Welcome to my Blog - Ruud Leeuw

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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 my 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

Not even I understand everything I am ¬Aurelius Augustinus of Hippo

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 or Amazon.




World Press Photo, Amsterdam 2020

World Press Photo, Amsterdam 2020

World Press Photo, Amsterdam 2020

World Press Photo, Amsterdam 2020

Visited the World Press Photo Exhibition 2020 in De Nieuwe Kerk, @Amsterdam today.
The exhibition showcases the stories that matter with photography from the 63rd annual World Press Photo Contest and winning productions from the 10th annual Digital Storytelling Contest.
The flagship exhibition is specially designed for the space of De Nieuwe Kerk, a 15th-century church in the centre of Amsterdam.
Different from previous visits: the safety measures following recommendations from the Dutch health authorities (RIVM) regarding the Covid-19/Corona virus.
Amazing photography as always.




Brokenwood Mysteries - tv-series (1)

The Brokenwood Mysteries is a New Zealand detective, drama tv-series that premiered in 2014. The programme is set in the fictitious New Zealand town of Brokenwood and was filmed in the greater Auckland region.
I recently enjoyed the first series on the telly and noticed on Wikipedia that more series are in the pipeline. Looking forward to watch these too.

Detective Inspector Mike Shepherd (a role by Neill Rea) is sent from Auckland to Brokenwood to investigate a local police officer.
Shepherd takes charge in an ongoing (murder) investigation.
After the investigation Shepherd reassesses his life and decides to stay on indefinitely, even though it means a demotion to Detective Senior Sergeant.
Brokenwood is a quiet country town, population ca.5000. Shepherd is assisted by local Detective Kristin Sims (Fern Sutherland).
Other interesting roles include Pana Hema Taylor as Jared Morehu (Shepherd's Maori neighbour), Nic Sampson as Detective Constable Sam Breen and Cristina Ionda as the Russian Dr. Gina Kadinsky, medical examiner.
There is a nice rapport between Speherd and Simms, part of which concerns Shepperd's love for playing country music from cassettes in his classic 1971 Holden Kingswood car.
A very entertaining series to watch.




Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon

Donna Leon (b.1942- in Montclair, New Jersey) is the American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice and featuring the fictional hero Commissario Guido Brunetti.
Leon lived in Venice for over 30 years and now resides in the small village of Val Müstair in the mountains of Grisons in Switzerland. She was a lecturer in English literature for the University of Maryland University College - Europe (UMUC-Europe) in Italy.
She stopped teaching and concentrated on writing and other cultural activities in the field of music (especially baroque music).

The Commissario Brunetti novels are all situated in or around Venice. They are written in English and translated into many foreign languages, but not into Italian, at Leon's request.

In the early hours of the morning Commissario Guido Brunetti is called to his own police station where his wife is being held after deliberately breaking the window of a travel agency.
Arranging sex tours is illegal in Italy but the acts the men perform abroad are not. It's therefore perfectly legal in Italy for a man to go to Thailand and rape a ten-year old girl.
Paola's act was a protest though Brunetti fails to see the wisdom of the act.

Paedophilia plays only a peripheral part in the story. It is rather more about greed, corruption and infidelity.
Guido Brunetti is a conscientious policeman and in this case, the 8th in the series, his private and professional lives collide.
Whilst he consideres what the sex tourists are doing abroad morally repugnant he knows that the men cannot be prosecuted in Italy. Equally he's in sympathy with his wife's view on the subject, but her act is against the law.

Brunetti is a rather conservative Italian male with strong family principles. It never ceases to amaze me that he goes home for lunch and how Paola has the time (she teaches English literature -like Donna Leon did- on a University) for waiting on him hand and foot.
When Brunetti extended his investigation with a visit to Padova and is to spend a night in a hotel, the conversation between him and Paola makes it clear it will be only one night, they are quite unused to sleeping apart. So not quite a worldy type, but maybe somewhat indicative for Italians.

Other titles by Donna Leon are discussed on (a.o.) MyBlog 2015Q1, 2018Q2, 2019Q1, 2019q2.

www.boekbeschrijvingen.nl/leon-donna/leon (NL)



Mr. Kaor Yamamoto by Lex Boon

An arty hotel in Volendam (The Netherlands) has been receiving handwritten letters for decades. Sometimes as many as four arrive in a week. They all contain the same text, including an inquiry as to the weather.
Occasionally, without further explanation, a sample of a Japanese shampoo or cream is included.
The letters have been unopened in the trash for years: they are always the same.
Signed, with black pen in a scratchy handwriting, is the sender: Yours sincerely, Mr. Kaor Yamamoto.

This little mystery arrives on the desk of a journalist, Lex Boon, for the possibility of an article in a newspaper, Het Parool.
Slowly the mystery begins to grow on him. Who is Mr Yamamoto, why does he write these letters and why is the text always exactly the same?
The team for unraveling this mystery grows to the hotel's general manager, a woman in Amsterdam with the same name and able to translate plus an artist living with her. After considerable effort Mr Kaor Yamamoto is contacted by phone, but they become none the wiser about Mr Yamamoto's motivation.
A trip to Japan seems inevitable.

www.meulenhoff.nl/producten/mr-kaor-yamamoto-9789402314472 (NL)



13 Uur - Deon Meyer

Deon Godfrey Meyer is a South African thriller novelist, writing in Afrikaans.
His books have been translated into more than 20 languages. He has also written numerous scripts for television and film.
Recently I have read 'Fever' by him, this book 'Thirteen Hours' (NL: 13 Uur) is my first Bennie Griessel novel by Deon Meyer and what a pleasure it was!
13 Uur is both the Afrikaans as well as the Dutch title, first published in 2008 (English title: Thirteen Hours - published in 2010). I can't remember when I have read such a high paced novel!

Set in Cape Town, post Apartheid, there is a lot of political and social fact in the book as well as a great fictional story.
Bennie, the protagonist, is a detective of police, a former alcoholic and struggling with an upcoming divorce and empty bank account. He is dealing with his problems amidst two murder inquiries and trying to outrun the bad guys in locating a young American woman who knows too much.
Griessel (pronounced 'Krie-zil') has a constant storm in his head, not the quiet analytical type, and he is under considerable pressure for he is coaching both police detectives handling the inquiries, understaffed as the police forces are in South Africa.

Nothing short of a pageturner, I must make it my business to read that first Bennie Griesser novel Devil's Peak!
And then there are all the other books by Deon Meyer to consider, including another 5 Bennie Griessel novels at least!




La Trêve / The Break - Series Two

The Break (French: La Trêve, 'The Truce') is a French-language Belgian crime drama tv-series.
Season 2 premiered in Belgium on 11Nov18.
I had not seen the first series, which is something to be regretted as the condition of the protagonist, Yoann Peeters (a former inspector of police), is firmly rooted in the first series as well as some other main characters.

When a patient with a troubled past is accused of killing a baroness, psychiatrist Jasmina Orban turns to Yoann Peeters for help. But he's reluctant to get involved, he's changed his career to teaching in a police academy and fears he may fall back in his psychotic trauma.
But Yoann reexamines a 2009 murder conviction nevertheless, seems like just reading the report for inconsistencies, after Jasmina asks him to do so because she thinks her patient Dany served time for a murder he didn't commit and this prior conviction makes Dany the prime suspect for the killing of baroness Astrid.
And Dany confesses under duress.
Gradually more candidates appear for the gruesome murder of Astrid.
Was the killing a break-in gone bad (some valuable art has gone missing) or could these be two different crimes. Astrid's sister Claudine and her husband Tino live on the same estate as Astrid and are jealous of Astrid's wealth and glamourous lifestyle.
The mayor of the town of Musso has a lot to gain with the construction of a major road through the woods on Astrid's estate to which she is opposed (and she has a seat in the City Council).
A group of 'punkers' live in the woods under the protection of Astrid. After her death, her sister and heiress Claudine intends to make a deal with the road builders and remove the squatters in the woods. This creates new tensions and the squatters appear as candidates of the break-in.
Yoann, as a privat sort of investigator (and at times in this status sees him convinced he can go outside the restrictions of the law and strict police procedures) speaks to a doctor who was treating Astrid and finds out about his illegal dealings.
An unidentified woman cleans out Astrid's vault at the bank: who was she?
Who is this 'Vincent', part of a mysterious art collective called Magma?
Yoann's young daughter Camille is in a lesbian relation with an older woman named Myriam, an artist who has introduced her to her father.
Yoann (a role by Yoann Blanc) asks Myriam about 'Vincent' and 'Magma' but she denies any knowledge. Meanwhile Myriam introduces Camille to a sect like group.
Both Dany and Jasmina have been selective with the truth. Yoann's head is spinning.
On the day of Myriam's vernissage, Camille finds Astrid and Myriam had been in an intimate relationship. Myriam denies any involvement in the death of Astrid.

Karim and Marjo, policing the town of Musso from a container in the woods, receive orders from HQ in Bastogne (Bastenaken) to double check certain aspects of the investigation with only Dany as a suspect. Karim has ambitions but not the required qualities.

Yoann breaks in at Tilleul's home and finds photos of Astrid involved in a group that could be Magma.
But Yoann sees Myriam as a suspect too for she seems also involved in Magma. And while breaking down he holds a gun to her head to make her confess.. Did she kill her? Or Magma? Or Vincent?

Yoann has regular conversations with an apperance named Sebastian Drummer, a deceased from the first series. Drummer seems an inner voice but then the bar Yoann frequents for a lonesome drink has a singer on some nights, Coralie, and he has a conversation with her. One time he and drops her off at the woods where she says she lives. Only to find later that the bar never had a singer and when Yoann investigates the woods he finds the gravestone of Coralie...
Yoann feels he is going mad, for the appearances but also the pressure from many parties to cease the investigation.

When Karim is found to have tampered with evidence, his partner Marjorie (Marjo) takes side with a re-energized Yoann.
Dany is set free pending trial but then Jasmina realizes Dany may know more than he's letting on after she examines his sketchbook.

Some plotlines appear but soon vanish into thin air such as dinner with Yoann's neighbours which proves unsettling for Yoann and Camille; there is now follow up. The same for the artistic group Magma, only mentioned but never thoroughly investigated.
But I missed one episode, #8, so that could explain it.
There is some wry humor when kids spraypaint large penisses everywhere, including the container where Karim and Marjo have their police headquarters.
I found Yoann's character a bit over the top, 10 episodes of getting ever closer to a final breakdown but this series is deserving of being labelled 'noir' as much as any Scandinavian thriller!




Line of Duty - Series 1

The first series of Line of Duty, consisting of 5 episodes, began broadcasting on 26Jun12 on BBC Two.
The series follows Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar), D.S. Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) and D.C. Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) as they lead an investigation into the corrupt actions of D.C.I. Tony Gates (Lennie James).
The series' supporting characters include D.S. Matthew Cottan (Craig Parkinson) and D.C. Nigel Morton (Neil Morrissey).

After a bungled raid which kills an innocent man young DS Steve Arnott faces disgrace. However he is transferred to the anti-corruption squad, whose head, superintendent Ted Hastings, gives him a "very special case" to investigate - DCI Tony Gates, recently awarded a medal for heroic conduct but with a suspiciously high arrest rate.
The married Gates has covered up a fatal hit-and-run by his lover, businesswoman Jackie Laverty. Meanwhile DC Kate Fleming joins Gates's team, also an AC-12 officer and working from the inside.
While the net is being tightened around DCI Gates, the latter realizes more and more he is running into a dead end, being forced by blackmail and threats to his family into a series of illegal actions.

While I have come across episodes of the 6 series sofar broadcasted I have avoided recording them as I intended with starting with the first series. Now that is done I expect to follow up on the other series as I quite liked what I saw.




Four Seasons in Havana - dvd box Lumière

We follow lieutenant Conde (Jorge Perugorría) as he solves crime, beds beautiful women and navigates the corruption and politics of his Havana police department.
The brutal murder of a young teacher leads Conde to follow in the footsteps of a drug dealer linked to the school he attended.
Next is the investigation into the disappearance of a businessman when Conde discovers that the man's wife, and main suspect, is his old passion.

Another narrative has, amidst the scalding summer of Havana, the body of a gay young man and son of a diplomat found, leading Conde to a world of sexual possibilities as well as a political minefield.
The police department is targeted for an internal investigation, looking into suspicions of corruption. Conde is less at ease in his job with the police and has started writing again.
With the arrival of  Hurricane Felix, Conde needs to uncover a murder case before his resignation can be considered; it involves a former public employee who has suspicious links to valuable works of art.

Cuatro estaciones en La Habana is an 8 episodes (4 narratives) Spanish-language tv-series released in 2016 . I found it quite entertaining though the fact that Conde (in his heart of hearts a writer rather than a policeman) found a love interest (all stunningly beautiful) in every investigation became quite predictable and a bit of a nuisance.

The gathering of friends show an insight in the state of affairs in Cuba. They all become staggeringly drunk on rum while Conde plays the few (one?) LP's of Creedence Clearwater Revival. The closest I have come sofar to Cuba though I was close to visiting Cuba once for vacation.




Small World by Martin Parr, photobook

Small World by Martin Parr, photobook

Small World by Martin Parr, photobook

Small World by Martin Parr, photobook

Small World by Martin Parr, photobook

'Small World' was first published by Dewi Lewis Publishing in 2007, but was in fact an updated version of the 1995 publication, containing 30 new images. My edition was published in 2018, again by Dewi Lewis Publishing. It has an introduction by Geoff Dyer.

'Small World' is a biting and very funny satire in which Martin Parr observes global tourism and the tourist’s search for authentic cultures that are themselves destroyed in that search. There is certainly food for thought here.

Martin Parr (b.23May1952) is a British documentary photographer, photojournalist and photobook collector. He is well-known for his photographic projects that take an intimate, satirical and anthropological look at aspects of modern life, in particular documenting the social classes of England and more broadly the wealth of the Western world.
Since 1994, Parr has been a member of Magnum Photos.
He's had around 40 solo photobooks published, and has featured in around 80 exhibitions worldwide.

The Martin Parr Foundation, founded in 2014, opened premises in his hometown of Bristol in 2017. It houses his own archive, his collection of British and Irish photography by other photographers and a gallery. MUST VISIT ONE DAY!

Parr's unmistakable eye for the quirks of ordinary life has made him a distinctive voice in visual culture for more than 30 years. Known for his use of garish colours and esoteric composition, he has studied cultural peculiarities around the world from Japan to America, Europe, and his home country of Britain.

The book both fascinates from a photography point of view as well as entertains for its sense of humor, often only to be discovered by taking a closer look. So pleased with this book!
Another book by Martin Parr, The Last Resort, is discussed on MyBlog 2020Q3.




Michael Wolf: Tokyo Compression

Michael Wolf: Tokyo Compression

Michael Wolf: Tokyo Compression

Michael Wolf: Tokyo Compression

Michael Wolf: Tokyo Compression

Michael Wolf (b.30Jul1954 – d.24Apr2019) was a German artist and photographer whose work focused on daily life in big cities. He was born in Munich, Germany, and was raised in the United States, Europe, and Canada.
Wolf won first prize in the Contemporary Issues category of the 2004 World Press Photo competition for his photographs of workers in several types of factories for an article in Stern.
He lived and worked in Hong Kong and Paris.
In 1994 he started as a photojournalist, spending 8 years working in Hong Kong for the German magazine Stern. He said that a decline in the magazine industry led to photojournalism assignments becoming "stupid and boring." In 2003 he decided to work only on fine-art photography projects.
Wolf died in April 2019 in Cheung Chau, Hong Kong.

In the 2010 book 'Tokyo Compression', Wolf presented portraits of Japanese people inside crowded Tokyo subway trains who had been pressed against a window.
Most of the commuters seem to have withdrawn from their discomfort into a world of their own. Or at least attempting to do so.
All images in this photobook were taken at Shimo-Kitazawa station in Tokyo over a 4-year period. On 25Mar2013 the Odakyu subway line was relocated from its prior above ground position to new platforms 3 stories underground. This book is 'the final cut'.
Wolf stated that some people closed their eyes or hid their faces with their hands upon realizing that they were being photographed.

One reviewer concluded that Wolf's 'Architecture of Density', 'Transparent City' and 'Tokyo Compression' series represented a progression from long shot to close-up.
Wolf won a first prize in 'Daily Life' chapter of the 2009 World Press Photo competition for his 'Tokyo Compression' work.
Martin Parr selected the 2010 book as one of the 30 most influential photobooks published between 2001 and 2010.
Tokyo Compression was part of 'Metropolis, City Life in the Urban Age', exhibited in the 2011 Noorderlicht Photofestival. One of Wolf's pictures was used for the poster, the cover of the catalogue and all media material of the exhibition.

The books contains an essay by Christian Schüle, 'Tokyo Subway Dreams - Underground Meditations'.

Ever since I have seen Michael Wolf's work on exhibitions I have wanted to add his work to my photobook collection. I hope to collect more.

www.all-about-photo.com/photographers/- - - /- -/michael-wolf



Japan in Honderd Kleine Stukjes, Paulien Cornelisse

Such a delightful publication, a hundred short explanations and personal experiences by Paulien Cornelisse who has been thoroughly fascinated by Japan since an early age.
She clearly loves Japan and illustrates (quite literally on occasion) the astonishing, the uniqueness of customs and traditions in Japan.
And yes indeed, Japan is like no other country, it deserves and needs explaining and Paulien Cornelisse does it like no other. A pleasure to read and brought my understanding of Japan onto a next (but modest) level.




Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

Macbeth by Shakespeare is here transplanted to a geographically agnostic place that mixes terms of Scottish and Scandinavian origin (the area is Fife, the sharpshooter named Olafson), along with allegorical touches: the capital city is known simply as the Capitol. But we spend most of our time in a grim northern town where industry has shut down and it nearly always rains.

Rarely do I give up on books, only a handful over the past 40+ years or so, but after 20o pages I still felt uninspired by Nesbo's writing.
I have read books by him before and liked them, but this one is not for me.



Jack Irish - series 2

Jack Irish - series 2

In this delightful 2nd series (2018) of Jack Irish we find ourselves again in the  Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy.
Little has changed in terms of setting from the first series: Jack (Guy Pearce) works on a minor land dispute and regularly visits his local pub while he also is too nice to say no to biddings by Harry Strang (Roy Billing) who is getting back in horse racing and betting.
Former love interest and journalist Linda Hillier (Marta Dusseldorp) of Jack is with Orton (Jacek Koman) living in Manilla and trying to adopt the young girl she helped saving in the first series.
Cam (Aaron Pedersen) is still Harry's 'enforcer' and occasionally provides back up for Jack in dodgy situations. Sometimes Bernard provides back up for Jack but he isn't too reliable.
Against her good sense Simone (Kate Atkinson) provides IT services for Jack.

Jack likes to keep his life simple and he isn't quite a heroic action man so he gets occasionally beaten up, thrown in the boot of a car, left in the middle of nowhere. Then again he becomes romantically involved with a very attractive psychiatrist.

The plot is good again, having to do with pharmaceutical research and students from India.
Linda gets involved for an article and there is good banter and much irony with all involved including Stan the pub's landlord, the old geezers Eric and Wilbur in the pub (down to two) and police D.I. Barry (Shane Jacobson).
Gus (Tiarnie Coupland), a teenager and granddaughter of Charlie Taub (who passed away), seeks and withdraws from Jack's guidance, adding a new dimension in this series.
Plenty of fun and a good crime story, again adapted from the detective novels by author Peter Temple to which the second series was dedicated, as he died in March 2018.

Could we possibly hope for a 3rd series, for this comes close to the ideal crime series for me with a twist of dry humor!

Myblog 2020Q1 for Jack Irish - serie 1



Killing Eve - Series One

Killing Eve is a British spy thriller tv-series, produced in the United Kingdom by Sid Gentle Films for
BBC America and BBC iPlayer.
The series follows Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh), a British intelligence investigator tasked with capturing psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer).
As the chase progresses, the two develop a mutual obsession.

The show has been highly successful in both the United States and the United Kingdom, receiving critical acclaim for both the first and second series, particularly for its writing and the lead actresses' performances.
The first series had unbroken weekly ratings increases, among adults especially.
Both Oh and Comer have won multiple Best Actress awards for their roles, with Fiona Shaw winning one for Best Supporting Actress as Carolyn Martens (she also played a part in Mrs Wilson, discussed below). By January 2020, Killing Eve had been renewed for both a 3rd and a 4th series.




Traces - tv crime fiction series

Young lab assistant Emma Hedges (Molly Windsor) discovers that the fictitious forensic case study she has tenrolled in (besides her lab work as a lab technician) has a link to her past: her mother went missing when she was seven years old and found killed three months later.
While Emma does not work on this murder case, her mentor does. This brings the trauma of her mother's murder back to the surface. She makes inquiries and stirs things up.
She becomes romatically involved with Daniel (Martin Compston, from Line of Duty fame), whose father seems linked to the disappearance and murder of Marie Monroe. Emma was raised by Marie' s sister and adopted her surname.
Daniel and his father are being prosecuted for neglicence in a renovation of a nightclub that burned down, with three fatal casulaties.

An excellent plot, good acting and plenty of drama!

Molly Windsor (b. 19Jun97) is an English actress. She is known for her roles in the 2009 Channel 4 television film The Unloved, and the 2017 BBC miniseries Three Girls, for which she won the 2018 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress.
I recently watched her perform in Cheat, also an excellent performance.
Also good to see Laura Fraser again, in the role of Prof. Sarah Gordon. I enjoyed her roles in The Missing (2016) and The Loch (2017).




Traces, tv-seies crime fiction drama

Mrs. Wilson (formerly known as 'The Wilsons') is a 2018 British historical drama tv miniseries starring Ruth Wilson (of 'Luther'-series fame).
Based on a true account, the actress plays her real-life grandmother, a widow who uncovers a mysterious and secret life following the death of her husband.
It first aired on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 27Nov2018.

After the sudden death of novelist and ex-Secret Intelligence Service man Alexander Wilson, his wife Alison is forced to investigate when mysteries from her husband's past come knocking.
We see how they met in WWII, both working for military intelligence and both sworn to secrecy. Two boys are born out of this marriage and she is devoted to her husband and her children. But Alexander is assigned to undercover work and to facilitate this he gets a dishounorable discharge for an assignment in Egypt, shortly before the big battle at El Alamein.
Their life is one of poverty and for another undercover assignment Alexander is sentenced to jail.
But each time he resurfaces with money in the pocket and his books seem to sell really well.

There is switching between past and present. Alison is preparing the burial of Alexander who died of a heart attack. But the deceased is claimed by another Mrs Wilson...
And there is an adult son of this marriage. Alison learns that Alexander spent time there, never missed a birthday but never stayed for the night. A church service is done according according Alison's preparations, but the deceased is buried in the cemetery of his first wife.
Alison keeps the details hidden from her sons.
Then Alison hears about another wife, one Dorothy whom Alexander married in India, shortly before the war and supposedly as part of his undercover work there!
Alexander's handler in the wartime intelligence service and MI6, Coleman, insists on Alison to stop digging and darkly suggests that, if she persists, she may jeopardise her sons' futures.
Faced with conflicting explanations of her husband's past and a startling revelation about his work, Alison finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew.

Fascinating drama, esspecially because of the role by Ruth Wilson and the connection with her real-life grandmother!

en.wikipedia.org:_Mrs._Wilson_(tv miniseries)



Vienna Blood - tv crime fiction series

Vienna Blood is a 2019 British-Austrian psychological thriller tv-series set in Vienna, Austria in the 1900s. Based on the Liebermann novels by Frank Tallis.

Max Liebermann (Matthew Beard), a student of Sigmund Freud, helps Detective Oskar Rheinhardt (Jürgen Maurer ) in the investigation of a series of disturbing murders around the grand cafes and opera houses of 1900s Vienna.
Max is a stoic, somewhat nerdy person, often distrusted for his psychological approach (a novelty) to the murder mysteries.  He is betrothed to Clara and Max parents are well pleased with their relation. But Max becomes fascinated by forensic expert Amelia Lydgate: British and not Jewish.
A continuing sub-theme is the growing anti-Semitism against the Liebermann family.

Very entertaining historic crime drama, with three murder mysteries in 6 episodes.




Black Cherry Blues - James Lee Burke

Case #3 for alcoholic Cajun ex-cop Dave Robicheaux (The Neon Rain, Heaven's Prisoners) sends him and his adoptive daughter Alafair to Montana on a quest for the usual justice and revenge.
Robicheaux is never exactly likable. While he's still troubled by dreams about his murdered wife Annie, his disreputed but old friend Dixie Lee Pugh turns up in New Iberia with a tale about two men killed in Montana over an oil lease.
On Dixie's request Robichaux makes some inquiries, although he really does not want to get involved. And he promptly stirs up a hornest nest. He gets a visit by Dalton Vidrine and Harry Mapes and receives threats to his household.
Then Robicheaux does a typical thing thing for him: he goes after Vidrine and Mapes with a tire chain-and next morning he finds himself arrested for Vidrine's murder...
Mortgaging his house and bait-shop to post bail, Dave takes off for Montana, looking for evidence that will get him off the hook. His adopted daughter Alifair travels with him so he can keep her close by and safe.

Dave's investigative technique is confrontational and uncouth, he's frustrated with lack of perspective, refuses helping hands by old friends who are probably involved in illegal dealings, alieniates others.

I have enjoyed a few other titles by James Lee Burke, the prose is bold and macho.
There is too much florid detail to my taste in how he perceives his Louisiana livelyhood and about his murdered wife.
In the past I could devour such descriptive storytelling about the American Life, but I have grown very tired of the US (Trump & GOP: ) and this typical American method of writing.




De Pest - Albert Camus
La Peste | The Plague

The Plague (French: La Peste) is a novel by Albert Camus, published in 1947, which tells the story of a plague sweeping the French Algerian city of Oran. It asks a number of questions relating to the nature of destiny and the human condition.
The characters in the book, ranging from doctors to vacationers to fugitives, all help to show the effects the plague has on a populace.
It has striking similarities with the current Covid19 ('Corona') pandemic!

The book mainly focusses on human interaction with the virus, emotionally, with doctor Rieux going about his business and reporting, while others try to escape, make a profit or even find solace in the isolation.
There is less factual reporting, such as the book I've read in 2017 (MyBlog-2017Q1), 'The Great Plague, a People's History' by Evelyn Lord.
Lord's book I found more fascinating, brimming with facts how the community was effected inside and out, as well as about the consequences.
But Camus' book is certainly entertaining, esspecially amidst the current pandemic with its 'social distancing' and the world on pause, self isolation as well as of course the victims during these trying times across the globe.




SPIRAL / Engrenages - series 7

For me Engrenages (EN: Spiral) is in the Top 3 of best modern crime series, together with The Killing and The Bridge.
We meet up again in series 7 with Laure, Gilou, Lawyer Joséphine and Judge Roban.
But, Laure's and Gilou's former boss Police Commissioner Herville is found dead in a Chinese restaurant in the 13th arrondissement of Paris.
Gilou must break the news to Laure, who is being treated in a Police rehabilitation center for a depression. Now in charge of the police unit, Gilou begins investigating with Ali, a young cop, fresh out of training.
Roban learns he must soon retire but still manages to oversee the Herville case. The deadline will play a distinctive role.
Awaiting trail, Joséphine struggles with life in prison, where she ended up in after having run over a man who had drugged and raped her. Edelman does everything he can to get Joséphine out of prison.

After Laure learned of the murder of Herville she insists on ending her treatment to join the investigation team. Gilou agrees to work with Laure again, but he's in charge. She must find her place now that Ali and Gilou are a team.
They find out that the restaurant owner Wang, killed together with Herville, was the latter's informer on drugs trafficking and money laundering in a Chinese community.

Joséphine gets closer to her cellmate, Lola. They bond.
Laure can’t cope with both the investigation and taking time as a single mother for care of her baby daughter. She relinquishes the custody to the father Brémont and his wife. At times Laure seems totally lost, on the verge of sinking back in depression, but bounces back when she has her focus on the investigation.
Step by step Gilou and Laure map the money laundering business: couriers, locations and kingpins. Their boss insists on introducing the Fraud Squad, politics get in the way and Laure & Gilou sink deeper in their unorthodox methods. This blows up in their face and Roban takes them off the investigation and hands it to Brémont's homicide team.
But L&G secretly follow a money trail and blackmail a Pierre Solignac who benefits from the money laundering for cash payments to his construction staff.

Joséphine is released from jail and while she is not yet allowed to practice law, she joins Edelman's office.
Roban falls into a trap set by Joséphine  while handling a client for Edelman. Roban carries out raids based on forged documents; too late he realizes he has been compromised and starts a letter of resignation.
Laure and Gilou, again using unorthodox methods, give him a helping hand.

Joséphine leaves Edelman's law firm, with Solignac as a client. Solignac offers her an office and money that will enable her to defend Lola, her fellow jailbird.

L&G manage to upset and reactivate the dormant money-laundering operation, with an entirely illegal undercover purchasing operation; Internal Affairs gets to investigate and Laure and Gilou spiral downwards deeper into illegality.
Former colleague Tintin now works for Internal Affairs; he is drawn between loyality and frustrations by his former friends' antics, time and time again disregarding police procedures, cutting corners.

Under investigation by Internal Affairs, Laure and Gilou find themselves in custody but are released due to lack of evidence. They are getting closer and closer to finding the mainplayers in the international money laundering scheme, which ultimately should deliver the person responsible for Herville's murder.

Joséphine tries to defend Lola, who makes it difficult because she is unwilling to talk about her past. But she succeeds; she also decides to help Edelman who now was sent to prison for a favour he did for a friend and client.
The plotlines finally converge, the crime investigation in concert with Homicide, with Judge Roban in charge, the cases Joséphine and Edelman are involved in but also: Internal Affairs has decided to continue their investigations into the methods used by Laure Berthaud and Gilou Escoffier.

An amazing feat to maintain the high level of suspense and drama in this 7th series!




Agent Hamilton

I remember watching 2 films with Mikael Åke Persbrandt in the role of Agent Hamilton, enjoyed them very much! Equally so liked this series, with Jakob Oftebro in the role of Carl Gustav Hamilton.
A bit more character building in the 5 episodes, which is a plus.

Hamilton walks through the streets of Stockholm, on the lookout for one or several persons in a gathering crowd for a political event. A series of explosions detonates in what seems like a terrorist attack.
The terrorists of the attack flee but Hamilton intercepted one and the terrorist is killed.
That same day a Russian cultural attaché of Stockholm's Russian Embassy is killed by an assassin while visiting his girlfriend in Russia. A link is suspected.

Hamilton has arrived in Sweden only days before this incident and is on a mission of the CIA where he completed a training. The CIA allowes him to be drafted by the Military Intelligence (OP-5) as the interests could converge. Hamilton's CIA mission is to locate a terrorist named Abdullah.
He travels to Ramallah, but his information is what it should be.

The OP-5 does not know Hamilton is a CIA agent, but rather looking for work in Sweden after having completed his training in the USA. Previously Hamilton had been employed by the military.
Carl meets a former classmate Sonja Widén (Katia Winter), who becomes his 'romantic interest' but she is kept unawares of Carl's profession.
The plot thickens when OP-5 agrees Carl also gets to work for the Swedish Security Service (Swedish: Säkerhetspolisen, abbreviated SÄPO); his arrival is monitored by Kristin Ek (Nina Zanjani), who distrusts Carl's motivation. There is always a computer nerd, in this case it is Birgir (Jörgen
Thorsson) in Kristin's unit.
Carl befriends Birgir, who provides services to Carl on the sly.

Carl's CIA contact is Farrin Haig (Rowena King ). Secretly she also commands another CIA agent, Mykhailo 'Mike' Tyraschenko who has become a friend of Carl during training. It is obvious that Carl is kept in the dark about scenario's beyond 'Abdullah'.

Kristin gets into trouble privately when her marriage (with a young daughter) comes apart.
Hamilton gets suspicious of Haig's motivations and 'want out'. She says he can't. So Carl and Sonja head off to her cabin on an island where Carl, while Sonja is still unawares, aims to hide. But he can't.
Sonja finds out Hamilton is a trained killer the hard way and she flees.

It becomes clear that Stockholm is under a new massive cyber attack and the country's media agencies are spammed with prefabricated articles ('fake news') about terrorist threats.
OP-5, lead by DG (Krister Henriksson) and Astrid Bofors (Annika Hallin) see Hamilton move away from their control, equally so Kristin is still doubtful of Carl's scheming.
In spite of the fact that the entire world seem to hunt Carl, he follows a trail into Ukraine where certain plotlines come together.
Everything culminates in a brutal settlement between Haig and Hamilton. Time (and bombs!) are ticking...

Lovely roles by all! Krister Henriksson and Nina Zanjani I remember from (a.o.) the Swedish Wallander series (much batter i.m.o. than the British series). Annika Hallin played roles in Beck and Wallander (a.o.).

The Carl Hamilton novels are a series of novels by Swedish author Jan Guillou centered on the fictional spy Carl Hamilton.
In Sweden and other countries it is a best-selling series. Carl Hamilton has been referred to as "Sweden's James Bond". One commentator said the books "... place [Guillou] besides John le Carre and Len Deighton" (both famous British spy novelists).
The first novel Coq Rouge was published in 1986, it was Guillou's first significant work of fiction.




Quentin Bates - Cold Comfort

Cold Comfort (NL: Schrale Troost) is a Gunnhildur Gísladóttir Mystery, by Quentin Bates. I read it in Dutch and it was the first book by this author, so I have yet to get my hands on the first 'Gunna' novel, Frozen Out (2011).
And I will because I liked this Icelandic crime story a lot. A welcome addition to the books I've read by Arnaldur Indriðason and, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir.

Police Sergeant Gunnhildur 'Gunna' Gísladóttir has been seconded from running her village police station to Reykjavík's Serious Crime Unit on a "permanent temporary basis", taking on the responsiblity but not pay grade of her superior, who is on extended leave due to health reason.
Cold Comfort (2012) is the second mystery in this series by Quentin Bates.

We have a murder victim. Svana Geirs seemed to be living well beyond her means. Years ago hers was one of the most recognizable faces on television and in magazines and newspapers, but her career went downhill.
Gunna follows the money, which leads her to a group of four men, who had an 'arrangement' with Svana for sexual services. Each of these men had a lot to lose if sordid details become public.
Then there's Long Ommi, a convicted killer just a year away from being paroled, who escaped from prison around the same time Svana was killed.

Cold Comfort sees the investigation progressing in small steps, with insights in Gunna's personal life and rather meagre facilties of the police department, served in a wry and somewhat cynical but amusing style.
Gunna is a delightful character, one who takes life's curves in stride, and is the real star of the show. She's not a city-person, however, and her assignment in the capital is one of the elements of the book that doesn't quite work.
The financial crisis in Iceland provides a backdrop to the proceedings, people and businesses getting into trouble and thus possible motivation for the murder scenarios.

Quentin Bates is a journalist and author, but also translates Icelandic novels into English. I will certainly seek other work by him!




White House Farm - crime drama based on true story

White House Farm - crime drama based on true story

This tv drama evolves around the true story of a fateful night in August 1985, when five members of the same family are murdered at an Essex farmhouse, and the ensuing police investigation and court case that follows.
The series began on ITV on 08Jan20.

The police, lead by detectives Taff Jones (Stephen Graham) and his brother DS Stan Jones  (Mark Addy),
are called in to investigate. Taff is Stan's superior, a career type and anxious to file this case as 'done & dusted', labelled a murder-suicide.
Sheila Jean 'Bambs' Caffell (b. 18Jul57, 28 when she died) is a former model but down on her luck cleaning houses, with a medical history of schizophrenia and under medication.
She is the suspected murderess who killed herself after the horrific event; the other victims were her two young boys and her parents. Her brother Jeremy claims he wasn't at the farm, but was called by his father stating Sheila was roaming around with a shotgun and going berserk. This phonecall was to play an important role in the ensuing investigation.
Stan sees anomalies and does not accept Sheila as the murderess, but has Jeremy Bamber as the evildoer.
Initially this did not go down well with his superiors.

Jeremy 'Jem' Bamber was tried and convicted for the murders. Bamber protested his innocence throughout, although his extended family remained convinced of his guilt. Between 2004 and 2012, his lawyers submitted several unsuccessful applications to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

A gripping narrative over 6 episodes.




Endeavour Morse - Series 7

It's 1970, and the new year and a new decade arrives with a murder on an Oxford towpath and a visit to Venice by Morse where he has a mysterious romantic liason.
As campaigning for the 1970 general election gets underway in Oxford, racial tensions escalate in the city and a clash between two young rival gangs results in tragedy. We follow developments in 2 families from opposing sides.
When Endeavour (Shaun Evans) is suggested by newsreporter Dorothea Frazil to investigate what appears to be a a series of freak accidents , he uncovers a potential link between a series of peculiar incidents across Oxford.
Meanwhile we see escalating differences between DI Fred Thursday and Morse about a suspect in custody for the tow path killings; obviously there is an intention to get some sparks flying in the storyline and not to follow the usual leading Police Inspector and his sidekick (a.k.a. bag man). 
The accidents Morse is following up on at first seem in no way connected and while Morse insists there must be a connection, Thursday states that 'people have accidents, some die'. But DC Morse finds a sympathetic ear with DS Strange.
The row between Morse and Thursday escalates when Morse states Thursday is losing it, even saying he never was good in unravelling complex mysteries, in return Thursday blames  Morse being aloof and 'looking down his nose on others'. We see a less sympathetic side of Morse.
The series end, with murders solved and some tragic deaths, while Morse is preparing his transfer to another posting, at Kidlington Police Station.

Only 3 extended episodes and the Endeavour Morse series continue to accomplish a high level of drama and entertainment, one can only hope an 8th series will be in the making.





Blue Skiews over Beijing
Subtitled 'Economic Growth and the Environment in China'

Since the 1980s, energy consumption in China has soared as a result of rapid economic growth and urbanization. Most of this energy is supplied by fossil fuels, primarily coal (66 percent in 2012) and oil (20 percent).
The combustion of fossil fuels releases carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), nitrogen oxides, particulates, and other pollutants into the atmosphere. For the year 2012, the World Health Organization attributed nearly 1,033,000 deaths in China to ambient air pollution, compared to about 38,000 deaths in the United States.
Another report estimated the cost of air pollution to be 6.5 percent of China's gross domestic product (GDP) between 2000 and 2010. Many Chinese citizens get information about air quality through official sources and through social media.

In Blue Skies over Beijing: Economic Growth and the Environment in China, Matthew E. Kahn and
Siqi Zheng examine how China's urban growth has impacted the environment and how air quality impacts the decisions made by citizens, firms, and government.
Kahn is a professor of economics and spatial statistics at the University of Southern California.
Zheng is affiliated with Tsinghua University, where she is a professor and director of the Hang Lung Center for Real Estate at Tsinghua University and the deputy head of the Department of Construction Management.
The authors' sources include interviews of numerous urban residents, their own previous research, and the personal experiences of coauthor Zheng, who lives in Beijing with her family.
While it is in many aspects a rather dry, academic book (plenty of stats and other figures) it also translates the observations to aspects of linving in the Western world such as quality of life and living (a.o. air quality, distances to work and schools for the children).

This book consists of 10 chapters, two brief appendices, an extensive end notes section and the index. Chapter 1 introduces readers to China's environmental challenges and provides an overview of the book. Readers learn about some of the advantages and disadvantages of life in Beijing from Zheng and two informants.
The research questions are presented on pages 7 and 8:
• For China's hundreds of millions of urbanites, how does pollution affect their daily quality of life?
• How do their day-to-day choices in aggregate impact local and global environmental challenges?
• Why is their demand for a cleaner environment likely to increase over time?
• How will government policies influence urban environmental quality dynamics?

The authors note that the Chinese government has eased restrictions on the internal passport system (hukou), allowing citizens more freedom in choosing where to live. They also introduce the environmental Kuznets curve, which "posits that as poor cities grow wealthier, such economic growth causes environmental degradation, but that as middle-income cities grow wealthier, such economic growth contributes to economic improvements".
'Part I: A Geographic Overview of Urban Pollution in China' traces the rise of manufacturing in China and its impacts on the environment.
Rural-to-urban migration and city-to-city migration are also discussed.
Government departments deal with environmental issues and preplanning reports, but as the saying goes 'some (departments) are more equal than others'. Economic growth remains China's top priority, effectively also bringing ever more people out of poverty in China, and hopefully the (sometimes costly) environmental aspects grow more important in the considerations - a start has been made.




Slow Down... look again; by Louis Botha

Slow Down... look again; by Louis Botha

Slow Down... look again; by Louis Botha

Slow Down... look again; by Louis Botha

At the northern entrance to Prince Albert in the Great Karoo lies Northend, a neighbourhood home to a special group of people.

They have a very special way of communicating with others through their stories, which indicate an inherent joy of life. However, judging by their environment and circumstances, it is clear that they have experienced many hardship, and for an outsider it is an enriching experience to meet them.
Every picture in Slow Down look again... tells a story and is supported by explanatory text.
These enable the reader to gain insight into the past and the present of this unique neighbourhood and its residents.The captions are both in English and Afrikaans, it invoked a special feel to me to decipher the Afrikaans into Dutch, mostly it wasn't hard at all.

All the photographs were captured by Louis over the last four to five years (since 2015). He used a 1975 Hasselblad 6 x 6 medium format film camera.
The book was launched on 6th November 2015 during the Prince Albert Leesfees.
The book is available at the Louis Botha Photo Gallery in 2 Parsonage Street, Prince Albert. I think it would be nice to visit that gallery upon a future visit to South Africa.

The joy and sorrows of the residents of Northend - as well as their scant earthly possessions - are illustrated through Louis Botha's excellent choice of photographic backgrounds.
And yet the absolute neatness of their homes illustrates a certain pride - poverty without dilapidation.
This also struck me on the visit to Soweto last mont, see my SA 2020 REPORT.
We become witnesses not only to the extraordinary character of a close-knit community, but also of its trusting relationship with the person whom they have allowed to tell their story.

Louis Botha was born in Bloemfontein in 1955 and grew up on a small-holding north-east of Pretoria. After school he studied finance and followed a career in the Financial Services Industry. At the age of 40, and encouraged by his wife he pursued his hobby more seriously.
Besides the Hasselblad he also acquired an early 1980's 6 x 17 medium format panorama film camera, now used in conjunction with his very first 35mm Pentax K1000 film camera, and a 35mm Canon 5D digital camera.
He's held several exhibitions and lives in Prince Albert.

The book is a valuable historic document and photographic achievement.
I treasure this copy in my photobook collection.




Cheat- tv-series

The story is centered around a dangerous relationship between university professor Leah and her student, Rose.
After a series of events take place, things escalate between the two leading to dramatic consequences. Leah is under pressure, hoping for a positive assessment leading to a permanent position at the Cambridge university. Meanwhile her husband Adam is persisting in making a baby, a desire Leah is less and less positive about. A relation gap is looming.
Rose has an agenda of her own and manages to get close to Adam, who is increasingly unsupportive to Leah who suspects some kind of a Machiavellian plot by Rose.




Deep Water - tv series

Three women living in Windermere dealing with jobs, relations and life in general.More drama than crime but I soon caught on.
Anna Friel leads the series as Lisa Kallisto, a mother-of-three juggling a hectic family life and a flourishing dog kennel business.
Friel revealed about her character: "She had visions of a career which she had to abandon.
"I think Lisa is content but when she sees other people's lives and thinks how much better it can be, she starts questioning herself and her true happiness."

Lisa was supposed to pick up Lucinda from school, daughter of one of the other women, but she forgot while on a rare day out with her own daughter. Lucinda disappears and Lisa is full of remorse, while the police investigate the disappearance and the community participates in a giant search but everybody seems to expect the worst.
Roz is a physiotherapist who is in a huge amount of debt thanks to her partner Winston, who is a compulsive gambler undergoing therapy; Roz receives an offer that could end her money problems.
Kate Riverty, the 3rd woman, is the dark horse here, what is her agenda?





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Created: 04-APR-2020