18 Feb 2011

Book-end blues

This could well be the title of a good old blues by, say, Skip James. Not that Skip James read many books, at least as far as I know (which isn't much). But in fact it describes a feeling well known to just about anyone who reads a bit and gets well into some of the books that they read. You just don't want it to finish, even if you may have been at it for some time. And you may well suffer from withdrawal symptoms when you do finish. I should add that I am a slow reader and also tend to read 2 or 3 books simultaneously, which can make the process last even longer.

So I often get those good old book-end blues.

The latest rendering of this all-time favourite is coming about as I near the end of a Swedish detective novel. Yes, yet another one. At some point somebody is going to have to look seriously into this matter, as the earnings made from Swedish detective novels has possibly gone past those of Saab and Volvo put together.

I have greatly enjoyed the Wallander books by Hanning Mankell, and have written on this blog (http://morethanjustwine.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-to-make-hero-go-away.html)   about how he has recently managed to phase out his main character, Kurt Wallander. Below are some pictures of Mankell, who looks much better than his character Wallender as played in either of the 2 TV series I have seen. 

I was also very impressed by the posthumously published Milennium trilogy by Steig Larsson, which has obtained a huge commercial success (over 50 million copies world-wide to date). This was hard to put down at the end of each book, and even harder at the end of the three, especially as one then knew that there could be no follow-up, since the man was dead. Or could there be? Now it appears that his lady-friend has written a sequel, based on notes Larsson had prepared. We shall see. Here is a picture of the actrice that played in the quite successful (I mean well done) cinema and tv adaptations, because she is just soooo......

So what is the latest find in the crime novel spate from Sweden? Well it may not be quite the latest for all of you out there in Sweden, or even in English-speaking countries, but here I am in little old France where things from the outisde world just trickle down slowly (and that could be the title of another blues: Trickle down slow). The excellent French publisher Actes Sud, who also published the Milennium trilogy and who must have made a mint of money with it, has published a novel by one calling himself Lars Kepler, and entitled The Hypnotiser. The same author, I believe, since published another one, so I will buy this in English as my Swedish is non-existant I am afraid, and I expect the English version will precede the French one.

On the left is the rather nasty cover of the French edition. Covers do not seem to be a strong suit of Actes Sud, at least in their crime series, although I like the graphic work in the rest of their publications.

It transpires that Lars Kepler is a pseudonym for a wife and husband team whose real names are Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril. What is certain is that this dual female/male perspective adds considerable credibility to a lot of the novel, and especially the parts that involve all kinds of relationships and exchanges between members of opposite sexes.

I won't tell you too much about the book, which is particularly well constructed and which, like the other Swedish crime books mentioned above, also incorporates a good look at some less-than-glorious aspects of Swedish society. But one of its themes is hypnosis and its possible side effects. Which is why I am also offering this to the French-speakers among you (actually you need to speak Québecois, which ain't quite the same thing!). If you don't already know Tête à Claques, its about time!


and please read on...