ARC REVIEW: Nine Elms – by Robert Bryndza @amazonpub

Title: Nine Elms
(Kate Marshall #1)

Author: Robert Bryndza
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: November 14th 2019
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Finished reading: December 6th 2019
Pages: 396

“Kate wondered if that’s what happened after a long time in the police. You shut youself off from the horrific stuff, ad you sweat the small things.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I’ve been a huge fan of the Erika Foster series ever since the first book came out, so of course as soon as I discovered that Robert Bryndza was going to publish a new thriller series I added the title to my list of most anticipated releases. I’ve been waiting impatiently for its release ever since, and I was over the moon when I received the email that my request for an ARC of Nine Elms was actually approved earlier this month. Guess who changed her reading plans and pushed this first book of a new thriller series straight to the top of her TBR pile?!

Now that I’ve had the chance to read Nine Elms, I can definitely say that my meeting with new main character Kate Marshall was an absolute success. What a read! Robert Bryndza‘s writing style has yet to disappoint me, and this book has once again showed me why he is on my list of favorite thriller authors. Let’s just dust off the reviewing cliches shall we? Because they definitely all apply: grabbed me from the start, hooked me from the beginning, unputdownable, read it in one sitting… I could keep throwing those one-liners at you, but you will probably get the gist of what I’m trying to say here. The only reason I didn’t actually read Nine Elms in one sitting is because I had almost no free time and no way to clear my schedule enough to be able to do so. Which was basically excruciating, as Nine Elms kept calling to me and I literally wanted to spend every free minute reading the next chapter to try and discover what was going on.

What I loved of Nine Elms is the shift in perspective as main character Kate Marshall isn’t an active detective during the present timeline. Instead, we have an ex-detective and current lecturer at a university who is suddenly drawn into her old world and nightmares again after fifteen years… Kate Marshall without doubt makes for an absolutely fascinating character and a solid lead for the rest of the story to be build around. Despite her flaws and not always easy personality, I managed to warm up to her character almost immediately and she is without doubt one of the reasons this story worked so well for me. I also loved the dynamics between her and Tristan; I’m definitely curious to see how this will evolve in the future!

Another thing that is fascinating is the plot itself, the Nine Elms killer and his connection to the main character. Flashbacks to the past slowly help us understand better what exactly happened fifteen years ago and how this influenced and made Kate into the woman she is today… Likewise, it was fascinating to get a little look inside the head of a serial killer and both past and present murders are both brutal, shocking and absolutely fascinating. The plot itself is complex and filled with twists and turns to keep you guessing, although I did see certain things coming early. That said, the plot is fast, complex and highly suspenseful and Nine Elms definitely isn’t for those with a weak stomach or if you scare easily. Dark, disturbing and delightfully twisted: the exact right thriller cocktail to keep you on your seat as you race through those pages.

There was a lot to love in Nine Elms, and it was without doubt an excellent start of a new thriller series I already have a feeling will be a new favorite. If you like your thrillers fast, dark, suspenseful and engaging with an unique touch and plently of plot twists, you should definitely meet Kate Marshall ASAP!


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BLOG TOUR REVIEW: Wolves At The Door – by Gunnar Staalesen #blogtour #RandomThingsTours #WolvesAtTheDoor #VargVeum #NordicNoir @Orendabooks @annecater

Hello and welcome to my little stop of the Wolves At The Door Random Things blog tour! A huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour. I’ve been meaning to plan a meeting with Varg Veum for a long time now, and when I was invited to the blog tour I saw it as a sign I should no longer pospone it. I’m definitely kicking myself for waiting this long to meet him now! Want to know why? Please join me while I share my thoughts on Wolves At The Door.

Title: Wolves At The Door
(Varg Veum #21)
Author: Gunnar Staalesen
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime
First published: April 13th 2019
Publisher: Orenda Books
Finished reading: June 10th 2019
Pages: 276
(Originally published in Norwegian:’Utenfor er hundene’)

“Someone was lying to me, and one thing was sure: in such cases as this I seldom gave up until I found out who it was. And why.”

*** A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Anne Cater and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! ***

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I think one problem all of us book bloggers have to face is the fact that there are so many fantastic sounding series and books out there and hardly enough time to even make a dent into the pile of unread priority titles. Meeting Varg Veum has been on my to-do list for a long long time now, but somehow other books always got in the way… I think the first time this Nordic Noir series appeared on my radar was with the publication of book number eighteen, Where Roses Never Die, back in 2017. While I prefer reading a series in order, with each publication fellow book bloggers kept promising the books can be read quite satisfactory as a standalone as well. So when I was invited for the blog tour for Wolves At The Door, I decided to jump in the deep end and finally meet Varg Veum without further excuses. (And let’s face it, there was no way I would be able to find time to read the first twenty books and catch up in the first place.)

Wolves At The Door is already the twenty first installment of the Varg Veum series, but as I was promised with the previous books, the story works really well as a standalone as well. The only thing that is bound to happen is that you, like myself, will be left wanting to spend more time with a new favorite character and end up reading the previous books anyway as soon as you can find time for them… Because such is the power of Varg Veum. I can understand why this series has been going on for as long as it has, because Varg Veum is a force to reckon with. He is one of those characters that I connected to immediately and profoundly. As soon as you read the first chapter, he feels familiar and it’s as if you have known him for ages already. His description, his way of seeing the world, his attitude, the way he speaks, reacts and deducts information from what he learns along the way, his humor… Meeting Varg Veum was like seeing an old friend again after a long time apart, knowing you won’t let him slip this easily from your life again now he’s back in the picture. I don’t often feel a connection this strong to a character after such a short time, but consider me officially on #TeamVargVeum from now on.

Varg Veum is not the only thing that makes Wolves At The Door into such a success for me. A lot of it had to do with both the writing style itself and the many detailed descriptions making the cold Nordic setting truly come alive. I haven’t had the chance to visit Norway yet, but I feel like I really got to know Bergen and its surroundings while reading Wolves At The Door. The detailed descriptions of not only the setting, but also the characters added a lot of dept to what was already an intriguing plot and gave the story a ominous and sinister atmosphere. The writing itself is excellent; we have the wonderful translation by Don Bartlett to thank for that, because we wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this Nordic Noir gem otherwise. While the pace is slower in especially the first half of the story, it never really slowed me down as I saw it as an opportunity to get to know Varg Veum and other key characters better. The writing style and humor was spot on for me and I’ve become an instant fan of Gunnar Staalesen‘s work. As things are getting more heated for Varg Veum, the pace as well as the suspense pick up… Making you move towards the edge of your seat while you keep your fingers crossed everything will work out in the end.

Wolves At The Door deals with a very difficult topic, one that is trigger warning worthy: child abuse. An emotionally harrowing topic and very hard to write or read about, but I feel that Gunnar Staalesen has tackled the subject in an honorable and realistic way. It doesn’t make it easier to read about both the past case (I imagine has been discussed in the previous book I can’t wait to read now) and the new discoveries our main character Varg Veum makes as he follows his intuition… But it justifies going down that road and explore such a sensitive theme. The story will probably provoke strong emotions though, and you will definitely feel anger towards certain characters and events before you reach the final page. Of course, it’s always a good sign a story is able to make you feel such strong emotions in the first place… And there is no doubt whatsoever that Wolves At The Door is a brilliant piece of Nordic Noir and a harrowing story that will touch even those with the coldest heart.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Gunnar Staalesen was born in
Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with
Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg
Veum series. He is the author of over twenty-three titles, which have been
published in twenty-six countries and sold over five million copies. Twelve film
adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring
the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim, and a further series is
currently being filmed. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including
the Prize of Honour) and the Petrona Award, and been shortlisted for the CWA
Dagger, lives in Bergen with his wife.


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