The Shadow Girls

by Henning Mankell (Harvill Secker) ISBN 9781846556722 R215, 00 


Mankell is well-known for his crime novels featuring Detective Kurt Wallender.  The Shadow Girls was first published as Tea-Bag in Swedish in 2001. It has just been released in English as The Shadow Girls. I was expecting a crime novel. I was expecting a good read. I was expecting a plot. I didn't get it. 

The Shadow Girls is a nothing kind of a book. Apart from the three refugees whose story is woven in short pieces through the novel, there are no likeable characters. Jesper Humlin, the protagonist, is an unsuccessful poet. He is afraid of his angry girlfriend, his bitter mother, and his strident doctor. He is whiny, evasive, and fearful in his interactions with his manipulative publisher and his competitive friends. 

His publisher wants him to write a crime novel. He encounters the refugees. Somehow this is supposed to fit together but it doesn't. The novel ends abruptly and I realised I had just wasted my precious time. 

Amanda Patterson
1/5 

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Phantom

by Jo Nesbo (Harvill Secker) ISBN: 9781846555220

 

Harry Hole returns from Hong Kong to investigate a murder which is already considered solved. This leads him to investigate the underground world of drugs.

 

Although Phantom is well plotted and the story is deftly weaved together, I don’t think the author managed to pull off the dual narrative in the book. The large sections of monologues were tedious, at best.

 

Being a translated text I tried not to be too critical on the use of English. I was left wondering whether the author’s writing style was “telling rather than showing” or whether the writing style was something that was lost in translation from the original text.

 

The success of The Snowman and The Leopard may have carried this book. For someone who did not read the previous books I found the story and plot solid but the use of English and the writing style ruined the experience for me.

 

Michele van Eck

2.5/5

 

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Headhunters

by Jo Nesbo (Harvill Secker) ISBN 978-1-846-55593-0 R215, 00

 

A fast paced thriller. Nesbo seems to have researched all the ins and outs of fraud, gangsters, international art and guns.

 

Roger Brown is in love with Diana, an art gallery owner. He decides to include Norwegian, Clas Greve in his schemes, only to find Greve double crossing him with Diana. She longs for a child and will stop at nothing to become pregnant.

 

In the early days of his relationship with Diana Roger persuaded her to have an abortion. He couldn't bear to share her with a third person. Diana regrets this bitterly.

 

Roger turns out to be a skilled art thief. He can judge a canvas easily as the real thing or a fake. He hides his thieving from Diana but she ultimately gains as a gallery owner. Roger sees his chance to become richer than his wildest dreams and starts preparing his biggest heist. 

 

Greve owns one of the most sought after paintings in the world. Roger's plans unravel in ways that not even he would have predicted.  The hunter becomes the hunted.  There is a shoot out of note between the two men. Only one of them lives to tell the tale. In the meantime Diana has fallen pregnant.

 

The author is a terrific action writer. 

 

Dee Andrew

4/5

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