Tuesday intro: The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’m reading the oldest book on my Kindle (part of a personal challenge I wrote about here). I’m a little way in and not sure how I feel. I normally love Nordic Noir, which this is, but it’s also very long and very wordy…we’ll see I guess. Here’s what it’s about…

10240235

How could one man inspire such hatred?

Professor Lars Helland is found at his desk with his tongue lying in his lap. A violent fit has caused him to bite through it in his death throes. A sad but simple end. Until the autopsy results come through.

The true cause of his death – the slow, systematic and terrible destruction of a man – leaves the police at a loss. And when a second member of Helland’s department disappears, their attention turns to a postgraduate student named Anna. She’s a single mother, angry with the world, desperate to finish her degree. Would she really jeopardise everything by killing her supervisor?

As the police investigate the most brutal and calculated case they’ve ever known, Anna must fight her own demons, prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

And here’s how it starts…

Solnhofen, Southern Germany, 5 April 1877

Anna Bella Nor was dreaming she had unearthed Archaeopteryx, the earliest and most primitive bird known. The excavation was in its sixth week, a fine layer of soil had long since embedded itself into everyone’s faces and the mood had hit rock bottom. Friedemann von Molsen, the leader of the excavation, was the only one still in high spirits. Every morning when Anna staggered out of her tent, sleepy and shivering in the cold, von Molsen would be sitting by the fire, drinking coffee; the congealed porridge in the pot proving he had cooked and eaten his breakfast long ago. Anna was fed up with porridge, fed up with dirt, fed up with kneeling on the ground that only revealed bones that were, of course, interesting in their own right, but were too young to be the reason she studied biology, and most definitely not the reason she was spending six weeks of her precious summer holiday living in such miserable conditions. The year was 1877 and, at this point in her dream, Anna got the distinct feeling that something didn’t add up. She was wearing her quilted army jacket and thick furry boots with rubber soles, but Friedemann von Molsen didn’t seem the least surprised, even though he was wearing a three-piece corduroy suit with a pocket watch, a woolly cap, which rested on his ears, and had a pipe in his mouth.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

The Legacy is the third book I’ve read now by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, the author whose name I will never be able to pronounce, and one I was eagerly looking forward to reading given how much I have enjoyed the other two.  I have to say I wasn’t disappointed in what I got for my money (well, not really my money as this was a review copy but you know what I mean – hopefully), though it probably wasn’t the favourite of the books I’ve read.

Why not? Because it didn’t have the spooky element the other two books had and which I thought set them apart from others in the genre.  I thought it would with the prologue – three children sat on a bench, not moving whilst a group of adults talk about the horrible things that have happened to them and how it is best they are given new lives and know nothing of their past.  This is the extent of it though and, with the story proper, it moves into a more traditional police procedural / piece of crime fiction.

That said, this doesn’t make it a bad book, not by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, once I got over my slight disappointment at the lack of spookiness, I became completely absorbed in the story.  It has everything I like in my Nordic noir; it is dark and gritty, the world is cold (there is always snow) and the people slightly dour and depressed (sorry but it’s true – though it doesn’t put me off reading).  Plus there is the structure and social mores in which they live and work, so different to ours and so fascinating.  I can never resist.

As for the book itself, it is well written and well translated and nice and complicated, though it didn’t feel like it would be at first.  With each murder and each twist in the tale I found myself more confused as to what was going on and who the killer was (I didn’t get this one until it was revealed – a good thing for the author in the keep ’em guessing stakes but bad for my ego as I really like to be the one who figures things out before the police).

The silver lining to that is that the police were just as confused as me, no closer to figuring out the truth than I was as they scrambled to find clues and connections between the victims.  I should have had more of a clue given I knew more than them.  Not only was I privy to the children in the prologue, I was only following Karl, a CB radio enthusiast who is picking up broadcasts that seem to be targeted directly at him (and pointing him towards the victims).  Knowing they were all connected didn’t help me though,  I just couldn’t put it together no matter how hard I tried.

Maybe I would have tried harder if I hadn’t been distracted by what I hoped was a burgeoning relationship between the lead detective (Huldar) and Frejya who works for the children’s service and is trying to keep the first victim’s daughter (and only witness to her murder) safe.  Huldar and Frejya have history, meaning she isn’t his biggest fan, but I couldn’t help hoping they would figure it out because, despite Huldar’s social ineptitude, I really liked him and Frejya.  I thought they were complicated but well rounded characters and, as this is the first in the series, I really hope to get to know them better.

Maybe I’ll be lucky in the next one and get a bit of the spooky back but, even if not, I’ll keep reading because I liked this one a lot and would definitely recommend it.

Enjoy!

Emma x

liked-it-a-lot

Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 23rd March, 2017
Pages: 464
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.