It helps to know something about the time in which the story is set, and who Olof Palme was, to appreciate the book. Still,...
Dark, politically charged thriller from Swedish crime writer Persson (Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End, 2010), one of many literary heirs of Stieg Larsson.
Anyone who was alive and kicking in 1975 is likely a much different person today, if in no other way than that the platform shoes and disco ball are now in storage. Certainly a person’s politics might be different—and attitudes about others, too, especially if you are, say, a Norwegian put into contact with Germans within living memory of the Nazi occupation. Persson’s newest starts off smack in the middle of a not uncommon scene in the Europe of 1975: a cadre of terrorists has seized the German embassy in Stockholm, demanding the release of prisoners, including members of the Baader-Meinhof gang. Things get ugly quickly; as the head of the homicide squad idly thinks, “The promised effects of the Stockholm syndrome, this good, consoling cigar, seemed more remote than ever.” A few hours in, and hostages and terrorists die. Or did they? The operation was so carefully planned that, it stands to reason, someone well placed both inside and outside the embassy had to have been in on it. Red herrings—perhaps better, Red Brigades herrings—ensue, as Persson unfolds a carefully plotted story that jumps to 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, then to the near-present, crossing generations of investigators and government officials in the quest to find out who knew what—and who covered up what, and who killed whom. People change with the years—and they don’t. Persson himself figures in the proceedings, in the sly way that Alfred Hitchcock figured in his films. And while there’s humor, if mostly black—let “The one who had ended his life by his own hand and with the help of his service revolver to save society unnecessary nursing expenses and himself an undignified life” stand as a fairly typical example—Persson writes with unrelenting grimness, as if needing a strong dose of Mediterranean sunshine to cure the police-beat blues.It helps to know something about the time in which the story is set, and who Olof Palme was, to appreciate the book. Still, a practiced, Larsson-worthy procedural.
Pub Date: March 1, 2012
Page Count: 416
Review Posted Online: March 4, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.
Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Pub Date: March 10, 2015
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.
A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.
Pub Date: March 17, 2020
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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