Feed on
Posts
Comments

Category Archive for '8-2010 Reviews'

Author James Church takes his series of mysteries set in North Korea in new directions with this surprising fourth novel. Church, a former intelligence officer with the U.S. government, has spent much time in Asia, and presumably North Korea, and he makes a foray here into speculative fiction–not speculating on life in North Korea in the far distant future, but in the very immediate future. When this novel opens, it is 2016, and Inspector O, the iconoclastic officer who has been the fascinating main character of the three previous novels, has been happily retired from action and living in blessed isolation on a mountain top. Suddenly, he is visited by officers he cannot refuse to accompany and is brought back to Pyongyang. He is needed for a special assignment–to work with, and take orders from, Major Kim from South Korea, who is working in North Korea to bring about some kind of co-operation between the countries.

Read Full Post »

Massimo Carlotto, who has achieved as much fame for his noir mysteries involving the Mafia in Italy as he has for his seven year incarceration for a murder he did not commit, puts his knowledge of law enforcement, lawyers (one of whom betrayed him personally), the criminal justice system, and the Mafia to use in this up-close-and-personal look at the growing power of international Mafias. Set primarily in Padua, on the Po River, just west of Venice, making it a good landing spot for illegal drugs brought in from the Adriatic, the novel introduces Marco, “the Alligator” Buratti, the owner of a small bar called La Cuccia, in which he shares ownership with Max La Memoria, “The Memory.” Together they also do investigations. Beniamino Rossini, a smuggler and armed robber, who was in prison with both of them, is also available to help out. When Sylvie, Beniamino’s belly dancer-lover vanishes without a trace, the three men set to work turning the underworld upside down, finding evidence to suggest that the kidnapping was related to a huge drug robbery from two years ago.

Read Full Post »

Newly translated into English, The Blindness of the Heart, a debut novel by Julia Franck, spans the period between the two world wars in which Germany took part, focusing on the effects of these wars on seemingly ordinary German citizens who were somehow detached from full knowledge of the causes for which they were required to fight. In the dramatic Prologue, which takes place in 1945, a young boy and his mother arrive at a train station from which there is a chance that they might escape the post-war horrors. For the boy, however, the horrors are just beginning. His mother abandons him at the station, without any warning, leaving behind his suitcase and instructions to whoever discovers him on where he should be delivered.

Read Full Post »

The Spanish Civil War (1936 – 1939), with its terrible effects on residents of the Basque country, was a complex and brutal war in which soldiers, sometimes neighbors, often found themselves fighting for different sides. Author Manuel de Lope, who grew up in Burgos, not far from the Basque Country, obviously knows the landscape and the culture well, describing the overwhelming beauty of the land and mountains with an obvious love of nature, and the characters in his story with understanding and affection. Not a traditional war story, the author focuses instead on three characters who, though affected by the war in terrible ways, are peripheral to that bloody action—Maria Antonia Etxarri, the daughter of a former innkeeper from a nearby town; Dr. Felix Castro, a young, crippled doctor; and Isabel Cruces Herraiz, the bride (and soon widow) of a young officer, all living in the village of Hondarribia. Miguel Goitia, a young law student studying for his exams, arrives at Las Cruces sixty-five years after the Civil War, and stays in the inn which was once the home of his grandmother, Isabel Herraiz, becoming the catalyst for the novel.

Read Full Post »

Those who are already familiar with the five earlier novels in this Icelandic mystery series featuring Erlendur Sveinsson know that Erlendur is a dark, gloomy, introspective, but caring man who does not share much about his life. As the series has developed, however, so has the main character, Erlendur. It is almost as if he has become less shy—as if he has decided to reveal himself to his readers in ways that were not possible in the first novel, Jar City. The hanging death of a young woman at a remote vacation cottage on Lake Thingvellir piques the curiosity of Erlendur when it is discovered that the victim, Maria, is from the Reykjavic area, a married history scholar who has had difficulties coping with the death of her mother two years earlier. Though local police have declared the death a suicide, a good friend suggests to Erlendur that she does not believe the woman, Maria, killed herself.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »