Vanished – Liza Marklund

I received Vanished as a preread copy from TransWorld Book Group. It’s my first novel by Liza Marklund. Because I enjoy reading Scandinavian thriller writers a lot I had high expectations.

Liza Marklund has written several thrillers with Annika Bengtzon as leading character. Annika is a copy editor at a Stockholm newspaper. She is approached by Rebecka Björstig who claims her Paradise Foundation can help women make a new life. The foundation takes care of erasing peoples history completely.
When Aida, a woman who’s life seems to be in danger, needs her help, Annika decides to give her Rebecka’s phonenumber. When two man are murdered in the harbor and Aida says she knows what happened, Annika starts her own investigation.

What I like in the Annika Bengtzon novels is that it’s not only about crimes. There is a lot going on in this book. Annika’s own life and wellbeing, the murders in the harbor, the Paradise Foundation, internal politics in the newspaper where she works and some social issues. Marklund succeeds in tying all those separate storylines  neatly together.

I rather enjoyed reading Vanished. It’s a fast paced crime novel, very well written and thrilling. If only Annika could be a less troubled person. I really like her a lot and I think she has had her fair share of troubles and deserves some happiness. Well, maybe the next novel because now that I have discovered Liza Marklund and her books I look forward to reading more of this series.

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Crippen – John Boyne

First of all a warning. If you haven’t read the book already, don’t read the cover! This may be a strange way to start a blog about a book but I really hate it when there is a spoiler on the cover. And I do think that a publisher as well as an author never should allow that to happen. Even if the book is based on a true story and I could’ve known what had happened. I simply didn’t. You shouldn’t put something on the cover that actually happens in the book on page 334. And then end the description with the words “but all is nog as it seems…..”.

Crippen is the third book that I’ve read in the Trans World Book Challenge. The story starts in 1910 when The Montrose sets sail on its voyage to Canada. Amongst the passengers are Mr Robinson and his son Edmund. A strange couple, at least that’s what the captain thinks. In the next chapter we’re going back in time. It’s 1862 and we’re in Michigan. We get to know the Samuel Crippen, his wife Jezebel Quirk and their son Hawley Harvey. In 504 pages Boyne tells us how Mr Robinson and Hawley Harvey are connected.

To me it was the first book by John Boyne. I was looking forward to reading it since I’ve heard good stories about his book “The boy in the striped pajamas”. Crippen is quite a good read. Boyne is a good storyteller and I do like that the book alternates between the present and the past. Yet the book could have been bore exciting and I don’t like the way the reader is misdirected by the author. For instance. If a person in the book is a she then the authorial voice shouldn’t call this person a he. Because of that I thought something was wrong, it just didn’t fit. And I was right. So to me the end wasn’t that surprising though.

But the book is entertaining. My judgement, three stars.

 

John Boyne has got his own official website.

Black Swan Rising – Lee Carroll

Black Swan Rising is my second book in the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge and it’s very different from the previous one. This one is an urban fantasy novel. It’s about Garet James (actually her name is Margaret) and she’s a jeweler. The story begins when she visits an antique store. The strange thing is that she’s very familiar in this neighborhood and yet doesn’t remember the store at all. The owner seems to know her and gives her a small vintage silver box. The box has got a crest that’s nearly identical to the one on Garet’s ring and medallion. The box is sealed and she makes a deal with the owner of the store that she’ll open the box, bring it back and then she will get the seal and thousand dollars. Garet takes the box home and opens it. As from this moment things start to change. Something’s got out of the box that better should’ve stayed there….

I thought participating in the Transworld Book Group Reading Challenge was a great opportunity to try a different kind of book. I did read a fantasy novel by Kim Harrison earlier this year but it was hard to understand because you really needed to know a lot about witchcraft, witches, fairies and elfs. Which I don’t.  But Black Swan Rising is different. Of course you know that vampires don’t exist but Lee Carroll makes you almost believe they do. Everyone knows enough about vampires to understand Will Hughes’ behavior. And there are some other demons and supernatural creatures that you really won’t see on a normal day but Carroll makes it very easy to imagine what they look like. It’s an entertaining novel that’s easy to read. You get into the story right from the beginning. It’s got action, drama, a love-story and excitement. I enjoyed reading it although it’s not my favorite kind of book. That’s the main reason why I give three stars.

For those of you that don’t know, Lee Caroll is a pseudonym for Carol Goodman and Lee Slonimsky, her husband.

The Sandalwood Tree – Elle Newmark

The book starts with Evie (Evaleen) and Martin Mitchell, and their son Billy, in the train, on their way to a new place to live. It’s 1947. Martin has come home from the war in Germany and his wartrauma is putting their marriage under great strength.

In India, Evie finds a packet of old letters, hidden behind a brick in the wall of their bungalow. The letters are from Adela Winfield, Yorkshire, England to Felicity Chadwick, her sister in Calcutta, India, about half a century ago, 1854-1855. Evie is getting more and more anxious to know what happened to Adela and Felicity.

We follow the lives of the Mitchell family as well as the lives and times of the two young Englishwomen, Adela and Felicity.

Besides those two storylines the novel is quite informative. It tells about the tensions in India in 1857, the Sepoy Rebellion and the Partition in 1947.

What I really admire in the way Newmark writes is her ability to make you feel like you’re really there, the taste, the smell, the sounds, the atmosphere. I enjoyed reading the book. Both storylines are spellbinding. Although I think the story about Adela and Felicity could have been stronger in the end. I understand why it’s not. Evie just looses interest in the story about Adela because of her own problems. Nevertheless. The story is just as important as the story about Evie and Martin. May be even more if you want to understand the tensions rising in India.
There’s one thing I really hate in books and Newark makes this mistake. Somewhere in the beginning Evie refers to Spike and sighs “if I only knew then…”. Well you don’t and you never will. But, besides that, I recommend reading this book. You’ll like it. I’m sure of it. Four stars!

For those of you who want to know about Elle Newmark, here you can find her official website.