‘A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World’ by C. A. Fletcher #AboyAndHisDogBook #NetGalley #amreading #bookbloggers #bookreview @orbitbooks #littlebrownbookgroup @CharlieFletch_r

“My name’s Griz. My childhood wasn’t like yours. I’ve never had friends, and in my whole life I’ve not met enough people to play a game of football.

My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.

Then the thief came.

There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you.

Because if we aren’t loyal to the things we love, what’s the point?”

I have already made my mental list of the friends to whom I will be lending my copy of this book once I’ve bought it. Yes, Marie Kondo, you heard me right. I’ve already read it, AND I will be buying the physical copy. It will bring me joy sitting on my shelf, available for my kids and friends, whilst all the time looking fabulous in its amazing cover and having one of the best titles I will ever own! This may even be one I’d read again, particularly after the twists revealed in the final fifth.

To me, this is a story about the power of stories; the way they can teach us about the world, ideas, history, practicality, and how they are told, by whom, and for what purpose.

It’s also about humans; how they can be duplicitous, exploitative, selfish, cruel, cowardly and vengeful, whilst also having the capacity to be compassionate, thoughtful, fanciful, brave, loyal and ardent. All our grey areas.

Yet we are also, to our downfall, too clever for our own good. A ‘soft apocalypse’ leaves teenager Griz and his family as a few of the only humans left.

A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World follows Griz on a quest to find a stolen dog, through a wasteland of the last mass human activity a century ago, but one which is on its way to being reclaimed by nature (plastics excepted).

I didn’t read it quickly, but that isn’t because it’s not absorbing; it’s so thought provoking that I think I may have spent an inordinate amount of time staring into space, with it on my mind. Some of the story progresses slowly, but it always feels realistic under the circumstances. It is 100% worth sticking with.

It reminded me a little bit, although the story is different, of a book I read at school in English class, pre-GCSE, called ‘Z for Zachariah’. The apocalyptic circumstances were different, but the dangers which humans can pose to each other, when there aren’t too many of them left, made me pluck this one out of my (very distant) memory.

It’s very well written; the sentences have a lovely, rhythmic balance. It’s a stream of thought-diary-style, and the grammar reflects this. The characters are vivid, and the situations feel uncomfortably real and palpably tense. I loved the duality between one boy and his dog, and another, both at the end of the world. There are so many quotable bits of writing; my e-reader is littered with highlighted notes. John Dark and all associated mispronunciations are especially good!

All of the characters (including the dogs) will stay with me for a long while, as will the situation in which they found themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Thanks very much to Netgalley and Orbit for the ARC in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

Publication date in the UK is 25th April 2019. Get yourself a copy here: A Boy and his Dog at the End of the World

‘The Silver Road’ by Stina Jackson #netgalley #TheSilverRoad #bookbloggers #book review #amreading #noirfiction

Atmospheric, slow burning and heart-rending . A superb debut novel, and a must-read for fans of noir fiction.

“Even the darkest journey must come to an end…

Three years ago, Lelle’s daughter went missing in a remote part of Northern Sweden. Lelle has spent the intervening summers driving the Silver Road under the midnight sun, frantically searching for his lost daughter, for himself and for redemption.
Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Meja arrives in town hoping for a fresh start. She is the same age as Lelle’s daughter was – a girl on the brink of adulthood. But for Meja, there are dangers to be found in this isolated place.

As autumn’s darkness slowly creeps in, Lelle and Meja’s lives are intertwined in ways, both haunting and tragic, that they could never have imagined.”

The chapters are interchangeably split between Lelle, who relentlessly searches the area around the Silver Road for his teenage daughter who has been missing for three years, and Meja, who travels around from place to place and man to man with her worryingly unstable and self-absorbed mother. She meets a boy, although he is from an unorthodox background too.

The first half of the book has an almost feverish quality to it. Set in the months in Sweden when it doesn’t get dark, the erratic behaviour of the characters (and the mosquitoes, the damned mosquitoes *slaps neck) fits really well with the days which never seem to end. It’s also in contrast to the bleakness of the story. The second half is set in the darkness of winter, where Lelle has to scale down his search and the two stories start to combine.

This isn’t really a detective novel, but it is a crime one; it’s a desperate man looking for answers, trying to succeed where the police gave up. Lelle suspects everyone; the police were perhaps looking closer to home. As readers, we just don’t know. Is his own guilt driving him, or is he right to keep searching to find out what really happened? Then, another girl goes missing.

It doesn’t twist and turn too much, there is no real shock reveal; it’s a more profound story with a slower pace, wending its way to an almost inevitable conclusion.

It’s emotional, visceral and heart rending. It drew me in and kept me there. It’s a story about isolation and abandonment, where suffocating loneliness means that any attachment is better than none at all. The characters are really well developed, and the story is totally absorbing. I really loved it.

About the author…

Stina Jackson

Stina Jackson (b. 1983) hails from the northern town of Skellefteå in Sweden. Just over a decade ago she relocated to Denver, Colorado, where she penned her debut novel, the acclaimed The Silver Road. A runaway bestseller, the novel established Jackson as a rising new star within Nordic suspense.

Awards
The Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award (Best Swedish Crime Novel) Sweden 2018
Shortlisted for the Crimetime Specsavers Award (Crime Debut of the Year) Sweden 2018

The Silver Road will be released in the UK on 7th March 2019, published by Corvus / Atlantic Books

To get your copy, click this link: The Silver Road

‘The Chestnut Man’ by Søren Sveistrup #TheChestnutMan #netgalley #ScandiNoir #bookreview #bookbloggers #2019books

Brilliant, compelling, unputdownable!

This Scandi-noir novel by The Killing writer Søren Sveistrup, and translated into English by Caroline Waight, concerns the Copenhagen police investigation into a series of cleverly orchestrated and gruesome murders, carried out by a killer who becomes known as The Chestnut Man, on account of the seemingly innocent children’s figures which are found close to each mutilated body.

Rosa Hartsung, the Danish Minister for Social Affairs returns to work, following a period of absence after the abduction of her daughter, Kristine. She is known to have been murdered, but her body has never been found.

As the investigation into The Chestnut Man begins, it appears that Rosa Hartsung’s return to office, and her responsibility for child welfare, may be linked to the killings.
Naia Thulin is a smart young detective assigned to the case as her last, before her coveted move to the cyber-crime unit. To her irritation, Mark Hess from Europol is also transferred to the case. The Hague do not appear to be in a hurry to have him return; he seems to have left under a cloud. The pair’s relationship in the first instance, is polarised, with both detectives’ focuses being on their long-term career objectives, neither of which is to remain in Homicide.

The development and complexity of the case, however, brings them together and they become an effective and close-knit pairing. Thulin follows procedure but is assertive, tech savvy and clever; Hess is more unorthodox and intuitive. They know they are playing a game of cat and mouse with the killer and as they try to break his hold over the game, the darker and more disturbing the story becomes, but are they still being manipulated?

Cleverly sidestepping the obvious, without being obtuse, is one of the major strengths of this story. I suspected, with due motive, almost every character apart from the actual perpetrator. Although I don’t always need it to be so, as a reader, it is really very satisfying when a story ties up every loose end, and this does, despite ending on an unsettling note.

Typical to this genre, which is one of my favourites, this Danish novel is dark and macabre, set in beautiful autumn, beset by driving, relentless rain and bitter snowfall as the seasons change. It provides the faultless atmospheric setting for the brutality and perversity of the most odious side of human nature.

There are some disturbing subjects, particularly concerning children, but they are pertinent to the central theme.

It is written in the present tense, mostly in present day, only occasionally taking us back to events in 1989. This allows a flowing visualisation of the story, and I would love to see this on screen. Fans of The Killing and The Bridge will, I think, love this book.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC, in exchange for an honest and impartial review.

The Kindle and hardcover release date in the UK is 10th January 2019.