Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Pages: 274
Date: 30/06/2009
Grade: 4
Details: no. 1 Hermes Diaktoros

This book surprised me. It is a mystery, but an unusual one. In this book the reader is not constantly with the investigator (Hermes Diaktoros) as he uncovers the clues and ultimately the truth. Instead two stories are being told in alternating chapters. One story follows the investigator as he travels over the island of Thiminos discovering some facts about Irini's life and death. The other one is the story of Irini, told from varying perspectives. In this way the reader gets a first hand rather than a second hand insight into the events that lead up to Irini's death.
This style took a bit of getting used to, but in the end it worked for me.
The story, in short, is as follows:
Irini has been dead for two days when her body is found and the verdict of suicide is proclaimed by the local police without any form of an investigation. The inhabitants of Thiminos seem happy enough to let the affair rest there, but not so Hermes Diaktoros, the fat man who arrives from Athens to investigate the death.
It is unclear, even to the reader, on whose authority he operates. He threatens people that he will know when they're not telling the truth and that it will cost them. And he comes with his own form of justice. One that is unorthodox, if not outright questionable.
The book as a whole was intriguing and fascinating, and I will read more books in this series.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


Pages: 367
Date: 28/06/2009
Grade: 5

Adriana Trigiani writes amazing books. Time and again she manages to capture me, draw me into her story and keep me hooked until the very last word and beyond.
While I was reading this book I was living with Valentine, feeling her emotions and willing her on and forward. And now that I've finished the book, Valentine is still real for me and I have to remind myself that I won't ever be meeting her.
For me the strength in Trigiani's books lies in the fact that she writes about real women, with real lives. Women who do good and make mistakes. Strong women who have their weak moments. These women have real emotions that I recognize and problems I can relate to. I would love to be able to call Trigiani's women my friends.
This is the story of Valentine, who together with her grandmother, Teodora, runs Angelini Shoes where they make and sell handmade wedding shoes.
But Teodora is 80 years old and the shop is on the brink of financial disaster. Valentine desperately wants to safe the shop and enters an exclusive design competition. At the same time there are health problems and conflicts in her family, a new love to negotiate and business plans to come to grips with. It takes a trip to Italy and Capri to bring life into perspective for Valentine, and show her the way forward.
Quote from page 322:
"True love is without whim. It's hardware. Durable. Everlasting. This world is where Constanzo and Rosa's love happened, but eternity is where it lives. Love stays as long as someone remembers."

Friday, June 26, 2009


Pages: 286
Date: 26/06/2009
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 1 St. Just Mystery

It is always a joy to discover a good new mystery series, and with this book, the first in the St. Just Mysteries, I've found a beauty.
Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk is the successful author of a series of cozy mysteries, who is far from cozy himself when it comes to his personal life. He takes great pleasure in playing his four children of against each other with constant threats of disinheritance.
No he has announced his upcoming marriage to Violet, a widow with a dubious past. Shocked and worried the children return to their father's mansion only for matters to get worse when Ruthven, the eldest son and favourite in the inheritance stakes, is brutally murdered.
Detective Chief Inspector St. Just finds himself dealing with a family where no one seems to mourn the death, no one tells the (full) truth, and soon, with a second murder.
In the end only a look at the past and a trip to Scotland provide the clues to solve this mystery.
G.M. Malliet has called this book an homage to the golden age of classic British mystery, and that is exactly what this is. The country house setting, a limited and closed group of suspects,and a conclusion more intricate than expected all remind the reader of Agatha Christie. The only difference being that this time it is the police rather than an amateur who solves the crime.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Pages: 357
Date: 25/06/2009
Grade: 5
Details: Young Adult Novel

Mr. Zusak sure knows how to write one of a kind books, and so far, I'm loving them. I like the way his stories are far from predictable, the way his characters are rarely just black or white and the way he deals with life the way it is, rather than making it either better or worse.
This is Ed Kennedy's story. He is a 19-year old, under aged, taxi driver in an unnamed Australian town. He is in love with his best friend Audrey, who just wants to stay that, just friends, gets regularly verbally abused by his mother, and appears to be on a long road to nowhere, accompanied by his smelly dog Doorman.
Then he accidentally stops a bank robbery and Ed's life changes.
He receives a playing card in the mail, the Ace of Diamonds with three addresses written on it. He soon learns that the people living there need help in some way; Help is soon determined to provide.
As he works his way through the four Aces in the deck he continues to help people, sometimes through kindness, sometimes using violence, and never knowing who has send him on his quest or why.
A quest that will give him a better insight into people in general, those close to him in particular, bit especially into himself.
Utterly beautiful.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Pages: 484
Date: 23/06/2009
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 3 Saxon Mystery / Large Print

When the body of a young, aspiring actress is found in her own house, brutally murdered and tied to her bed, Saxon is invited to be part of the investigation.
But Saxon is already looking into a mystery of her own. Leon Kaminski, a former FBI colleague of Saxon's is looking for the man who murdered his wife and wants Saxon to help him.
And then the two separate cases appear to be connected, even if it isn't clear how. And instead of speeding up the investigations, the apparent connection only makes things murkier.
And when Saxon does solve the cases, she's left wondering: at what cost?
These books are getting better as the series continues, and the Dublin setting gives the an added attraction for me.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Pages: 410
Date: 22/06/2009
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 3 Sister Pelagia Mystery

Even with the first two books in this series I felt that Akunin wasn't completely serious. It all seemed a bit over the top, while at the same time being very well written and very interesting mysteries.
With this latest instalment I feel he's taken it all a bit too far. I never got the feeling that Akunin was even trying to make the story believable or realistic. What's more, he did some serious borrowing from Dostoevsky's Brothers Karamazov.
Still, I did enjoy the book enough to want to read all of it, and I'm glad that I did because based on events in the story and the way the book ended, I think there's a good chance there won't be any more Pelagia Mysteries.
This book starts with Pelagia vowing that she'll stop her investigations and start concentrating on her life and duties as a nun. It's only a short time later though, when she finds herself breaking her vow. When the leader of a religious group is murdered on the boat Pelagia is travelling on, she finds the body an soon finds herself involved in the investigation.
After three attempts have been made on her life, Pelagia takes herself away from her familiar surroundings to Palestine. She doesn't go there for spiritual reasons though, but to continue her investigation. And it's during this investigation that she finds herself questioning her faith and everything she believes in.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Pages: 261
Date: 20/06/2009
Grade: 3
Details: Booker Prize Winner / monthly bookclub read

If this book hadn't been this month's pick for my bookclub, I would not have finished it. The story was too confused for me with fact and fiction blurring into each other without ever crystallizing to reveal any sort of truth or resolution.
The story is being told by Veronica, who finds herself falling apart following her brother's Liam's suicide. Or was she always falling apart and has his death accelerated the process?
During the time from finding out about Liam's death, through travelling to England to organize his return to Dublin, to the wake and the funeral, Veronica tries to make sense of Liam's life, her own life and the history of her family. Did something that happened to Liam when he was eight lay the foundations for his alcoholism and death, or were they always inescapable?
These questions could have made for a fascinating story. They don't because rather than looking for facts, Veronica makes up the past. Even her own memories can't be trusted.
I understand what the author may be trying to say; that we suppress shocking experiences and don't allow ourselves to look too hard at hurtful events. Also that grief makes us at least a little crazy and unreliable.
Still, Veronica as a narrator was too untrustworthy for me, which lead to me really not caring for her at all. And not caring for Veronica meant that I didn't care for her story, this book, either.
The book did provide me with two passages that really spoke to me though:
"... how there are little thoughts in your head that can grow until they eat your entire mind. Just tiny little thoughts - they are like a cancer, there is no telling what triggers the spread, or who will be struck, and why some get it and others are spared." "People do not change, they are merely revealed."

Friday, June 19, 2009


Two nights ago Dermot, Tara and I were lucky enoough to be able to meet with Caroline, the daughter of a good friend and reading buddy of mine. Here are a few pictures we took that evening.
The first one is of Dermot, Caroline and me under the arch in Trinity College, Dublin.

Here are Dermot, Caroline and Tara in front of the U2 recording studios (Windmill Lane), which happened to be located just around the corner from the Hotel Caroline was staying in.

The next two pictures were taken in the restaurant where we had dinner that night. We all had a lovely pizza in Luigi Malone's in Temple Bar in Dublin city center. The two girls followed their piza's with a lovely desert, Dermot and I didn't have the courage.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Pages: 351
Date: 17/06/2009
Grade: 5-

This is the third literary thriller by Matthew Pearl and as in THE DANTE CLUB and THE POE SHADOW, he once again does a wonderful job of taking real historical events and people and placing them in a fiction situation full of danger and suspense.
This story has two central figures; James R. Osgood, the American Publisher of Charles Dickens, and Rebecca Sand, one of his firms bookkeepers.
When the book starts, Rebecca's younger brother Daniel dies while collecting the latest instalment of Dickens' latest book "The Mystery of Edwin Drood".
When Dickens himself subsequently dies, Osgood and Rebecca travel to England hoping to find clues as to how Dickens was going to finish the book.
Danger starts creeping up on them even on the journey over to England. Our heroes are not the only ones with a huge interest in finding the elusive ending, and others are prepared to do anything to find the missing half of the book.
While all of this is going on the story also goes back a few years to describe Dickens' last literary tour of America, and it takes us to Bengal in India where one of Dickens' sons is a police officer trying to deal with the illegal trade in opium.
These apparently separate story lines all come together by the end of the book to provide satisfying explanations that aren't too neat.
The last Dickens is not a "thrill on every page" sort of mystery. Instead it is a very well researched historical novel filled with fascinating facts and a constant undercurrent of danger.
I now know more about Dickens, the history of American publishers and the trade in opium than I ever did, and picked all the knowledge up while enjoying a good read.
Having met Dickens, the man, in these pages, I suddenly feel the need to read more by Dickens, the author.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Pages: 408
Date: 14/06/2009
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 9 Ben Cooper & Diane Fry Mystery

As expected, this was a very well written and thought out book by Mr. Booth. However, compared to earlier books in this series, the story felt a bit disjointed. Not that there were any real loose threads by the end of the story, but neither were the conclusions and explanations as provided totally satisfying. To me it seemed that all of the author's attention had been focused on the mystery and the investigation there off, with the solution and motives being mere after-thoughts.
When the body of a dead man with severe head injuries is found, his position is a bit of a mystery. A phone call to the police had reported the remains in an abandoned building, a little distance away.
Once the victim's identity has been established, Cooper, Fry and their colleagues have to delve into the worlds of fox-hunting, and horse trading, learning more about horse meat than they would ever want to know.
Then the victim's business partner goes missing and things become really complicated. But when it comes to the solutions to the mysteries, at least one part is far more ordinary then anyone would have thought.
This really was a good read, with the usual friction between Cooper and Fry providing extra interest, and Fry's past coming back to haunt her.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Pages: 271
Date: 12/06/2009
Grade: 4-
Details: Previously published in 1994 under the title: Peggy Sue Got Murdered

In the introduction to this novel, Tess Gerritsen says that she considers this book where she made the transition from romantic suspense to writing thrillers.
To me it read more like a book that couldn't quite make up its mind. There is some romance, and there are some thriller elements, but neither where sufficiently developed for me. I think I'll have to stop reading these re-issues of earlier titles by Gerritsen before they put me off her and the thrillers she's yet to write.
Kate Novak is a medical examiner in Boston who in quick succession comes across three bodies of young people who have all died as a result of an overdose from a new, mystery drug.
At first it appears to be a case of a deadly drug being sold on the streets, but when Kate finds her own life threatened, she knows there has to be more going on.
When the authorities refuse to take her claims seriously, it's up to Kate and her unlikely ally to investigate the matter. An investigation that might cost both of them their lives.
This is definitely not a bad story, but nowhere near up to the standard of Gerritsen's later books.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Pages: 304
Date: 11/06/2009
Grade: 4
Details: no. 3 Victor Legris Mystery

This series is set in Paris, late in the 19th century. I read this book out of order and had never heard of the author or the series before. I'm now going to try and find the two previous titles (Murder on the Eiffel Tower and The Pere-Lachaise Mystery) not so much because this was a great mystery, but because it paints a wonderful picture of the time and the place.
This mystery starts when the murdered and disfigured body of a young woman is found. The woman is barefoot and dressed in red. The same day, a single red shoe is delivered to the bookshop where Victor Legris works.
More murders follow, and although they appear at first to be unrelated, Victor and his assistant Joseph connect them to each other and are determined to solve the mystery before the police does.
Their investigation brings them to place like the Moulin Rouge and into contact with all sorts of people and artists, among them Toulouse-Lautrec.
Apart from the mystery, the story also tells about the lives of the main characters and those around them, which adds significantly to the interest.
Now I just hope I'll be able to find the first two titles in this series.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Pages: 258
Date: 10/06/2009
Grade: 3.5
Details: The Last of Evadne Mount / no. 3 Evadne Mount mystery

While I was reading this book I stated that I didn't know what to make of it. Now that I've finished it, I'm still not sure. It may be that I just didn't get this book because I didn't read the two previous books, but I don't think so.
Gilbert Adair, the author of a set of three books inspired by Agatha Christie's mysteries, is also a character in this, the third in the set.
His detective in the previous two books was Evadne Mount,a character he based on a real woman with that name.
In this story, Adair is invited to a Sherlock Holmes festival near the Reichenback Falls in the Swiss Alps. he is one of a group of invited authors, one of whom, the mystery guest Gustav Stavorigin, has a price of one hundred million on his head after he wrote a post 9/11 book that infuriated Americans.
Much to Adair's surprise Evadne Mount also turns up at the festival, resembling his fictionalized version of her much more than he thought possible.
Then Stavorigin turns up murdered and slowly but carefully "fact" and fiction start to intermingle as Evadne investigates the murder. The solution turns out to be all to predictable, even if the ending is somewhat surprising.
For me this book was just too clever by half, too intellectual and try too hard. I do like the idea behind the book, but the execution of it disappointed me.

Monday, June 8, 2009

MYSTERY READ-A-THON the answers:

My answers to Kathrin's questions about this Read-A-Thon:

Tell us more about your mystery/thriller reading habit.
I'm not sure whether it is a habit or an addiction, but I tend to read mysteries and thrillers more than any other genre, although I do read most other genres as well. I usually read other genres when I need a little break from the murder and mayhem, and tend to return to the mysteries after only one visit to a more sedate genre.
When did you start reading this genre?
I'm not entirely sure but probably when I was about 8 years old.

What was your first experience with the genre? The ever popular Nancy Drew or Agatha Christie? Or someone completely different?
For me it all started with the mysteries written by Enid Blyton; The Famous Five and the Secret Seven and series like that. In my early teens I then switched to Agatha Christie, and after that there was really never a time when I didn't read mysteries.

How did you discover it?
Again, I'm not entirely sure, but I probably stumbled upon Enid Blyton's books in the library, which is where I made most of my reading discoveries.

Do you exclusively read mysteries and thrillers or do you mix it with other genres? If you switch genres, which other genres do you read?
Like I said before, I tend to read almost all genres available. However, most of my reading time is spend on mysteries and thrillers I will read almost anything with words in it, provided it comes with a good story, characters I can believe in and is well written.

So, if you haven't already posted about it, tell us how the read-a-thon went for you. Please leave a link to your post here in the comment section!

Did you finish a book?
I finished two books and read a total of about 600 pages. It really helped that both the books I read were so captivating that I would have found it next to impossible to put them down even if I hadn't taken part in this Read-A-Thon. But having the event as an excuse to just keep on reading did help enormously.

If so, what did you finish?
THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly

How many pages did you read?
Oops, I keep on having to repeat myself; about 600 pages, give or take a few.

How did the reading go for you?
It had more interruptions than I would have liked, but it's just not possible to stop life altogether. I mean when a cousin shows up for a quick visit, you can't just ignore him. And although I did bring a book and read most of the time, I couldn't pull out of a family get-together where the others were playing cards either. On the other hand, I had managed to get all my normal Sunday chores out of the way on Friday and Saturday, so that probably balanced out with the interruptions.

Would you join in for another read-a-thon later this year?
Absolutely; it's great to have this as an excuse to spend the day reading without feeling guilty about not doing anything else. I wouldn't get away with it too often, but a few times a year would be acceptable to those around me and very enjoyable for me.

What else do you think about the read-a-thon?
enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I was afraid that "having" to read would take away part of the pleasure, but quite the opposite was the case. Telling people to leave me alone to read because I had committed to it was a great experience, especially because everybody just accepted it.


Pages: 419
Date: 07/06/2009
Grade: 5
Details: no. 2 Jack McEvoy Thriller

Michael Connelly does write a good thriller, and I wish he could write them faster. This is another of the very good ones and reunites Jack McEvoy, journalist and Rachel Walling, FBI agent, who first worked together in THE POET.
Jack has been given his walking papers from The Times and is working out his last two weeks when he is contacted by the (grand)mother of a 16 year old black gang-member who has allegedly confessed to murdering a white woman. She claims the boy is innocent, and although Jack doesn't believe that, he does smell a good final story and starts digging.
Little does he know that his digging has alerted the real killer, who is now after jack and those connected to his search. A killer, very good at staying under the radar and always one step ahead of his opposition.
Once again reunited with Rachel Waller, his is up against it. And while both of them have job problems, there are far more essential things at stake.
The only reason this book scored a 5 without any "pluses" is that the killer was known from the first page. It didn't lessen the quality of the story, but I do prefer it when the identity of the killer is a mystery and/or the story ends in a major twist.
On the other hand, I did enjoy the references to earlier Connelly books like ECHO PARK and THE LINCOLN LAWYER.
This was my second and final book in the twelve hour Mystery Read-A-Thon, and I have to say I loved to have a day filled with little else but reading.


Pages: 330
Date: 07/06/2009
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 1 Joe Plantagenet Mystery

This was the first book I read in the 12 hour mystery Read-A-Thon.
This is a new series by Kate Ellis and I'm really liking it. Maybe even more than the Wesley Peterson books.
Joe Plantagenet is a police detective in Eborby, a historical town in North Yorkshire,wwhere he and his colleagues are investigating a string of brutal murders which all end with the victims being left naked in graveyards. The press have named the unknown murderer The Resurrection Man, and the police really have no clue about his identity or motives.
Carmel Hennessy is the daughter of a former colleague of Joe's and when she moves to Eborby, Joe is asked to keep an eye on her. And that's just as well, because as the murders continue, and clues remain elusive, the killer is determined to make Carmel his next victim.
This story had a lot going on;a ghost, devil worship, secrets desperately guarded and links between apparently unrelated people. All of this could have led to a contrived and unconvincing story, but Ellis' plotting is of such a high standard that it all fist together convincingly.
I'm already looking forward to my next meeting with Joe Plantagenet and his world.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Kathrin asked some interesting questions in her blog today, and since I'm one of the two organizers of this Read-A-Thon, I decided that I should probably be (one of the first) to answer them. And, I have to say, I found that harder than I thought I would. But, I did my best, and underneath here you can find my responses. If anyone would like to know anything else, just ask the question, and I'll try to answer it.

What books do you want to read during this read-a-thon?
I didn't actually decide on specific books during these 24 hours. Obviously they are going to be mysteries and thrillers, but I've got so many of them at home, both from the library and on my own shelves, that I will just pick them up as the mood strikes me. The way I usually pick my books, in fact.
I have decided on the first one though. It is SEEKING THE DEAD by Kate Ellis. This is the first book in a new series by her, featuring Joe Plantagenet.

How many books do you hope to finish?
That's very much going to depend on how big the books I end up picking are. I'd be disappointed though if I didn't finish at least 2. I would also be very surprised if I managed to read 4 or more.

What (if any) breaks do you intend to take?
Since I've decided to take 36 rather than 24 hours to squeeze my 12 reading hours into I'm going to have to take breaks for sleeping and eating. Tonight I have to show my face at a neighbours birthday party, although I don't intend to stay long. Tomorrow I hope to spend most of my time reading though. The only thing that will require a break from reading then is a good walk with the dog.

Do you generally read lots of mysteries and thrillers or are the one of the many genres you like?
I do like most genres of fiction, or rather there aren't many I actively dislike. However, I do seem to read more mysteries and thrillers than anything else.

What are some of your favorite authors?
Michael Connelly
Harlan Coben
Kate Ellis
J.D. Robb
Stephen Booth,
to name just a few. I know there must be a lot more, but these are the authors that jumped into my mind as I read the question.

If you could make us all read one mystery or thriller for this read-a-thon, which one would it be and why?
Now that is a really hard question, and I'm not sure I can answer it. For myself though, I brought THE SCARECROW by Michael Connelly home from the library yesterday and am really looking forward to reading that book.

Do you prefer series or stand alones?
In general I like both and don't really have a preference. But, with some authors I know I prefer the series over any stand-alones. This is especially true for Michael Connelly. I love all his books, but I'm always a bit disappointed when Harry Bosch doesn't feature in the book I happen to be reading.


Pages: 325
Date: 05/06/2009
Grade: 5
Details: no. 1 The Bride Quartet

I don't know how Nora Roberts does it. How is it possible that even though she basically keeps on re-writing the same stories with characters whose traits are by now familiar and recognizable, she manages to keep on producing fresh and interesting reads?
As a rule, I don't like my books predictable, and Roberts' books are, but I continue to be drawn to them and almost always find it next to impossible to put them down until I've read the very last word.
In part, it must be down to the fact that she writes about characters who are truly human, people I would like to meet and know. Roberts is also a genius when it comes to writing dialogue; it flows, feels natural and I can almost hear it while I'm reading. Yet, I know there is more to it. The reasons I love her books go so much deeper still. I just can't put my finger on exactly what those reasons are.
And maybe that is just as well. Maybe, the magic would disappear once I discover all those reasons, and I hope to never lose that magic.
This book tells the story of Mackensie Elliot, who runs a successful wedding-planning business with her three friends, where she is responsible for the photography. But even though her life revolves around weddings, Mackensie doesn't believe in love, marriage and happy-ever-after. Her past and present experiences with her own parents give her no reason to believe any of that.
However, when she meets Carter Maguire, it soon becomes clear that she may have to re-assess her believes. She has feelings she has never had before, and needs to deal with them.
While her mother continues to upset her life, Mackensie has to learn to trust herself, her feelings and the man she has come to love.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Pages: 324
Date: 04/06/2009
Grade: 3.5

This is one of those stories which sounds to be a great and inspired idea when you read the blurb, and then fails to deliver on its promise. Not that it fell flat on its face or was a terrible book, but I can't help feeling that it could have been so much more.
The story is set in 1889. The twelve greatest detectives in the world have been in a sort of club for years, but now, for the first time, all of them are to meet in Paris at the World's Fair.
However, Renato Craig, the Argentinian detective can't go himself and sends Sigmundo Salvatrio, his would be assistant and narrator of the story.
Salvatrio arrives in Paris carrying to things belonging to Craig; a cane which is much more than it seems and a terrible secret.
Soon after the detective's gathering starts, one of them is murdered and a big investigation is set in motion, lead by Arzaky, who takes Salvatrio under his wing.
Of course it is the latter who manages to solve the riddle, more or less dissolving the group of twelve in the process.
The setting is interesting, the idea fascinating, but for me the story was uninspired and far from thrilling.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Pages: 432
Date: 01/06/2009
Grade: 4.5
Details: Stand-alone

Of course this is a thriller, it wouldn't be a Harlan Coben book if it wasn't, but in the end it is really a book about parents and their kids. About how we worry about their safety and the lengths we're prepared to go to in order to keep an eye on them and keep them safe.
Adam is sixteen years old and his parents are worried about him, especially after a close friends of his commits suicide. So, they install spy ware on his computer and soon they find they have reason to worry. Then Adam disappears and a desperate race is on to find and safe him.
But that's only the basis of this thriller. There are several sub plots that appear to be either loosely or not at all connected to the Adam storyline. Except that in the end, it all ties in with each other.
The book scored a 4.5 rather than a 5 because of the amount of story lines. In the end it was a bit too much for me to have so many different people and events all linked up. It did lead to me having a hard time keeping people apart and it gave the book a longish and rather slow build up before the action really kicked off. Once it did though, this was a good page turner.