Wednesday, 29 August 2012


Title: Disgrace

Author: Jussi Adler-Olsen

Number of pages: 544

Started: 22 August 2012

Finished: 29 August 2012

Opening words:

Another shot echoed over the treetops.
The beaters’ calls had grown clearer. A throbbing pulse was thundering against my eardrums, the damp air forcing its way into my lungs so fast and hard that it hurt.
Run, run, don’t fall. I’ll never get up again if I do. Fuck, fuck. Why can’t I get my hands free? Oh, run, run . . . shhh. Can’t let them hear me. Did they hear me? Is this it? Is this really how my life is going to end?
Branches slapped against my face, drawing streaks of blood, the blood mixing with sweat.

Read a longer extract here.

Plot summary:

Kimmie's home is on the streets of Copenhagen. To live she must steal. She has learned to avoid the police and never to stay in one place for long. But now others are trying to find her. And they won't rest until she has stopped moving - for good.
Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, the cold cases division, has received a file concerning the brutal murder of a brother and sister twenty years earlier. A group of boarding school students were the suspects at the time - until one of their number confessed and was convicted. So why is the file of a closed case on Carl's desk? Who put it there? Who believes the case is not solved?
A police detective wants to talk to Kimmie and someone else is asking questions about her. They know she carries secrets certain powerful people want to stay buried deep. But Kimmie has one of her own. It's the biggest secret of them all.
And she can't wait to share it with them . . .

What I thought:

I really loved Adler-Olsen’s first book, Mercy.  I therefore had high hopes of this book.  It didn’t live up to them.  I found this book really hard work and a somewhat tedious read.  The main detective Cark Morck wasn’t really in the book that much and he and his assistant were part of what made the last book good.  It was also rather more violent than it needed to be, and I didn’t like the plot very much.  All in all a very disappointing read.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A Killing in the Hills

Title: A Killing in the Hills

Author: Julie Keller

Number of pages: 384

Started: 16 August 2012

Finished: 21 August 2012

Opening words:

She didn’t come here often, because there was nothing left.

When she did come, it tended to be at dusk, and she would stand and look at the bare spot, at the place where the trailer had been.  It was only a few dozen yards away from Comer Creek.

Above is the beginning of the Prologue, read chapter 1 here.

Plot summary:

Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, visitors see only its stunning natural beauty. But for those living there it's a different story. The mountain roads harbour secret places, perfect for making the prescription drugs that tempt its desperately poor. Bell Elkins left a broken teenager, savaged by a past she couldn't forget. But, as prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, Bell is back and determined to help clean up the only home she has ever known. As winter sets in and her daughter is witness to a shocking triple murder, Bell finds her family in danger. Can she uncover the truth before her world is destroyed again?

What I thought:

I really liked this book. From the very first page, it was apparent that the author, Julia Keller, really could write. That is perhaps not surprising given that she is a Pulitzer winning journalist.

I think this was a book of two halves. The first half, whilst starting with a very brutal crime was about character formation and scene setting, with the crimes stories interweaved. I really enjoyed that style. I enjoyed each page and it was always a pleasure to pick the book up again and continue reading. The second half of the book was more crime driven and perhaps more of a traditional crime novel. On balance, I probably preferred the first half of the book, but it was all very readable and well written.

My only criticism of the book is that I am not sure I found the final resolution totally credible. I won't comment further for fear of giving the ending away.  That said, this is meant to be the first of a series and I will definitely be reading the next one.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Earth Girl

Title: Earth Girl

Author: Janet Edwards

Number of pages: 358

Started: 3 August 2012

Finished: 15 August 2012

Opening words:

[To follow – I can’t find the book at the moment!]

Plot summary:

Jarra is stuck on Earth while the rest of humanity portals around the universe. But can she prove to the norms that she's more than just an Earth Girl? 2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. While everyone else portals between worlds, 18-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can't travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She's an 'ape', a 'throwback', but this is one ape girl who won't give in. Jarra invents a fake background for herself - as a normal child of Military parents - and joins a class of norms that is on Earth to excavate the ruins of the old cities. When an ancient skyscraper collapses, burying another research team, Jarra's role in their rescue puts her in the spotlight. No hiding at back of class now. To make life more complicated, she finds herself falling in love with one of her classmates - a norm from another planet. Somehow, she has to keep the deception going.

What I thought:

This book is aimed at young adults – a genre that holds some appeal for me, but I often find that the books don’t live up to expectations.  Sci-fi is also not something tht I walys enjoy, but I thought I’d give this book a go.

As it turned out, I rather enjoyed the book.  I struggled slightly with getting used to the style to begin – for some unknown reason I felt as though the characters were speaking with American accents at the beginning.  But I soon got over such quibbles – and found their English accents.

I thought the plot was pretty good and can see why it would appeal to teenagers – there were various themes such as acceptance and challenging people’s views and acting confident even if we don’t feel it.  I thought these were well handled and that it worked well as a book.
I did think the author could have been more adventurous in how technology worked and people interacted, but maybe that doesn’t really matter.  A decent read.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Title: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry  
Author: Rachel Joyce  
Number of pages: 304
Started: 27 July 2012
Finished: 2 August 2012

Opening words:

THE LETTER that would change everything arrived on a Tuesday. It was an ordinary morning in mid-April that smelt of clean washing and grass cuttings. Harold Fry sat at the breakfast table, freshly shaved, in a clean shirt and tie, with a slice of toast that he wasn’t eating. He gazed beyond the kitchen window at the clipped lawn, which was spiked in the middle by Maureen’s telescopic washing line, and trapped on all three sides by the neighbours’ closeboard fencing. 

Read a longer extract here.

Plot summary:

When Harold Fry leaves home one morning to post a letter, with his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else's life.

What I thought:

This book started well. I was rather taken by the idea of someone setting out to post a letter and keeping on walking. I liked the ordinariness of that, and also the adventure that can be embarked on a whim of sorts. I thought it was a gentle read, and one that would not suit all. Ultimately, it was a tale of a weak and routine driven man who suddenly found a purpose – that walking hundreds of miles would save someone he had not seen in about twenty years. This book was nominated for a Booker. Do I think it prize-worthy? Probably not. But it is a readable and peaceful novel.