Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

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Read 14/05/2017-17/05/2017

Rating: 2 stars

I’ve read both of Jonas Jonasson’s previous books. I really enjoyed The Hundred Year Old Man. I thought it was an inventive piece of fiction that had some nice moments of comedy and an affectionate warmth running through it. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden was less successful in its attempts to be inventive, but I found it entertaining enough. While it shared its satirical bent, I thought it lacked the warmth of The Hundred Year Old Man.

Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All didn’t completely do it for me, either. Continue reading

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The Lost Boy

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Read 04/06/2016-09/06/2016

Rating: 3.5 stars

At first, I felt as though I should have read the previous six books in the series. Läckberg had the tricky task of acknowledging that her seventh in the Patrik Hedström/Erica Falck series of crime novels might be the first of her books that a reader encounters, while not going over old ground too much for existing fans. For the most part she succeeded but there were moments when I was aware that there were events in previous books that I wasn’t getting full disclosure on, and it felt slightly frustrating. Continue reading

The Shadow Girls

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Read 25/05/2016-28/05/2016

Rating: 5 stars

Henning Mankell’s Wallander series is one of my favourite discoveries of recent years. We stumbled upon the Swedish film adaptations late one night (the ones starring Krister Henriksson, not Rolf Lassgård) and I sought out the books. It was love at first read. I love crime and detective fiction anyway, but this was different to what I was familiar with. Wallander was more human, more vulnerable, more honestly ridiculous than most other middle aged, emotionally dysfunctional male detectives that populate the genre. He was those things as well, but he reflected on his inadequacies and used his job as a distraction and a proof that he wasn’t all bad. He also reflected on the nature of the crimes he investigated, not willing to pass them off as the inevitable actions of bad people, but recognising changes in society as an underlying cause. Wallander isn’t a hard boiled cop, he’s a cop with a conscience. The life Mankell built for him outside work was as richly described as his professional one, making him more real. I cared about him. For anyone who hasn’t read the series, I won’t give away the ending, but I will admit that I cried.

I’ve read other books by Mankell, too. I loved Italian Shoes and The Return of the Dancing Master. The Man from Beijing wasn’t my favourite, but it was readable. Mankell also had a passion for Africa and spent a lot of time there, developing a theatre company in Mozambique. He was politically active and supported social justice. He wrote a few novels based on his experiences in Africa, and when I went to change my books at the library recently, I decided to give one a try. I picked up The Shadow Girls, which is about refugees and immigration. Continue reading

438 Days (438 Dagar)

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Read 14/06/2015-17/06/2015

Rating: 5 stars

My friend Anna, who is Swedish, was reading this book and posted about how good it was on Instagram. She was reading it in Swedish, of course, so I was glad to learn it had been published in English.

438 Days (438 Dagar in Swedish) relates the experience of journalist Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson as wrongly convicted prisoners in an Ethiopian gaol. Continue reading