No respite from the searing heat, so I’m staying parked inside flipping pages. Here are my latest reads…
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
The Gist: Oslo police detective Harry Hole investigates the disappearances of several women that have occurred over a number of years. All of the cases have a few things in common: the missing women are all mothers; each disappearance occurs during Norway’s first snowfall of the winter season; and a freshly built snowman is left in the wake of each disappearance. Meanwhile, Harry mulls over an anonymous letter he received earlier about the impending return of The Snowman. Could these disappearances be the work of Norway’s first serial killer?
Status: Read cover to cover.
Summer Escapism: A (The best! In addition to an addictive mystery, you’re treated to a chilly Nordic winter. That’s one way to beat the heat.)
Strength of Writing: A (Nesbo pulls you in and doesn’t let go until you finish. He’s a master at this kind of writing.)
Stimulation of the Little Grey Cells: B. (A crime thriller that doesn’t make you think isn’t really worth much. Nesbo keeps you guessing.)
Social Relevance: C (Good novels always have something to say about the nature of human existence. Readers are treated to some interesting stats about a couple of human diseases, as well as the promiscuous behaviors of the naked ape.)
General Reaction: A corker of a good read! Nesbo is being promoted as the “next Stieg Larsson,” and it’s easy to get on board this description. Harry Hole is a likable protagonist; flawed, obsessed, and a master sleuth. He struggles with alcohol. His relationships with the beautiful Rakel and her son Oleg are achingly relevant to the main plot line. There are red herrings galore in this book, but Nesbo makes them work. And there are some gruesome scenes; but if you like your crime thrillers served up bloody, then here’s your ticket!
Watch the book trailer for The Snowman.
Check out other Nordic Crime Thrillers.
Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit, Volumes One through Four, story and art by Motoro Mase
The Gist: My friend Sadie wrote a review of Volume One on her now defunct Extremely Graphic blog. I’ll let her give you the gist: “In Ikigami: the Ultimate Limit, the government has developed a vaccine that can protect the population from every single known disease. However, to keep the citizens’ appreciation for life, a small percentage of vaccines kill the child before he or she turns 25. A day before their death, a man delivers an ikigami or death card to the victim. Fujimoto delivers these cards.” Yep, that sums it up rather well. Each volume contains two stories about a character who receives an Ikigami, and shows us what happens during their last day on Earth. An overarching storyline concerns Fujimoto’s discomfort over his job as messenger of death.
Status: I’ve read the first four volumes of this series
Strength of Writing: Volumes One and Three get a B; Volumes Two and Four get a C (Volume One is rated highly because of the originality of the idea and the explanation of how the Ikigami program works. Volume Three has the two best stories so far in the collection.)
Strength of Art: A (If you like Manga art, which I do.)
Stimulation of the Little Grey Cells: C (What would you do if you were told you had 24 hours to live? Would you do what the characters do? Yeah, there’s a bit of stimulation and neural activity.)
Social Relevance: ummm… OK, I’ll give it a C-
General Reaction: While reading about the reaction of people who receive their death notices is interesting (the stories in Volume Three really are very good), I am more interested in Fujimoto’s growing distrust of the Ikigami program. The introduction of psychoanalyst Dr. Kobo, Mr. Fujimoto’s attraction to her, and my suspicion that she may be working against the Ikigami program despite appearances, are intriguing. But this overarching plot needs to develop faster. If it never does, or if it’s ultimately disappointing, I could end up rating the series a fail. Will I keep reading? Yeah, probably.
Read Ikigami online for free!
Wonder if we’ll get to see the Ikigami movie here in the USA?
OK, folks, now it’s your turn. What are you reading this summer?