen. Had I been able to understand Danish then the original book may well be a good read, but the translation is absolutely TERRIBLE. Avoid at all costs. Plot could be good but story very difficult to follow so I did try but gave up 48% of the way through.
Lotte Hammer Jacobsen, b. 1955, and her elder sibling Søren, b. 1952, have written a number of crime novels of which this is the first to be translated into English - by Ebba Segerberg. I was bothered by the translation that, in parts, read more like a first draft and was always noticeable.
The central figure is Detective Chief Superintendent Konrad Simonsen of the Copenhagen Murder Squad who is surrounded by a motley team that, despite working furiously for 400 pages, fail to rise from the page. This is partly because this is the first book in the series but mainly due to the fact that the authors' focus shifts rapidly from members of the team to people associated with the crime to reporters and to reporters on a national newspaper who are instrumental in keeping public interest in the central crimes, appalling even by Nordic noir standards, at the forefront of the political and national agenda.
After the school holidays, two young Turkish children find the carefully-positioned and terribly mutilated bodies of five naked men hanging in their gymnasium. Simonsen, on holiday with his daughter, is recalled to lead the investigation. After some difficulties, the identities of the victims are revealed and they are all found to be paedophiles. Public and media opinion is that the men got what they asked for and the police have particularly difficulty in gaining information from the public that would help identify the killers.
Simonson's team includes his ex-boss, senior colleagues that includ `The Countess', whose feelings for her boss are hinted at but not explored, and Arne Pedersen, a gambler ready to bed any woman within or outside the force [including one of the former at a crime scene], junior colleagues and a computer geek [Søren Hammer's own background as a programmer is evident in the various illegal ways Simonsen and his colleagues exploit to bring the case to a satisfactory conclusion] together with assistance from a disaffected journalist.
The plotting is overly-complex, mainly because the police investigation is described at the same time as a strongly-manipulated campaign emerges to ensure that convicted paedophiles are more severely treated by the authorities and that their victims are better supported. This part of the narrative was gripping, especially as it gathered force and began to diverge uncontrollably, but was not completely integrated into the investigation.
The story tended to fluctuate in its propulsion, sometimes almost coming to a stop before bounding ahead. There were a number of peripheral characters and situations that might have been omitted and rather clunky episodes of exposition that needed smoothing out. Occasionally, the writing touched on the polemic as the authors' political interests and instincts came to the fore. However, such criticisms should be set in the context of this being a debut novel.
Simonson himself is rather dour and cerebral, and his diet inevitably leads to chronic illness [what about a joking, salad munching, marathon-running Scandi-cop?], and so he comes across as a central character that is not very easy to engage with; there are some indications of a rather dark Nordic humour but, once again, there is insufficient variation and contrast. Simonsen's very personal involvement with the killers does not wholly succeed and the conclusion, though tense, is rather too easily rounded off.
The seriousness of the initial killings and the public follow-up enables the authors to offer Simonsen whatever human and material resources he deems necessary, a ploy that the authors cannot use again.
As yet another Nordic detective series, albeit the first written by siblings, Simonsen and his colleagues have a great deal of serious competition. Whilst this is a reasonably engaging read, I look forward to the next book in the series rather more to see what the authors will have learned from writing this first one than in the expectation that it will rise to the level of books by Indridasson, Lackberg and Nesser, let alone Mankell and Nesbø, 6/10.
on 7 August 2013
Theme and plot of child abuse which if true for Denmark, then exposes lenient view and sentences for paedophiles. The plot is good but in general, poorly written and disjointed. Some key characters under developed. If one separates the writing from the issues raised by the authors, then it is very challenging.
E.g. Do we feel compassion or disgust and revulsion for chid abusers hounded and physically maltreated by the public who have been punished for their evil crimes by being in jail; or can they ever be punished enough for their crimes?
on 24 July 2013
I found myself floundering a bit with this book. At times it seemed to creep along at snail's pace with a lot of irrelevant and unnecessary detail. The plot is fairly straightforwad. Five former child molesters are found hanged and mutilated in a school gym and early on we learn that a self-help group are behind the killings.
It takes the police an inordinate amount of time to work out the connection between the victims and obvious lines of investigation seem to be ignored. I also found the translation to American English irritating at times, with words like "gotten" and "stay home" creeping in. So all in all, doesn't match Wallander et al and may not bother with further in series.
I found it hard to get in to this book at first and I put it down to read another then came back to it and it all clicked. I think this book is amazing as mostly you live the investigation with the detectives as it's written like a documentary. The boss is often grumpy and insensitive, the detectives complain about the hours and want to go home, the witnesses are unco-operative and the press don't appear to have to or want to turn over valuable evidence, most of which you don't see often in crime fiction. The subject matter is also thought provoking - the murder of six peodophiles. Does the nature of the victims exempt the killer from punishment? I enjoyed this book and will definitely read the next one.