Scandinavian Crime Fiction
I have often wondered why I ‘enjoy’ reading about serial killers. I mean really, what is enjoyable about that? Actually I’m a real baby when it comes to suspense. I avoid scary movies at all costs and although I have great admiration for the king of scary, Stephen King, you won’t find one of his books on my bedside table. Nope, not for me. So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that I love what Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbo does with a story. Yes, sometimes the story gets gruesome and edgy, sometimes there is lots of blood and strangers waiting in a young woman’s dark apartment with murder in mind. But crazy as this may sound, I can handle it, in fact, I love it. Nesbo makes reading about murder palatable, the people who commit them interesting and the people who solve them lovable.I know I’m not alone in this: Nesbo has sold over 23 millions copies of his crime fiction.
Naturally, we Nesbo fans (and I hope you’ll become one too) rejoice that he has brought Harry Hole back to the investigating team. Harry is forced out of retirement to do battle with a serial killer who has a unique and oh so vivid taste for blood, literally. There are twists and turns in plot so surprising I couldn’t tell the good guys from the bad guys until the last chapter. Harry battles his addictions, struggle with love, life, family and his co-workers. This is a psychological thriller with great story and character development.
From Crime By The Book: “Nesbo also writes truly compelling characters that get under your skin. I don’t think I’ll be the only reader to find something relatable in Harry Hole’s discomfort with his newfound happiness—and whether or not it strikes a chord with you, I can guarantee you’ll be riveted by the personal trials Harry goes through in THE THIRST.”
JO NESBØ is a musician, songwriter, and economist, as well as a writer. He has written 11 Harry Hole novels including The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard and Phantom. He put Harry Hole aside to write The Son, Midnight Sun, and Blood on Snow. He also writes children’s books. In this 2017 release Nesbo crafts a story so creepy and compelling I was on the edge of my seat the entire read! Don't be a baby, give The Thirst a try. You'll be glad you did!
Usually around this time of year a recommendation for a beach read is in order, in which case I grasp your shoulders and scream 'American Gods’ in your face, but I’d rather share the most magnificent piece of literature I have ever laid mine eyes upon- that’s right folks, ‘Dragons Love Tacos.’
Do you like dragons? Do you like tacos? If you don’t like dragons or tacos, wanna meet up so we can discuss this egregious lapse in your personal taste? I will sit you down, make a vague comment about the weather, and then graciously proffer ‘Dragons with Tacos,’ my new favorite book.
Yes, it’s a children’s book. Yes, I read those more than I’d care to admit. Sometimes a fellow wants a light read, not a Jojo Moyes-type light read but like a really *really* light read, because you just trudged through the first Game of Thrones book on a stupid whim and barely made it out alive with your brain intact. Thus, I perused the children’s section.
I’ve always held a special place in my heart for children’s books. When you get down to it, they can be extremely poignant. The best ones I’ve read have touched upon exclusion, racism, the individual’s role in society, the meaning of family, even how to handle the idea of death. Shel Silverstein’s poetry, ‘The Little Prince,’ Dr. Seuss’ rhymes, they all carry life messages hidden behind easily-digestible jibber-jabber. My favorite of Silverstein’s, ‘Peanut Butter Sandwich,’ touches upon the consequences of excess. Dr. Seuss himself tackled bigotry and antisemitism in ‘The Sneetches’ and the environmental impact of the human overuse of resources in ‘The Lorax.’ Pretty adult stuff. So I suppose I shouldn’t feel ashamed that I occasionally spend a bit too long shelving children’s books. Literature for kids can be refreshing and illuminating in the way that it explores heavy topics and recognizes how intelligent children can be, in the vein of when Faulkner’s infamous Vardaman from ‘As I Lay Dying’ contemplates the difference between physical and spiritual permanence by watching a toy train in a store window. Goes to show that kids understand stuff better than adults, sometimes.
Where was I? Oh, yes, tacos.
‘Dragons Love Tacos’ caught my eye because, I mean, when’s the last time you’ve seen a book with both dragons AND tacos on the cover? When I found it it felt like my birthday. The book’s illustrations are adorable, the concept is darn near brilliant in its unabashed simplicity, and the writing provides groundbreaking insights and advice such as:
“Taco parties are parties with lots of tacos.”
“Bury the spicy salsa in the backyard.”
“I know you love tacos, dragons, but you’re not gonna love *those* tacos.”
I have misled you. ‘Dragons Love Tacos’ isn’t thought-provoking like the aforementioned children’s titles, and the only life-changing insight it will instill in you is that you may consider hunting down a dragon so you have someone to eat tacos with when you watch Netflix. Nothing is more Russian novel tragic than bringing House of Cards alone in your basement whilst eating many a taco, wondering what deity you must’ve angered to end up here. I know this from experience.
But here’s the deal. I love the book because it’s downright ridiculous. It has absolutely zero reason to exist. Nada. Zilch. None. Yet . . . It does. Great Mother Earth now holds under her depleting ozone layer a book about how dragons hate spicy salsa on their tacos. Stew on that for a second. Think about it. We’re living in a tumultuous time, on a planet slowly headed for eventual annihilation by either galactic explosion, nuclear war, or the sun burning us all to ashes, but it has now been confirmed that dragons love tacos. There is hope for us yet. There is hope.
Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my radar for several months now. Originally published in 1985, it came back into popularity after movie streaming service Hulu decided to pick it up for a television series. In a similar fashion to George Orwell’s 1984, many readers have taken interest in this dystopian tale as it draws many similarities to current events. While I do not believe that a reality as drastic as the one in Handmaid’s Tale could ever become true, there are still many parallels to draw from. I am a major fan of dystopian stories. Regardless of how depressing they may be, they serve as an honest warning for the future. Atwood’s novel is no exception, taking place in a world so horribly polluted that the majority of babies born are deformed. A new government steps in to solve the problem, leading to dangerously low fertility rates. Women’s rights are slowly taken away to the point where it seems as if the novel takes place in the middle ages. Main character Offred lives in the Republic of Gilead, a state in which the majority of women work as handmaids for the wealthy. After trying to escape with her family, Offred is separated from her daughter and husband with no choice but to be forced to conceive children under the government. With her future unknown, she must learn what survival means to her.
Atwood's novel has been adapted for opera, ballet, and film throughout the years. The story of The Handmaid’s Tale has captivated readers for generations as it makes them realize how much they take for granted. While the book was certainly a page turner, I dreaded learning of what horrible things would happen to Offred in the next chapter. The story is incredibly disturbing, yet beautiful. It sheds light on how women have been mistreated throughout the years, yet are still able to fight. The Handmaid’s Tale is gruesome and may be too much for some, but I believe it was essential for a young women like me to read. I would highly recommend this book as well as watching the Hulu series. For aspiring novelists and film directors, there is much to be learned from Atwood’s storytelling.
Staff of Wellington Square Book Shop