Lackberg and Leon: A Scandicrime vs Venetian Mystery Challenge
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This is the schedule for the year.
January - Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg
February - Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon
March - Preacher by Camilla Lackberg
April - Friends in High Places by Donna Leon
May - Stone Cutter by Camilla Lackberg
June - Sea of Troubles by Donna Leon
July - Gallows Bird alternate title Stranger by Camilla Lackberg
August - Willfull Behavior by Donna Leon
September - Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg
October - Uniform Justice by Donna Leon
November - Drowning by Camilla Lackberg
December - Doctored Evidence by Donna Leon
In total there are 10 of the Erica Falck and Patrick Hedstrom books. We will read the first 6 of them in 2019.
There are 28 of the Guido Brunetti books. We have read 7 of the titles in this series. If we add 6 more in 2019 we will be half done with this series.
According to WorldCat there are 1318 libraries world wide with the English version of the Ice Princess and 295 libraries with the sound recording version of the novel. There shouldn't be a problem with getting a copy of this one. I like to listen to mysteries as I drive so am thinking that I may try some of those during this coming year.
It is part of the 75 Books Challenge group.
Feel free to put these links on your threads and let people know what we are doing this year.
And now for a little information about Camilla Lackberg.
Lackberg is part of the wave of "Scandicrime" novelists that have taken the mystery/thriller world by storm. Jean Edith Camilla Läckberg Eriksson was born August 30, 1974 in Fjällbacka, Bohuslän. Bohuslan is in the Gotaland region of Sweeden. Fjallbacka is in the extreme western part of Sweeden (almost on the Norwegian border). Prior to Lackberg becoming famous this town was home to Ingrid Bergman.
Lackberg has always been fascinated by the crime novel and says that this started when she was a child looking for books to read in her parents library.
She graduated from Gothenburg University with a degree in economics. She moved to Stockholm and soon began to take her writing seriously with her first novel Isprinsessan published in 2003. The novel was translated into several languages including English in 2008 with the translation by Stephen T. Murray. This novel met with modest success and her readership has steadily grown with each installment of the series.
It is very interesting. It is almost as interesting in its' way as the Haruki Murakami page. I encourage everybody to take a look both pages. They are lots of fun and clearly, lots of money has been spent on them.
The more research I have been doing on Lackberg the more interesting it has become.
The entry on Lackberg also said that "Besides being in the hands of her growing readership, Lackberg's crime novels have been adapted as a popular Swedish television series," titled Fjallbackamorden (Fjallbacka Murders in English). The series is based on characters from the novels but has all new stories. It began airing in August 2011.
The Ice Princess (2003): Almost 2.6 million copies of Camilla’s debut novel have been sold on the international market. The story begins with the discovery of the dead body of a woman in a bath. But who murdered her, and why? The Tanumshede police begin their investigation, and Erica Falck is drawn into the case, which touches her personally.
I hope to get started on the book this weekend, but right now I am piled up with reading. Since I have a month to read this one and will have a long plane trip towards the end of the month I am going to put off starting this one for a short time. However, don't let that stop you from discussing. I am not one of those people who don't like spoilers. They don't bother me. But that brings up the feelings of others in this group, so I would say, don't be to up front early in the month with spoilers. As we get to the later days in the month, it shouldn't be so much of a problem for everyone.
There are now ten books in the series, so maybe some of the questions about the characters come later in the series? However, the Encyclopedia of Nordic Crime says that "In contrast to recent Nordic male detective portagonists who are flawed, middle aged, cynical, and nearly or completely alcoholic, Lackberg's Patrick Hedstrom is a young husband and father; Lackberg calls him 'the guy next door as a hero.' She develops her other main character, Erica Falck, a writer and his girlfriend, later wife, through the series. Sometimes Lackberg allows Patrik to take the lead, adn sometimes she places ERika at the forefront of the investigation. Lackberg thus creates 'an intriguing interaction' between them, 'both loving and fractious,'..." It will be interesting to see what does develop in the two characters as the series progresses.
I vaguely remember seeing a TV-adaption of this one.
I managed to check out an ebook of Ice Princess, but it's in a queue with one I just got that I've been waiting on the hold list for three months, as well as a book for this month's RL book discussion and 2 ER books. (And class starts tomorrow . . .) I'll get to it eventually.
Here is the URL, and the instructions for the free passes to the exhibit hall.
Thanks for reaching out and offering to set up a meetup! I'm happy to report that we do, indeed, have free, exhibit hall-only badges for ALA Midwinter.
Please direct anyone who'd like a badge here: https://www.compusystems.com/servlet/ar?evt_uid=313&oi=MuXZMs%2BGlqrHoIiGjo9....
That should automatically fill in the exhibitor invitation code. I just tested it out myself and was able to register successfully without any trouble.
If there's anything else I can do to help, please let me know. Definitely keep me posted as details get hammered out, so I can publicize the meetup in the State of the Thing this month!
Member Support & Social Media Librarian, LibraryThing
Of course, for us, the readers, the exotic setting is part of the attraction, or at least the initial attraction to picking up the book in the first place. It is fun to read about how lives are similar or different in different settings.
I will be leaving for the ALA Midwinter conference tomorrow, and hope to finish this book while flying cross country to Seattle. I also hope to post off and on, while I am in airports, and hotels in the next couple of days.
They are, in no particular order:
Through a Glass Darkly
I do have to say, that it was not what I expected. Scandicrime novels are usually dark, bloody, and very descriptively violent. Or at least the authors that I had previously read - Jo Nesbo and Steig Larsson. This novel was not that way. It was a good solid mystery in the same way that the Maisie Dobbs series is. Just good reading.
The plot was not that inventive and like some of the previous commentators up-thread have observed - there were a couple of plot points that I did see coming, and so were not surprises. However, I found the overall novel to be well constructed. The descriptions of life in a smaller town in Sweden were enlightening. There were several times in the reading when something was brought up - then dropped, that I figure will show up later as we read through the series. For instance, why was Eilert's little bit at the end, even in the book? My suspicion is that he will show up later - in another book.
All-in-all, even though I did not know what to expect from this series, I think this is a good beginning and I will look forward to reading the next in the series.
It all begins with an early morning phone call. In the chill of the Venetian dawn, a sudden act of vandalism shatters the quiet of the city, and Brunetti is shocked to find that the culprit waiting to be apprehended at the scene is his own wife, Paola. She has taken a stand against a travel agency known for a certain kind of shady tourism. Meanwhile, at work, Brunetti is under pressure from his superiors to solve a daring robbery with a link to a suspicious accidental death. Does it all lead back to the Mafia? And how are his family’s actions connected to these crimes?
I do not have a copy of the book, and so will be doing an ILL request for it. That means that my start time will be a little delayed, but that should not discourage the rest of you from reading and discussing the book. I read even if there are spoilers.
I think it is also going to be interesting to read Donna Leon right on the heels of Lackberg. The Leon book we are reading is the 8th book in the series and by this time Leon has found her style and figured out how she is going to develop her character in conjunction with other reappearing characters and family members. Lackberg hasn't done that yet.
I have found myself thinking alot about the style of mystery written by Gianrico Carofiglio as compared to Leon and Lackberg. It is quite clear that Carogiflio is much more introspective than either of the other two authors. That does not mean that the main characters in either Leon or Lackberg are not thinking and feeling, but the way the authors presents them is very different from how introspective Carofiglio was with his Guido. I now think of Guido Guerreri as soulfull. I think that Guido Brunetti as thoughtful. I have not figured out what Erica and Patrik are - as of yet. That will make this year's reading very interesting.
I think I mentioned earlier that I found some of the writing awkward in The Ice Princess. Lackberg is apparently a big enough name that she was able to get an award-winning translator. That doesn't mean that he's the best translator for her writing style, though. It may be a combination of Lackberg's first novel and the translator's first attempt at finding her voice in translation. Does anyone else have any thoughts about that?
>27 benitastrnad: I was all set to bail on Guido, until you mentioned that it is Paola who is in the limelight this time. Now I have to go request it from the library! : )
I liked this one better than the last. It does have an odd twist, though.
What most public libraries do is about 5 years after a work of fiction as come out they cull, or weed, the collection of excess books. So, if they had two copies of this title on the shelves, they remove one copy. At the ten year mark, the title is evaluated again, and if it has not been checked out a designated number of times in the last five years, the book is removed from the shelves. Therefore, it is a rare work of fiction that gets left on the shelves for 10 years or more. My guess is that since the books we are reading now, are considered "old" for works of fiction that many of the hard copies have simply been removed from library collections.
Recorded copies are a bit different. The penchant for recorded copies of books is rather new, so many earlier books were simply not recorded at all. That is the case with the Tony Hillerman books. Now, publishers are returning to old, but popular series and are retrospectively recording them, but they simply weren't recorded to start with. Also, there is the Rule of 25 with which libraries have to contend. Most recorded, or digitized, books are subject to what libraries call the Rule of 25. These copies of titles are sold to libraries with a cap of 25 circulations. When somebody tries to check the book out for the 26th time, the library has to purchase a new copy. For that reason, many libraries, don't automatically re-purchase titles. Instead, they look at the age of the book, and how long it took to reach 25 circulations, and if there is a waiting list. They then decide if there is going to be enough circulations to warrant the purchase of another copy. Usually, librarians figure that if there is one request for a title that there are others out there who would like to read the book, but just aren't asking. However, budgets being what they are, libraries can't purchase every title. That is why they created Inter-Library Loan. Many public libraries offer this service for free, but many charge for it. If this service is free I advise people to use it. You can request recorded copies through ILL. However, they won't be digital. They will be in the form of CD's. I get lots of recorded books that way, and listen to them in my car on the way to and from work, and when I am about town.
Academic libraries have different collecting rules. Most academic libraries don't collect "Trade Fiction" at all, unless the works are considered to be classics. Trade fiction is what the Donna Leon books are. Once-in-awhile, academic libraries will collect trade fiction, but it is rare. Our library, here at The University of Alabama, has 1 Donna Leon book. It is Uniform Justice and it is an uncorrected proof (An ARC) that I suspect one of my compatriots got at the ALA conference in Washington, D. C. and donated to the library. Even though for me, ILL is free, it sometimes is hard for our ILL department to get their hands on a copy of the book. Most of the requests I make come from public libraries, but our policy is to go to Academic Libraries first. That slows things down.
All of this means that it may be hard to get our hands on these books when we want them, so the smart thing to do, is what some of you are already doing and putting in your requests as early as possible. And then be patient. We aren't on a time-line here, and so if it takes longer than a month to read a title, that is not a problem. None of us are the 75'ers Challenge Police, so just read the book when you can, and post when you can. The idea is to have somebody with whom we can discuss the books and compare them if we want to do so.
By-the-way, my ILL request still has not arrived. It does say that it is now "In Transit" so that means that somebody has the book and is in the process of sending it to Tuscaloosa.
Glad your copy arrived. I'm still waiting for my ebook, but I'm number 1 on the list out of 5 total holds on 1 copy.
It may be that titles are removed for several reasons. Number of Circulations. If a book hasn't circulated they aren't going to renew the purchase of it when it does hit 25. Digital copies also work on the same time frame as hard copies. If it hasn't circulated within a certain time period it is weeded just as a hard copy would be.
It is unusual to remove digital copies of titles that have waiting lists. However, like hard copies, libraries usually purchase multiple copies of titles. Especially those that are best sellers. After 3 years they usually consolidate titles. That makes for longer wait lists, but it helps libraries spend less money.
I recently finished listening to The Ice Princess, which was OK but not terribly memorable. I'm having trouble remembering it already.
Here is the quote:
"I'm not sure if this has anything to do with what we're talking about, but think another cause of the gulf that separates us on this - not just you and me, Guido, but all men from all women - is the fear that the idea that sex might sometimes be an unpleasant experience is real to all women and unthinkable to most men." As she saw him beginning to protest, she said, "Guido, the woman doesn't exist who thinks for an instant that pedophiles love children. They lust after them or want to dominate them, but those things have nothing to do with love." He kept his head lowered; she saw that as she looked across the room at him. "That's the second thing I want to say, dear Guido whom I love with all my soul. That's how we look at it, most women, that love isn't lust and domination."
Here is the synopsis of The Preacher. The discovery of two murder victims who were killed twenty years earlier is complicated by the body of a third, recent victim at the same location, a case that compels detective Patrik Hedstrom to investigate a feuding clan of misfits, religious fanatics, and criminals.
This book is available in Hardback, paperback, and as a sound recording, so it should be easy to get. I looked in Alibris and used copies of it are available for $0.99 plus mailing costs. It is also readily available in many libraries. A fact that I can attest to.
Happy reading folks.
edited to say that now the link works...
It was very apparent early on that Erica was not going to be much of a factor in this book, so I found the parts of the book that told us what was going on at home to be distracting. What did the rest of you think?
We have a new member of the group. Welcome to Tina. (otherwise known as nagainakarait.). We hope that she will find the series interesting and feel free to post any comments she wishes about the books here on this thread.
I happen to know that she had a hard time finding our thread, so glad to see her here.
No, I liked to keep in touch with Erica at home. I found the crime horrifying... almost over the edge of what I can take.
I didn't like that either. I really didn't like the vignettes in between the chapters. I thought those were horrifying.
I would have liked more development of the Hult family's religious beliefs. It seems like there were plenty of allusions to their odd/unorthodox religious practices, but it was never really spelled out.
The series setting is becoming the biggest draw for me. I googled pictures of the King's Cleft and it's unusual and impressive.
Religion in Sweden is also an interesting mix. I am not an expert on dissident Annabaptist groups, but they have had a strong influence in Sweden for at least 200 years. Sweden is predominately Lutheran, but the Covenenat church (sometimes referred to as Conventeers) and other Pentacostal groups are very common there. I grew up not far from several different Nordic immigrant settlements in Kansas and can tell you that religion among them is varied and often times very nationalistic. The image of the Stoiac Swede goes right out the window when it comes to religion.
The vignettes were disturbing but I assumed that was the intention. The differences between Siv and Mona in their lives and in their captivity was worth exploring.
I intend to go ahead and read The Ice Princess -
The last scene was of interest to me. In one version we know what was going on in Jacob's head and in the other we see what the Doctor's said. Did the two give you any more insight into what happened than it would have without it?
I agree. Somehow it seems distant. I think that the author is trying to walk the line between thriller and cozy and it isn't really working. It could be the translation and I wonder how I what I would think about the Larsson books if I read them now. I am going to keep reading this series as there are parts that I like about it, but it hasn't really gained steam for me. The last two titles in this series have been Best Sellers, so I wonder if they build as the author gets better, or ...
I hope that as we start to "catch up" with Leon in our reading that these titles will get easier for us to find. This novel was originally published in 2000 but a reprint was done in 2017.
In Donna Leon’s ninth novel featuring her celebrated protagonist, Commissario Guido Brunetti finds himself caught up in a typically Venetian problem: red tape over renovations. Visited by a young bureaucrat, Brunetti learns that, officially, his apartment does not exist. The extra floor that was added years before was never approved. But what begins as troublesome headache ends in murder when the bureaucrat is found dead after a mysterious fall from a scaffold. Brunetti starts an investigation that takes him into unfamiliar and dangerous areas of Venetian life, and shows him, once again, what a difference it makes to have friends in high places.
Happy reading to you all, and I hope you find the upcoming books enjoyable.
>71 tymfos: & >72 thornton37814:
I understand reading funks and will only say that you can lurk here for a long time. You don't have to read every book. Read what appeals to you and don't worry about the rest of us. If you have read one of the Leon books in the past and have something to add to the conversation fine. There are no reading group police so just add your two cents when and if you feel like it.
Not every book is for everybody. I think that part of the object of this group is to experiment a little and get out of our comfort zone, but that means that not everybody is going to like everything that we read. That is fine. If it doesn't work, it can be tweaked. I read lots of translated books to help me understand what is going on in other places, kinda based off of a BBC Mystery Authors podcast I listened to several years ago. I figure that it takes patience to do that kind of reading and sometimes it doesn't work. For instance, I have totally quit reading Jo Nesbo as his books got too violent and bloody for me to enjoy. I suspect that Steig Larsson's would have done the same for me. This last Lackberg was almost too much for me as well. Like others here, I am going to read the next book, but if the May book doesn't work, it may be time for us to think about changing the last half of the year to something else.
This whole slideshow gives me hope that the world can still be liveable, loveable, and beautiful. Happy Spring to all.
I just looked at the pictures of Bari and the town is full of characters! When I first started reading the books by Gianrico Carofiglio I wasn't that impressed. They gradually grew on me and now I wish that there were more of them translated into English.
Thank you for posting that link and those pictures. Someday I hope to visit Puglia.
Several of you up-thread have expressed the opinion that you are going to give Lackberg one more chance before you ditch the author and the rest of the series. If, after reading this novel, you are still inclined to do so, please be thinking of another series that you might want to replace the lacking Lackberg. We will discuss this further throughout the month of May and make a decision at the end of May. In the meantime, I am going to have to place an Inter-Library Loan request as neither my university or public library has this one on hand. Given that it is the end of the semester, our ILL department at the library won't be as busy, so I think it should get here fairly quickly.
The Amazon blurb for the book goes like this -
continues the story of local detective Patrik Hedström and his girlfriend, Erica Falck, the beloved crime-solving duo whose first child has just been born. But while they celebrate this new life, a suspicious drowning claims a little girl they knew well. As the murder’s implications widen, Patrik’s investigation threatens to tear apart the rural fishing village of Fjällbacka, where a secret lurks that spans generations.
... is it possible to get a similar link for the DC conference?
I looked at that photo essay and it makes me want to go visit that place... :)
Guido's Father-in-Law, is a count and is highly placed in a prominent Venetian bank. The FIL is old Venice. Guido comes from more pedestrian stock. In the first couple of books in the series there is open tension between Guido and his FIL and Guido really doesn't have much contact with him. That slowly began to change, and that is why the fight between Guido and Paolo regarding her use of her father's influence was something I noted. I thought Guido was getting past that.
"The FIL is old Venice. Guido comes from more pedestrian stock. In the first couple of books in the series there is open tension between Guido and his FIL and Guido really doesn't have much contact with him." -Mr. Nadd
Interesting, then to me it seemed like he was almost -nostalgic?- about "Old Venice" but wanted to be the one pulling the strings? Because he had his own network of connections unique to his job... Oh well off to find another Lackberg book.
I agree with that assessment of Guido. I don't think he realizes that "networking" is prevalent in any profession. I don't think he recognizes it in himself, even though in this book it is clear that he did do that, and he knows it. What he thinks about "pulling those strings" is another matter. He did it to make his life on the job easier.
Guido's relationship with his supervisor, Patta, has its own tensions. I admit that sometimes Guido's manipulation of Patta bothers me as it borders on the burlesque and makes Patta out to be a joke and or a caricature. I think that Patta may know what Guido is doing because Patta certainly knows who to go to when he is in trouble, and he has a reasonable expectation that Guido can do something about it. To get the full picture of that relationship you would have to start reading the series at the beginning. That would also help to gain an understanding of Guido's relationship with his FIL, but I think you can pick up on that as the series moves along.
Interesting that you remember the Mr. Nadd! That was a long time ago.
I found this on the Tor.com weekly newsletter that I get. The piece was written by Jo Walton and was all about what she is reading this month - the month being - April. Apparently, she is reading through the Brunetti series. I thought her insight was interesting. I didn't think about the same theme that Walton has when thinking about Brunetti, but it does make sense to me.
By Its Cover Donna Leon 2014.
This month’s Brunetti mystery, and an especially appealing one, as it begins with a crime in a rare books library in Venice and then twists in unexpected directions. Again I will say that the theme of this series is integrity, who has it, what it means, and how it can be twisted with history and lives and current events. These books are amazing, and while it wouldn’t matter very much if you started here, you might as well read them in order.
And that’s it for April, more next month!
Jo Walton is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She’s published two collections of Tor.com pieces, three poetry collections, a short story collection and thirteen novels, including the Hugo and Nebula winning Among Others. Her fourteenth novel, Lent, is coming out from Tor on May 28th 2019. She reads a lot, and blogs about it here irregularly. She comes from Wales but lives in Montreal. She plans to live to be 99 and write a book every year.
All of the above was in the Tor.com newsletter. I have read Among Others and really enjoyed it. I thought I read widely, but reading that book made me realize that I hadn't read nearly enough Sci/Fi. The book was an Alex Award winning title and is full of references to other Sci/Fi books that makes you wonder when you will get time to read all of them. If you are looking for a way to broaden your Sci/Fi horizons start with Among Others. All together in the month of April Walton had 12 books on her reading list. She admits that she won't finish all of them in the month, but she is actively reading all of them. They range from books of published letters to a Victorian travel book, plus a modern romance novel.
I liked this months Läckberg (Stonecutter) better than the previous two books.
Here is the shorter version of the Wikipedia article - the edits are mine.
DAMP - Deficits in Attention, Motor Control, and Perception
DAMP is different that ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder). DAMP is a term coined by a Swede Christopher Gillberg. It is a controversial psychiatric concept. Here is the quote from the Wikipedia article about the controversy. "Perhaps the strongest criticism of DAMP is that Gillberg and his co-workers in Gothenburg are almost the only people doing research on DAMP. Indeed, in a review of DAMP published by Gillberg in 2003, it was noted that there were only "about 50" research papers that had been published on DAMP and that the "vast majority of these have either originated in the author's own clinical and research setting or have been supervised and/or co-authored by him" (Gillberg, 2003, p. 904). This is in contrast to ADHD, on which "several thousand papers" had been published (Gillberg, 2003, p. 905). As far as clinical practice goes, DAMP has been primarily accepted only in Gillberg's native Sweden and in Denmark (Gillberg, 2003, p. 904), and even in those countries acceptance is mixed. "
Because of the controversy, Gillberg revised his definition of DAMP. In 2003, Gillberg revised his definition of DAMP. The new definition is as follows:
ADHD as defined in DSM-IV;
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) as defined in DSM-IV;
condition not better accounted for by cerebral palsy; and
IQ should be higher than about 50 (Gillberg, 2003). (In the WHO system, this would be a hyperkinetic disorder combined with a developmental disorder of motor function.) About half of children with ADHD are believed to also have DCD (Gillberg, 2003; Martin et al., 2006).
The Wikipedia article goes on to say that strong criticism of DAMP has continued.
Then, in 2005, there was an hour-long television program broadcast on Swedish TV, questioning why Sweden, almost alone in the world, would accept the DAMP construct. The program featured critical commentary from Sir Michael Rutter. It also considered some of the controversies over Gillberg's Gothenburg study.
The book that we are reading was originally published in Swedish in 2005. Since Lackberg is a parent with children (at that time 2) it is likely that she would be familiar with the use of this term in the Swedish schools and its general use in Sweden. The controversy in the public sphere might also explain why Patrick is a bit fuzzy about its meaning as well as a bit skeptical of its use.
It will be interesting to read the rest of the book and see if the diagnosis of DAMP plays any continued part in the story, other than to provide all of the family and neighbors with an explanation of Sara's behavior, and of course to add fuel to whatever fires feed the internal flames burning in Lilian and Kai.
I am liking this one too - at this point - 120 pages in. It has me curious about how all the pieces of this puzzle are going to fit together. And there are lots of pieces.
When I think about this series in relation to the Donna Leon series I think that there are a couple of major differences between the two authors. Leon tells each story as a stand alone. A reader could hop into the series and not feel that they had missed anything to important. That is not the case with Lackberg. Each novel has had threads of the next built into the previous novel making it much harder for the reader to hop into the series. With Lackberg I would advise readers to start at the beginning.
The page count for each authors books is also a big contrast. My copy of Stonecutter had 507 pages. I don't think I have read a Leon book yet that is that lengthy. Most of hers have been around the 250 page mark.
I also am beginning to wonder why Erica is in the story at all. In the first novel she was an active participant in the investigation. In these last two books she is clearly just along to provide a home life for Patrik. It makes me wonder what she will be doing in the next novel?
This one should prove to be as interesting as the last couple of books in the series has been.
My public library does not have this book, but WorldCat says there are 500 libraries with this title in print and 187 with the title in recorded book format. One of these days I am going to try to get one in recorded book format so that I can see how they sound instead of how they read. But not with this title.
I will start on this book in a few days, as I am already reading for my real life book club.
Happy reading everybody.
I requested it last week and it still hasn't come in. I won't have much time to read later in the month so had hoped it would be here.
No word yet from the library, which is unusual- I wonder what happened to this book? was there a fire in the warehouse, there seem to be few copies available
it does seem strange that it took so long for me to get the book through ILL and now you have waited a long time. I wonder myself.
I went home from work last night and the more I thought about your scenario and juxtaposing that to Guido, the funnier it got. Aristotle said that there are only 7 stories in the world and everything written is just a variation on those themes. Maybe he was correct?
I am in the process of finishing the Aurelio Zen series. I rally like them and they have taken me all over Italy. From Sardinia to Sicily.
In Willful Behavior, Brunetti is approached for a favor by one of his wife’s students. Intelligent and serious, Claudia Leonardo asks for his help in obtaining a pardon for a crime once committed by her now-dead grandfather. Brunetti thinks little of it―until Claudia is found dead. Soon, another corpse and an extraordinary art collection lead Brunetti to long-buried secrets of Nazi collaboration and the exploitation of Italian Jews―secrets few in Italy want revealed.
There appear to be used copies of this book available on both Amazon and Alibris, so I hope that it won't be as hard to get one has some of the previous Brunetti titles have been.
I am going to start reading this book in a week or so. I am trying to finish a couple of books I have started and will get to this one. I happen to have a copy of it, so I don't have to hurry to get it back to a library, or rush around to find a copy of it somewhere.
Oh good! I knew there had to be a story there - maybe something other than class differences.
Proof (Caroline Auden) by C. E. Tobisman is another first rate legal mystery/thriller from this author. Tobisman takes the reader inside the legal system and makes the nuts and bolts of filing evidence, filing cases, etc. - the stuff that usually isn't exciting - exciting for readers. That is a rare gift. In this novel the author takes a simple humble story and from it builds a novel that keeps the reader on the edge of their seats. And all with the simple stuff of routine legal work - until it isn't. A new will by an elderly patient in a nursing home. A custody case for an immigrant child. Protecting the legal rights of homeless alcoholics. Simple everyday legal stuff - until it isn't.
This novel won the Harper Lee Legal Fiction Award in 2018. This award is given by The University of Alabama Law School for the best legal fiction of the year. In my opinion it deserves this award. An author who can make the mundane interesting has a talent for writing.
The author's first novel was just as good, Doubt by C. E. Tobisman so if you like mysteries or thriller - read or listen to both of them.
I listened to this novel, and the narrator of the recorded version does a really good job of bringing this novel to sound. This was a great commute listen.
Cold Summer is the first book in a new series about Pietro Fenoglio. According to the Amazon blurb, Pietro Fenoglio is an officer of the Italian Carabinieri. The book was published in the UK in September 2018. Here is the ISBN 978-1912242030
Here is the complete blurb from Amazon.
The summer of 1992 had been exceptionally cold in southern Italy. But that’s not the reason why it is still remembered. On May 23, 1992, a roadside explosion killed the Palermo judge Giovanni Falcone, his wife and three police officers. A few weeks later judge Paolo Borsellino and five police officers were killed in the center of Palermo. These anti-mafia judges became heroes but the violence spread to the region of Bari in Puglia, where we meet a new, memorable character, Maresciallo Pietro Fenoglio, an officer of the Italian Carabinieri. Fenoglio, recently abandoned by his wife, must simultaneously deal with his personal crisis and the new gang wars raging around Bari. The police are stymied until a gang member, accused of killing a child, decides to collaborate, revealing the inner workings and the rules governing organised crime in the area. The story is narrated through the actual testimony of the informant, a trope reminiscent of verbatim theatre which Carofiglio, an ex-anti-mafia judge himself, uses to great effect. The gangs are stopped but the mystery of the boy’s murder must still be solved, leading Fenoglio into a world of deep moral ambiguity, where the prosecutors are hard to distinguish from the prosecuted.
Here is the review from Kirkus.
Carofiglio’s engaging main character. Fenoglio is a sensitive, polished figure who has managed to keep his idealism intact in a career meant to break it; he is as comfortable philosophizing as he is citing the public safety code. When he recalls a joke about a drunkard searching for his keys under a streetlight rather than in the dark street where he lost them, he realizes his search is failing for the same reason: “We look where it’s light, even though that’s exactly how not to solve the problem. Solving this case, Carofiglio shows us, requires a leap into the darkness.
I liked Carofiglio's previous books, so think I will try to get this one through Inter-Library Loan and read it.
All I know is from the Wikipedia entry. Like Guido Brunetti, he loves opera and he was the president of the opera house restoration in Bari.
After reading the Carofiglio books, I got very interested in reading about Apulia or Puglia. This region of Italy has been a backwater of Italy for a long time. It is now setting square in the tourist sights and is becoming a low cost popular region of Italy to visit. I recently read Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray by Adam Federman. Patience Gray and her partner, the sculptor/artist Norman Mommans moved to the area south of Bari in the 1960's. Both were proponents of back-to-the-land and the slow food movements. Gray was writing about eating seasonally long before it was popular. This boot-heel of Italy seems a fascinating place to visit and it was the Carofiglio books that brought the area to my attention.
My real life book discussion group met last Sunday to discuss mysteries. I brought the Camilla Lackberg novel The Stranger and the Donna Leon Guido Brunetti book Willful Behavior since I had just started it, and End Games by Michael Dibdin for a contrast. End Game is the last one of the Aurelio Zen books.
Part of our discussion was about the importance of setting when reading mysteries. From there the talk moved to the authors and somebody postulated that it was important for the author to be from the place about which they write. This prompted lots of discussion. This is a small group - there were only 5 of us in attendance, but we had a lively discussion. Most of those present thought that authors wrote about places they were they lived. That is true, but what about Donna Leon? She has lived in Venice for 20 years, but does that qualify her to write about the place? Or Michael Dibdin, who lived and worked at the University of Bologna for 14 years? One person in the group brought the Charles Todd Bess Crawford mysteries series. It turns out that Charles Todd is a Pseudonym of a mother/son writing team who live in Delaware and North Carolina. Can they write a novel about a British army nurse in WWI? If they moved and lived somewhere for an unspecified period of time, does that make them an expert on that society and culture? Does that mean that a native has an edge on an outsider and the possible insights they have into the culture?
I was surprised at the length and the depth of the discussion that we had on this topic. Do you guys have anything to say on the topic?
I'm intrigued by all things WWII, and so I enjoyed the parts about the stolen Nazi art - I had never actually thought about it in conjunction with Italy, but I suppose that there was likely as much, if not more, art looted from Italy than from Germany or perhaps France during the war. I know that the Nazis, in particular, hated abstract art, and there were quite a few abstract artists in residence in Germany during the period before the war (many at Bauhaus), and I think that the abstract art was destroyed. There don't seem to be many historical novels (at least ones that I have come across) that address life in Italy during WWII, so I haven't given much thought to it. But I'm sure there would have been quite a bit of looting of art treasures and possibly "sales" as people tried to sell their valued possessions to be able to escape Italy. I think there would have been a lot of art, particularly in Florence and Rome, although museums would have likely owned much of it, I would guess. Speculation on my part, and now I want to learn more about the situation! Does anyone know of any good books on the subject?
Also, something that I'm not sure made sense to me:
>130 benitastrnad: What a fascinating discussion, Benita! I'd love to give my thoughts. Although I think it's generally true that authors write about where they live, I believe there are a lot more exceptions to that rule. It's probably easier for an author to write what they know, and it probably comes across in most cases as being better writing, but I think that it is much easier to research things now than it used to be. The internet gives a lot of access to information, and one can always reach out to someone who does live in a place to get additional information. There are a lot of historical novels written now that have an unbelievable amount of historical accuracy - all of it from research by the author. Several authors that I follow - Deborah Crombie, Elizabeth George, Laurie R King, Martha Grimes - are Americans who write fantastic novels set in England. I believe that Crombie lived for a short time in England, and I also think that Crombie, George, and King spend time traveling to the destinations that they write about and talk to lots of people. Susan Elia MacNeal writes the Maggie Hope series set in WWII England, and she always has a bibliography in her books with the books that she has consulted. Perhaps a native might have an edge, and I suppose it would depend upon how much the actual place figures as a "character" in a story. Certainly, Venice is as much a part of the Brunetti series as Guido is himself, so I doubt that Leon could have been as effective an author if she hadn't lived there for some time. But I suspect that she has also done a ton of research to gain her insight. So, yes, I think there may be a slight edge for a native, but I think there is so much an author can do to surmount this that it really doesn't matter.
Then when we spent last night at friends in Medina, Ohio she gave me 6 titles from the Daniel Silva series. It turned out to be a great unintended book acquiring expedition.
From 1943 to the end of the war, Italy was divided with partisans of both sides fighting for the Germans or against them. Both partisans were ruthless and the population really suffered. There are a couple of good novels about this time period that I can think of.
1. Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride - I listened to the recorded version of this book and it is excellent.
2. Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
3. Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith
4. If Not Now, When? by Primo Levi
5. Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle
6. Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
7. Bold and Dangerous Family by Caroline Moorehead - nonfiction about a resistance family in Tuscany
8. House in the Mountains by Caroline Moorehead - turns out Moorehead has written four books about the Partisans in Italy. This is the final one in the series.
A Book I have in my collection that I want to read soon is Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. This is a work of fiction and is all about the partisan divide in Italy. Their unification to fight the Nazi's and then the split and the animosity of the Right and the Left after the war.
I put sticky notes in the books that I read to mark passages about which I have questions or that I think are significant to the book. In Willful Behavior I marked the passage starting on page 75 (of my paperback edition) that records a conversation between Guido and Paola. This conversation takes place after Guido has talked to his artist friend Leslie about art and the selling of art during WWII. Paola speculates that men don’t have friends. Guido protests and Paola comes back with the idea that men have “pals.” These are men that they talk to about sports or politics or cars, but they never talk about “what they feel or fear, not the way women do.”
Later on in the story Guido’s friend Marco comes to him with his tale of woe about his paying the bribe and his subsequent actions. Guido fixes it for him. It seems to me that is the action of a good friend. However, it was action. Not words or feelings.
As I read this I wondered if the passage I quoted is just a stereotype of men and their relationships or if it is true. Are men action and women words when it comes to relationships? Do we see Guido struggling to learn what made his father and his father-in-law into the men they were and wishing that they had talked more instead of relying on actions?
I agree with you. Ford should have been punished, but I think that the fact that he wasn’t is one of the points that the author is trying to make. He got off with no consequences for his “Willful Behavior.”
I thought that Lackberg was a murder mystery/thriller author, but I think that she is more of a murder mystery author along the lines of Louise Penny in that she is really writing about the small town in which she lives. In some ways the series of novels reminds me of the TV show Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks did that same kind of thing. I do have to wonder what all the domestic doings have to do with the murder mystery? I am thinking I want a little less of that and more of the mystery.
These novels are very different than the novels written by Donna Leon. I like both of them, but it is hard to even compare them due to this difference.
This novel reminded me a great deal of the first Jo Nesbo novel to be translated and published in the U.S. Redbreast. That novel is about the Norwegians who volunteered to join the German Army and formed an entire division. That novel pointed out the fact that the Norwegians voted Quiesling into office and so there was great support for the Nazi party in Norway.
That brings me to one part of this novel that did not make sense to me. Franz. Franz, was a Neo-Nazi. He should have loved the Germans as he shared their beliefs. Therefore, he should not have participated in the crime, or have been the one person to figure out a way to hide the body. It is possible that his jealousy overrode his belief system, but I find that hard to believe given his actions throughout his life.
"The neo-Nazi element in The Hidden Child is one of Lackberg's major concerns, because she believes World War II 'really marked' Swedes. This novel carries out her conviction that Swedes need to be constantly reminded of 'the horrible consequences of human ignorance and extreme right-wing thoughts,' because she sees neo-Nazism growing in Sweden 'as well as all over Europe.' On the other hand, since Lackberg believes that very few people are completely evil, she consistently showcases both good and bad aspects of human personalities, a key to the success of the characterizations that keep her readers involved with her stories of Fjallbacka and its absorption of people and their pasts.'"
I think for most American's Sweden as a neutral country is a fixed pole - one of the pillars of the pacifist community of countries, if you will. However, the novels of Lackberg show that to not be the case. In fact Sweden was once a world power, with a great navy and a huge army, and a major player in the power struggles in Europe during the 1600's - the period of the Thirty Years War. It has also been home to great religious struggles and almost Civil Wars within its own boundaries. In short all might not be as it seems to us, who are on the outside looking in.
For that reason alone I thought this was a very good novel, even if it was on the long side and could have used some good editing.
I'm seeing a similarity between this series and Louise Penny's Armand Gamache series in the layering of plots. There's a crime/mystery contained within a single book, but there is also a larger story arc that develops over several books. I peeked at the description of the next book in the series and it looks like Erica's interactions with Christian, the author she's been mentoring, are setting up the next book.
In Uniform Justice, Brunetti faces an unsettling case when a young cadet has been found hanged, a presumed suicide, in Venice's elite military academy. As he pursues his inquiry, he is faced with a wall of silence and finds himself caught up in the strange and stormy politics of his country's powerful elite.
I have a copy of the book at home so don't have to wait at the public library or do an ILL request for this one.
I suspected as much since I have been reading the comments of others here on LT who have been talking about the Armand Gamache series. I did think this was a good novel, but I find that I am not as interested in the character development as I am in the mysteries. But, who knows, my tastes may change in time.
My InterLibrary Loan copy of Sea of Troubles , requested in June arrived.. As usual with Leon, it was a fairly quick read. I concur with others that it is a bit different from the rest of the series. I loved the WKRP
comparisons! It was interesting to see another part of Venice, and a distinct community quite different from the main city.
When I return it I plan to pick up the October book- also Leon. My library has it in both print and audio on CD. Not sure which I'll go for.
It seems that people who read and use libraries often have problems getting copies of the books. My real life book discussion group has 6 members 2 of them told me last night that they were unable to get copies of the book being read from either of the two libraries we have in town. I suggested that they use ILL and they said it would take too long. ILL at our library is very speedy, so I hope that in the future they will take advantage of it.
My public library does not have all of the Leon or Lackberg books, so I have had to place ILL requests for a couple of the titles. Especially the early Leon’s. I have copies of this one and the last one for the year so won’t have to worry about getting a copy.
There is also this link to the NY Times article from November 13 about the flooding.
The NPR article talked about the problems with the MOSE project and all the corruption that has hampered construction of this seawall. Sounds familiar to those of us who have been reading the Guido Brunetti books.
The tour continued up to Venice and she said that it was clear that Venice was the star of the cruise. However, she was more impressed with Ravenna. She said that even though the tour was in September, that Venice was crawling with tourists and huge cruise ships were everywhere. She may be glad that she was in Venice last month rather than next year.
I have a good start on our Swedish mystery for this month, and will continue to read about the problems with development and tourism in the northern reaches of Europe. I have never been to Europe during the summer, so I can say that any time I have been there (winter mostly, but once to Northern Ireland in May) I haven't seen that many tourists. But who wants to go to Berlin in March, or Munich in November?
There are now 28 published Brunetti novels by Donna Leon with number 29 to come out in 2020. That means that we have read about half of them. There seem to be 4 remaining Lackberg novels that we have not read.
I started out liking this series - I thought the first two books were well done with great murder mystery plots. I also enjoyed Hidden Child very much. That was also a long book, but it seemed that the story needed that length and I understood why it was so long. I do not feel the same way with this book.
I found that I did like the strengths of the female characters. Each of them displayed a backbone and courage in very different ways. Even Alice was courageous in her way with the fortitude to continue to love a deeply flawed character. You could put Sanna, Cia, and Lisbet, in that same category as well.
The author does a good job with plotting. The murder mysteries are always satisfying and even if I have guessed who done it, the way they are resolved is often a surprise. But this one was simply to long and it got boring.
"In contrast to recent Nordic male detective protagonists who are flawed, middle aged, cynical, and nearly or complete alcoholic, Lackberg's Patrik Hedstrom is a young husband and father; Lakcberg calls him 'the guy next door as a hero'(quoted in Wegener). She develops her othe rmain character, Erica Falck, a writer and his girlfriend, later wife, through the series. Sometimes Lackbreg allows Patrik to take the lead, and sometimes she places Erika at the forefront of the investigation. Lackberg thus creates an Intriguing interaction between the, both loving and fractious. Barry Forshaw calls Patrik and Erica 'two of the most fully rounded characters in contemporary crime fiction, with a warmth that cuts through the Nordic chill.'"
It could be that there is too much of the fully rounded characters for me.
I contrast that with the Bruentti stories. These are clearly episodic in nature. Each book is much shorter than the Lackberg books, and there are just snippets of Guido's home life and his inner character. In some ways the Guido Brunetti books feel like a TV series rather than a book series, but I like that better. I also find that Leon, has introduced secondary characters along the way that I like and want to get to know more about. The secondary characters in the Lackberg books lack that depth and don't make me curious about them.
I think that I am done with the Lackberg books and will not continue with the series. However, I am not done with the Brunetti series and do plan on continuing to read them, no matter what the group decides.
I was able to find this title at our local used bookstore and will begin reading it over the Thanksgiving break.
I checked WorldCat and there are about 1,000 libraries in the world that have this title, so it should be easier to find than some of the previous novels in this series were. It is also available as a recorded book, with about 175 libraries world wide holding the recorded version in their collections. If you are traveling over the Thanksgiving break listening to the recorded version of the book might be a good way to pass the time. If you are in a car with others, they might find this title entertaining as well. It appears to be one the first book in this series to have a recorded version with a 2004 copyright date. I hope that the publisher starts to go back and make recorded versions of the earlier books.
>164 benitastrnad: I have listened to most of the Leon books up to this point. Most have been available from my public libraries through OverDrive. David Colacci narrates most of them and I think he does a terrific job. Willful Behavior had a different narrator that I didn't like so much.
>160 benitastrnad: I am in again next year, if you decide to continue. If not I will read on on my own.
I am glad that you are enjoying the Lackberg books. Like you, I have noticed a lack of good editing in many of the books I read, but I thought it was a particular fault of this particular book.
You may be right about the difference between digital and hardcopy manuscripts. That would make a difference.
January 2020 Blood From a Stone by Donna Leon
February 2020 Through a Glass Darkely by Donna Leon
March 2020 Lost Boy by Camilla Lackberg
April 2020 Suffer the Little Children by Donna Leon
May 2020 Girl of His Dreams by Donna Leon
June 2020 Buried Angels by Camilla Lackberg
July 2020 About Face by Donna Leon
August 2020 A Question of Belief by Donna Leon
September 2020 Ice Child by Camilla Lackberg
October 2020 Drawing Conclusions by Donna Leon
November 2020 Beastly Things by Donna Leon
December 2020 Girl in the Woods by Camilla Lackberg
This schedule would bring the current publications of the Lackberg books to an end. Because Donna Leon continues to publish one Guido Brunetti book per year there would still be 8 titles left in that series for 2021.
I also thought that perhaps we could start reading the Andrea Cammilleri books. There are now 25 Salvo Montalbano titles published with the promise of 3 more to come. We could do an Alitalia mystery read! All Italian - all year.
I like the look of the schedule I posted, but if you want to change some things let me know.
the thread of the 7 deadly sins, runs throughout this book, and is the connecting piece of Brunetti’s thought process throughout. I thought it was a fascinating way to deal with this murder.
In my book the following passage comes from page 275. (I have the mass market paperback edition.). “He ran through a list of possible crimes and vices until he found himself faced with the truth of Paola’s claims: most of the Seven Deadly Sins were no longer so. Who would killin order not to be exposed as having been guilty of gluttony, of sloth, of envy, or pride? Only lust remained or anger if it lead to violence, and avarice, if it could be interpreted as meaning bribe-taking. For the rest no one any longer cared. Paradise, he had been told as a child, was a sinless world, but this brave new, post-sinful, world in which he found himself was hardly to be confused with paradise.” Pg 275.
Both NagainaKarait and I are here on vacation. We are based in Munich and traveling to several Christmas Markets in the area and visiting friends.
It has been too warm here in Augsburg and Munich. I brought to many warm clothes and so far have not needed the bulky things. Oh well! It is to start raining tomorrow and will cool off. I had a very good time at the Christmas Market last night and had my first sausage and dumpfnoodle. Today we are going to Berthold Brecht’s birthplace and to a local famous baker of Liebkuchen.
We went to Munich today for the Christmas markets there. Went to the Medival Market and the main market at Marionplatz. Both were very nice, but I think that Augsburgs is better.
Tomorrow we are going to Ulm. We thought we would do the Christmas market there, but found out it closed today (Sunday). We decided to go anyway because we wanted to see the Munster and the Bread Museum. For that I passed up a chance to go back to Munich and see the Duer room in the Old Art Museum in Munich.
It did rain a little here today. However we are still sweating in our hotel room at night and that means we have to open the windows. That means we get all the street noise. We are working on it. The hotel is going to bring us a fan tonight.
Thank you Benita for this, I hope we will continue next year.
We will follow the schedule laid out earlier on this thread.
I am glad to see that there will be participants! It is always fun to hear what others have to say about books.