Considering the amount of violence in this book and how much of the violence is against women, it really wasn t for me Honestly, if former students are being killed how come only one male student and the rest female And the cops who have things together are all men, the female police officer has a problem I guess it was nice seeing a male police officer in a happy relationship but the unequalness of everything kinda cheesed me off.
In A Short Space Of Time, Several Bestial Murders Occur In Central Stockholm When Criminal Investigator Conny Sj Berg And The Hammarby Police Begin To Suspect That There S A Link Between The Murders, Sj Berg Goes Completely Cold There Is A Killer Out There Whose Motives Are Very Personal, And Who Will Not Be DeterredThe Gingerbread House By Carin Gerhardsen Is The First In The Hammarby Series, Thrillers With Taut, Suspenseful Plots And Unexpected Twists And Turns This Haunting Novel Explores Schoolyard Bullying Among Young Children And The Effect It Has On Them When People Look The Other Way Many Of The Scenes In This Book Are Self Experienced And Based On Gerhardsen S Own Childhood Urban Settings And Strong Portraits Of Authentic Characters Are Crafted In Depth And Detail, Insuring The books Will Linger In The Reader S Mind Long After The FinishThe Gingerbread House Is Written In The Same Tradition As The Sj Wall Wahl Crime Novels, And Has Been Described As A Book Version Of The Tv Series The Wire It Is Not Only Published By The Same Publisher As Stieg Larsson S The Millennium Trilogy, But By The Same Editorial Team The Gingerbread Girl is the first in a planned series of thrillers set in the Stockholm district of Hammarby and introduces DCI Conny Sj berg and the officers that work under his command in the Violent Crimes Unit The series has gained some renown as it is the work of the editing and publishing team behind Steig Larsson s The Millennium Trilogy, and with an intriguing premise investigating a series of sadistic killings which have broken out across the country I had high expectations When elderly Ingrid Olsson returns home from an extended stay in hospital to discover the body of a dead man in her kitchen DCI Conny Sj berg is summoned to the incident Curiously the woman claims never to have met the man lying dead in her kitchen and seems remarkably indifferent to the episode The initial focus is on identifying the victim and finding a connection between Ingrid and the victim which would explain his presence at her house They quickly establish that the man is well liked family man and father of three, Hans Vannerberg, partner in a successful local estate agency and with a wallet left untouched this is far complicated than a casual robbery Hot on the heels of the discovery of Vannerberg further seemingly random and increasingly sadistic murders take place across the country and Sj berg and his team are up against it in a frenzied race to uncover the perpetrator.
Given that The Gingerbread House opens with a horrific portrait of preschool bullying making the life of a six year old Thomas a misery and then catches up with him as a forty four year old man living an isolated life and still scarred by his harrowing past it is always pretty clear what is behind the series of brutal murders and I found this linear plot construction rather disappointing Given the initial bullying scene features two children at the mercy of the playground bullies the choice of perpetrator is in little doubt and I found it hard to buy into this mystery Haunted by these memories when Thomas catches sight of one of his childhood tormentors in the street he is taken by an impulse to follow the man and discover what hand life has dealt him.
Featuring a dual narrative and seeing the murders prior to their discovery by the police through the extracts entitled Diary Of A Murderer , the principal problem was that as a reader I was privy to all the details and the rationale behind the killings before the police Throughout this novel the reader is better informed that the team at the helm and with DCI Sj berg and his team playing catch up the novel felt devoid of suspense and lacking in tension throughout as it plodded to its end The adrenalin buzz and intensity which sustains so many thrillers was totally lacking and with only two possible candidates as the perpetrator of these horrors, their identity is never much of a mystery In hearing from one of the victims of bullying through the diary extracts I was struck by how nauseating the prose became and in my opinion this worked against the novel as I began to tire of the self pity and sympathy vote card that was played.
The narrative of this novel was also not to my taste I found the descriptions dry and slightly wooden and they added little in terms of local flavour, however as a reader of the English translation I am unable to comment as to whether this is the fault of the author or the translator I have read numerous translated works and The Gingerbread House felt stilted and seemed to lack the fluency that good translations depend upon References to the winter sport of bandy will mystify English readers and the use of the expression oh, crud was frankly laughable.
I also thought the cast of investigative characters brought little to the story and was struck by the lack of impetus they displayed with so much of the focus seeming to be based on getting home from work to spend time with the children and presenting an ultimate home life balance that it simply did not ring true The investigation lacked any form of urgency and whilst I can applaud Sj berg for sharing the burden of his children and still being devoted to his wife I doubt that is the reality for very few detectives Messages could wait until after lunch and even in the wake of declaring a hunt for a serial killer Sj berg made time to keep the sandwiches foremost in our minds Domestic bliss and harmony amongst the team was all very well but made for a pretty bland team and there was little to distinguish the individual characters amongst them.
Alongside the murder investigation police assistant Petra Westman becomes caught up in her own nightmares as she wakes from a drunken one night stand and is plagued by doubts as to whether her part in it was consensual Petra goes on a vigilante mission conducting a behind the scenes investigation employing police resources to resolve the questions running through her mind and see justice done Although this made for a pleasant diversion it added nothing to the story and I certainly didn t need to know that her night involved anal sex Although I can appreciate the nightmare of a life ruled by bullies the likelihood of two preschool children still being so consumed with their plight at mid forties seemed a little unlikely Given that very few people look back on their schooling and childhood years with much fondness it seemed doubtful that both would still be fixated on this after all those years and have never moved on All in all this felt like an issues based novel right from the start with the running theme of bullying running throughout The sub plot and question of consensual sex and the presence of a Muslim detective to investigate the politics of his former homeland all felt like a platform for a wider social discussion which the novel could not do justice to.
On the whole a thoroughly disappointing reading experience which seemed to lack the subtlety and finesse which is prevalent in so much of Scandicrime Heavy handed and devoid of suspense I am keen to see whether the next instalment in the series marks a turning point and indeed whether the sub plot is made use of in the follow up.
Were you ever bullied when you were a child Teased by other children because you looked different or dressed differently Were you picked on because you were shy This is the story of a young boy who was teased, tormented, taunted and terrified when he was 6 years old and in preschool He was beaten on a daily basis, tied up and put in the middle of the street He had his clothes ripped, torn and sometimes even removed and hidden To him, the other children are monsters Fast forward he is now 44 years old He still views himself as a victim silent, afraid and alone The the killings begin.
I thought this was a terrific book maybe because I was that shy girl in class who blushed bright red everytime someone spoke to me Luckily I grew out of that You can t help but feel sympathy for this man and all children who are bullied on a daily basis The author did a wonderful job of describing the characters and bringing them to life.
Criminal Investigator Conny Sjoberg and his team have to find the connection between all the murder victims Sometimes help and information come from strange sources I liked seeing inside the Investigator s head and following him finding clues.
I gave it 5 stars and look forward to the next book in this series.
I was first in doubt if I really liked it, but as I continued reading, the book had me completely hooked This novel is very deceiving and rather unexpected Probably my initial reluctance was because the book was not what I expected, in fact it turns out I am talking about this book with everyone I meet so my impression of it really changed over time and it is still lingering in me after it s finished The story works on different time levels and jumps between 2006 and 1968 It s a story about revenge and contains several bestial murders, it starts out with an extremely painful bullying scene that supposedly is self experienced by the author It is hard to write to much about the plot without revealing things that should be discovered by the reader, but I can say it is very cruel and not for the sensitive reader.
The blurb on the front cover describes this book as fast paced and addictive I found it anything but A sluggish police procedural with a cast of drab central characters The murder of four 44 year olds in and around Stockholm is somehow linked to some horrific cases of abuse in a preschool in the late 1960s At first, we, the readers are lead to believe we know who the perpetrator is and it is just a matter of the police discovering his identity too There is something of a twist towards the end, although it s tiresomely predictable and has been telegraphed two chapters beforehand.
As well as lacking any real sense of drama or momentum, the novel also veers off tangentially and unnecessarily into the private lives of the investigators A female detective suspects she was raped whilst under the influence of Rohypnol as horrific as this is, the matter is neither resolved at the end nor has any bearing on the main case There is also a chapter which seems to consist entirely of the lead detective s large family preparing dinner Fine, I suppose, if one s looking for a recipe for salmon tapenade, but again, totally irrelevant to the central story.
Apparently I m going to be the only one to say this, but, daaang, I felt ambivalent about these characters This wasn t such a cut dried, good vs evil book for me Not in the least am I condoning murder, thank you very much, but I did feel a measure of empathy for the kids who were bullied and, at the same time, I felt sorry for the murdered gent who managed to turn his life around after his own wretched childhood while at the same time despising his sorry soul for what he did and feeling somewhat guiltily that, hey, he brought it upon himself What bullied kid does not daydream about revenge As long as it stays a daydream, of course Anyway, this was a good read, but now I really want to read the next in the series Surely there must be one I want to know what happens with Petra Westman
Book ReviewI m giving this 3 stars as opposed to 4 or 5 stars , but only because of two words in the entire novel that I feel are deliberate trickery by the author It would be a disgrace to reveal to potential readers to what two words I m referring, but I condsider having written them, a major error on the author s part And so I m giving this a lesser rating that I would have otherwise.
I consider this book the beginnings of an author who has yet to mature in certain areas, while showing immense promise in delivering a fast paced crime novel that despite my few objections I found addicting Every scene is very tightly woven and leads to the plot, despite seemingly innocent and warming scenarios in which we meet the lead detective s family With almost pure pleasure, I read of Conny Sj berg relationship to his wife who, rather than let a policeman s life lead her to ostracize herself from a man who is often not present, participates in helping her husband solve the mysteries he encounters, and, offers a profound support in the sense of loving a man for what he does and who he is, a support we do not usually see in other crime fiction novels.
The pacing is rapid, you can read the book in a few sittings The gruesome childhood scenes are horrible and one wonders how this is possible when we, for example, look at our own children and the schools they attend Is it true that children at the age of six are without ethics, without some sense of right and wrong Surely not.
The reveal in this novel came as a complete surprisebut therein came my 3 star rating I will leave it to potential readers to judge this for themselves.
Looking for the second in this series, I could find no indication of when it ll be published in translation this book is translated by Paul Norlen, an author in his own right, and translater for other notable Scandinavian writers such as Persson, Grebe, and Jansson Which led me to inquire with the publisher No response as of yet Series ReviewSweden remains in the minds of most Americans and British audiences as perhaps the only succesful implementation of what is commonly referred to as the welfare state experiment To foreign audiences we have in mind a peace loving populace they have managed to stay out of wars , a people protected by state policies in every manner, a relatively crime free country with a people thought of as blonde, tall and attractive if not sexually mature and free Not exactly what one would think of as a hot spot for crime fiction and its authors.
To this day Swedes remain proud of this image in spite of some definitive cracks appearing in the foundation cracks that are primarily fostered by the sudden emergence of a whole new genre of crime fiction, notoriously referred to as Scandinavian Noir, or Nordic Noir of which Swedish authors are a conscious part This letting of blood, this expose of what lies beneath the Swedish facade is primarily pomulgrated by crime fiction authors as opposed to say newspapers and the phenomenon has given birth to a world wide audience all within what seems to be the span of just a few years American and British Publishers, at first hesitant to jump into the fray for the fear that Scandinavian Noir is but a fad and that translated fiction will never catch on with English speaking audiences, now are convinced that this group of authors is here to stay and that what lies beneath the tip of the iceberg has yet to be revealed.
One such author engaging in this expose is Carin Gerhardsen Born in Katrineholm, Sweden on December 6, 1962, Carin Gerhardsen is the author of the Hammarby series, a series of crime novels that take place in the southern parts of Stockholm Carin Gerhardsen made her literary debut in Sweden fifteen years ago, but for various professional reasons such as pursuing her interests in IT put her career on hold only to resume writing some years later That writing effort led to what at the time was a trilogy that predates Larsson s Millennium trilogy Currently, of course, there are six volumes in the Hammarby series It is interesting to note that the original Gerhardsen trilogy was finally sold to Ordfront, Henning Mankell s original publisher Gerhardsen, in translation, is relatively unknown in Britain and the States Only the first, The Gingerbread House has been translated into English an omission in British and American publising of translated fiction that urgently demands to be remediedand this appears to be in the works.
originally a mathematician, which may explain her clever plots and complex characters, the Hammarby books seem to convey an almost cinema like quality in terms of editing scenes down to essentials only There seems to be a brilliant mind at work behind these fast paced, addictive, one or two sitting books a mind very focused on the psychological effects childhood instills onto the later adult Consequently, it is the often gruesome aftermath of such a childhood that is the focus of Gerhardsen s crime novels It is well known in Sweden that the Hammarby Series portray many of the scenes that the author admits are self experienced and based on episodes of Gerhardsen s own childhood.
Of course, we see a similar focus in Larsson s Millennium Trilogy, in Lisbeth s character and upbringing, but really, it is Gerhardsen that brings the effects of the welfare state on a Swedish childhood to the crime fiction forefront To those familiar with Swedish politics, the thorny issues surrounding foster care, some 20,000 castrations of the ill informed, social engineering that finds its way into Swedish laws see scathing 1982 memoir by the son of Alva Myrdal, a nobel peace winner and prominent Swedish politician , if not an overt concern in Sweden with population controland pretty soon you have a labyrinth of source material to begin writing crime fiction And such fairly recent public disclosures is one answer as to why Scandinavian Noir is both a recent American and british phenomenon, as well as a phenomenon that has a focus on the state, society and questionable laws while maintaining a tight focus on the crime narrative as opposed to say American Noir which is primarly focussed on the crime itself with some notable exceptions.
This relatively unknown author is an important piece to the foundations of Scandinavian Noir No doubt, as publishers make her known to American and British audiences through careful selection of translators, this will become quite clear.
Bullying among children and adolescents has probably been occurring for centuries certainly we ve all read enough about its occurrence in British public schools throughout the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and we re familiar with the practice of hazing in many colleges and universities We know about the injuries and occasional fatalities But what do we know about the survivors of childhood bullying The very young, pre school age, who are daily subjected to not just the taunts, but actual physical brutality of equally young children, who should not even be capable of such Author Carin Gerhardsen examines this very subject, in the context of pre school bullying in Sweden, and its consequences in middle age.
Young Thomas is a pre school victim a couple of the children, specifically Hans and Ann Kristin, lead the assaults against him, some of which are quite potentially dangerous such as tying him up in a jump rope and pushing him into the road in front of an oncoming truck pulling off his cap and pants and making him walk home without in the winter snow and tying him to a frozen lightpost All this and lack of emotional support at home, or protection against the constant bullying indeed, young Thomas seems to wear an invisible victim tag result in zero self esteem, and a lifetime of both solitude and loneliness Even in his late forties, Thomas is still often the brunt of coworkers pranks Then one evening, by sheerest chance or fate , Thomas spots one of the preschool ringleaders, now a middle aged, self assured, business partner with a loving and devoted family Thomas just cannot face it and for probably the first time in his life, he decides to act, not react and discovers that he does indeed have power the power to take life.
I first became interested in Scandinavian crime fiction via Lars Kepler s The Hypnotist and the novels of Jo Nesbo Carin Gerhardsen ranks in that high category also, and I anticipate further crime novels from this author, who effectively brings to life the character study so essential to good fiction.