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All reviews - Movies (2) - Books (11)

The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard) review

Posted : 5 years, 6 months ago on 9 April 2016 03:29 (A review of The Leopard: A Harry Hole Novel (8) (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard))

Harry Hole, the hero, is one of those people you can't help liking and disliking at the same time. He is an alcoholic, and also a doper. at the start of the book he is hiding in Hong Kong while hooked on opium. He is there because of the emotional impact of his previous case: The Snowman. The love of his life and her son have abandoned him since his involvement in the case led to their involvement and almost tragedy. Now, however, there is another serial killer loose in Norway and the only policeman with a successful record is Harry Hole. In addition there is a turf war going on between Harry's Crime Squad, and Kripos led by the politically astute Mikael Bellman. The prize is the exclusive right to investigate murders. Mikael Bellman appears to be ruthless and will destroy anyone who gets in his way. Harry only returns to Oslo when he discovers that his father is dying. So Harry reluctantly returns and quickly grasps onto leads that the previous investigations have missed. He seems to make progress, however the murders continue. Eventually Harry joins Kripos, as his motivation is not to win but to catch the culprit. His relationship with his father develops in a way that was previously impossible and he recognises finally that he loves his father. This is despite his father entering a coma. after many ups and downs, and apparent solving of the crimes, there is a final confrontation, where the culprit (well I won't ruin the plot).
Harry is a real character who disappoints us in his weaknesses. He has so many things going for him. He is good at his job, he has no problem attracting women and love. Yet the constant yearning for alcohol or drugs is there. His weakness is evident but not totally understandable. We want him to step away from their influence but he is weak.
Here again is a crime story with a great plot and great characters, well worth a read.

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I Can See You review

Posted : 5 years, 7 months ago on 14 March 2016 07:06 (A review of I Can See You)

I really enjoyed this book and was torn between wanting to see the end as well as trying to make it last longer.
In some reviews, I have read that this is a romance. This is not true. It is a true THRILLER! It is based in Minneapolis, and is about a serial killer and the detectives who are in pursuit of him. There are twists and turns as you would expect. In fact there are two killers who both want to humiliate the detectives, known as the Hat Squad, because of the fedoras they wear as a badge of honour.
The killers hunting ground is a virtual reality game called Shadowland, where people go who want anonymity. A student is running a study of the impact of the game as therapy for people who struggle in real life to socialise with others.
The killer is sourcing his victims from this online environment, and is constantly one step ahead of the Hat Squad. The second killer is simply looking for revenge for the death of his brother, and he helps to muddy the water.
I would really recommend this book, especially those who enjoy the genre. The characters are well developed, the story line is solid and enjoyable.

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Enjoyed immensely

Posted : 6 years, 1 month ago on 22 September 2015 06:24 (A review of How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland's Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (The Hinges of History))

The basic premise of this book is that after the sacking of Rome by the Barbarians, all ability to read and write in Europe died off. Except for the Island of Saints and Scholars. Ireland was known as Island of Saints and Scholars because of the no of monasteries and monks that originated there. In fact, Ireland has sent missionaries all around the world even up to more modern times. Most learning at the time resided in monasteries and Ireland was renowned for the creation of some major works. The most famous of these was  the Book of Kells, still to be seen in the Library at Trinity University in Dublin. Irish monks, later became saints, e.g. St Colmcille, St, Ciaran, St. Kevin. Irish monks took their faith and their skills in reading and writing to Europe. Many of the oldest Universities on Continental Europe owe their origins to these same monks. Civilisation was saved. (Legend has it an Irish monk, St. Brendan, discovered America, hundreds of years prior to Columbus, travelling in a vessel made from Animal hide, and tar).

As an Irishman, I loved this book. It is a little tongue in cheek, but it does bear examination what impact not having the ability to read and write would have had on European civilisation. It is quite possible that civilisation as we know it, may have been set back by hundreds of years, who knows?

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Nemesis review

Posted : 6 years, 4 months ago on 11 June 2015 01:28 (A review of Nemesis)

My first reaction when I first read the blurb on the cover was to dismiss this book as just another of those detective stories where the good guy gets caught in a compromising situation, and has to find the guilty party to recover his good name. However, this is a Harry Hole thriller, written by Jo Nesbo, and had I followed my first instinct, i would have missed a very good novel, by a very accomplished author.
There are 2 main crimes being investigated in this book, and as the story progresses, with numerous twists and turns, the culprits come to light. Reading, i found myself a couple of times thinking, there are loads of pages to go, so what now? Without giving away too much, the twists and turns in the story lines are incredibly intricate and intriguing.
While these stories are proceeding, there is a constant reminder of the death in a previous book of Harry's one time partner Ellen. Harry's superiors are happy that that murder has been solved. However, Harry is itching to restart the investigation. He suspects that there is more to her death than has come to light. Having read the previous books in the series, we know as well, and in fact that is again made clear in this book. So as Harry succeeds in solving the crimes in this book, his reward is being allowed to begin again with Ellen's death.
At the end of the book, he finds a witness. He shows a picture of his prime suspect and we must wait for the next instalment: (The Devil's Star).
Each novel stands on its own, and is complete in itself. They are extremely well written and gives insights into not only his life as a detective but also the constant pressure on him as an alcoholic. There are discussions on different topics which in themselves are interesting, including Sun Tzu's "The Art of War".
I would highly recommend this book, as I have all of the series that i have read so far, and will soon begin The Devil's Star.

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The Cat in the Hat review

Posted : 6 years, 5 months ago on 13 May 2015 05:24 (A review of The Cat in the Hat)

Written in rhyme, the book tells a stutter about 2 kids left alone at home. They had an unexpected visitor, who created havoc. They should not have let the Cat in the Hat enter. The Cat proceeded into every room and caused mayhem, furniture was overturned, ornaments were broken. The kids watched in horror as this tornado of activity wreaked mayhem on their tidy house. They were worried about the adults return and they watched helplessly as their world was turned upside down. Then, horror, the adults are coming! They'll be here soon, what'll they do? They need to tidy!
But, the cat continues to damage the house contents. When he becomes aware of the imminent arrival of the parents, he magically goes into a whirlwind of activity, repairing all damage and making everything good again. Just in time!
All of this happens in rhyme. Its great for young kids, or adults reading it out loud. Fun! Fun!
I really enjoyed it! I know my kids did too!

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The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy review

Posted : 6 years, 5 months ago on 11 May 2015 04:02 (A review of The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy)

They say you should study your history or else re-live it. This book give an account of Irish history and mis-management during the 19th century when Ireland was riddled with famine and poverty. The English government at the time believed that poverty is a state that people choose. They had a laissez faire attitude to the Irish problem. In fact the governor, later rewarded with a title by Queen Victoria said that the only way to deal with the problem was reduce the population by allowing the people to die. During the Great Famine (in Irish An Gorta Mór) the population reduced by over one third, over1 million by starvation and 2 million by emigration. Most of the emigrants went to the USA, England or Australia. Many died en route, so the real loss of life due to the famine could be 2 million or higher. During this time, the country was exporting food, and the starving population are beaten and evicted from their homes while starving and watching food on the docks. (Note the song The Fields of Athenry tells of these times). The problem was that hunger relief was left to the landlords, many of whom did not live in the country (Absentee Landlords) and they were mostly too greedy to care. In the meantime, the Irish poor relied on the potato solely, and this failed. The truth is that there had been numerous failures in this crop previously, but no attempt was made to encourage alternatives by anyone in power. The author compares the UN definition of genocide to the actions of the British government, and found that the actions of he government was in fact genocide.

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Agent 6 review

Posted : 6 years, 5 months ago on 7 May 2015 06:14 (A review of Agent 6)

This novel continues the story of Leo Dormidov and his wife Raisa, as the third and last part of the trilogy comprising Child 44 and The Secret. Leo has left the KGB, but his training has left him sceptical of the regime. He and Raisa have adopted two daughters, and he is trying not to exert too much control over the daughters lives. There are plans to hold a series of concerts in the USA starting at the United Nations where children from both the USSR and USA will sing together in the hope of engendering some comradeship among the children and possibly some defrosting of relations between the two countries. Raisa is given the job of managing the Russian choir. She has significant success. However, she is shot after the concert and the details are covered up in a conspiracy between the Russians and the FBI.
The book as ever is very evocative of the times in both countries. The McCarthy era in the US has ironically created a similar atmosphere as that in Russia, where there is distrust of neighbours and friends.
Leo wants to investigate the crime, but is not allowed to leave Russia. He tries to cross into Finland but is captured in the attempt. He is spared Siberia, but must rejoin the KGB as a training officer in Afghanistan.
The book is descriptive of life for Russian soldiers in Kabul, although Leo integrates into the community better than most Russian soldiers. His guilt about Raisa's death and his failure to investigate leads him into an opium addiction.
The story loses some of the cohesion seen in the first of the trilogy largely due to the elapsed time. He does manage to escape to New York, and finds out the truth. The reason for the books title does not arise until near the end of the novel. The resolution of the case is a major anti-climax, I felt and was quite disappointing. The Russians eventually threaten his adopted daughters if he does not return to Russia.
Overall, the descriptiveness of life in post-Stalin Russia, Afghanistan under Russian rule, and the USA during the McCarthy era/FBI harassment of suspected communists, makes the novel a worthwhile read. However the story is disjointed and often disappointing.

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The Redbreast review

Posted : 6 years, 8 months ago on 10 February 2015 06:07 (A review of The Redbreast)

Another Harry Hole novel, with a very intricate plot. Harry is flawed detective fighting the demon alcohol. This adds a layer to humanness that adds to the quality of the read. The novel starts with Harry being promoted to cover an embarrassing flaw in the security surrounding the visit of President Clinton to Oslo. Harry's suspicions are aroused when an assassin's rifle is smuggled into Norway. There is a serial killer on the loose and there are scenes dating back to Norway's role in World War 2. For the insight into this history the novel is worth reading alone. Harry's partner is also he is best friend, Ellen. Also there is a romantic interest that adds another layer of interest. There are many sub-plots but the book handles them exceptionally well, developing at a pace so that the reader's interest is held. Highly recommended

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Cockroaches: The Second Inspector Harry Hole Novel (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original) review

Posted : 6 years, 8 months ago on 8 February 2015 10:45 (A review of Cockroaches: The Second Inspector Harry Hole Novel (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original))

Another episode where Harry is sent abroad to investigate the murder of a Norwegian, this time in Bangkok. The Norwegian ambassador has been found dead in a seedy motel room, and Harry has been sent to investigate. It’s clear that the Ambassador’s family are hiding some secrets of their own, but few people are willing to talk.

He needs to solve a crime and avoid a scandal as directed by the Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs. Harry discovers that the Ambassador has lost heavily on gambling, and he may be involved in child porn. As well as this, it appears that the Ambassador is gay, and his wife and daughter may be responsible for his death.

When he in sent home by authorities in Norway, he refuses, and there is an attempt on his life by the local mafia. His only real support is the local police inspector, named Liz Crumbly. The whole scenario is extremely well written and descriptions of Bangkok life is very evocative. The book is a translation from the original Norwegian.

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The Bat (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original) review

Posted : 6 years, 8 months ago on 8 February 2015 10:32 (A review of The Bat (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original))

The Bat is the legendary first novel from the worldwide phenomenon Jo Nesbo.

Detective Harry Hole is meant to keep out of trouble. A young Norwegian girl taking a gap year in Sydney has been murdered, and Harry has been sent to Australia to assist in any way he can.

He's not supposed to get too involved

When the team unearths a string of unsolved murders and disappearances, nothing will stop Harry from finding out the truth. The hunt for a serial killer is on, but the murderer will talk only to Harry.

Harry is a n alcoholic, and he falls off the wagon while on assignment, missing the flight home, when the case goes cole. Life goes on and his dedication to solving the puzzle is still intact.

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