Friday, April 27, 2012

#15: 1222 by Anne Holt

A terrible accident derails a train in a snowy Norwegian mountain pass, and the survivors--including a paralyzed former policewoman, a troubled teenager, a magnetic religious leader, and at least one killer--manage to make it to a ski lodge--where their real problems begin--in Anne Holt's thriller 1222.

Even though the novel has the locked-room trappings of an Agatha Christie novel 1222 is quite a crackling thriller, despite featuring an unusually dour protagonist (even by the high standards of the typically gloomy Scandinavian mystery) in the paralyzed, retired detective.

The storytelling is exceptional, ratcheting up the suspense as the reader learns about a mysterious passenger sequestered behind armed bodyguards, various political ramifications involving high levels in the Norwegian government, and an increasing body count.

Holt is apparently quite popular in her native Norway, and although this is one of the later novels in her series featuring the reluctant police detective I believe it is the first translated into English.  I hope to see more of this series.

I checked this out from the Morrisson-Reeves Public Library in Richmond, Indiana and read it quickly.

Monday, April 23, 2012

#14: The Clockwise Man by Justin Richards

The Doctor and his companion, Rose, travel to 1920s London to check out the British Exhibition, but almost immediately find themselves set upon by robots, aliens, and intelligent cats in Justin Richards' contemporary Doctor Who adventure The Clockwise Man.

As a teen I read a ton of Terrence Dicks' novels based on the long-running BBC sci-fi show Doctor Who, although I never got to see the program until I moved to Wisconsin as an adult and found it on PBS there (beginning when Tom Baker was the Doctor, a great place to start enjoying Doctor Who).

Obviously Dicks' novels, and this first of a new series, are for fans of the show, and as that it is quite enjoyable.  The story is brisk and breezy and compliments the television program.

I checked this out from the Farmland Public Library and read it quickly.  Recommended for fans.

#13: Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson

A retired British policeman impulsively buys a child from a drug addict; a sometime private eye rescues a dog from an abusive man at a park; and an elderly actress struggles with dementia while co-starring on a hit detective show; how these stories cross, loop back, and fold in on each other forms the heart of Started Early, Took My Dog.

I picked this up on a whim from the Farmland Public Library based on the title alone, having never heard of Kate Atkinson.  I found a rewarding, complex mystery that may be one of my favorites of the year.

The story picks up threads of the notorious Manchester Ripper case of the 70s and reaches all the way to contemporary times, following the life arcs of many complicated, fully-realized characters, including tarnished cops and well-meaning criminals.  The diverse storylines, which include a humorous running background thread about a cheesy cop show, are very nicely tied up at the end.

I listened to this via a good audio book rendition I borrowed from the Farmland Public Library.

Atkinson is a fine literary writer with all of the requisite beats for mystery fans.  Recommended.