SVEISTRUP’S DEBUT WILL SEND YOU NUTS FOR THE NEXT INSTALMENT

Standard

The Chestnut Man JacketIt’s almost a week since some of us roasted chestnuts on an open fire and possibly a good while since Jack Frost nipped at our nose (it was a very mild Christmas Day here on the East Coast of Ireland). In life as well as in literature criminals or especially serial killers get fancy monikers, while plain old Jack Frost and the like are the heroes, as in ITV’s detective drama starring the very wonderful David Jason. Although The Chestnut Man is a new one on me in the evil villainous names department. He’s the mysterious killer in this months second and last review and blog tour of 2018.  It’s The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup and published by Michael Joseph, part of Penguin  (www.penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/michael-joseph.html) on the 10th January.

One Tuesday in October, the Danish Social Affairs Minister Rosa Hartung returns to her job after a leave of absence, following the abduction of her daughter who was never found, despite a suspect being arrested and convicted but unwilling to disclose the child’s fate. On the same day, police in Copenhagen discover the body of a young woman in a playground, one hand has been severed and a chestnut figure is found near the body. Young Detective Naia Thulin and her partner Mark Hess a detective recently dismissed from Europol, are assigned to the case. Soon they find evidence connecting the chestnut man to the Rosa Hartung’s disappeared daughter. Shortly afterwards when another woman’s body is discovered, this time with both hands severed and another chestnut figure nearby, the two detectives realize they are racing against the clock to catch a serial killer before the city becomes totally paralysed by fear and he completes his twisted agenda…

I have a confession. I missed the furore surrounding ‘The Killing’, the Bafta and Emmy award winning series created by Dane, Søren Sviestrup. The thriller captured the imagination and shredded the nerves of fans worldwide. It also started a trend for Faroe Isle knitwear- I’m not so sorry I missed that.  It wasn’t the subtitles which deterred me, I have enjoyed many of the ‘Walter Presents’ international offerings on Channel 4 but I hate missing the beginning of a story and unless I watch BBC4 shows when they are aired I cannot catch up with them or watch them ‘on demand’ with Sky here in Ireland.

My friends will tell you that I’m the same with a series of books featuring the same characters, I have to start at the start and stay in order. In that way I was delighted to be in at the beginning of the Thulin and Hess story reading The Chestnut Man, Sviestrup’s debut novel. I predict (and hope) for many more cases to come.

Soren Sviestrup

Søren Sveistrup

 

I love a good murder mystery. Weaned on Agatha Christie, I moved onto Ruth Rendell and PD James at an early age and still return to those old favourites when the urge arises. I loved their ingenuity, the twists, turns and red herrings. I prefer to not know the identity of the killer at the start but to be led through a maze of clues, misdirection and revelations to a satisfying conclusion. This book ticked all  my boxes. Two flawed and realistic detectives, newly paired. A ‘cold case’, a serial killer with a disturbing signature and a tension filled climax.

This is a meaty book at 500 pages but I couldn’t wait to pick it up each day. This was my equivalent of a binge watch. I could easily see it being made into a television series. Some the writing is very much a screenplay. You can almost hear the movements of the actors being directed. There are no long descriptive passages regarding scenery or inner thoughts, unless they are pertinent to the narrative. This is very much plot driven. Saying that I enjoyed the characters.

The book introduces us to a typical sleuthing pairing in Naia Thulin, a detective in the murder squad, looking to advance her career and Hess sent back to the police department after some infraction at Europol . Hess is at first disinterested in the new case, just biding his time until he can return to his real life. but he soon is drawn headlong in. As for the minister Rosa Hartung and her husband, their presence suggests there is political machinations at play. The book is populated with a plethora of smaller characters who all have a role to play, even if its only to help us learn a little more about the main characters and maybe send us off tack.

This is Danish scriptwriter Søren Sviestrop’s first book, but he is best known for his highly acclaimed TV crime drama The Killing, which won various international awards and sold in more than a hundred countries. More recently, Sveistrup wrote the screenplay for Jo Nesbø’s The Snowman. He obtained a master’s in literature and in History from the University of Copenhagen and studied at the Danish Film School. He has also won countless prizes, including an Emmy for Nikolaj and Julie and a BAFTA for The Killing

Like the Killing, In The Chestnut Man there is a mix of police work and politics. There is aFaroe Isle sweater dig at bureaucracy and paper pushing in relation to those who fall through the cracks and left without support. The violence is graphic. The tension builds. I’ve always been particularly terrified by those movies and dramas where the victim enters their home and the bad guy is already there hiding so this book gave me a couple of anxious moments, but for a thriller that can only be a plus!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and so will you. I suggest you  pre-order a copy at your local bookshop or download one post haste. Meanwhile I await a sequel with anticipation and the odd glance over my shoulder into the darkening house, while nibbling  on a roasted chestnut…

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

This review  is part of a Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought see their sites below and visit them. If you agree or disagree with their reviews after reading the book, let us know.

The Chestnut Man Blog Tour Banner Final

________________________________________________________

From all of us at The Library Door, I’d like to say thank you for visiting the site over the past year and following us both here and on twitter (@apaulmurphy) and wish you all a very happy New Year.

Adrian Murphy

FEARS FOR MY FUTURE HEALTH LEAVE ME MISSING OUT HEALEY’S DEBUT

Standard

ezbth-missng-cvrIn 2015 The world Alzheimer’s report stated there are currently 46 million people worldwide suffering from some sort of dementia related illness and that figure will double each year going forward. Like cancer or any other large global illness, we all know someone with dementia and to be honest with those figures, it’s a scary thought that anyone of us reading this piece could fall victim to it. That brings me onto this month’s second book, its Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey, published by Penguin in 2015 (www.penguin.co.uk).

Maud forgets things, the cup of tea she made earlier, what she went to the shops for. Even where she lives and her own family, are at times, strangers too her. But one thing Maud does know is that her friend Elizabeth is missing. How? Because there’s a note in her pocket. No matter who she tells, even the police – no one believes her and they just tell her to forget it. Whatever else she may mentally let go of, Elizabeth’s disappearance isn’t one of them. Maud is in her eighties. So, she isn’t just pushing against everyone else in her search for the truth about her friend’s whereabouts, she’s also trying overcome the cloying effects of her illness. On top of that, there’s the mystery surrounding what happened to her sister 60 years ago, can Maud work out the clues in her rolling ship of a memory? Is Elizabeth even missing? Did her sister ever return?

I read a lot of books, as you can gather and if you’ve read most of these reviews you’ll be aware that I have a fifty-page rule. If the book doesn’t get me by fifty pages then I put it down, as life’s too short to read bad books. This book, I had to put down not before fifty pages but at one hundred and eighty-six!!!! Why? Because the writing and storytelling was so compelling, I got upset. Maybe I was at a low time in the year, this was strange because when I picked it up and started reading it, I was on a week’s holiday in the Algarve with my new wife, enjoying blue skies and temperatures of 30 degrees in late September. But for some reason I got all worked up about dementia and started to wonder what would happen if I got dementia and how I would cope with it? Silly isn’t it?

I’ve read other books that have upset me in the past and as I said then, I’ll say now. It’s not a sign of failure, but of success on the authors part and here Emma Healy has

images

Miss Marple – aka Joan Hickson

succeeded in getting the reader into the shoes, or more appropriately, the disheveled mind of Maud. If Agatha Christie had given Miss Marple Alzheimer’s, herself and Maud would be almost alike.

In those one hundred and eighty-six pages that I read and from what I ascertained from friends and acquaintances who have read the full two hundred seventy-five. Healey keeps you on the edge of your seat and at times your heart in your mouth, with worry and concern for our heroine as she goes about trying to solve the two mysteries.

This is British writer Emma Healey’s (www.emmahealey.co.uk)  first novel and was inspired by her grandmother. She grew up in London and studied art in college. In a recent interview in The Times, she admitted that at sixteen she contemplated suicide, but that art saved her. After working in libraries, universities and bookshops around the UK she eventually settled in Norwich in 2010, to complete her MA in Creative Writing and never left.  Elizabeth Is Missing won the Costa First Novel Award in 2014 and was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize in 2015, there is currently no news on her next book.

The only bad mark against this book is that there is a lot of jumping back and forth between present day and post world war II Britain as Maud tries retrace the final movements of her sister and recount run-ins with her shifty brother-in-law. Mixed with the constant disruption caused by her faltering and decimated memory it can get a bit confusing. Maybe it’s planned that way? As well as that, there is a rather dark comedic element to Maud’s predicament which at times serves to lighten the mood of the book.

emma-healey

Emma Healey

I never apologise for wearing my heart on my sleeve and letting my emotions get the better of me. I’m not alone in letting thoughts of our own mortality rise to the surface, but to quote James Shirley in Death The Leveller “There is no amour against fate…”. We must just get on and enjoy life as best we can.

What I read of it, this was a lovely book and as other reviewers such as Debra Moggach and Emma Donoghue have claimed, it is a haunting and unsettling read that will stir and shake you. So, if you can lock your fears of mortality and the future in a metaphorical steel casket for a while, then go out and buy or download a copy of this book.

*********

From myself and the other contributors to the Library Door, we’d like to take this opportunity to again thank you for visiting the site over the past year and hope you’ve enjoyed reading the reviews as much as we have writing them. Thank you to the publishers who keep my postman busy – especially Karen in Orenda books who continually surprises us with regular parcels. If you are an author or publisher and you’d like to send us copies of your latest releases you can contact me  on twitter @apaulmurphy  or by email at apaulmurphy@gmail.com . We hope you had a great Christmas and wish you a very happy New Year.

Adrian Murphy

A LAUGH OUT LOUD HIT FOR SIMSION, BUT IT HAS NOTHING DOWN UNDER.

Standard

Rosie prjct CvrRemember how when we were growing up we were always told never to make fun of people who were less well off than ourselves, had a stigma, disability or were over-weight. This never seemed to apply on TV Sitcoms and the like, such as the Carry On movies or more recently Little Britain, which went all out to send up those with disabilities or  weight issues. Then there’s the current US hit comedy the Big Bang Theory which makes fun of highly intelligent people who are on “The Spectrum”.

The term “The Spectrum” refers to the Autism Spectrum or Autistic Spectrum; which is used to diagnose a range of five conditions classed as Nuerodevelopmental Disorders, one of which includes Asperger Syndrome. People with Apergers often display high levels of intelligence, very bad social skills, nonverbal communication and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour and interests. Hence Savants and academics at the top of their fields are often said to be “On the Spectrum”. The 1988 Film Rainman highlighted this side of autism, although it wasn’t meant to be funny, it was amusing. If the Australians’ had made a similar movie it might have been something like this month’s book, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

Published in 2013 by Penguin Books, the book tells the story of Don Tillman a highly intelligent genetics professor in Melbourne. Don’s hit a bit of a mid life crisis, he’s single, has tried all the usual routes, online dating, blind dates, personal ads,  chatting people up in bars – which is difficult for Don, given his limited social skills – all to no avail and with disastrous results(see the Apricot ice cream fiasco). So Don decides to take a more scientific approach to dating. He draws up a questionnaire “The Wife Project”, which again leads to hilarious results.  Gene his promiscuous boss, whose own life project is to shag a female from every nation on the planet and one of only two of Don’s close friends he has (the other being Claudia, Gene’s long suffering wife) then sends a mature student called Rosie  to him, resulting in a misunderstanding when Don believes Gene has put her forward for “The project”. He is roped into helping Rosie find her real dad, despite writing her off as totally unsuitable as a mate, but something begins to evolve through their close scrapes and weird escapades, including Rosie’s modicum of success in de-stigmatizing Don and making him slightly more socially adept, Don starts to realise she is the most beautiful woman he has ever met. But will his rather glaring and outlandish foibles get in the way of true love?

Hold on to your hats and don’t blink. Why? Because this is the funniest book I’ve read this year and if not, then it must share the mantle with The Collected Works of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (See previous review). But where that was a heart tugging, sentimental tale of star crossed lovers with the innocent humour of a small child thrown in for good luck, The Rosie Project is a straight out of the blocks, side splitting laughter fest. From the first page to the three hundred and twenty seventh, Professor Don Tillman will have you eating out of his hand and almost cracking a rib with the laughter. I’ve often said the that you know you’re reading a great funny book when your giggling and failed attempts to control hysterics in public cause other commuters on a train to give you funny looks, this book left me in this situation on a number of occasions.

Whether it’s the descriptions of the previous dating experiences,Big bang theory his idiosyncrasies such as having his meals, alcohol consumption and every hour of his day planned, judging everyone he meets by their BMI,  his and Rosie’s first date when Don gets embroiled in a fight over a jacket and single handedly immobilizes two bouncers, or that he memorises the recipe for almost every cocktail ever made in 48 hours so that he and Rosie can pass themselves off as waiters to collect DNA for “The Father Project”, you will never again meet a person like Don Tillman and the weird and wonderful characters in his life.

Rosie is no wilting wall flower, while the creators of The Big Bang Theory have tried to saddle the male cast with equally straight laced high achievers; Rosie is no regular girl next door. She works in a gay bar and dresses like a biker, while studying psychology. At first you’d think these two are chalk and cheese, but then you realise they are just right, who else is going to be able re-wire the oddly wired Professor Tillman, but a savvy street-wise ‘Sheila’.

As for the other characters, Gene is straight out of the British sitcoms of the seventies, bed hopping his way through the UN, while marking his conquest with a flag on a map in his office. It reminded me of Adrian Mole and how he measured the development of his manhood and kept track of it on a chart in his bedroom supposedly tracing rainfall in the Norwegian forests. There’s the Dean who realises Don is special, but while trying to accommodate him has to keep the University running smoothly round Don – which isn’t easy.

Graeme Simison

This is Australian author Graeme Simsion’s first work of fiction, in another life he was an IT consultant who wrote a book in 1994 on Data Modelling, which is now in its fourth edition. As I started reading this book his second work of fiction The Rosie Effect, was in the bookshops.

The book its self  started life as a screen play and as Graeme says himself at the back of the book, it only  became a novel first because “..It’s cheaper to get a book published then raise money for a film”.

Here in lies one of its only flaws, it’s not Australian, nowhere in the book do you get any feeling that it’s Australian, the speech Not Australian imageand dialect doesn’t come out in any of the characters. Yes the characters mention Australian places and street names, but like any script it’s just words on a page until an actor brings a character to the part. This is the second Australian book I’ve read in the past year and a half after Murray Bail’s “Eucalyptus”, which oozed Aussie charm and character from every pore and you could literally taste the hot dry barren outback. As a result this comes across like a RomCom film script, something ideally suited to Hugh Grant, Ricky Gervais or Steve Carrell, but a damn good one at that.

This was a sentiment echoed by the book group at our last Rosie effct Cvrmeeting when we gathered to discuss it, overall they loved the book, a few of us got through the book so quickly we actually went straight on to the sequel “The Rosie Effect”, but like most sequels, it tires quickly and only just manages to keep you to the very end with its modicum of new material. Whereas The Rosie Project is a great piece of original work, the sequel feels very much like a rehash of most American sitcoms, as the story moves to the States.

So, with the Christmas season fast approaching and if you find yourself looking for away to quietly digest the third day of turkey salad sambo’s or pass the time on a long journey home, pop into the nearest bookshop and snap up a copy or download it  and laugh all the way to the New Year.