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Welcome to my Blog!The lion roars!!!
I hope to share here my irrepressible thoughts on news, music, books, arts and such like. In general these will be items, events and issues which I feel have no place on my website (which focusses on aviation history and travel photography).

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.

Anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself. - Charles Baudelaire
Esse est percipi (To be is to be perceived) - Bishop George Berkeley

In 2013 I started a series of photo albums on Blurb.com, named '36Exp' (a subject adressed in 36 exposures, a reference to the exposures on most common rolls of 35 mm film: 12, 24 & 36.). The books can be ordered directly from the Blurb.com website.




Zinvolle Volzinnen door René Gude (2015)

René Gude (b.02Mar1957 – d.13Mar2015), the past two years 'Denker des Vaderlands' in the Netherlands, speaks here in witty and thoughtful oneliners.
This book is a review of many of his quotes in interviews, essays, columns, books and made on tv.
It is a book in Dutch, with only one remark in English: "Never expect any credit for calling someone a wanker".
The compilation of this wonderful little book was done by Florian Jacobs. At the back of the book is an index on the 'where & when' of the statements.

'Filosofie is de moeder van de overlegcultuur'

'Als je maar een beetje zin houdt in dingen, dan wordt dat de zin van je leven'

'Het leven is aangenamer als je redelijk bent'

'Filosofie is gezond verstand in avondkleding'

'Streef naar ruimdenkendheid'

NL.wikipedia.org: René_Gude



a lot of



and desillusion


a few
good poems.

it's not
for everybody

either to


or even to



'The Last Night of the Earth Poems', by Charles Bukowski.
The edition I have is an Ecco edition (2002), noting that it was previously published by Black Sparrow Press (copyright 1992).
I am a great fan of Mr Bukowski's poems (not so much his novels). Adore his wry humor and ranting.
While he seems to write about 'down and out', I quite distill hope from it; there seems to be a message in the poetry that however dark and daunting the day, just by swinging your legs out of bed and putting one foot in front of the other, life does go on!
Besides the gruff note, the poetry often exudes great warmth and above all: HUMOUR!

Bukowski’s enormous body of work refuses to go away and continues to sell tens of thousands of books each year. 'The Last Night of the Earth Poems' is the last book of poetry that Bukowski published during his lifetime, though.

This review expresses the feeling of the book much better than I ever can:

for the broken egg on the floor
for the 5th of july
for the fish in the tank
for the cat on the fence

for yourself

not for fame
not for money

you've got to keep chopping

as you get older
the glamour recedes

it's easier when you're young

anybody can rise to the
heights now and then

the buzzword is

anything that keeps it

this life dancing in front of
Mrs. Death.
wikipedia.org _ Charles_Bukowski



Beautiful You by The Waifs - Folk(s) from Australia!

In 2005 I took holidays in Australia and while driving caught a catchy tune on the radio, which made me buy the CD 'A Brief History...': this is how I got to know, and like, The Waifs.
Had not come across them for a long time, until recently, which made me buy 'Beautiful You', a 2015 release.
I also bought 'Up All Night', a successful 2003 album.

The Waifs are an Australian folk rock band formed in 1992 by sisters Vikki Thorn (harmonica, guitar, vocals) and Donna Simpson (guitar, vocals) as well as Josh Cunningham (guitar, vocals). Their tour and recording band includes Ben Franz (bass) and David Ross Macdonald (drums).

While the band originates from Australia, some live or have lived in the US after their music caught on.
Now, in a little under 20 years since their self-titled debut made good on the countless hours and miles spent touring, The Waifs have grown from an interesting and rootsy trio to being one of Australia's most feted bands. 'Beautiful You' is their 7th album.

en.wikipedia.org _ The_Waifs


Django and Jimmie - Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard

Django & Jimmie is a duet album by country music singers Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. This 2015 release marks the 6th album collaboration between Nelson and Haggard.
The song 'Django and Jimmie' is a tribute to musicians Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers. It features a guest appearance by Bobby Bare on the tribute song 'Missing Ol' Johnny Cash', which I thought one of the best tracks on the album.

Austin Chronicle rated the album with four stars out of five. The review remarked the merger of the styles of both artists: Haggard's signature use of the Telecaster and steel guitar; and with Nelson's guitar and Mickey Raphael's harmonica.
It called the rasp on their voices "well seasoned", while it concluded that both "deliver a master class on how country music is supposed to be done". I am not so convinced, rather would rate it a 3-star album: also liked the title song, 'Django and Jimmie' plus Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice It's Allright' , the hilarious 'Live This Long', but there were a few songs I thought rather mediocre mainly due to instruments used, somewhat country-1970s-style.




Ference Máté - The Hills of Tuscany

The Hills of Tuscany (De heuvels van Toscane - NL), published in 1999.
Ferenc Máté (b.1945, in Hungary) escaped Hungary after the revolution with his mother to Vancouver, British Columbia. He has lived in British Columbia, California, New York, Paris, and Rome, and now resides on a wine estate in Tuscany with his wife, painter and winemaker Candace Máté, and their son, Peter.
For much of their first twenty years together, Máté and his wife lived on sailboats, traveling the world, photographing and occasionally publishing books and calendars on sailboats.

We go back in time. Candace and Ferenc Máté move by end-1980s from New York to Tuscany, in Italy; they don't have a child yet then.
They have given themselves a month to find a house in Tuscany. They don't speak a word Italian and find many an obstacle in their way dealing with different customs; many things are not as straight forward as in the US.
She wants a quiet place to paint but also grow a garden with vegetables; and he is a writer. They view many a derelict house and farm, to the point of despair.
But finally they do succeed in buying an old farm and again find challenges in buying furniture and making the grounds suitable for growing veggies and fruits. They overcome the obstacles by finding their way to the hearts of neighbouring Italians; and by learning the language.
Candace and Ferenc experience the traditions of generations of Tuscanians and instead of becoming frustrated, they go with the flow, they join in harvesting, making of wines and participate in festive holidays and many an Italian meal. They find hospitality and equally extend hospitality, and help unreservedly their new found friends.
In short they succeed in finding a new home and Ferenc describes this in a style drenched in the good things Tuscany has to offer: dry heat, fine food, living by the products of the land, overcoming setbacks with the help of their neighbours.
A new home, a new life.

Ferenc Máté books



Partners in Crime, tv-series

Quite enjoyed last summer this Agatha Christie mysterie on the BBC television, Partners in Crime.
Trust the British to make a periodic like this, with the right clothing, cars, even the morals of the 1950s!

David Walliams and Jessica Raine play a married couple, Tommy and 'Tuppence' Beresford. She is a somewhat naïve lover of crime mysteries, and plunges her more conservative husband Tommy in adventures of crime fighting. Their son gets little mention, though his fate is threatened by the conspiring criminals.
Tommy has difficulty in setting up a business as a beekeeper and in the second mystery as a seller of whigs. So they accept assignments from uncle ('major') Carter, who works for MI5 and who seems to think 'an outsider' may escape a leak at the office and be able to catch the culprit.
Agatha Christie wrote the story as an anti-Nazi spy mystery, in the early years of the WWII, but the tv-series are situated in the 1950s.
While undoubtedly meant as a thrilling murder mystery, the stumbling sleuths who often get in over their heads, add both a drama as well as a comedy quality to these series.
An entertaining series, filmed in a quite picturesque manner.




Venice in Winter, photography

Venice in Winter, photography
Venice in Winter, photography

On a recent visit to Venice, Italy (see my travel pages) I bought two photo books on Venice (bought a 3rd one, but on a different subject). 'Serenissima' has the photography I like so much, the other one is dicussed further below on this page, rather more a historic document.

While my visit was during the summer, the cooling water making the july heat quite bearable, this book made me long for a visit during winter: complete with mists and puddles, umbrellas, brace the chill of the lagoon winter and ride gondolas in the rain!
Frank Van Riper & Judith Goodman take their cameras into those places that I too would seek: small bars, go on the canals after sunset and hope for acqua alta!
It is a wonderful book, graced by the evocative images and the essay written by Van Riper certainly adds the charm of 'La Serenissima'.
Yes, I want to go back in winter!

gvrphoto.com Goodman & van Riper Photography



The Rose of Roscrea by Tom Russell (music)

The Rose of Roscrea by Tom Russell (music)

Tom Russell is a man of many talents: a novelist, criminologist, artist and singer-songwriter with an earthy, gutsy voice.
This ambitious folk opera is two and a half hours long! It mixes his own eclectic songs with traditional material, and is performed by a celebrity cast that includes Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Gretchen Peters, with archive recordings of everyone from Walt Whitman to Lead Belly, Johnny Cash, AL Lloyd and Bonnie Dobson added in.

The narrative of an Irish boy travelling to the American west in the 1880s allows Russell to mix Irish influences with cowboy ballads, gospel, Mexican and even French-Canadian songs.
There is some great and varied music here.
A bravely original epic and a historic document!




Ray Wylie Hubbard: The Ruffian's Misfortune

Ray Wylie Hubbard: The Ruffian's Misfortune

Never too old to rock and roll, Ray Wylie Hubbard (b.13Nov1946 in Soper,OK) is one of few exceptions that still make me buy the occasional CD.
This veteran singer/songwriter mixes gritty country rock and swamp blues, though 'mixing' suggests a peaceful household activity, while the gravelly, growl-sounding voice of Mr Hubbard suggests a more sinister tale...
Ten compact tracks, with two songs dedicated to blues legends: 'Mr. Musselwhite’s Blues' and the thumping 'Jessie Mae', named after Ms. Hemphill.
This is Hubbard’s 4th album since 2006 which, for someone who didn’t have a release during an eight year stretch, is prolific.

I recall a leg injury preventing me to attend a gig he was doing in Edinburgh,UK some years ago and very much regret he doesn't intend to cross the Atlantic or so it seems; I'll keep an eye out though, would love to attend a live gig and see Ray Wylie Hubbard performing!

www.americansongwriter.com/2015: 'ruffians-misfortune' by Hal Horowitz https://en.wikipedia.org:_Ray_Wylie_Hubbard


Grafteken by Arnaldur Indridason

About 2 months ago I noticed an advertisement in a Dutch magazine, listing a series of Arnaldur Indriðason books; the advertisement was no doubt meant for people going on holidays: stocking up on their book supply, but for me it meant an opportunity to obtain and read a few of Mr Indridason's crime novels which I had not found before.
'Grafteken' is the Dutch translation (by Adriaan Faber) for the original title Daudarosir, which was published in Iceland in 1998 and it is the second book with Erlendur Sveinsson as the main character; it was published in Holland in 2011.
The first book in this series was reviewed futher down this page.
I prefer to read my books in English, but sofar I was unsuccessful in obtaining the earlier titles; this was remedied now.

Sigurður Óli had appeared in the first 'Erlendur' novel, this time we learn a little more about Erlendur's other assistent, Elinborg. Also about Erlendur's estranged kids.
The books opens with a naked body of a young woman found in a graveyard, on a grave dressed in flowers. Who she is and why she has been put on this particular grave of Jón Sigurðsson, a respected figure in Iceland's history,is a mystery; a link with the Westfjords could provide a clue.
Erlendur and his two assistents find themselves investigating clues among drug addicts and criminals smugglings drugs and providing prostitutes. But fish quotas seem also relevant to the case, as well as new housing projects by a big shot industrialist.

This second book sees less 'development' of Erlendur's character, except that he is a sober living person, set in his ways and holds true to traditional values; this is illustrated in discussions he has with Sigurður Óli and his daughter, Eva Lind. He also meets with a suspect in person, without back up, and they decide to trust each other. Erlendur's superior's seem non-existent.

'Grafteken' (EN: 'Silent Kill') is the book where Óli meets a woman, Bergpóra, with whom he starts a relation with; she will later become his wife.

Indridason traditionally mixes a theme of modern society in his plot: industrialists who put their economic interests over human factors. In more than one way there is disillusion in that respect woven into the story.

'Grafteken' was written before the banks darkened our world, which led to the global financial crisis. Erlendur warns about the greed of a few and is critical about prevailing 'modern achievements': as if Arnaldur Indriðason saw what was coming and tried to warn us.
Excellent crime drama.



The Team - crime drama

The Team, 'Crime doesn't stop at borders', is a 2015 European crime drama television series that first premiered on 22Feb2015 on DR in Denmark.
The series follows a number of national police agencies, working through the framework of EUROPOL (European Joint Investigation Team - JIT), to attempt to solve a series of cross-border murders.
Among others, the team is primarily headed by Danish homicide detective Harold Bjørn (Lars Mikkelsen), Belgian homicide detective Alicia Verbeek (Veerle Baetens), and German Federal Criminal Police superintendent Jackie Mueller (Jasmin Gerat).

But the story is not just about trafficking, forced prostitution and tax fraud. The members of this European investigation team rise above the cops-chase-crooks with their personal life: Harold has a history with Jackie, Harold's wife is in the last stages of pregnancy, Jackie's marriage is heading for the rocks, Alicia has an alcoholic mother and her younger sister is on the game while Alicia's boss has a hidden agenda.
Kit, the digital analyst on Harold's team, tries to hide the physical abuse by her husband while the
villain, a particular amoral and malicious Marius Loukauskis from Lithuania, has a blackmailing ex-wife to deal with while the marriage in respectability by his daughter is not yet set in stone.
Other significant characters circle the core of the plot.
The tragedy of modern slavery is also well illustrated, with great filmwork.
An intelligent crime drama.

The dvd box contained 3 CD's with 8 episodes, each lasting 58. minutes. Looking forward to a follow up!




Studio Zes - Liza Marklund

'Studio Zes' is the Dutch translation for the English title 'Studio Sex'; sex means six in Swedish. The title refers to a nightclub who uses the same name as a popular radio news program.

Eva Elisabeth 'Liza' Marklund (b.09Sep1962) is a Swedish journalist and crime writer. She was born in Pålmark near Piteå, Norrbotten.
Her novels, most of which feature the fictional character Annika Bengtzon, a newspaper journalist, have been published in thirty languages. Marklund is the co-owner of Sweden's third largest publishing house, Piratförlaget and a columnist in the Swedish tabloid Expressen.

The Annika Bengtzon series consists of eleven books, at the time of writing. The framework of the Annika Bengtzon series is crime reporter Annika's hectic life, at a bustling tabloid called Kvällspressen in Stockholm, Sweden.

  • Sprängaren (1998; English translation The Bomber, trans. Kajsa von Hofsten, 2000; The Bomber, trans. Neil Smith, 2011)
  • Studio sex (1999; Studio 69, trans. Kajsa von Hofsten, 2002; Exposed, trans. Neil Smith, 2011)
  • Paradiset (2000; Paradise, trans. Ingrid Eng-Rundlow, 2004; Vanished, trans. Neil Smith, 2012)
  • Prime Time (2002; Prime Time, trans. Ingrid Eng-Rundlow, 2006)
  • Den Röda Vargen (2003; English translation The Red Wolf, trans. Neil Smith, 2010)
  • Nobels testamente (2006; English translation Last Will, trans. Neil Smith, 2012)
  • Livstid (2007; English translation Lifetime, trans. Neil Smith, 2013)
  • En plats i solen (2008; English translation The Long Shadow, trans. Neil Smith, 2013)
  • Du gamla, du fria (2011; English translation Borderline, trans. Neil Smith, 2014)
  • Lyckliga gatan (2013; English translation Without a Trace, trans. Neil Smith, 2015)
  • Järnblod (2015; English translation The Final Word, trans. Neil Smith, 2016)

Studio Sex reads like the first novel in the Annika Bengtzon series, though reference is made to a local newspaper she desperately does not want to return to; Annika wants to make it in the Big City.
The book gains in charm describing the insecurities, but also determination, of a young woman trying to benefit from a summer's job at a serious newspaper. Besides the nagging questions whether she can cope with the job, she finds herself struggling with the morality of the news media and of some of her collegues.

Despite the fact that that this sort of books makes you long for the unravelling of the plot, this is also a book that is a pleasure to read and makes you regret you've come to the last pages.

en.wikipedia.org _ Liza_Marklund



Dead Beat by Val McDermid

Val McDermid (b. 04 June 1955) is a Scottish crime writer.
McDermid comes from Kirkcaldy, Fife, and was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford.
After graduation she became a journalist and worked briefly as a dramatist. Her first success as a novelist, 'Report for Murder: The First Lindsay Gordon Mystery' occurred in 1987.
McDermid's works fall into three series: Lindsay Gordon, Kate Brannigan, and the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. Her characters include a journalist, Lindsay Gordon; a private investigator, Kate Brannigan; and a clinical psychologist, Tony Hill.
I remember the Tony Hill series from tv, Wire in the Blood.

'Dead Beat' is the first novel written by McDermid I have read; a number of titles by her were mentioned in the annual VN Detective- & Thriller year review. I picked up 'Dead Beat' somewhere along the way, a secondhand copy.
Kate Brannigan series:
Dead Beat (1992)
Kick Back (1993)
Crack Down (1994)
Clean Break (1995)
Blue Genes (1996)
Star Struck (1998)

I quite liked 'Dead Beat', it is written in an entertaining and easy to read style. I have a few more lying about, by Val McDermid, and am looking forward to reading them.

en.wikipedia.org _ Val_McDermid



Maandagskinder - Arnaldur Indridason, crime fiction from Iceland

Arnaldur Indridason has been in my personal top 3 of crime authors for a number of years.
This is his first novel with Inspector Erlendur (full name Erlendur Sveinsson) in the leading role. Only recently I managed to get my hands on this book, the Dutch version.
Erlendur's character is still unrefined, but the basics are there; Sigurður Óli is his collegue, and there is mention too of Elínborg, but she does not play a role in this book.
Maandagskinderen was translated into Dutch by Willemien Werkman.

The Story.
Daniel commits suicide by jumping from a window in the psychiatric ward he was committed to. His brother Palmi is puzzled by Danni's last words, though he knew Danni had suicidal tendencies.
At the same time an old man is murdered by fire. He was a retired teacher and it appears Halldor was Danni's schoolteacher; all the youths in Danni's class had learning deficiencies and displayed unruly behavior.
Halldor visited Daniel shortly before they both died. What did they speak about? There is a rumor of paedophilia connected to Halldor. The cod-liver oil pills Halldor distributed to his class were not an innocent health supplement, it seems.
Besides the police, there is another party involved, searching for tapes Halldor has threatened them with. Did they kill Halldor?

This book 'Maandagskinderen' was a good read, the plot sees an unexpected end and it felt good to have finally read the start, the beginning of the Erlendur series.

These are as yet the Inspector Erlendur titles-
- Maandagskinderen (uitgeverij Signature, 2005), vertaling van Synir Duftsins (1997); EN: Sons of Dust
- Grafteken (uitgeverij Querido, 2011), vertaling van Dauðarósir (1998); EN: Silent Kill
- Noorderveen (uitgeverij Signature, 2003), vertaling van Mýrin (2000); EN: Jar City
- Moordkuil (uitgeverij Signature, 2004), vertaling van Grafarþögn (2001); EN: Silence of the Grave
- Engelenstem (uitgeverij Signature, 2005), vertaling van Röddin (2002); EN: Voices
- Koudegolf (uitgeverij Signature, 2006), vertaling van Kleifarvatn (2004); EN: The Draining Lake
- Winternacht (uitgeverij Querido, 2007), vertaling van Vetrarborgin (2005); EN: Arctic Chill
- Verdwijnpunt (uitgeverij Querido, 2012), vertaling van Furðustrandir (2010); EN: Strange Shores

Indridason also deviated from the Inspector Erlendur (regular) series, with a number of books on others in the Reykjavik police force:
Myrká (2008); Onderstroom (2010 - # 1 / 4; main character Elínborg); EN: Outrage
Svörtuloft (2009); Doodskap (2011 - # 2 / 4; main character Sigurður Óli); EN: Black Skies
Furðustrandir (2010); Verdwijnpunt (2012 - # 3 / 4; main character Erlendur); EN: Strange Shores
Einvígið (2011); Schemerspel (2013 - # 4 / 4, a prequel, with main character Marion Briem); EN: .....
Reykjavíkurnætur (2012); Nachtstad (2014 - more or less a sequel to Schemerspel); EN: Reykjavik Nights

And there are a number of stand alone novels by Arnaldur Indriðason:
Napóleonsskjölin (1999); not yet translated to Dutch; EN: Operation Napoleon
Bettý (2003); not yet translated to Dutch; EN: ...
Konungsbók (2006); Het Koningsboek (2008); EN: The King's Book
Skuggasund (2013); Erfschuld (mei 2015); EN: Shadow Alley



A Cold Heart by Jonathan Kellerman

A Cold Heart is the first crime novel I've read by Jonathan Kellerman, having long avoided reading American authors - preferring Scandinavian, Icelandic and English authors. Since last year or so I tried my luck with Karin Slaughter, Harlan Coben, R.J Ellory, James Lee Burke a.o. with mixed results.

So I was not aware Kellerman had written a series of books in which psychologist Alex Delaware is the main character. And I must say I had no problem in following Alex Delaware's life in the context of this book; obviously not a complicated character.
Other main characters such as LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis and a few others posed no problem for following the plotline. But the style in writing, the first person narrative from a mixture of characters, I found more difficult to grasp. Perhaps not knowing the characters from other novels did play a role after all.
The plot is interesting enough.
The characters of Milo's associates, Petra Connor and Eric Stahl, I found more of interest than Alex. Little did I get to know Petra, and Eric is 'explained' in the closing pages. Hardly an onion being peeled.

A middle-aged blues guitarist is stabbed. A gifted painter is strangled in the LA gallery, where her first solo show has opened. The motives of these killings are a mystery; there seems nothing that connects these people.
Milo takes on the murder investigation of the painter as a favour to an old friend. He consults Alex Delaware, who, researching parallels with other deaths, looks for artists killed when on the verge of a breakthrough or comeback. And he finds two others...
When the dots (the various killings) seem to connect, a definite suspect is found, but the suspect seems to have gone in hiding. Only later other candidates and other plot theories develop.

The plotline is interesting enough, but it is the style of writing that does not hit the right spot with me.
The main characters flow with the plot lines, there is a bit of romance but it is all very superficial. There seems to be a motto for these books, that the story should not deviate too much from the end result, the finding of the killer. A murder mystery and that's it.
Very little humor in it too.
Nobody goes shopping for groceries or have to fetch a a car from the repair shop, finds unpaid bills at home or a family member is disgruntled for not having kept in touch.
There is very little of normal life in these books; things I do find, and like, in authors such as Henning Mankell, Arnaldur Indridason, Ian Rankin, Ruth Rendell to name but a few. Just a little more complicated to keep the grey cells activated.

en.wikipedia.org _ Jonathan_Kellerman



Frequent travel, both the business perks as well as holiday travel to exotic destinations, are overrated. Damaging even. According to this study by Scott Cohen (Uni of Surrey):

'Researchers from the University of Surrey and Lund University (Sweden) investigated how frequent, long-distance travel is represented in mass and social media. They found that the images portrayed do not take into account the damaging side effects of frequent travel such as jet-lag, deep vein thrombosis, radiation exposure, stress, loneliness and distance from community and family networks.'




Roadside America by John Margolies
I picked up this secondhand copy of 'Roadside America' by John Margolies at the Deventer Bookmarket,
of which I wrote a bit below. Almost 900 bookstalls and within the first 20 or so I came across this
book. The nice thing about an early find is that it is easier to compare that feel of success, that 'click',
with other books that may catch the eye; easier to compare and leave those other books behind.

Roadside America by John Margolies
John Margolies has spent decades photographing the quirks and ingenuity of America’s roadside architecture. Margolies doesn’t play favorites, whether he’s shooting a masterful Art Deco movie theater on a quiet main street or a motel with an oddball theme. His greatest admiration and affection are reserved for those entrepreneurial spirits of small-town America as they try to stand out in an increasingly mobile and commercialized environment. When he started his fascination his photography was frowned upon, but he was right, has himself proven right, documenting the changing 'roadside'.

Roadside America by John Margolies
As an enthusiastic 'road tripper' one can only say that the diversity these days is much , much less.

Roadside America by John Margolies
When I checked the book, one of the first pages that opened to me, was this DC-7!
It was karma, fate, this book was meant for me!





Deventer boekenmarkt 2015

Deventer boekenmarkt 2015

Deventer boekenmarkt 2015

Spent a thorougly splendid day at the yearly Deventer Bookmarket yesterday.
It was the 27th edition, with 878 bookstalls offering everything from bargains to 'priceless finds'.
It isn't so much as what one is looking for, but rather what one finds!




Italiaanse Streken, door Bas Mesters

An excellent book about Italy, by Bas Mesters who worked (and lived) as a correspondent in Italy for 10 years. An excellent book: 'Italy explained' I would have though as an excellent title, but maybe that was thought to be presumptuous?
The Dutch title 'Italiaanse Streken' refers both to the various areas in Italy, the south being in character different from the north, while it also refers to mischievous behaviour. Sounds familiar?

"When God created Italy, he was shocked by the beauty of his creation. He feared the rest of the world might become jealous! So that is when he decided to put the Italian people in Italy, in order to even things out".
It is a joke that goes around when referring to the grip the maffia has on Italy, about corrupt politicians. But there is also the courage of journalists, of judges and other people that stand up in protest. There is that undeniable beauty of the country, but also that quality to manufacture so many things of beauty!
It is a land of many contradictions.

This book was published this year and we know from the media that Italy is in 'dire straights', the greatest crisis since W.W.II, both economically as well as morally.
In this book Bas Mesters wanders around Rome, he visits places and links the locations to events which played an important role in Italy's history. He uses the knowledge he has gathered during the years in Italy, having met and interviewed many important people and written about crucial events. His index also shows the many books he read on the subject.

We find that Italy has a functioning society in spite of its gridlock by an ineffectual government and legislative bodies. There is a black and grey market for products and jobs. One needs favors from people linked to others who can provide jobs, money, business opportunities. In turn this will lead to debts and other favors.
The only people one can trust is family; the government can not to be trusted.
One goes not by right or wrong, one goes by beauty or ugliness, how it will look.

Berlusconi, Beppo Grillo, Matteo Renzi, Roberto Saviano ('Gomorra') are duscussed, their ideals, their effects. The Church, Brusels/EU, the police force, government, schools, maffia, lies & opportunities, hope & despair for the young generation...
It is all discussed and it does help to better understand the Italians!

Thoroughly enjoyed reading 'Italiaanse Streken', a peak in the Italian soul!




BECK dvd box Vol.5

I've read the books by Sjöwall and Wahlöö, I've seen the previous series on Inspector Martin Beck, so I was looking forward to see these next episodes!
Season 4 was produced 5 years ago, so it was a long wait. And the only disappointing thing was... this Season 5 numbers only 4 (90-minute) episodes!

Martin Beck is a fictional Swedish police detective, who is the main character in series of 10 novels by Sjöwall and Wahlöö, collectively titled The Story of a Crime.
The stories are frequently referred to as the 'Martin Beck stories'.
All of the novels have been adapted to films between 1967 and 1994, six of which featured Gösta Ekman as Martin Beck. Although rather dated, I managed to see these too, a number of years ago.

Since 1997 there have also been 30 films only based on the characters, with Peter Haber as Martin Beck. And Peter Haber plays a magificent role as Martin Beck. He is Martin Beck for me, just like Krister Henriksson is for me the best actor for Inspector Wallander!

Both Martin Beck as well as his assistant, Gunvald Larsson (an equally delightful role played by Mikael Persbrandt) have grown older; both struggle with rules and modern police regulations seemingly impeding their investigation: shouldn't all efforts be directed in catching the criminals? Their attitude is offset against the new, very modern chief of police (always glancing at his mobile phone) Klas Fredén (a sympathetic role by Jonas Karlsson).
I feel totally in sync with their state of mind, their focus on result instead of presentation, form, reporting; who changed the rules while the game was in play?
But it isn't a series about grumpy old men: their is empathy, lessons learned on good advise, simple family life (we see assistent Oskar, charmingly played by Måns Nathanaelson, starting a family) and a good dose of wry humor.
Some new faces in the police department too, Elmira Arikan as Ayda and Anna Asp as Jenny Bodén; and true to the format of Sjöwall and Wahlöö: plots set against modern society issues.

It is a brilliant series that leave most crime series way behind in top quality and entertainment.
I fervently hope that I won't have to wait another 5 years for a new series?!





'The Code' is an excellent Australian crime drame, brimming with suspense and drama. The scenes switch from The Outback to government buildings in the Big City.

In the remote outback, near an isolated small town (staion?) called Lindara a car crashes on a truck. Two Aboriginal youngsters are seriously wounded, but nobody seeks help. One of these youngsters is found dead, while the other one survives with a serious trauma; was he guilty of her death?

There is a scandal made public involving a politician. Journalist Ed Banks is fed the story, unaware this is a plot to make sure the Lindara incident does not surface in the media. But someone seems to have made an effort to make him also aware something happened in Lindara.
Ed Banks is given the phone of the girl that got killed, the images are damaged but his autistic brother Jesse is a keen hacker and throws his skills around. However, this triggers governmental agents who are determined to bury this Lindara story.
The bigger picture develops: someone has been stealing information from the bio-chemical plant near Lindara.
Fortunately for the story it is not a simple matter of good guys or bad guys, it is much more layered than that, at least 4 plotlines develop intertwined. And developments happen until the very last episode!
A really great series and the good news is, series 2 will be filmed in 2015!




Nine Dragons by Michael Connolly

Michael Connelly is an American author of detective novels and other crime fiction, notably those featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus 'Harry' Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller.

This is a book featuring Harry Bosch and only a very modest appearance by Micky Haller. '9 Dragons' was published in 2009 and is the first novel I've read by Michael Connelly (having 'gone off' American novelists for a number of years, only picked it up again last year or so).

Nine Dragons is the 14th novel in the Harry Bosch series.
The novel is partly set in Hong Kong, where Bosch's daughter Maddie and ex-wife Eleanor Wish live. The main plot involves Maddie being kidnapped by a Chinese Triad (crime syndicate), which Bosch believes
is due to his investigation of an L.A. murder, in which his primary suspect is a member of a triad that was shaking down the victim.
As a result, Bosch heads to Hong Kong in an effort to rescue her. The name of the most populated region of Hong Kong, Kowloon, means 'nine dragons' in English.

Many of my crime fiction purchases are inspired by the'Vrij Nederland' yearly reviews; Connely is not listed on any of the 5-star publications of recent years, nor of any 4-star reviews I jotted down. So I cannot explain why I picked up this secondhand book and though it wasn't bad, it certainly was entertaining.




The Legacy, tv drama

Time for some 'Scandi Noir' again! Except this is not about murder or police investigations, this is about an inheritance; but no less gripping ...

The Legacy (Danish: Arvingerne, literally 'the heirs') is a Danish television drama created by Maya Ilsøe and produced by DR.
Series 1 was first broadcast on the Danish national television channel DR1 on 1 January 2014, and was sold to a number of other countries worldwide even before it had aired in Denmark!
The series is a modern family portrait which tells the story of four siblings trying to cope with their mother's death which has turned all of their lives upside down.

We see how a famous artist dies of a hear condition, unexpectedly. Her daughter (Trine Dyrholm as Gro Grønnegaard) has always been in the business of marketing her mother's art, her world is art galleries and she is well known and respected. She has a relation with a married man, Robert Eliassen (a role played by Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim, whom we know of the Varg Veum series); he who owns a gallery.
Gro has a brother, who works as a lawyer. Another brother returns from Thailand, but he is followed by debtors. It seems a straight forward inheritance with something for everyone. But then a young woman, who works in a flower shop, appears and she has the most recent testament...
Plans fall apart, relations become strained and lifes get so complicated the relatives are at each other throats, marriages fall apart...
It is a wonderful series and I anxiously await Series 2!





Recently watched the series 2 of Broadchurch. Always a bit tricky for a follow up, will it be as fresh, as compelling? Well, I thought these series perhaps contained even more drama than the first series, never felt 'stale'.

The location (Wikipedia has a lot written on the location) was again on the coast of Dorset, what is called the 'Jurassic Coast', though we see that Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) found it best to move to Devon to become a uniformed Police Constable (PC) with Devon and Cornwall Police ( a job she hates); her 13-year-old Tom lives with her sister.

Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (David Tennant), invalided from Wessex Police at the end of Series 1 because of a heart problem, is now a Training Officer and awaiting an operation. His classes are uninspired, he is not in the right place.

The Sandbrook Case, which simmered in the background in Series 1 (having led to his transfer to Broadchurch in the first place), becomes part of the plot in Broadchurch Series 2. But the trial of Ellie Miller's husband, after initial admission of guilt now claiming to be innocent, is the 2nd plot.
For the trial we see Charlotte Rampling, no less, to play the role of barrister trying to convict Joe Miller.

We find that Alec Hardy has put a woman, Claire, in his own protection plan; she is in hiding of her husband Lee, who was put on trial in the Sandbrook Case and she was the crucial witness. But Lee roams Broadchurch, trying to find her.

There is drama around Alec Hardy, for his heart condition but again meeting up with his ex/ wife, Detective Sergeant Tess Henchard (Lucy Cohu). She remains employed with the South Mercia Constabulary, the same force that investigated the Sandbrook Case.
Drama surrounds Ellie Miller, who is in a difficult relationship with her 13-old son.
The role of Charlotte Rampling is a fascinating.
There is jealousy and attraction between Claire and Lee...
And yes. finally the murderer of the Sandbrook Case is found and convicted. Closure.

Plenty of plotlines to keep you fascinated through all 8 episodes!




Calli e Canali in Venezia

A recent trip to Venezia found me at some moment in the bookshop of 'Museo Correr', in St. Mark’s Square. This was one of two books I bought, both offering a look at Venice I was unable to do myself.
Since this book offers images of Venice in the 19th Century, I would have needed a time machine to go there myself.
Two things that struck me: 1. obviously the city is much less plagued by crowds (I would have liked to see more people in the images, such as on the bookcover, but that is not in the title of the book) and 2. all the water is flat, where it is restless nowadays because of all the water traffic.
"The city is like a dream", wrote Byron, "its history is a romance". This is a quote from the introduction in the book. The crowds these days are nearer to being a nightmare than a dream for many people, but it is clear 'Venezia' has a unique charm.
The book offers 185 images with an index (in Italian) at the back of the book. It is beautifully produced and indeed a welcome addition to my collection of photobooks.




A recent trip to Venice,Italy made me pick this book from a pile waiting to be read. I've obviously read the Dutch publication, 'Kinderspel', rather than the English title.
Not sure the Dutch translation is fitting, indicating 'Child's Play', while this is a book with baby snatchers as the villains, not quite a game, rather a conspiracy of sorts.

This is the 16th title written by Donna Leon and I have read glowing reports of her consistency in her writing. And indeed, her character Commissario Guido Brunetti is starting to grow on me. I have not by far read all 16 books but will have a look out for a few more titles I have been missing.

During my trip to Venice, overflowing by tourists as described in Leon's books, I have come across some of the peculiarities of Italian society. Leon, an American, has lived in Italy only since the 80s, but she seems completely Italian in the cold, resigned clarity of her view and in the apparent ability, which she shares with her principal characters, to enjoy daily existence and love her city while in bleak despair about the government, the future and life in general.
It is a strange mix of facts and emotions which I have come to share.

In Suffer the Little Children she's even harder on the Carabinieri, who stomp into private homes and carry babies off to orphanages. But their moral outrage is committed in pursuit of a serious crime, since the baby in this story was illegally adopted.
The interlocking complexities - political, emotional and ethical - that surround the adoption schemes and the police actions, and Brunetti's slow, patient search for the motivations behind it all, form an exemplary Leon plot.

I have borrowed from the following source, for its eloquence rather than the facts:




Ian Rankin is my favourite crime novelist, but I was apprehensive on his change of main character, having DI Rebus exiting on 'Exit Music'. I did not fancy what I had read on Rankin's new character, Malcolm Fox...
Glad I was wrong!

It is probably the writing that does it, because Malcolm Fox does not has the edge Rebus has. The two men have little in common except integrity and a dogged determination to get the job done. Inspector Malcolm Fox is teetotal in a hard-drinking world (with a bit of a history there), a cop who wears unfashionable braces without embarrassment because they are the most effective way of holding up his trousers, who is described by a boss as "a bear of a man", slow but steady.

Fox works in the Complaints & Conduct department of the force, colloquially known as 'The Complaints", in the section dedicated to the sniffing out of the most serious offences – racism and corruption. He accepts that his work comes with an unpleasant status in the police force: that of a pariah to other colleagues.

Fox has just finished a case which will bring feared and respected Glen Heaton to trial.
Fox is given a new task. A cop, Jamie Breck, is suspected of being a member of a paedophile ring, but so far nothing can be proved. Fox is assigned to forge a relationship with Breck in an attempt to obtain the necessary evidence.
The opportunity comes when a man called Vince Faulkner is found beaten up and killed. Faulkner is the partner of Fox' sister, who was being abused by Faulkner. Fox starts sniffing around, interested in Faulkner's demise and finds Jamie Breck the lead investigator. Fox manages to team up with him.
Then the tables turn on these two investigators, they find themselves followed and accusations lead to both Breck and Fox being investigated.

Meanwhile the plot thickens when an entrepeneur kills himself. Or so it would seem. Vince Faulkner was connected to him. The crime scene extends beyond Edinburgh, leads indicate involvement from Aberdeen and Dundee.

There is little support for Fox and Breck, esspecially when they are suspended from duties. But Breck's girlfriend Annabel, who is also in the police force puts her career on the line for them. And they call in a few favours here and there, which leads to the support of an investigative journalist.

Rankin has the plot set mainly in Edinburgh, which helps to paint the canvas; now it is in the grasp of the recession with half-built tower blocks soar against a winter sky, shopfronts are shuttered. The poor and vulnerable suffer most, but there are powerful people who have exploited the greedy years of huge profits and are now facing financial disaster. This is part of the intricate plot.

Rankin is a master at what, for me, is one of the important aspects of a crime novel: the integration of setting, plot, characters and a theme which, for Rankin, is the moral dimension never far from his writing.
I needed not have feared of starting on this Rankin series and will soon looking for the follow up editions that have been published!

Parts of this review were learned from:




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Created: 07-Jul-2015