There’s nothing like a bit of blood and ice when the weather starts warming up and I found Mons Kallentoft’s Midwinter Sacrifice just hit the spot during the heat of last week. An obese, dead man is found hanging from a tree in the countryside, and the police have to start trying to work out who he is and then just who wanted to kill him. We get involved with ancient Swedish gods, a corpse that is watching and commenting on the investigation, and a detective, a single mother, dealing with a difficult investigation and a teenage daughter. The story caught me up, and I revelled in the freezing snow when it was so hot outside. This is the first of what will be a quartet.
Did that title get you? I’m actually talking about Tony Birch’s book Blood, a novel I picked up last week and couldn’t put down. He’s an Australian author I haven’t read before. This book is about a brother and sister, a mother who is more intent on her next man and her next drink, and the grandfather who for a little while provides some stability. The brother, Jess, has sworn to protect his little sister, a promise made in blood, and their journey from the country back to the city, the dangers they face, the people, some good, some bad, that they meet, will keep you gripped. It’s an amazing journey and you want to cheer for Jess as he fights for survival. A great story.
Charles Frazier wrote Cold Mountain, one of 1997’s brilliant books, and now here is his third book, Nightwoods. It’s one of those books I didn’t want to end, a story I became completely caught up in. It’s set in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Luce and her sister have had a rough childhood with an alcoholic mother and a father who couldn’t leave WWII, so Luce is living alone in an old, deserted mountain lodge, caretaking. Then her sister Lily is killed by her husband, and her young twins, mute because of what they have witnessed, are put into Luce’s care. But the husband escapes jail, and comes after the twins because he believes they know where Lily hid his stolen money. Frazier is brilliant in taking us into the mountains and making us become part of this story. Just loved this book. One of this year’s best. Oh, and Ellie had her little baby on friday morning. Remy and Ellie are doing well.
I’m sorry its been a while since I’ve written about the books I love. Two reasons: one was a fabulous two weeks in London, two was Ellie who wants to have her baby too early. Still, Ellie is holding on, and we wait day by day. Back to books – I did love The Broken Ones. Irwin is a Queensland author, it’s his second book and it’s great. Speculative fiction, set in the near future, with everyone acquiring a personal ghost, a ghost who says nothing, just stands there and looks at you. Of course, this gets wearing and society is starting to fall apart. Detective Oscar Mariani’s personal ghost is a young boy he doesn’t recognise but is his constant companion while Mariani investigates a series of murders involving young girls and arcane symbolism. The trail leads to the upper levels of power. I find it really exciting to read a new (for me) Australian author who writes like a dream. I felt this book is a must-read, and I’ve chosen it for our October bookclub.