FEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit

January 8, 2018

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A  well done novel about what an individual’s perception does to his mind, how does unreasoning fear influence decisions about action to be taken in a stressful event.

Randolf Tiefenthaler is a successful architect living and working in Berlin. He has a beautiful wife, Rebecca, and two delightful children. Due to his success he moves his family into a lovely upscale apartment. Every thing looks wonderful. He likes his neighbors and gets along as well as could be expected with them. One of them is an older man named Dieter Tiberius who at first blush seems friendly although somewhat aloof. Unfortunately Dieter  changes and his behavior becomes malevolent.

Randolph becomes more and more disturbed by Dieter’s behavior.  Dieter develops a fascination for Rebecca and begins sending erotic letters to her. He also accuses Randolph’s family of child molestation and files police reports against them while openly spying on them. Randolph files counter police reports against his antagonist but gets nowhere. He begins to feel himself unable to take care of his family and inadequate as a protective husband and father. Somewhat estranged from his own father he finally asks him for advice on what to do. Randolph’s childhood with the man that sired him was one of apparent distance and fear of the many guns his father had in the house.

As a  possible result of the consultation held with his father, Dieter is shot dead in his own apartment. Randolph’s father is arrested for the crime and sent to prison. Randolph goes through a period of self analysis which has him calling into question his own masculinity, the rule of law and violence in general. The meditation leads to him questioning his own adequacy, the concept of middle class privilege and the whole spectrum of a “civilized” life.

This is Kurbjuweit’s seventh book, and the first one translated into English. The concepts developed in this novel are certainly cause for thought and will surely develop a taste for more on the part of the reader.

1/18 Paul Lane


FEAR by Dirk Kurbjuweit. Harper (October 3, 2017).  ISBN 978-0062678348. 272p.

THE CHOSEN by Kristina Ohlsson

December 6, 2016
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The Fredrika Bergman Series, Book 5

Fredrika Bergman is a brilliant crime analyst & Alex Recht is a police inspector, and together they solve crimes in Stockholm, Sweden.

Peder Rydh, former police and newly minted head of security at the Solomon Center, a Jewish community, is immediately thrust into turmoil. A preschool teacher is shot and killed in the middle of the afternoon pickup, and a short time later two ten-year-old boys go missing.

The boys are found dead the next day, left in the woods with paper bags over their heads. The story starts escalating, landing Fredrika in Israel and involving Efraim, a Mossad agent, as well as Eden, an agent with Sago, the Swedish secret police.

This is an intricate story with tentacles that reach to an Israeli myth of “the Paper Boy”, a Mossad operation gone horribly wrong, and the Sago investigator’s personal crisis, yet never gets bogged down. If only these principal investigators weren’t all so secretive, the murders could probably have been solved a hundred pages sooner, but what’s the fun in that.
Copyright ©2016 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

12/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE CHOSEN by Kristina Ohlsson. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (December 6, 2016).  ISBN 978-1476734064. 496p.


THE DAY IS DARK by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir

December 12, 2015

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Thóra and Matthew are doing well in their budding relationship, so when he approaches her about a job that’s odd but means they’ll get to spend time together she’s in.

The job is one on behalf of Matthew’s employer, Kaupthing Bank, who backed Berg Technology, a company contracted to excavate for Arctic Mining in a remote location in Greenland. Unfortunately, the job has gone off the rails with Berg grossly behind and all but two of their employees abandoning the job. As for the two that stayed behind, no one’s heard from them in over a week – with one small exception. The two men who stayed in Greenland are known jokesters who frequently harass fellow employees and blog about it. Their last communication with anyone outside of Greenland was a garbled and suspiciously bloody video.

Berg doesn’t have a great track record in the area. They’ve already lost two other employees, the most recent just months ago. Both were women and neither was ever seen again. If Berg has defaulted due to negligence or something worse, Kaupthing Bank is on the hook. Matthew, Thóra, and a small team are to travel to Greenland to investigate the situation. If they can prove that the job has fallen through due to circumstances beyond Berg’s control, the bank won’t take the hit when Arctic Mining claims the insurance. And a success could mean more work for Thóra’s small firm.

This is such a fun series and the mysteries themselves always border on the bizarre and possibly unexplainable. I had thought The Day is Dark was actually headed in a quite different direction as far as the fates of the various Berg employees, so the real revelation was quite a surprise. A pleasant and gory one, that is.

It should be noted that this is a translated series and there are a few issues because of that. The phrasing can be awkward and clunky, more so than with other translated works I’ve encountered. This many entries in I had hoped to see an improvement in that regard but can honestly say that it doesn’t greatly affect my enjoyment of the series. I look forward to each new entry, and each new release by Sigurdardóttir (who has two stand alones out now as well), with great anticipation, anxious to see what weirdness Thóra will encounter next.

12/15 Becky LeJeune

THE DAY IS DARK by Yrsa Sigurdardóttir. Minotaur Books; F First Edition edition (February 26, 2013).  ISBN 978-1250029409. 384p.



HOSTAGE by Kristina Ohlsson

November 10, 2015
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The Fredrika Bergman Series (Book 4)

In a bit of a departure from the police procedurals featuring Fredrika Bergman and Alex Recht, Ohlsson moves her characters into different jobs and creates a thriller based on the 2010 terrorist attack on Stockholm, making this a much more personal book, which she addresses in the afterword.

Bergman is now working for the Justice department and Recht has moved to the National Bureau of Investigation which is investigating several bomb threats throughout Stockholm, including one at the Rosenbad, a government building. Sweden’s security force, Sapo, takes the lead on the investigation that also includes Eden Lundell, the head of the counter-terrorism unit.

They don’t find any bombs, but the next day there is another threat, this time aboard a flight from Stockholm to New York. The U.S. is hypervigilant of a terrorist attack and is at odds with the Swedish government, whose priority is trying to protect its citizens on board the flight. To complicate things further, Recht’s son is the captain on board.

The two governments need to find a way to work together before the plane’s fuel runs out or it enters U.S. air space. This is a tense, complex story that will satisfy fans of this series and Scandinavian thrillers.

Copyright ©2015 Booklist, a division of the American Library Association.

11/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

HOSTAGE by Kristina Ohlsson. Atria/Emily Bestler Books (November 10, 2015).  ISBN 978-1476734033. 400p.