Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson

 

41qs39koyul-_sx323_bo1204203200_ img_0591

About the Book

1955. Two young couples move to the uninhabited, isolated fjord of Hedinsfjörður. Their stay ends abruptly when one of the women meets her death in mysterious circumstances. The case is never solved. Fifty years later an old photograph comes to light, and it becomes clear that the couples may not have been alone on the fjord after all…

In nearby Siglufjörður, young policeman Ari Thór tries to piece together what really happened that fateful night, in a town where no one wants to know, where secrets are a way of life. He’s assisted by Ísrún, a news reporter in Reykjavik who is investigating an increasingly chilling case of her own. Things take a sinister turn when a child goes missing in broad daylight. With a stalker on the loose, and the town of Siglufjörður in quarantine, the past might just come back to haunt them.

Haunting, frightening and complex, Rupture is a dark and atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland’s foremost crime writers.

My Review

Rupture is the latest book in The Dark Icelandic series and takes place immediately after Blackout. This series is now firmly established as one of my favourites. Ari Thór is more settled now in Siglufjörður despite the enforced quarantine in the town due to the death of a tourist. Because it is a quiet time with everybody staying in their homes he starts to look at a case from the 50s as a favour. Not a cold case as such, more of trying to identify a young man who was in a family photograph. One of the other people in the photo committed suicide shortly after the photo was taken.Ísrún also reappears, looking into a hit and run and the disappearance of a young boy. It was good to see her back, she is like a dog with a bone and stands up to Ivor when he attempts to bully her.
What I love about this series is there is no sense of urgency. Ari is not involved in the current cases, he is just concerned with the cold case. This thread of the story is the one that appealed to me the most. I love looking at old photos and if there was one person I didn’t recognize in a group photo I would get obsessed with who they were. Ari is rebuilding his relationship with Kristin and for the first time I started to like her. She came across as a warmer person than in the earlier novels.
Hedinsfjörður sounds beautifully isolated, the type of place that would be lovely to visit but would quickly feel intimidating by its remoteness. It felt spooky and this combined with certain scenes with Robert convinced me that Ragnar would make a great ghost story writer.
As I said earlier this is a series that I enjoy very much and I’m eagerly waiting for the signed copy of this book to arrive to add to my collection of signed first editions.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the early copy received for review.

img_0592

Painkiller by N. J. Fountain

41nqclknojl-_sx308_bo1204203200_

About the Book

I cannot go on like this. I feel such a burden to you. You are young and can start again. You deserve that chance. By the time you read this I will be dead. Do not grieve for me, for I am now without pain.

Yours truly for ever,
Monica
Monica suffers from chronic neuropathic pain. Every second of her life is spent in agony, and she is coping with it the best she can. However, there are whole years of her life which are a blur to her.
But when she finds a suicide note, written in her handwriting, she begins to question everything. She has no memory of writing it – so who did? And if someone tried to kill her once, what’s to say they won’t try again . . .

My Review

The blurb on the cover states that this book is likened to Before I Go To Sleep and for once it is accurate. Monica, the main character is a very unreliable narrator. She is in constant pain and takes a cocktail of drugs to try and ease it. The side effects from the drugs cause memory problems, mood swings, depression and hallucinations. All these make it difficult to work out if she is believable. By her own admission, she wasn’t a very nice person before the accident, she could be cruel to her husband and even after she was critical about his appearance and career. But he seemed to accept it and at times they did seem close. I liked the conversations she had with him when each encouraged the other to hang up first.
Her husband, a friend and a detective also tell their version of events. These make you doubt more about what is happening. All views differed and I had no idea who could be believed.
I found it a quick and easy read, despite reading about Monica’s constant pain which was a little draining at times. I wouldn’t have liked her before her accident but I found her to be determined person who was desperate to beat the pain. Each chapter was short and intriguing enough to read another. I had no idea which way was going to go and even though the culprit wasn’t a surprise the ending was a bit of a shock.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

A Doubter’s Almanac by Ethan Canin.

517f44c83sl-_sx327_bo1204203200_

About the Book

The flame of genius scorches every generation it touches.
Following a lonely upbringing in the woods of northern Michigan, Milo Andret enrols as a graduate student at U.C. Berkeley, where the faculty is the first to recognize that the young man’s childhood solitude has created a prodigiously unusual mind. Yet with Milo’s great gifts come great risks, and California in the seventies is rife with temptation. The research he begins at Berkeley will make him a legend; the woman, and the rival he meets, will haunt him forever. For it soon becomes clear that Milo’s brilliance is linked to a dark need that ultimately threatens to destroy not only his work and his marriage, but the lives of all his children, as well.
A Doubter’s Almanac is at once a captivatingly virtuoso illustration of the powers of the mind and a deeply moving exploration of the nature of love, ambition and genius. It is a novel of flawed characters and unreachable dreams, of bonds that tie and passions that destroy; a major work of dazzling and seductive beauty from one of our foremost writers.

My Review

My first book of 2017 is a completely different type of book to what I usually read. It is also by an author that I have never read before.
Milo is a genius, a mathematician whose life is governed by trying to solve mathematical problems and be the first to do so. There is a lot of focus on mathematics in the novel and all of it was beyond my comprehension. However, the story gripped me enough to carry on reading.
He is a troubled person. There are many words you can use to describe him. Abusive, aggressive, bullying, condescending, critical, impatient, selfish and unforgiving are just a few. He is also a loner, has been from an early age and his inability to mix with people accounts for many of his faults.
Most of the emphasis on mathematics occurs in part one, it is present in part two but the narrative here switches from Milo to his son Hans. The story was much easier to read in bigger chunks in part two, probably with there being more of a story and it being told by a more likeable person.
The author demonstrates how a genius can be in every generation but also an addict and sometimes they are linked. The consequences of addiction from both characters was quite upsetting to read, especially the scenes that concerned Milo. What became evident towards the end of the novel was that despite all of Milo’s faults he was also loyal and loving but probably due to his own isolated childhood completely useless at showing it.
I loved the female characters in the novel. Mom, Audra and Paulie were all fantastic, warm, humorous, patient and forgiving people. I felt that they all gave the novel its depth and humility. I also liked the chapter headings, I’ve never read any like them before. ‘ You can’t comb the hair on a coconut’ is a firm favourite.
I did find the mathematics slightly off putting but the story and the female characters more than compensated and I will look out for Ethan Canin’s previous novels.