About the Whodunit Book Club

Whodunit Book Club has met in its present location for almost seventeen years! If you would like to join us, our meetings are held on the last Tuesday of every month (except December).
We meet at the Chapters Store located at 41 MicMac Blvd., Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Phone (902) 466-1640

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Whodunit Book Club March 29, 2011

A cozy gathering of 15 souls turned up for this month's Whodunit meeting. Some regular attendees were absent - and some we haven't seen for a while were warmly welcomed.
Pam's 'magical' question(s) for this meeting:
1. Rate this month's book from 1-10.
2. Do you prefer graphic/grisly mysteries or cozy/traditional mysteries?
I'm afraid the rating of this month's title was very low. According to my calculations, the average score was 2 out of 10.
On the whole, members enjoy both grisly and cozy mysteries depending upon their mood and of course the quality of the writing.

The title this month, "Red snow" by Michael Slade was for the most part a disappointment. The plot was referred to as 'flat' and poorly written with little in the way of character development. Members spoke of the gratuitous and very graphic gory scenes. (He calls his fans "Sladists"). Some believed that the author had a good premise for the novel, but did not follow through upon that premise. The characters were like cardboard cutouts, and some of the dialog was almost spoof-like.

The author, Michael Slade is actually a pseudonym for Vancouver based criminal lawyer, Jay Clarke. He specializes in the 'law of insanity' and he argued the last death penalty case in Canada.

Mr. Clarke works with writing partners. He has written with his wife, his law partners and now his daughter. He terms 'his' 14 novels to be 'isolation thrillers'.
His website, specialX.net is unique and worth a visit.

The lucky winners of free books this month were:
1. Carolyn
2. Gaye
3. Jodie
4. Myrtle

Next month's selection is "And on the surface die" by Lou Allin. It is the first in a series set on Vancouver Island.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Karin Alvtegen... Sweden has done it again!

The single most positive aspect of "Shadow" is the beautifully written prose. The words seem to speak directly to the reader in a heart-touching and sometimes heart-wrenching way.

I'll admit this is one of those novels where the cover art drew me in. Who can resist an adorable little boy?
Then I read the blurb at the back which told me that this little boy was abandoned and was somehow connected to the death thirty five years later of a 92 year old woman who had books in her freezer upon her death... That was enough to capture the attention of any bibliophile. Too old to be the boy's mother, how could this woman be connected to him?

The novel was a mystery, but not written in the traditional way. In fact the reader does not really know what the crime(s) were until close to the end of the book. When the circumstances are revealed it left me both disturbed and profoundly moved.

Set in Stockholm, the novel followed the life and family of Axel Ragnerfeldt, a famous and Nobel Prize winning novelist. (the author of the books in the freezer). The novel poses the question: How much is glory and fame really worth, when counted in the suffering of the people closest to you? His family were portrayed with such depth and empathy that the reader felt their hopelessness. The claustrophobic family ties, mysterious disappearances and dark secrets surrounding a man shrouded in myth were portrayed with an honesty and brutality that spoke of deep understanding. The theme of how the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children is not a new one, but Alvtegen's prose brought the theme home to me like no other book ever has. "No matter whether your action is evil or good, it spreads like rings on the water. Over vast expanses it will travel, finding ever new paths. That is why your influence is infinite, and also your guilt."

"Shadow" is the first novel I've read by Karin Alvtegen and I will read as many more as I can get hold of. That being said, this novel was not exactly uplifting. In fact I would go as far as to say that anyone suffering from seasonal affective disorder should not read this book in the winter. The overall tone was bleak and melancholy. To quote the novel's description on the author's website, "her darkest and most complex thriller to date, in which the disturbing truth of a sick family is gradually and mercilessly laid bare. " Highly recommended.