Tag Archives: Edinburgh

The White Lioness by Henning Mankell

I started reading The White Lioness while on holiday in Edinburgh & I was initially a bit worried about reading this one after The Dogs of Riga (which to be honest, I hated), as this is another one where Mankell takes the book outside of Sweden. In my opinion that is a big part of what ruined The Dogs of Riga, so I was worried that would ruin this one as well. I needn’t have worried!

From the back of the book: “In peaceful southern Sweden Louise Akerblom, an estate agent, pillar of the Methodist Church, wife and mother, disappears. There is no explaination and no motive. Inspector Wallander and his team are called in to investigate.

As Inspector Wallander is introduced to the missing persons case he has a gut feeling that the victim will never be found alive, but he has no idea how far he will have to goin search of the killer. In South Africa, Nelson Mandela has made his long walk to freedom, setting in train the country’s painful towards the end of Apartheid. Wallander and his colleagues find themselves caught up in a complex web involving renegade members of South Africa’s secret service and a former KGB agent, all of whom are set upon halting Mandela’s rise to power. Faced with a world in which terrorism knows no frontiers, Wallander must prevent a hideous crime that means to dam the tide of history.

The book beings with Kurt investigating the disappearance of a local business woman & mother of 2, Louise Akerblom. Kurt senses from the minute her husband reports her missing that there is something terribly wrong with this case & he couldn’t be more correct. Shortly we are taken to South Africa, where we are introduced to Jan Kleyn & Colonel Frans Malan, Afrikaaners who are bent on making sure that Apartheid never ends & using all means possible.The two, along with a secret “association” hatch a plan that will ensure utter chaos in South Africa & ensure that white rule remains for centuries to come. Wallander & his team are soon dragged into something much larger than they ever dreamed, or are even really capable of handling, much to Wallander’s detriment.

I loved this book because it really showed off the fallible side of Wallander & even though we are only in book 3, we are now beginning to see the Wallander that I know so well from the Wallander movies with Krister Henriksson. Wallander makes some terrible decisions in this book & has to deal with the consequences, which affect more than him. This book, to me, is the making of Wallander, it is what makes him what he becomes in the later books & what he is portrayed as in the Yellowbird films.

I have read some pretty bad reviews of The White Lioness & while I do not necessarily agree with them, I do understand where they are coming from. Wallander is a bit of an acquired taste – I think you either love Mankell’s style of writing & Wallander by extension, or you can’t stand it & find the  books a chore. Luckily, I love them & they, in my humble opinion, are only getting better & better! My only regret is that I do not read Swedish, as I would love to read the originals, instead of the translations!

 

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The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

The Whole Truth is the 1st book in a new (or at least new to me) series by David Baldacci & I seem to have developed a love for the main character in this book! I’ve (after the fact) seen a lot of pretty bad reviews about this book, but I loved it!

The basic premise is that “wealthy arms dealer Nicholas Creel is facing his own personal credit crunch, and needs to find a way to kickstart his business. Would starting a war help? Creel would hardly be averse to that. Anna Fischer is enjoying her professorial activities, but is growing dismayed at world events. Her life is transformed when her new lover proposes marriage — but there is a side to her boyfriend’s life that may threaten all she holds dear. Journalist Katie James is casting around for a way to salvage her stalled career, when something falls into her lap — a story with very dangerous elements. And the mysterious Shaw, operative for a clandestine intelligence organisation, wants to give it all up — but finds that an employer wants him to tackle one final all-important job. ” – (from Amazon)

This book is just full of things that you (scarily) could see happening in today’s world. Initially we are introduced to A. Shaw, who is essentially a government employed mercenary (only he’s the good kind, lol), who travels the world doing the bidding (unofficially) of the US government, doing their dirty work.

Then, you’ve got a bigger-than-it-should-be arms dealer who doesn’t like the way the world is & thinks things should return to the cold war era, when the enemies were known & the world was a far safer place (at least in his estimation). The sudden appearance of a video on the internet sparks a new hatred for the old enemy, Russia & suddenly things are getting out of control. Videos of dead bodies, supposedly people murdered by the Russian government, start turning up and people start demanding that action be taken against Russia. Only, is reality what it seems to be, or are they all too willing to believe what they see – simply because it seems to be true? Anna Fischer, a German genius who works for a think-tank in London becomes intrigued & begins to investigate the videos – at which point, all hell breaks loose.

I really would love to talk about exactly what happens in this book because it is so scarily possible, but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for anyone. I loved the character Shaw & I definitely will be reading the further installments to see what he gets up to. In a way he reminds me a lot of Jack Reacher – who I also love!

About the only thing that drove me crazy about this book was one slight inaccuracy. In the book Shaw travels to Edinburgh & checks into The Balmoral Hotel. Baldacci describes the hotel, or more importantly the room that Shaw checks into. He says that his room faces Princes Street, but that Shaw looks out his bedroom window (to his right) at Edinburgh Castle. That’s not physically possible! If Shaw’s room faces Princes Street, then Edinburgh Castle is to the LEFT, not the right! The only way that Edinburgh Castle could be to Shaw’s right would be if Shaw’s room in the Balmoral faces Market Street, not Princes Street! That one bugged me a lot, can you tell?

All in all, though I thought this was a very good book, full of scary ideas that hopefully won’t ever come true!

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Global Reading Challenge ~ Country # 55) England

Star GazingI started reading Star Gazing by Linda Gillard yesterday &  finished it today (I would have finished it in one day if I hadn’t had to go grocery shopping yesterday!). Can I just say “WOW!” What a fantastic book! I didn’t want to put it down & today was absolutely frustrated beyond belief with the train from London to Bedford, because it arrived in Bedford just a few pages before the end of the book ~ at a point where no one in their right mind would want to have to put this book down! (Majorly crucial point of the book – I wanted to sit on the empty train & just continue reading until someone came along & found me & kicked me off! :))

I have previously read Emotional Geology by Linda Gillard & loved it too, but this book is miles better in comparison! To quote the blurb on the back of the book: “Blind since birth, widowed in her twenties, now lonely in her fourties, Marianne Fraser lives in Edinburgh in elegant, angry anonymity with her sister. Marianne’s passionate nature finds solace in music, a love she finds she shares with Keir, the man she encounters on her doorstep one winter’s night.

Keir makes no concession to Marianne’s condition. He is abrupt to the point of rudeness, yet oddly & touchingly kind. But can Marianne trust her feelings for this reclusive stranger who wants to take a blind woman to his home on Skye, to “show” her the stars?”

Linda has created in Marianne a woman who is fiercely independent but also incredibly needy, both a direct result of her blindness. Marianne is a force to be reckoned with – headstrong, proud & at times stubborn as a mule (often to her detriment). She is the most incredible woman & while I sometimes wished I could shake some sense into her, scream at her to wake up & stop shutting people out, I loved her nonetheless & completely understood why she was behaving the way she was.

Keir, the male interest in the novel is everything a woman could want in a man – but he is such a believable character. He doesn’t come across as fantasy, or something that couldn’t exist, which is helped along by the fact that Linda lets us see his faults. His inability to really, trulyexpress his emotions makes him real & the way he treats Marianne just makes you love him – warts & all! (relax, he doesn’t really have warts, I’m being figurative, lol) The man (or Linda, should I say) has a genuine gift for description of all things physical. His (her?) ability to describe the Isle of Skye in relation to music was stunning & her discription of the “bird cd” made me rush home to google to see if it existed!

As background characters, Garth the Goth & Louisa were excellent – they filled in the details Marianne herself couldn’t & I especially loved the three different points of view in the book – Marianne’s, Louisa’s & the Narrator’s. I’ve read another book that jumped from person to person & I would say it was just like that with that particular book – jumping from person to person. This book wasn’t like that, while there were 3 different p.o.v.’s, they flowed so smoothly between each other & I really cannot imagine that this particular story could have been told any other way.

I don’t really think I can say much more about this book without giving too much away, so I shall simply leave it with: I loved Marianne, loved Keir & am so happy that I read this book! It is one that I can easily see myself coming back to time & again to re-read!

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