I came down with something on Wednesday which resulted in a migraine and threw me off looking at screens and print for a while. I did manage to finish a couple of my current reads on audiobook, but to be fair, neither of these two impressed me much – and I don’t think I can blame the headache:
Duell (2011) by Arnaldur Indridason – I read the book in German, and am not sure if there is an English translation.
It is part of the Erlendur series but is set just before Erlendur arrives on the scene. I.e. Erlendur is not in it. He literaaly arrives on the last page of the book.
The setting of this book is fantastic: Island/Denmark, height of the Cold War, Chess World Championship game betwee Spasskij and Fischer, and an unexplained murder of a boy are at the foreground of this.
However, we also get flashbacks to the past of the main investigator Marian Briem (some translations seem to name the investigator “Marion”). I think the author tried to keep us guessing whether Marian is a man or woman, which is interesting, but seems very jarring and gimmicky for the first half of the book. By the second half, it was no longer something I noticed. I guess I stopped caring.
The flashbacks are the parts that nearly made me DNF the book: Not only does it slow down the pace of the book, which is already glacial, but the background also describes with Marian dealing with tuberculosis in his/her childhood and describes the various deaths of Marian’s childhood friends from TB.
It’s a bit like Mann’s The Magic Mountain, but with children. It’s really slow and really grim.
The rest of the book was … better. There is an espionage element which kept me reading.
Overall, tho, this is not a series or author that I will come back to.
The other book I finished was Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings and Broken Hearts (2020) by Kathryn Harkup. This was utterly disappointing, and I tried summarise my thoughts in a review here.
I guess, part of my disappointment stems from knowing that Harkup is a skilled writer and explainer of science and this is not on show in this book.
All that disappointment over Death by Shakespeare made me miss Shakespeare, so I finally read/watched The Merry Wives of Windsor yesterday to check off another title in my Will’s World Project.
It was the last of the comedies that I hadn’t read (I think … or hope), and I liked it.
Cheri – Colette
Buying Time – E. M. Brown
Red Ellen: The Life of Ellen Wilkinson – Laura Beers
The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works – William Shakespeare (see The Will’s World Project)