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Book Corner June 2006

  SUCCINCT SUMMER REVIEWS:  THE VIKINGS ARE COMING!

                                                 Brief book looks by Dr. Susan K. Hedahl

             By way of preface, if your library's shelves are limited, by all means seek the following works on "ILL"  Inter-Library Loan. 

             More European fiction is being translated and published in America.  The only drawback is that translation is slow work and some novels wait several years to come to the USA.  The following works, fiction and non-fiction, will provide some great summer reading time for you.   For the eagle-eyed readers of Scandinavian background, my computer is diacritically challenged and cannot make the round punctuation mark about the "A's." in the authors' names.

1.  Sun Storm by Asa Larsson, Translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy.  Delacorte Press, May, 2006.
You think you have problems working in team ministry?  This work begins with the murder of a charismatic staff pastor in one of Sweden's "free" mega-churches, where, as detective Anna-Maria Mella wryly notes, "But I suppose it's more fun to sing gospel songs in a huge church than to dig wells in Africa." (11). 

A young lawyer, formerly from the area of the church, returns and all the dark, wintery games begin, where "The Aurora Borealis twists and turns like a dragon in the night sky."   This book won some top awards.  If you like various versions of murder-in-the-cathedral, this work with all its intense actions and very badly behaved sinful human beings is just the right read.  The characters in this novel are compelling and beyond the help of any Mutual Ministry Committee.

2. Borkmann's  Point: An Inspector Van Veeteren Mystery by Hakan Nesser, 1994.  Translated from the Swedish, published, 2006

 Nesser is another Swedish mystery writer who does not avoid gore.  The work is set in a seaside town and there are a lot of comfy sort of people around.  Nesser weaves in some lucid reflections on what it means to grow old.  Someone, however, eventually manages to commit three unseemly axe murders in this placid setting, and when the detective finally learns who, we are reminded again of that old radio line:  "Who knows what lurks in the hearts of men?"  (or women for that matter).

3.  The Torso by Helen Tursten. 2000. Translated from the  Swedish by Katarina E. Tucker.  and published by Soho Press, 2006.
This is the second of two excellent mysteries featuring the detective protagonist being Irene Huss, investigator.  Huss is a mother, happily married, mother of two daughters, balanced in her responses to the sexist nature of police work (when it surfaces) and determined to do a good job.  This work describes travel and detective work in the newly formed terrains of the European Union. A lot of strange characters trying to find love and avoid being killed in all the right and wrong ways. You'll be surprised at who is living in Europe these days.

4.  The Minotaur by Barbara Vine, 2006.
Right from the English countryside and narrated by a young Swedish woman called to be a caretaker to a man in his 40's in an English mansion.  The dysfunctionality of the elderly mother and daughters in this family prompts the reader to think they get everything they deserve.  One of the most compelling descriptions in the book includes the mansion's library:  "to die for"
or is that "to die in?"    There are just enough Church of England clergy and laity shenanigans to satisfy every Anglophile reader who'' recognize the ghost of Jane Austen, when sighted, in twenty-first century settings.

5.  Blossoms on the Olive Tree: Israeli and Palestinian Women Working For Peace
by Janet M. Powers.
  Praeger Press, 2006.
This is must reading for anyone seriously trying to understand the Palestinian-Israeli realities of life these days.  Dr. Janet Powers, Gettysburg College professor emeritus, has written a gripping book about her experiences and conversations with women who strive for peace in tragic and ugly settings.  Stemming from her UNESCO research grant, this volume is rich in historical detail, documentation and contemporary fact.  Since the warring elements of the Middle East are drawn primarily from male perspectives and reportage, this richly detailed tapestry of women's groups over the last century in this area of the world leaves the reader wondering how the women named and described persevered in the face of so much destruction and misinformation.