cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Books 8 & 9

The Stranger (Patrik Hedström, #4)The Stranger by Camilla Läckberg

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this one up figuring it was somewhere in a series (it was) but that I could figure things out easily enough since that’s par for the course in mystery series (I was right). It’s set in Sweden and as a caveat I have to say the chapters are huge but broken down into many different points of view. There’s no head hopping and it’s clear when we changed point of view characters but I know some people don’t like that. There are several different point of view characters and two separate, if dovetailed, mysteries.
Marit has been found dead in a single car crash, loaded to the gills on alcohol but even her estranged ex-husband and her current lesbian lover (not to mention Marit’s daughter, Sophie) all agree Marit didn’t drink. Patrik Hedstrom and his partner, Martin find something odd about this but their boss, Mellberg (who is more administrator/politician than detective) isn’t convinced until strange autopsy findings are revealed.

Into this we add so many more subplots: The arrival of Hanna, a new detective and seemingly the only female in the station (there are hints of misogyny in this but I think to highlight the trouble women still have in some careers) and her under-employed psychologist husband, Lars who is now working with a TV team. Speaking of that, the other major plot is a Big Brotheresque reality show who has been brought to the rather rural town by the local politicians so we have all those view points (the producers, the local politicians and ALL of the reality show stars, a silicon-remade Barbie, a depressed cutter, a young woman desperate to make it to the top, a rich playboy, a bad boy (who I really wanted to be the murder victim) and an immigrant struggling with family expectations and the reality he’s a gay Muslim.) Added into this also is Patrik and Erica’s upcoming wedding for which they haven’t really prepared. Erica trying to handle her newborn daughter plus her depressed sister Anna and her kids (which I assume in a previous book Anna killed her abusive husband) and Mellberg’s new found love.

One of the reality show stars is brutally murdered bringing in a host of reporters (naturally) and more scrutiny than Patrik’s small police department can handle. Marit’s death almost falls through the cracks until they notice there is a pattern leaving them with a dead reality star and a serial killer on the loose.

In spite of how many characters that are flying around, they all feel well developed. I did feel the ending seemed reality TV-like and I wasn’t that fond of it but that said the mystery was very interesting and I enjoyed this. I'm looking forward to reading more in the series.

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Psycho Pass: Inspector Shinya Kogami, Volume 2Psycho Pass: Inspector Shinya Kogami, Volume 2 by Midori Gotou

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This volume continues the storyline but is much more convoluted. I don’t remember the fact that everyone eats ‘hyper-oats’ being in the anime (which is fine) but apparently no one in Japan eats real food any more, just replicated things made out of these hyper-oats which in theory keep one’s hue from being cloudy (as real grown food could have imperfections like bacteria or heavy metals). Being allergic to them is key to some of what’s going on here and why some of the illegal actors are doing what they’re doing.
Luckily we still have Kogami as the lead with Masaoka in the mentor role because honestly all the new characters in this prequel still feel underdeveloped to me. We do have a brief interlude with Ginoza though so hopefully his role will expand as we go on.
The mystery itself is interesting as we look into why some of these people are becoming cannibals, why some of those with artificial organs are getting them on the black market and why are they dying. Yes it is probably more convoluted than needs be but that’s part of the mystery.

There are also hints that behind Japan’s new “utopia” with Sybil in charge is actually an oppressive dystopia. Nothing ugly is left to chance right down to literally everything being covered up by holographs (I think this might be taking it one step further than the anime did, it’s more than just people’s home’s being covered up). By the way, that right there is another clue.

The art is excellent in this and I’m still interested in where it’s slowly going. I do wish it was a bit less convoluted and a bit more fast paced.

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Tags: dystopia, manga, mystery, sci-fi

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