Two reviews today, both set in the North Atlantic, as I rattle through some shorter books at the end of the year. The Adam Nicolson might be a candidate for my Top Ten of the year, as it was very good, and the Indriðason was a bit of a downer, to be honest, but well-done still.
Arnaldur Indriðason – Hypothermia
Another installment of the Reykjavik Murder Mystery series, and I know a couple of people have told me they start to decline in quality near the end of the series – can anyone tell me when that starts? This one was quite depressing, with the main investigation being on a woman found to have committed suicide, and following up on the loss of Detective Erlendur’s brother in a blizzard in their childhood. He has a depressing encounter with his ex-wife and regrets the mistakes he made with his children.
The other police characters don’t really feature in this novel, and are only mentioned in passing, which makes it feel a bit claustrophobic. The plot is cleverly worked out as always (although a sub-investigation that I thought would mesh with the main one didn’t seem to), but the geography (apart from some cool stuff about lakes) and the range of characters was lacking for me.
Adam Nicolson – “Atlantic Britain”
(3 September 2016 – Astley Book Barn)
I picked this off the shelf as a short book to pop into my handbag for a journey, so slightly out of order in the TBR (gasp!). It’s about Nicolson’s (a favourite author of mine, grandson of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson) sea adventure sailing from Cornwall to the Faroes up the West Coast of the British Isles, also the subject of a TV series I didn’t catch.
I loved the boating details, the beautiful descriptions, the birds and the honesty – the description of Nicolson’s near-drowning is amazingly and powerfully written, but so is his account of his relationship with George, skipper and accomplished seaman but employee and in imbalance with the requirements of filming, going wrong. He even shares George’s rather damning assessment of him as a “plucker” – one who floats from one thing to the other without really having to take responsibility, as opposed to the person who handles the risk and responsibility – which I think is a brave thing to do (he apparently ran the text by George before publishing, and they remained friends).
Full of memorable scenes and scenery, from monks in an odd community to bare rocks buffeted by the sea, and full of the wonder and horribleness of the sea – a great book.
I’ve almost finished my Hard Book about Dorothy Richardson then will I get “The Years” done in time … ? How’s your reading going?