Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guest Blogger!! Christmas & Crime

I am proud to present my first guest blogger ever: Dorte of DJ's Krimiblog. Dorte is a fellow Dane, blogging mostly about mysteries and thrillers, and for this guest blogger post, she has chosen to combine Christmas and Crime. Thanks a lot Dorte, I love your post and I hope you will guest blog here again some other time.

Christmas and Crime.

Thank you very much, Louise, for inviting me to write a guest post for you. It is my first guest post ever! And thank you for waiting patiently until I had time to write it.

A comfortable armchair, a nice fire and a scary crime novel – is there a better way to spend the Christmas holidays? Of course you can read any old crime story, but why not pick at least one or two which are actually related to Christmas? Here is a colourful bouquet from my own shelves, all picked and presented just for your!

Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot´s Christmas (1938).

It is Christmas time and families are supposed to get together and enjoy the holidays. Old Simon Lee, the millionaire, gathers the family around him, even the prodigal son and the unknown granddaughter from Spain. His children are a bit skeptical as to his real motives until he lets it slip that he is making arrangements with his lawyer to change his will. The scene is set for traditional British crime, and of course the holidays do not pass without jealousy, suspicion – and a gory murder!

But the local Superintendent Sugden and the eminent Sherlock Holmes are at hand, so don´t worry! Peace and order will soon be restored.

Martha Grimes, Jerusalem Inn (1984)

As usual, this American writer has set her crime novel around an old British pub in the countryside. Inspector Richard Jury happens to meet the attractive but mysterious Helen Minton in a church yard. She tells him about her interesting place of work, Washington Old Hall. The following day Jury goes to see the place (or the lady?) only to discover that Helen Minton has just been murdered.

At the same time, some of Jury´s friends, including the nobleman Melrose Plant, are staying at Spinney Abbey, near the pub Jerusalem Inn where snooker tournament is going on. Another murder takes place in Spinneyton, and as the two crimes are related, Richard Jury is involved in both cases. Melrose Plant is very eager to lend him a hand – to escape the boredom of the affluent bachelor gentleman for a while. As connoisseurs of traditional, British crime may have guessed, Martha Grimes´ series has much in common with Dorothy L. Sayers´ Lord Peter Wimsey series and Elizabeth George´s Inspector Lynley series.

R.D. Wingfield, Frost at Christmas (1984)

Perhaps you know the British TV series about Detective Inspector Jack Frost but did not know the series was based on six crime novels published in the period 1984-2008? In my opinion the books are better (and more distinct) than the television episodes.

An eight-year-old girl does not return home from Sunday school, and our untidy DI Frost is put on the case together with the new man, DC Clive Barnard. Little Tracey is the daughter of a prostitute so of course Frost takes a closer look at her mother´s various acquaintances, as well as anything else he stumbles upon, and soon he is landed with a thirty-year-old corpse, plus a very fresh one. As usual, Frost leaves a trail of digression, disorder and broken rules behind him, but his instincts are sound and his heart is in the right place.

Kerry Greenwood, Murder in the Dark (2006)

This cozy mystery takes place in Australia in the roaring twenties. So if you want to get away from the cold and dark European winter, you can move back in time and enjoy a very different climate and culture in this Phryne Fisher mystery. Here Christmas is celebrated for several days on the decadent drink, drug and dance scene of affluent Australia. A spoilt little boy is kidnapped, and the mysterious ´Joker´ threatens to kill the generous and popular host of the Christmas party. Phryne Fisher must take action – in between the many indispensable meals, games and concerts. She solves the crimes expertly, but more like an intellectual puzzle or game than through hard work.

A good mystery for readers who want light entertainment instead of graphic violence, but the sex scenes would probably make Miss Marple blush.

Arnaldur Indridason, Voices (2006)

The third novel in Indridason´s excellent Icelandic series takes place in the capital. Voices begins when Santa Claus, in the shape of a doorman of a Reykjavik hotel, is stabbed to death, or silenced, in his basement room.

Voices is also about a little boy with a brilliant voice which was once recorded on old 45 records, now collectors´ items. And finally, the title refers to Erlendur himself, the taciturn policeman who has such a frail and difficult relationship with his own children. Even though the case does not demand it, he leaves his flat and moves into the hotel, squirming and fidgeting to get away from Christmas and all the social obligations in connection with this season.

An excellent, modern murder mystery, but also the darkest of my handful of Christmas mysteries.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Mini Review: The Killing Hour by Lisa Gardner

The Killing Hour has its moments. It is a fast read, the main plot is good and it is always interesting to be hot on the heels of an evil serial killer. But the characters are not really coming to life, and the usual 'stubborn heroine with a troubled past' is used too often.

Kimberly, the main character and heroine of the story, is a young FBI-trainee, and she is by coincidence and stubborness thrown into the investigation of a killer who has been killing for years. Kimberly is a troubled young woman with many demons, which is not making her life easier. She does not have any real friends, and her relationship with her father is neutral at best. When the serial killer starts dumping bodies close to the FBI training grounds, Kimberly cannot stay out of the investigation any more, even though her superiors has asked her to keep her nose out of it. Her father is an FBI agent who now has his own agency, and he suddenly shows up to help. Kimberly herself is also having personal motives to catch this killer, and while the time is running out, the clues comes together and it ends with a little twist which was just a little bit surprising. Hard core thriller readers will guess the identity of the killer long time before the final revelation.

This review has previously been posted on

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Welcome to the world 300 years from now where everyone turn pretty when they reach 16 years. Before that they are Littlies and from around 12 years, they are Uglies. Uglies is also the title of the first book in Scott Westerfeld's trilogy about Tally Youngblood. When we first meet Tally, she is only a month from her 16th birthday, and she is feeling lonely in Uglyville, the part of the city where all the 12-15 year old teens live in dorms, go to school and pass time until they turn 16 so that they can have their operation and go from being Uglies into New Pretties.

Tally's best friend Peris, who is a month older than her, has already turned pretty, and Tally is bored and lonely. One night she sneaks into New Pretty Town, where all New Pretties are doing nothing but partying and enjoying themselves. After meeting Peris and feeling relieved that he still remembers her, she returns to Uglyville, but en route she meets another Ugly, Shay. Shay and Tally become friends, and it is Shay who tell Tally about The Smoke, a settlement where no one has had the operation, they have all stayed ugly. Shay is determined to stay Ugly, she wants to move to The Smoke and lead another life than just being a pretty party gal.

Tally is shocked and horrified that anyone would want to stay an Ugly, and she does not put much into Shay's speeches about The Smoke. In fact, Tally doubts that it even exists. When Shay does disappear before her 16th birthday and her operation, Tally decides not to follow her. Tally cannot wait to turn into a Pretty, and is picked up by the authorities on her birthday and taken to the hospital, where the operation is done. But something is not right, and very soon Tally is looking into a serious dilemma, leading her towards Shay and The Smoke and away from the operation she so much want.

Uglies was an interesting read with an interesting premise, but I was not swept completely away. I think the book took too long to get going, but when it got going, it was a great  read. I am looking forward to the other books in the trilogy (although I guess it is sort of a quartet, since there is a 4th book as well).

I read Uglies as a part of the YA Dystopian Reading Challenge hosted by Darren of Bart's Bookshelf.
Katrina from Katrina's Reads reviewed it here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

What a surprise!! Book Blogger Holiday Swap package from Italy

Got home late Friday night. Cold and tired from an icy and rainy and dark evening out which wasn't much fun. And what do I see waiting for me on our dining room table but a package from Italy. I looked at it and wondered what on earth that could be and from whom. I do have a few friends in Italy, but we do not send packages to each other. We communicate by e-mail or through Facebook. Turning the package around, I notice a sticker on the back with the Book Blogger Holiday Swap image. And then I got it! I had completely forgotten about this fun event, since its been so long since I signed up and sent my stuff out in the world.

I eagerly opened the package and found wonderful things in there. Check what I got from Maria Grazia in Subiaco which is a town 63 kilometers from Rome, Italy: A leaflet about Subiaco, a litte 2010 calendar with motives from Rome, two bookmarks (one of them with Egyptian hieroglyphs on it) and two books which I haven't read previously: The Drowning People by Richard Manson and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Wow I say! What a wonderful, wonderful package. Thank you so much Maria! As an added bonus, I have now found a new-to-me blog, Maria's Fly High about books, movies and art. Maria blogs about classics, romantic Italian tv-series, goodlooking actors and much more. I just spend a bit of time over at Maria's blog, and I think you should as well.

Thank you SO MUCH, Maria. I was surprised and overwhelmed. I am looking forward to read the books, change the months in my new calendar and use those wonderful bookmarks. And who knows, maybe visit Subiaco some day :o) Merry Christmas to you from Copenhagen, Denmark.

Sunday Mini Review: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a fast and fine read. It is short, but deals with one of the modern world's biggest taboos, death.

Eddie dies at the age of 83, after having lived a life he is not sure was anything at all, a life he thinks did not have any impact on anyone. After his death he is confronted with 5 different people who all have a story to tell about their own lives. These stories all include some lesson for Eddie, getting him ready to find peace and go to heaven. There is a wonderful light tone in this book, even though Eddie and the people he meets in heaven all have their sorrows and sad lifestories. In fact, the meaning of their stories is to tell Eddie and also us, the readers, that no life is ever a wasted life, and no matter how unimportant one feels, we all have an impact on someone else's life.

This has previously been posted on