Post Script: Fatal Crossing – Lone Theils

Fatal Crossing

Fatal Crossing (Nora Sand #1)

Lone Theils

Charlotte Barslund (Translator)

Echo

Bonnier Publishing Australia

ISBN: 9781760406530

 

Description:

When a picture of two Danish girls who disappeared on a boat bound for England in 1985 surfaces in an old suitcase, journalist Nora Sand’s professional curiosity is immediately awakened.

 

Before she knows it, she is mixed up in the case of a serial killer serving a life sentence in a notorious prison. The quest to discover the truth about the missing girls may be more dangerous that she had ever imagined…

 

A fast-paced and skilfully plotted thriller’

Barry Forshaw

 

A candidate for the best crime novel of the year’

Krimi-Cirklen

 

 

My View:

What a great debut! This is a very credible and immensely satisfying read that had moments that remind me of actual crime that have occurred in Australia, specifically in Perth WA. I won’t share the details as I don’t want to influence your reading or give away any spoilers but after you have read it, tell me if anything in this novel resonated with crimes in your region.

Back to the review – I loved the protagonist, Nora, strong female leads are always a favourite in my reading; she is intelligent, passionate about her work, her life is extraordinary – we meet Nora who is a journalist, as she is conducting an interview with a war criminal: “The stories swirled around Nora’s head, one atrocity overtaking the next. Schoolchildren witnessing the gang rape of their teacher before they themselves were hacked to death with machetes. Massacres of villagers that went on until the murderers were too tired to life their arms and so they locked up the survivors with the corpses until the next day when the killing resumed…” (p1) A brutal  “hook” reminiscent of current news headlines that will have you squirming in your seat as you read, the honesty, brutality and inhumanity of the deeds pricking at your conscience.

I think we will be seeing more of this type of occupation and reporting of current events in our future fiction reads, what a brilliant way to add social commentary to our reading lives.

A strong, determined, feisty female protagonist, the crimes credible, heinous, prevalent and feature in our news headlines far too often and a fabulous twist or two that will surprise the most hardened crime fiction reader.  This is a fabulous read and I cannot wait for the next book in this series to arrive in my letterbox.

 

PS The translation is flawless.

 

Post Script: The Butterfly Enigma – Lorraine Campbell

Cover The Butterfly Enigma

The Butterfly Enigma

Lorraine Campbell

McIntosh Publishing

ISBN: 9780994338723

 

Description:

A thrilling new novel from the author of the ‘Resisting the Enemy’ series. Lena, the lost child… Found wandering the streets of wartime Paris. No-one knows her real name or where she came from. Australia in the ‘Swinging Sixties.’ Lena is working in the Melbourne Law Courts. One day in court she hears a man’s voice. A voice that sounds hauntingly familiar. A voice that chills her to the core. Is it possible that this man has something to do with her unknowable past? Lena embarks on a search for more. A newspaper story. A history. A connection. And slowly, layer by layer, the past is peeled away, revealing a picture of evil involving thousands of lives and touching on Lena’s own personal tragedy. ‘The Butterfly Enigma’ ranges from the submarine-patrolled sea lanes of the Baltic to the staid courtrooms of mid-sixties Australia, to the island of Crete, to Paris, Tel Aviv and the inner workings of the Mossad, and to Rio de Janeiro. A gripping story of one young woman’s search for her lost past. Above all, her passionate and overwhelming desire for justice and retribution.

 

 

My View:

It is very interesting how two people can read the same book so differently – a good reason to have an open mind and check out books which might not necessarily be in your favoured genre – as long as the reviews are positive. I read an online review that stated that this book is about love and romance – not my view at all!

 

I read this book as a powerful narrative about a strong women embracing the beginning of the feminist movement in Melbourne in the 1960’s – a woman who wanted to and did make decisions for herself, a woman who was comfortable in her own skin, a woman striving to be self-reliant, a positive woman and overall a very determined and pragmatic woman; I could not believe the choices she made in Rio. (No spoilers here).

 

This narrative of feminism, Melbourne in the 1960’s and one woman’s strength is but one element of this multi-dimensional story. We hear the personal stories of war time 1940’s from the viewpoints of Lena’s mother as she struggles to protect her child firstly in Latvia and later in Paris as the ethnocentric war against Jewish people begins, from the captain who provided safe passage to those escaping Latvia on his ship, from Lena’s auntie in Paris and the historical accounts of war via the records of the newspapers and courts of the time, the Berlin Document Centre, trials of war criminals and other such resources. I dare you not to be moved but these accounts.

 

The stories and voices here overlap and intertwine offering the reader a rich and vibrant narrative. I loved every word on every page; such an exquisite and engaging narrative. Love story? That is not how I read this book; a multifaceted story of feminism, war crimes, retribution, courage and strength and complex relationships. Yes there are relationships in this novel – what novel concerning people wouldn’t be complete without the interactions between characters? Maybe the word lovers as opposed to love story is more fitting here? You be the judge.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Little Red Chairs – Edna O’Brien

Cover The Little Red Chairs

The Little Red Chairs

Edna O’Brien

Allen & Unwin

Faber & Faber

ISBN: 9780571316298

 

Description:

The much-anticipated new novel from the literary world’s master of storytelling, Edna O’Brien.

 

A woman discovers that the foreigner she thinks will redeem her life is a notorious war criminal.

 

Vlad, a stranger from Eastern Europe masquerading as a healer, settles in a small Irish village where the locals fall under his spell. One woman, Fidelma McBride, becomes so enamored that she begs him for a child. All that world is shattered when Vlad is arrested, and his identity as a war criminal is revealed.

 

Fidelma, disgraced, flees to England and seeks work among the other migrants displaced by wars and persecution. But it is not until she confronts him-her nemesis-at the tribunal in The Hague, that her physical and emotional journey reaches its breathtaking climax.

 

THE LITTLE RED CHAIRS is a book about love, and the endless search for it. It is also a book about mankind’s fascination with evil, and how long, how crooked, is the road towards Home

 

 

 

My View:

On the menu tonight; contemporary fiction deconstructed! What an interesting way to present a story! There are multiple points of views – the roll call includes the voices of individual characters and of the disenfranchised, the victims and survivors of many acts of atrocities in many regions and finally we hear the true voice of the perpetrator when being held to account for his actions.

The pace is erratic – unsettling but eventually compelling. Violence, love and compassion share the pages. This is not an easy read, this is a necessary read.

 

This is a very powerful and moving story of manipulation – it is human nature to expect the best of someone and to trust – Dr Vlad is artful in his ability to say what “you want to hear” and is thus easily accepted into his new community, his true nature bubbles under the surface of his deceit.

 

Edna O’Brien portrays Fidelma’s desire for a child and lover is heartbreaking and so sad. Her downfall is diabolical and so horrendous, her recovery, slow and painful.

 

This narrative pricks at our conscience and in particular serves to remind us of the notorious siege of Sarajevo where 11,541 innocent were slaughtered in the name of war and ethnic cleansing. This is but one atrocity, a recount of one incident, confined to one time and place but serves to remind us of the global evil that thrives in our world today. Our conscience needs pricking, our compassion needs this reminder, thank you Edna O’Brien.

 

Foreword: “On the 6th of April 2012, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the start of the siege of Sarajevo by Bosnian Serb forces, 11,541 red chairs were laid out in rows along the eight hundred metres of the Sarajevo high street. One empty chair for every Sarajaven killed during the 1,425 days of siege. Six hundred and forty-three small chairs represented the children killed by snipers and heavy artillery fired from the surrounding mountains.

Post Script: The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Richard Flanagan

Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Vintage Australia

ISBN: 9781741666700

 

Description:

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

 

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

 

My View:

This is destined to be an award winner!

Brutal, passionate, inspiring, remarkable, emotional and complex; a love story, a story of relationships, a story of war, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is all these things and more. Flanagan’s writing is poetic, is humbling, is revealing and is at times horrifyingly realistic, cruel and brutal and overwhelming and I have never felt so many contradicting emotions reading a book!

This man can write! At first I was lulled into a false sense of security thinking I knew where this narrative was heading; a coming of age tale, a story full of youthfulness, excitement and passions on fire, a young man discovering his potential, striving for betterment, an old man reflecting on a life that was, but these were just elements of this complex story.  The introduction lulled me into a sense of false comfort that was quickly shattered with the brutal truths of a Japanese Prisoner of War camp charged with building the Thai- Burma railway in impossible, inhumane conditions (my response fuelled by the many black and white images burnt into my retina from documentaries and still photographs of WW2) I almost could not bear to read any further, the images were too real.

This novel asked many questions – about the brutality inflicted during war and who carries the responsibility for war crimes, it discusses the meanings of culture, of reverence to ones political and sovereign leader, of who should pay the ultimate price for sins inflicted in that leaders name (and maybe didn’t), of when punishment becomes a sadistic pleasure and why/how onlookers allow these terrible acts to happen or joins in…The novel offers rational meaning for such behaviour that effectively discredits such behaviour…

But this is not just a story of war – it is also a story of love and of the meaning we place on relationships/family and love.  “There grew between him and Ella a conspiracy of experience, as if the raising of children, the industry of supporting each other in ways practical and tender, and the sum of years and then decades of private conversations and small intimacies – the odour of each other on waking; the trembling sound of each other’s breathing when a child is unwell……as if all of this were somehow more binding, more important and more undeniable than love, whatever love is. For he was bound to Ella. And yet it all created in Dorrigo Evans the most complete and unassailable loneliness, so loud a solitude that he sought to crack its ringing silence again and again with yet another woman…  ” (p.373-374), such beautifully evocative writing amid such tales of horror and amazing ability to survive you cannot help but be moved.

And then we have the beautiful poems scattered amongst the prose.

Surrender to the influence and emotions of this book. Read this book, and then re read this book!