My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received this in a Goodreads Giveaway which did not influence my review. I'm always hesitant with Nordic Noir as often it's a bit on the dour side. I didn't find this dour in the least. I was swept right up in the case. I have not read the first book in the series (and want to now) so I'm coming into Korner and Werner's partnership in a weird place. Jeppe Korner is working alone as Anette Werner is off on maternity leave (more on that later)
Jeppe is facing a high profile crime where people are turning up in public fountains in Copenhagen drained of blood (kudos to a cool killing tool!) All of them have ties to the titular Butterfly House, a privately run home for kids with mental illnesses, where one young girl, Pernille, committed suicide a few years back (and the unsuccessful lawsuit for wrongful death did end up shutting the place down). We have a host of actors here from a psychiatrist who has theories about mental illness and a lack of ethics when it comes to experimentation, shady owners, a borderline personality nurse, the family left behind by Pernille's suicide, and two mentally ill young people, Marie (bipolar) and Isak (Schizophrenic).
Anette's storyline was more problematic for me. Her pregnancy is a bit later in life and unexpected. She is very disconnected from her daughter (whom she hasn't even named yet after several weeks of maternity leave), being exhausted and tired of being a milk dispenser as she sees it, leaving a lot of the baby's care to her husband, Svend. She has not bonded to her child and feels both upset and yet passive about this (I've seen a couple friends go through this. It is hard on all involved). Rather than just leave her on the sidelines maybe calling in and ruminating over the case on the phone, Engberg puts Anette on a path I had issues with. Heck she almost does more investigating than Jeppe by lying to him and her husband, sneaking out when she's supposed to be napping and the baby is with her husband. So we have this new mother going out without back up, not telling anyone where she is or what she's doing (and as you can guess this will bite her in the ass). I wasn't thrilled with that choice (the only reason I didn't give this five stars)
The red herrings are good. There are a lot of characters and motives (and a few side stories too) but doesn't feel particularly overstuffed. As I said I didn't find it dour but I did find it sad. I used to practice medicine in several mental health facilities. It hit hard seeing this (some 20 years after I stopped that sort of work) because nothing much has changed. In fact, the most depressing parts were the paragraph describing how buildings were made cheaply with drywall vs plaster, that everything was throwaway including these kids who were just locked away and Isak's plaintive cry as a 17 year old boy faced with a lifetime of mental health incarceration, never getting to live because there are no good treatments for him. These depressed me more because this could describe so much of America and this is written by an author who lives in and set this in Denmark so you see just how universal this all is.
I definitely enjoyed meeting Jeppe and Anette and will be looking forward to more down the road.
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Grim Tuesday by Garth Nix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Arthur Penhaligon barely has time to rest after nearly being killed by Monday before Grim Tuesday makes his appearance known. Arthur, teen asthmatic in this world, is something more in the House. The Architect (female) who created all the worlds and left her will to the Days (seven rulers of the House) trusted the Days to care for the realm. Instead they are abusing it. Arthur defeated Monday but now it's Tuesday and Grim isn't waiting for Arthur to come to him.
He attacks Arthur's family (threatening to leave them homeless and destitute) and his connections to the House (calling in all of Monday's debts that Arthur can't pay). Arthur is forced back into the house (only good thing there for him is no asthma) Along with Suzy and Dame Primus (the original first part of the Will) he has to put an end to Grim Tuesday whose abuses run to enslavement, forced labor and mining so deep to Nothing that it threatens to spill out and destroy the universe, all in advancement of his greed.
As you'd expect from Nix, this is imaginative and action packed. Occasionally it feels a wee bit long but the characters are all engaging. I expecting this formula of being drawn back into the house to go all seven days. The one issue I had at the end was Arthur wants to go back to being a normal kid (can't blame him there) makes the devil's deal (that ends up with him being hurt and House magic can't help him) only to realize next chapter how dumb that was (in spite of everyone telling him that). I know he's a kid but this realization should have been obvious from the get go and it makes Arthur seem a bit foolish. Regardless, it's an interesting series and I'd like to see more.
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