Saturday, April 30, 2011


Pages: 393
Date: 30/04/2011
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 1 Patrik Hedstrom & Erica Falck

Erica Falck, a writer, has returned to her hometown after her parent's death to deal with the parental home when she finds the body of her one time best friend. Alex, the friend, is found frozen in a bath with her wrists slashed. But, what at first appears to be a suicide soon turns into a murder investigation.
Despite her grieve over her parent's death and other family issues, Erica can't help being fascinated with the murder of her childhood friend and decides to look into to it. An investigation which brings back memories of how the friendship suddenly and inexplicably ended when the two girls were about nine.
The police investigation is mainly conducted by Patrik Hedstrom, also a long time friend of Erica's and one who has always had a soft spot for Erica.
When Patrik and Erica start working together, they soon discover that the little town they grew up in and thought they knew inside-out holds several shocking and potentially lethal secrets. Secrets which have their roots about 25 years in the past but still have the power to rule and end lives in the present.
This was a very interesting if dark mystery, but I did found the story a bit slow. That may well be because this is the first book in a series featuring Patrik Hedstrom and Erica Falck which means that the characters and their backgrounds had to be established. For me though this meant that at times too much time was taken away from the investigation and focused on other areas, which slowed the reading down I felt.
There were also occasions when I felt that the story just didn't flow as smoothly as it might have. This could be because this is a translation from Swedish, or because the book could have done with more editing, I'm not sure, but it also added to the slowing down of the reading experience.
There were also several parts of the mystery I had solved well before the main characters.
Having said all of that though, the mystery and characters in this book grabbed me enough for me to want to read at least the second book in the series. I'm hoping to find that my issues with this book were due to teething problems and other first in series niggles, and that Lackberg's mysteries will get ever better from here on.
To be continued.....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Pages: 176
Date: 24/04/2011
Grade: 4
Details: no. 1 Peter van Opperdoes & Jacob mystery
            Title translates into: A Russian in the Jordaan.

This is the first book in a series which was started in 2009. For A.C. Baantjer this meant a departure from De Cock (DeKok in the English translations). But, in many aspects this new book is very similar to the previous series. Again we have an older Detective working with a much younger colleague.
Peter van Overdoes transfers from the police station in the Warmoestraat to the Raampoort station after the death of his much beloved wife and hoping to get away from prostitution and everything associated with it.
In his new station he is partnered with Jacob. While Jacob is a great believer in the modern methods of detecting, Van Overdoes values the old fashioned ways. And there are more reasons why Jacob might be having questions about his new partner's efficiency.
Van Overdoes has only arrived at his new desk when he is visited by a young, very beautiful and exclusive prostitute (so much for getting away from that side of policing) who reports that one of her clients  showed up carrying an antique gun which was stolen from her father years ago. The girl doesn't know or refuses to share the name of the client, and is found murdered only a short while later.
The two detectives soon find themselves caught up in a case that has far more angles then they could ever have guessed and dealing with very dark forces in the underbelly of Amsterdam. They also find they have a guardian angel looking out for them.
This was a nice book. The solution wasn't a big mystery given the title of the book and the story line, but the way the two men got to the answers and learned to work together at the same time was fun. 

I subsequently learned that the two characters in this book are losely based on the two authors who were both policemen in Amsterdam. That does add a nice touch to the novel.
Even though this is of course a police procedural, it reads more like a cozy mystery; charming and enjoyable.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Pages: 358
Date: 22/04/2011
Grade: 5

On the front cover of my copy of this book there is a quote from Jeffrey Deaver stating: "Truly Marvelous! As compelling as it is stylish, Sister exists in that rare place where crime fiction and literature coincide."
I'm not quite sure what I could possibly add to that statement.
This is a story told by Beatrice who hurries home to London from New York when she hears that her younger sister Tess is missing.
Back home in London she soon discovers that no matter how close she and her sister were there is still a lot she didn't know about her sister's life.
When Tess' body is found, dead, the police and everybody else seem willing to accept that Tess committed suicide. Beatrice however can't and won't accept that verdict and is determined to find out exactly what happened to her sister and why. In the process she not only has to dissect her sister's life, but also face the fact that although her own life seemed save and just what she wanted, it lacked a lot. And all the time, while she is getting closer to the truth of what actually happened to her sister, she is putting herself in danger.
This was a wonderful thriller, with a plot realistic enough to make the story both believable and totally captivating. I found myself almost incapable of putting the book down and read it from start to finish in little over one day. It is also a very well written novel, with wonderful insight into the character's motivations. Often in thrillers I find myself wondering if I, or anybody else would actually act in a certain way. In this book though, every action of the characters seemed perfectly natural to me, and all the while the tension was mounting.
If you haven't read this book yet, and you like thrillers and mysteries, please do yourself a favour and get your hands on a copy. You won't regret it, I promise.

I want to end this entry with one quote from the book that really struck home with me:
p. 61: "Time didn't mean anything to me anymore. Usually time alters and affects everything, but when someone you love dies time cannot change that, no amount of time will ever change that, so time stops having any meaning."


TITLE: THE DINNER by Herman Koch
Pages: 300
Date: 19/04/2011
Grade: 5-
Details: Dutch novel

The blurb:

A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness - the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened... 

Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified - by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

My thoughts:

This is a very clever book. It is the stories of two couples, meeting for dinner in an exclusive restaurant. The couples, two brothers and their wives, are there to discuss something their sons have done and how to deal with it. It all starts of fairly easy going and relaxed. Paul, who tells the story, has some issues where his brother, a politician who may well end up as the next prime minister of Holland, is concerned, but nothing beyond the normal sort of sibling irritations. Or so it seems.

Soon it becomes clear that Paul may not be the reasonable man he appears to be, and his brother Serge not the fool Paul describes him as. The big question of the evening is how the parents are going to deal with the horrendous thing their two teenage sons have done. How far are they prepared to go to protect their sons, what price are they willing to pay to achieve what is best for the boys? And what will happen if the two sets of parents have different ideas as to what might be best?

This book is clever because it starts off as a straight forward novel. But, as the reader gets deeper into the story it becomes clear that this is anything but an innocent story. Before long it is no longer a mainstream piece of fiction we’re dealing with, somehow the story has turned itself into a thriller. A thriller that continues to get darker and darker as the story progresses. A thriller that doesn’t reveal the depth of its darkness until the very last word on the very last page.

This is a story that will leave the reader wondering how far he or she might be willing to go to protect a child of theirs. Would you always pick the side of your child or are there things that are just too bad? It also makes you wonder how well you actually know people. How much you can trust those closest to you?

There are one or two things in this book that didn’t make complete sense. I won’t reveal what they were since that would give away parts of the story that shouldn’t be revealed until a reader gets to them. Those were minor issues though and only resulted in me putting a minus sign behind the otherwise well deserved 5.

I’d love to read more by this author sooner rather than later, but since I don’t think his work has been translated into English and I won’t be in Holland anytime soon, I’m afraid that is one pleasure I will have to postpone.

Edit after reading Summer House With Swimming Pool: be careful what you wish for.

Ciara Geraghty in Bailieborough Library

On the afternoon of Saturday, April 16 Ciara Geraghty joined us in my library in Bailieborough for a reading from her latest book, Finding Mr. Flood, and to answer questions from the audience.
There was a good turn out of interested readers and the crowd proved to be both interested in Ciara, her book as well as the opportunity to ask questions.
Ciara started of with an essay she had written about her grandmother, known in her family as “the Big Woman”, a term, as she pointed out, you wouldn’t be able to use anymore in these days of political correctness.
The essay, parts of which can be read in the acknowledgments at the end of Finding Mr. Flood, was filled with fond memories and love. A special poignancy resulted from the fact that Ciara’s grandmother used to live in Bailieborough which made the memories recognizable for a lot of those in the audience.
After this essay we were treated to several fragments from the book interspersed with opportunities to ask questions.
She was asked about dogs, and whether she had one or more herself. This was a question I had been asking to ask myself. The way she describes dogs in Finding Mr. Flood and the love the main character in the book has for dogs made it impossible for me to imagine that she wouldn’t have at least one dog herself. But much to my surprise it turned out that she doesn’t. As she put it, now that she has left the baby stage behind her with her children, she doesn’t want to commit to something else that is going to be completely dependent on her and tie her hands. For me that was just more proof of how wonderful a writer she is and how well she can imagine feelings and emotions and share them with the reader.
Another thing I found fascinating was that she hadn’t always dreamt of being an author. She took creative writing classes because they gave her an opportunity to get out of the house and do something for herself for one night a week. Those classes started her on writing “Saving Grace” which led, after a few years, to a publishing deal, and, as they say, the rest is history.
More questions were asked and answered about the way she approaches the writing process, editing, getting published and reading (Ciara reads about four books a month and doesn’t feel the need to stop reading when she’s in the middle of writing a story).

After more of an hour it was time for Ciara to sign a few books, photographs and goodbyes.
I think I can honestly say everybody had a wonderful afternoon. Ciara turned out to be a charming person, as were the rest of her family who had accompanied her and are obviously very proud of her.
I had to smile when I saw Ciara leave with a bag from John-Ed, the butcher, containing some of the burgers she had so lovingly remembered in the acknowledgements in Finding Mr. Flood, and I hope she did get the chance to put them on a barbeque.


Photos courtesy of Tara Kennedy


Pages: 437
Date: 17/04/2011
Grade: 4+

The combination of having read and really enjoyed Finding Mr. Flood by this author and Ciara Geraghty’s visit to Bailieborough library last Saturday meant that I couldn’t resist buying her first book and reading it immediately.
I’m really happy that I can say that this book didn’t disappoint me. Maybe I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Finding Mr. Flood, but the difference wasn’t big. Saving Grace brings the reader another interesting and fun story. A story that deals with real issues but manages to refrain from becoming either depressing or supervisual.

This is the story of Grace. A year ago, while on holiday in Spain a tragedy occurred. A tragedy which cost Grace’s beloved brother Patrick his life. A tragedy for which Grace blames herself.
Now Grace is in a long term, if long-distance, relationship with Shane but finds herself waking up in a strange bed next to Bernhard, the new computer geek in the insurance company where she works. From that morning on, Grace’s life start changing although it’s not clear to Grace whether those changes are improving things or making everything worse. All she knows that the few things she thought she knew for sure, her love for Shane, her guilt with regard to her brother’s dead and her loyalty towards her best friend Caroline are certainly not so sure anymore. Grace will need to face reality as well as herself and her feelings if she wants to sort her life out and have a chance at happiness.

When we think of coming-of-age stories we think of books centering on teenagers. This book made me wonder if a coming of age story isn’t any story in which a character faces their demons, deals with them and comes out on the other side improved and wider. Even if Grace is in her late twenties, this for me definitely was a coming of age story in which Grace had to grow up, face life and grab her opportunities with both hands. That Geraghty managed to put all these ingredients into a story and still managed to give me several laugh out loud moments as well as lots of time with a smile on my face only proves that she is a good writer.  And that of course means that it will only be a matter of time before I go out and get myself the one book by her that I haven’t read yet, Becoming Scarlett.

Finally, two quotes from the book that struck home with me:

p. 7: “Insurance seems to be an industry that people sort of fall into without ever meaning to. Ask any of them.”

p. 42: “…the silence being occasionally broken by the crisp crunch of a choc-ice being demolished – chocolate first, followed by licking – never biting – of ice cream.”


Pages: 395
Date: 16/04/2011
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 10 Women’s Murder Club

Occasionally I find myself wondering why I’m still reading a certain series of books, and this is one such occasion.
Not that there is a whole lot wrong with this story. It is still typical Patterson fare; short chapters, quick action and not too many details. It is still a very easy and quick read.
On the other hand, there wasn’t anything to excite me in this book either.
The story revolves around three separate cases.
Detective Lindsay Boxer, who has just gotten married, is trying to solve a case of a missing baby boy. The baby’s mother, a 15 year old girl is found, seriously bleeding, shortly after giving birth and can’t really account for what happened to her or her baby. Lindsay is desperate to discover what is going on here. Is she dealing with a crime ring or maybe baby smuggling? Is the baby dead, slowly dying somewhere or already disappeared without a trace?
At the same time, Yuki Castellano is prosecuting a heart surgeon, accused of having killed her husband. This case is very important to Yuki and her career and she’s convinced the accused is guilty and the right verdict depends solely on how well she conducts the case.
When Lindsay starts digging into the, officially closed, case though, it appears things might not be so straight forward. Lindsay’s digging could not only upset Yuki’s case but could also mean the end of a beautiful friendship.
Cindy is at a lose end, not having a good and exciting crime story to report on. And since she feels that her job might be under threat unless she can deliver the goods, she is very relieved when she comes across women who are found unconscious, without a memory of the past few hours who have obviously been sexually abused. Cindy dives into the story head first, not for a minute thinking about the risks she might be taken.
Described like this, all these story threads sound like potentially thrilling and exciting plots. Unfortunately, that is not how it felt to me while I was reading the book. I never got a sense of urgency, never felt the thrill that should come with a book like this while reading. It all fell a bit flat for me.
No, it wasn’t a bad book, a bad story or bad writing. It just wasn’t all that good either.
Having said that, I just know that when the next book in this series hits the library shelves I will be taking it out again, in the hope that this time it will be back to the quality of the early books in the series

Friday, April 8, 2011


Pages: 546
Date: 08/04/2011
Grade: 4.5

Sometimes you read a book and the characters in it become your friends. You get to know them as you read their story, and you grow fonder of them with ever page you turn. So fond in fact, that you dread having to say goodbye when their story finishes. You don't want them to go away and long to keep them near. You want to still be with them after the issue(s) they have been dealing with in the story have been resolved, just to make sure that they will be as safe and happy as the ending of the book seems to promise.
Finding Mr. Flood is one of those books for me.

The book introduces Dara Flood to the reader. A young woman with a rather uneventful life. In fact, the most exciting thing that ever happened to her took place 13 days before she was born when her father, Mr. Flood, walked up the road to buy cigarettes and never came back.
Since then she has happily lived her life in the shadow of her beautiful, unstoppable and charming older sister, Angel. Dara's life is predictable and safe, and that is exactly the way she likes it.
When Angel gets sick though and it proves very hard to find the donor kidney she needs, everything changes. Angel, who has always been optimistic about her situation sinks into a depression, and Dara decides that she needs to find their father to find out if he could help the daughter he abandoned.
To help her she hires Stanley Flinter, a private detective who had hoped to become a policeman and is struggling with the aftermath of a relationship that went wrong in the most horrible way possible.
Mr. Flood however had good reasons to disappear, and proves elusive.
The quest forces Dara to start living life rather then endure it, to take chances rather then play it save and to embrace opportunities as they come along.
There were so many reasons to love this book that it is hard to know where to start.
Ciara Geraghty has given us characters who are both real and quirky and placed them in a situation that is seriously worrying and yet leaves lots of room for smiles and laugh out loud moments. She has produced a story that is realistic without being predictable. And she has given me good and compelling reasons to go and find her earlier books and read them.
I've read other reviews of Geraghty's work in which she was compared to Marian Keyes. Although I can see why those reviewers would say that, I don't entirely agree. Keyes has never been able to make me care about her characters as much as I did about Dara and the others (both human and canine) in this book. In that respect I'd be more inclined to compare her to Maeve Binchy whose characters usually turn into personal friends for me as well.
Of course there was the added bonus of having parts of the book set in Bailieborough, the town where I work as a librarian. In fact, the library is next door to the shop of John-Ed, the butcher whose burgers are mentioned in the acknowledgments. And best of all, next week (Saturday April 16), Ciara Geraghty will be visiting that library in Bailieborough for a reading from this book. I can't wait to meet her and congratulate her on this wonderful work of fiction.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Pages: 327
Date: 02/04/2011
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 4 David Hunter

I really do enjoy these David Hunter mysteries. The main reason for being that these books are about so much more than "only" the murders and "just" the solving of the mystery. This series is as much about David Hunter's life, his strenghts and his weaknesses as it is about his job as a forensics expert.
This story starts eight years ago when Hunter is called out to Dartmoor to assist in a search for bodies on the Moors. One body has been recovered and Monk, the man convicted for this and three other murders is being brought to the Moors to help with locating the other bodies.
But the investigation is a mess and comes to an abrupt end when Monk tries to escape. The other victim's bodies aren't found and Hunter goes back to London, feeling that he has missed some important clue but not sure what it is. A subsequent personal drama puts the case out of his mind.
Now Monk has escaped from prison and Hunter once again finds himself on the Moors. It seems that Monk is out to get those who were involved in the search eight years earlier. Hunter is staying with a woman who was also involved in the earlier case and who now appears in danger, but is once again haunted by the idea that there are things he is missing. When the final confrontations take place Hunter and everybody else are in for some big shocks and not everybody will come out of it unharmed or even alive.
This mystery was good, the story well plotted and written and the book a pleasure to read. I hope Simon Beckett will keep these mysteries coming.