March 1st, 2012

white lady of rohan

Book 14: Where the Shadows Lie by Michael Ridpath

Book 14: Where the Shadows Lie (Fire & Ice Book 1) .
Author: Michael Ridpath, 2010.
Genre: Crime Fiction. Nordic Noir. Myth and Legend
Other Details: Paperback. 416 pages.

Magnus Jonson was born in Iceland though had been brought to the USA by his father at the age of twelve. Twenty-one years later he is a Sergeant Detective with the Boston Police Department Homicide Department. He is also the chief witness at an upcoming trial and a bounty has been placed on his head. After two failed attempts on his life, Magnus is being considered for the Witness Protection Programme. However, when his superior learns that the Icelandic Commissioner for Police has requested the loan of a US detective to advise their own police force upon violent crimes, he volunteers Magnus for the assignment. Even with his memories and a rusty grasp of Icelandic, Magnus still feels very much an outsider when he returns to the country of his birth.

He soon becomes involved in a murder case involving a respected Professor of Icelandic. There are rumours circulating that the Professor had possession of manuscript of a long-lost Icelandic saga featuring a magic ring with terrible powers. There are also intriguing ties between the saga and the work of Professor J.R R.Tolkien suggesting it may have been one of his sources of inspiration. Could the manuscript prove a motive for murder or did one of the Professor's infidelities inspire a crime of passion? There are plenty of twists and turns, more deaths, numerous suspects and the odd red herring thrown into the mix before the case is resolved.

After success as a writer of financial thrillers, Ridpath decided to make the switch to crime fiction. Given a long time interest in Iceland and its rich culture (and likely a keen eye on the current trend for Scandinavian crime fiction), he has embarked on this series. That he has a love for the myths and legends of Iceland is quite clear and he integrates these into the story as well as plenty of information about modern day Iceland.

Magnus is a well rounded protagonist, a little brash and over-confident at times yet honest and committed to his job. He is also still haunted by the unsolved murder of his father while he was at university. This murder as well as the case back in Boston come into play along with Magnus rediscovering his sense of connection with his homeland and its peoples. This latter aspect I felt was very well handled.

This was an intelligent, tightly written crime thriller with engaging characters and a magnificent setting. The links to Tolkien featured on the back blurb had provided the initial attraction for me to pick up the novel though I certainly enjoyed it very much and plan to continue with the series.

Michael Ridpath's page on 'Where the Shadows Lie' with further link to his background/research.

A quick rundown

6: Ratha's Crature- 
A series about pre-historic wildcats who have evolved special cognitive abilities, such as herding and the ability for speech. One of the younger ones learns how to control fire, or at least, not to be afraid of it. Instead of being praised she becomes an outcast. An interesting book from a feline's point of view with enough twists and turns to keep you reading until the end. Reminded me a little of Clan of the Cave Bear- same time period, different species.
7. The Pearls of Lutra- Another Redwall book. what can I say? If you've read one Redwall book at all you'll know what you're basically getting . This one has my favorite villain so far. Mad eyes Ublaz. He paints his nails to match his wardrobe...and nobody would dare mock him for it.
8. The Best Short Stories of Jack London- Very interesting works. The most memorable out of all of them is 'The Wit of Porportuk'. A lot of the stories concern Indians and Fronteir life in Canada. I don't know much about Native Amercian culture but it sounded like some of the details came from first hand experience. 

I think thats it...? I have a problem of reading several books at once and not finishing them...right now I am halfway through 3 books... hopefully I will finish them soon. 
Jazzy Looking Around the Corner

Feburary Reads

10. Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner In this second book about Cannie Shapiro we learn about what has happened to her in the past ten years. She is now forty two years old, writing science fiction anonymously and married with trying to keep her past from her now thirteen year old daughter, Joy. When Joy finds out about the book that her mom had written ten years ago and reads it she starts to seek out the truth about her mother’s past. The writer is honest about how one’s past can catch up to them, especially if they have children. This book alternates between Cannie’s and Joy’s point of view.
11. One Night With Her Boss by Alison Roberts
12. Lowcountry Ghosts: Stories of Alice Flagg, Confederate Blockade Runners and Haunted Beads by Lynn Michelsohn These are a short collection of three ghost stories set in Murrells Inlet, SC. Normally when you hear about the Lowcountry of South Carolina you think of Charleston, SC not necessarily Murrells Inlet which is close to Myrtle Beach. These stories come from a longer book of ghost stories that the writer had written. These stories give you a different perspective of the area before Myrtle Beach became a tourist trap. If I am in the area I would like to visit the Brookgreen Plantation. There is a historical interlude where Confederate blockade running is explained. One downside of this book is that it seems to be an advertisement for her other books. She has included excerpts from her other books that are not set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.
13. Violet Victorious by Kathleen Mulroy Violet Murphy has an opportunity to escape her poverty ridden life with her alcoholic father when a relative comes and offers to take in the younger brothers and sisters that she had been taking care of since her mother’s death. She takes a train to Wallace, Idaho where she makes friends and makes a living for herself. Lutheran minister Douglas Cook comes to Wallace to take over the local Lutheran church and becomes acquainted with Violet. Douglas’s former fiancee comes to town in order to take Douglas back and she turns out to be a spoiled, rich socialite. Violet shows her what life would be like as Douglas’s wife in order to discourage her from wanting to marry Douglas. This is a sweet book where a woman who is considered to be an old maid in her community enters into a romance with the local pastor. Violet is an example of a woman who waits on the Lord even on matters of marriage, especially when she sees her friends around her getting married and starting families of their own.
14. A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers In this book about a young slave girl who struggles to keep her Christian faith in the decadence of Roman society. You can see some parallels with Roman society with today’s American society though they are not entirely the same. Hadassah is fighting her feelings for Marcus, a young Roman aristocrat who doesn’t share her Christian beliefs. Her mistress Julia is a sympathetic character even though she lives a decadent lifestyle and has to live with the consequences of her lifestyle. If it weren’t for her money and Roman law she might have died in this book, before she had a chance to accept Christ.
15. Perfect by Sara Shepard
16. Three Girls and a Baby by Rachel Schurig In this book Ginny thought that she was going to marry her college boyfriend Josh and that they would live happily ever after, however Josh breaks up with her after college graduation. Instead of planning her wedding Ginny moves into a small house with two of her friends back in her hometown taking a nanny position. After a night with her ex boyfriend Ginny becomes pregnant and the book then takes a turn in showing her feelings about the unplanned pregnancy. Her friends turn out to be supportive during her pregnancy and she gets a new job in a bookstore along with a handsome new boss. Her new boss takes a liking to her and she starts to have feelings for him. He is supportive of her pregnancy something that her ex-boyfriend is not. There is a shocking twist at the end of the book when Ginny’s ex-boyfriend returns to town and looks her up. The ending is a big suprise and it is different than most chick lit books. This is a good book where the main character grows up and learns more about relying on herself and good friends rather than just leaning on a guy. She learns how to deal with her issues on her own terms.
17. The Radleys by Matt Haig The Radleys appear to be a typical British suburban family except for the fact that they are vampires. They are considered to be abstainers that do not feed on blood either human or vampire. The vampire story line is a minor line, where it is mainly about their family life and secrets being revealed.