The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn- Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough.

Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless

My Review

The Bird Tribunal is a beautifully written novel that concerns Allis a former reporter who goes into hiding after a very public embarrassing incident and the man who she goes to work for.
The level of claustrophobia builds rapidly. The house where they live is very isolated and for the majority of the novel they are the only two characters. The only other character of any significance is a hostile shopkeeper who gives the impression of knowing more about the pair of them without revealing exactly what.
The blurb states that the book is all about an obsessive relationship and my feeling the further I read that three of the characters were equally obsessed with each other. But Allis is also aware and wary that she never really knows what Sigurd is up to. Birds play a part, Allis’s care of them but there are also more sinister events concerning them. Norse Mythology is also discussed, something that I know nothing about but found fascinating.
For much of the novel nothing appears to happen but it is all written in preparation for the finale when the truth is finally revealed in a shocking but poetic way.
A slightly different novel for me, it is a slow building novel but being short it works well. Therefore, it is another book published by Orenda that I would not  hesitate to recommend.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received and the opportunity to participate in the blog tour.

A Death in the Family by Michael Stanley – Blog Tour Review

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About the Book

‘There’s no easy way to say this, Kubu. Your father’s dead. I’m afraid he’s been murdered.’

Faced with the violent death of his own father, even Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, Botswana CID’s keenest mind, is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? The picture becomes even murkier with the apparent suicide of a government official. Are Chinese mine-owners involved? And what role does the US Embassy have to play?
Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption and greed, as a complex series of murders presents the opera-loving, wine connoisseur detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time … and find justice for his father?

My Review

I had only read one other book in the Detective Kubu series, Deadly Harvest and loved getting to know Kubu, his family and colleagues and enjoyed reading a book set somewhere different, Botswana. Both books could easily be read as stand-alone novels.
Kubu is shocked and heartbroken when he receives a telephone call telling him his father has been murdered. Being family he is forbidden to have any involvement in the case and despite his best efforts none of his friends in the police will tell him anything. He understands the logic behind this but finds it very difficult to accept.
To keep him at a distance he is told to investigate a series of deaths that occurred in a local town after a meeting to decide whether a development into a mine should be allowed to go ahead providing much needed employment. Information comes to light that suggest the cases are linked.
One of the reasons I enjoy this series is the way everything is described. The funeral was one of the most fascinating parts in the book. I felt like I was one of the many mourners, hearing and seeing the mourning and celebrating a life. I could just picture the amount of refreshments needed for a few thousand people. I also liked Kubu’s first experience of cold weather when he is sent to New York, and how different it was to Botswana.
The difference of opinion between the generations also felt believable. How the older, somewhat superstitious view from the elders was winning over the younger generation who were trying to survive without employment and an uncertain future.
A totally different type of crime novel compared to my usual choice of British, American or Nordic but it’s great. Still violent death, still modern day policing but in a different setting where beauty, poverty, culture, superstition and fear all make it seem slightly different.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received.

Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson

 

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Today I am delighted to participate in the blog tour for Ragnar Jónasson’s latest novel Blackout.

About the Book

On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer’s night. As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykjavik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person’s life hangs in the balance. Ari Thor Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjordur struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it’s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies… Dark, terrifying and complex, Blackout is an exceptional, atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland s finest crime writers.

My Review

Blackout is the third novel to be published by Orenda. The second book to be published, Nightblind was set a few years after the events in Snowblind the first one. I was eager to find out what had happened in the years between and this novel answers a few of those questions, being set soon after the first book.
Ari Thór is now a bit more settled and enjoying life more in the little town of Siglufjordur although he deeply regrets the break up with Kristín. Tómas is missing his wife who has moved away and Hlyner is haunted by events that happened when he was younger. It is the personal issues that affect all three that have been resolved with the publication of this book.
Throughout the novel the volcanic eruption that caused havoc over much of Europe is present. When a man who is working in the area is murdered Ari Thór and Tomas are helping in the investigation. At the same time a TV journalist is also conducting her own investigation into the death. There are mixed reports into the character of the dead man, some say he was a saint but there are also those who say he was somebody who couldn’t be trusted. Both the police and the journalist are keen to get answers.
Like the previous books, the murder is the main storyline but what goes on in the background is also very important. The story concerning Hlyner was quite upsetting and I did have some sympathy for him. The truth concerning Elias was also dark and sadly very believable. I would have liked to know more concerning this storyline, hopefully there will be more revealed in the next novel.
The characters who feature in the series are all strong and I love getting to know them. It’s not all about Ari Thor, but more about a close knit community. Some are nice people, some not but all feel real.
Thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received. I am thrilled that I have each of Ragnar’s books as signed limited edition hardbacks and I’m looking forward to adding to them.

In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings

 

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About the Book

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but her life. Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

My Review

In Her Wake is a novel that I could just carry on reading indefinitely. It’s one of the few that I felt a little lost when I finished it, the only way to describe it was bereft.
In it we meet Bella, who whilst coping with bereavement learns that her whole life has been a lie. All she knows is that she has been controlled, first by her mother Elaine and then by her husband. When she decides to find out the truth she is determined to do so on her own terms.
It’s hard to review without giving any of the story away. What I learned from the various comments that I had seen that this would be a novel which I would enjoy more if I knew as little about the storyline as possible.
So, I will state that you will need tissues. Bella copes with bereavement, loneliness, bewilderment, betrayal and loss. But she also learns how to accept the reasons why her life was the way it was and how to rebuild her life. It’s hard to imagine how anybody could cope with the situation that everybody who features in the novel do. The easiest emotion would be anger, but there would also be relief, closure and acceptance.
This novel will be up among my top reads of 2016, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read it. If you decide to read it, get the tissues and pick a quiet corner where you can read undisturbed. An amazing, at times heart breaking bur very rewarding novel that I will think about for a long time.
With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received. I also have a treasured limited edition signed copy.

Where Roses Never Die by Gunnar Staalesen

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September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found. Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge … Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writer.

My Review:

Where Roses Never Die is the first book I have read by Gunnar Staaleson. It’s a great introduction to the Private Investigator Varg Veum. He is a troubled man, very much alone for the last three years and spending too much time drowning his sorrows in Aquavit.

When he is asked to try and find out what happened to Mette Misvær twenty-five years earlier he uses the case to try and get back on his feet, both emotionally and financially. The local police tolerate him and there is definitely bad feeling with at least one of them.

The case is all about uncovering secrets, and there are plenty of them. Some are seedy and Varg struggles to hide his disapproval. Some are devastating and cause more suffering when he forces memories to be discussed.

I loved Varg’s character. He was a morally strong, often cynical person who wasn’t afraid to speak his mind even if it meant getting hurt. All sides of society were present, the ones who were down on their luck and wanted to stay invisible and the ones who had no regard for anybody else.  And all felt very believable.

I hope the earlier books will all be translated, at the moment there are three that have been. I would like to read them in order and get to know more about Varg.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received. Details of the blog tour are below.

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