Monday 29 December 2014

Book review : The Murder of Halland - Pia Juul

You know when you watch a film and you get to the end and the credits start rolling and you turn to your viewing companions with a puzzled look on your face and say "Eh? Is that it? Where's the big reveal?". Well, that was how I felt at the end of The Murder of Halland.

It is well written and has been beautifully translated from the original Danish with highly atmospheric descriptions of the landscapes around the fjords, for example. It gets off to a cracking start. Halland is shot to death just metres from his front door and his wife, Bess, is rudely awakened by a hammering at the door revealing that his final words were "My wife has shot me!"

That's about all that we know for sure though. As the police, and Bess, investigate his death and then his life, strange circumstances are revealed - an unknown niece (the foster daughter of his sister) turns up, pregnant (is it his baby?) and reveals the existence of a secret room she rented to him (why?), their neighbour mysteriously disappears for a few days (where?, why?), a large sum of money was transferred to Bess's bank account by Halland a few days before he died (did he know?), a secret admirer of Halland's comes out of the woodwork (another potential affair?) ... but they are all questions that are left without answers. I can think of a dozen possible scenarios but we never find out which is is the truth. This left me feeling very unsatisfied as a lone reader, but it would be a great novel for a book club discussion because you could all compare notes and try out work out whodunnit as a collective effort.

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP: £10

  • Paperback: 189 pages
  • Publisher: Peirene Press Ltd (1 Jun 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0956284078
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956284075
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 1.5 x 19 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

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