Saturday, February 24, 2018

Den of Iniquity

Sharon’s Chinatown excursion takes an unexpected turn.

More Spotbottom hi-jinks tomorrow:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, February 23, 2018

Queen of Punk

Sharon: Master of the mosh pit.

Further Sharon foolishness tomorrow…

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Thursday, February 22, 2018


Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane!


Another Spotbottom fantasy tomorrow…

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018


Sharon Spotbottom suffers a panic attack upon hearing of Professor Batty’s arrival.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

California, Here I Come!

Tomorrow morning will find me jetting to sunny California, looking forward to seeing all the sights (and a very special date with Sharon Spotbottom!)

More to come…

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Minnesota Trilogy

The Land of Dreams
Only the Dead
The Raven

by Vidar Sundstøl
Translated by Tiina Nunnally
University of Minnesota Press 2013, 2014, 2015

My winter of Scandinavian murder mysteries takes an inside-out turn with these books set along Highway 61 on Minnesota’s north shore. The author is a native Norwegian who lived in the Arrowhead district between Duluth and Canada for several years. He put his considerable powers of observation to work on the peoples, cultures and geography of this location, overlaying it with an appreciation of its history. The story centers on a “forest cop” Lance Hansen who becomes involved with the a brutal murder of a Norwegian tourist near the shore of Lake Superior. It is spread out over three books, with the bulk of the middle book consisting of flashbacks to an incident that occurred in the area over one hundred years ago. There is a great amount of detail in the trilogy: history of both immigrants and Native Americans, local businesses, family dynamics, and the personal struggles of the protagonist. I do think that the three books (700+ pages total) could have been made into one shorter book that would have had just as much impact. That said, you never want a well-written book to end, right?

The translator is the incomparable Tiina Nunnally, you won’t find a better one.

These books were a big hit in Norway. It was very interesting seeing what a gifted foreign writer can do with a novel set in my own home state. I wonder if Jono has read these?

Here is a great interview with the author as well as in-depth reviews of each volume of The Minnesota Trilogy.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Legacy

A Thriller
By Yrsa Sigurðardóttir
Translated by Victoria Cribb
New York: Minotaur Books 2018

It is always a treat to follow a good writer who is getting better.

I have read most of Yrsa’s previous books; the Þóra Guðmundsdóttir series as well as the stand-alone The Undesired. This is the start of the new Freyja and Huldar (Children's House) series. First published in Iceland as DNA, Freya is a child psychologist and Huldar is a newly promoted detective, they are unwillingly thrown into a murder investigation (they have had a brief fling together previously) that soon spirals into something much larger.

This is a proper “thriller”, there as several scenes of almost unbearable horror and suspense. The plot is complex, but Yrsa gives the reader plenty to chew on as it twists and turns on its way to a satisfactory conclusion. There are three more novels in the series, not yet translated, English readers will just have to wait. If they are as good as this one, Yrsa is on a path to usurp Arnaldur Indriðason as the leading Icelandic mystery author. She made a good decision to go with dual protagonists; their awkward interaction keeps things interesting.

Although the plot revolves around quirks in Icelandic law and society, it isn’t a very atmospheric book. Those looking for their “Iceland fix” of places and scenery will be disappointed. It could have easily been set in any Scandinavian country, or even Scotland for that matter. Victoria Cribb’s translation is seamless.

Highest recommendation.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2