Review ~ Blog Tour ~ The Courier by Kjell Old Dahl

The Courier aw.indd

 

In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz.

In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.

And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…

Written with Dahl’s trademark characterization and elegant plotting, The Courier sees the hugely respected godfather of Nordic Noir at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in a exceptional, shocking thriller.

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 ‘If you want your worst fears about what goes on inside a cop’s mind confirmed, meet K.O. Dahl’s Oslo sleuths, Gunnarstranda and Frølich … impossible to put down’ Guardian

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A masterclass in plotting, atmosphere and character that finely balances shocking twists with the coppers’ complicated personal lives.’

Sunday Times Crime Club

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‘If you have never sampled Dahl, now is the time to try’ Daily Mail

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‘…action comes to a climax in an utterly convincing chase through Oslo’s sewage system’ Sunday Times

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‘Dark, stylish and suspenseful, Faithless is the perfect example of why Nordic Noir has become such a popular genre.’ Reader’s Digest

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Absorbing, heart-rending and perfectly plotted. Kjell Ola Dahl’s The Courier passes seamlessly from the present to the dark past of WWII. Fabulous!’ Denzil Meyrick

 

Review

I would like to thank the author, blog tour organiser and publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.

The Courier is an absolutely stunning historical thriller, finely plotted, complex and thought provoking.

The story swings back and forth three different time periods, which I loved, because I’ve always been a fan of this type of narrative. Some writers get it wrong, not Kjell Ola Dohl who pitches it perfectly, giving the story oodles of  danger, believable characters and a dynamic but evocative storyline. Whether it’s during the war, 1967 or 2015, the story flows seamlessly between  the periods, taking me the reader back in time and immersing me is the story. Truly it felt like you were there, caught up in the mystery surrounding Gerhard Falkum’s apparent return from the dead, because the atmosphere is so commanding, that I felt I took every step with Ester herself. As she walked forward into the unknown, my stomach muscled clenched and my shoulders hunched up, as I felt danger all around. It really was, that exhilarating to read.

As well as this the writer has provided a master class in compulsive and adroit characterisation.  I found myself changing my mind about the motives of each character, from chapter to chapter, sometimes between paragraphs! From Ester to Falkum and Severe, you never really know who is the hero of this novel and who is the scheming Machiavellian.  Each is imbued with such convincing characteristics that you lurch from thinking them vengeful to believing them heroic and then seeing them as passionate hero’s, but possibly guilt ridden conspirators. But which are which, well to find that out you’ll have to read the book, but I promise it is worth it.  What I can say is that by the time I’d finished the book. I had been  forced to change my opinions over and over, so nuanced were the characters and writing.

Without a doubt I would recommend this superb book to all and sundry.

You can purchase this novel from Amazon and Waterstones.

About the author

Kjell Ola Dahl-Rolf-M-Aagaard

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers (Oslo Detectives series) featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo. Follow Kjell Ola on Twitter @ko_dahl.

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Review ~Blog Tour ~ Punch by Kate North.

 

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Punch is a collection of stories exploring the uncanny, the uncomfortable and the surreal in the everyday, at home and abroad. Whether its a man with a growth on his hand, a couple trying for a baby, a woman finishing a book, a pope with penis envy, or a bullied girl, characters throughout the collection assess their surroundings and are often forced to reassess themselves. Punch offers the reader a humorous and disturbing take on life in the twenty-first century.

 

Review

I would like to thank the author, blog tour organiser and publisher for the ARC in return for an honest review.

I must admit I’m not a massive reader of short stories, but Punch has converted me!

Why? It has been written with skill and an adventures enjoyment of language.  The pint-sized chapters each tell a story that are by turns captivating, unnerving and burning with a passion for storytelling. The language used is poetic and daring, short and punchy in places, lyrical and full in others.

I loved that you could dip in and out of this book, between stories and I found that to be an incredibly relaxing experience. I often find that when I’m away I read less, so caught up in family time, but I still love to read before bed, or in quiet moments and Punch has shown me that this would be ideal reading for such times.  From now on, I’m always going to keep a short story collection on hand and its because I enjoyed Punch so much.

For certain the sometimes scary, other times enlightening, surreal and moving stories contained within the pages of the superb Punch have converted me to get another short story collection.  It is wholly responsible for a new book buying addiction.

You can purchase Punch from Amazon

About the author 

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Kate North writes poetry and fiction.  She lives in Cardiff and she is currently the Programme Director of the MA English Literature and Creative Writing pathways at Cardiff Metropolitan University.   Her new short story collection is called Punch (Cinnamon Press, 2019). Her latest poetry collection is The Way Out (Parthian, 2018).

You can follow the author on Twitter

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Review~Blog Tour ~Are You the F**king Doctor by Liam Farrell.

Are You the Doctor Cover

 

‘General practice is the great unknown. We stand on the cusp of the beyond. Science takes us only so far, then the maps stop in the grey areas of intuition, imagination and feelings: here be dragons. Lurching from heart-breaking tragedy to high farce, we are the Renaissance men and women of medicine; our art is intangible. Anything can walk through our door…’ Family doctor, Irishman, musician, award-winning author, anarchist and recovering morphine addict, Liam became a columnist for the BMJ in 1994. He went on to write for many major publications, winning a series of prestigious awards; in 2005, he was the first doctor to win Columnist of the Year in the Periodical Publishers Association awards. The book contains a selection of Liam’s best work, from his columns, blogs and short stories.Brilliantly funny, glittering with literary allusion and darkly wicked humour, this book is much more than a collection of stand-alone anecdotes and whimsical reflections, rather a compelling chronicle of the daily struggles – and personal costs – of a doctor at the coalface.

Review

I would like to thank the author, publisher and blog tour organiser for the ARC in return for an honest review.

Are You The F**king Doctor? is a wonderful book, that shines a light on the highs and lows of life, as a family doctor on the Irish Border.  Funny, thought provoking and sad on times, this is a book for all reader’s.  We all moan about how long it takes to get an appointment to see the GP, without really understanding the intense pressure they are under and I admit I’d never thought about how it really felt to sit on the other side of the desk! They are as Dr Farrell says, the dragons of the medical world, facing all, never knowing what will walk through the doors next. From Joe and his never ending list of conditions, real and imagined, to their own frailties reflected in the insecurities of their patients.

The reason I loved this book so much was his honesty, his sense of humour and his love of literature, which is referenced throughout the book. He writes with such a passion and flair, riding his surgery “like it was a great black Stallion” and then in the next paragraph sums up with a sense of pathos how it feels when Joe walks in. No longer is he heroic, but faced with the day to day slog of practice, of people who just want antibiotics, he is now the “deluded old knight astride a moth eaten Rozinante”. What language, what amazing use of imagery!

Then there is his explanation of the medical sense of humour. Having worked with doctors and nurses myself for 16 years, it perfectly encapsulates how humour thrives in the worst of circumstances.  A copying mechanism that is dark and powerful and helps make sense of events that can’t be explained any other way.  If we are laughing, then we can’t be scared.  I’ve witnessed friends who have just come back from trying to save a patient, while sliding around in copious amounts of vomit, joking about the way the  patient track suit bottoms we gave them to wear, make their bums look big. knowing that it’s the laughter that helps them cope.  Just like Farrell says which such insight and understanding, tragedy and comedy are never far apart and his book shines a light on this with both tenderness and rye understanding.

Are You The F**king Doctor? opens our eyes to the reality that doctors are human, just as capable of failing as the rest of us, what makes them different, is how brave they are in taking on such levels of responsibility.  For many the pressure becomes too much and bravely the writer talks of his journey as a recovering morphine addict. That first chapter is hard to read, its powerful stuff and the brutal honesty makes it all the more poignant and affecting.  You come to understand why people like Liam Farrell come to train as GPs and the reasons why they walk away as well.  As Adam Kay gave us a window into the world of an NHS hospital doctor, the pain and laughter, so does Dr Farrell for his fellow GPs.

It’s not all sad, because this book is laugh out loud funny as well, take when Mrs Keogh arrives in the surgery with a Tupperware container, not filled with cake for the doctor, but her husbands bodily movements!  I cried with laughter at the descriptions of the first days of Colonoscopies in Ireland, oh and rocked in my seat at Joe’s exploding sebaceous cyst. Humour is the backbone of this remarkable memoir and it pervades every page.

We should all read this book, maybe when we walk into the surgery the next time, we will then see the human behind the stethoscope. I for one will be going into work and hugging a GP, they won’t like it, but I will.  We can sit, laugh and remember the time she was trying to climb out of the window to get away from a patient with scabies, who knew she had such a morbid fear of this condition or that a chair could be pushed back at such speed. Or at the man who swore blind he had no feeling from the waist downwards, but tapped his foot in rhythm to his calls for a sick note.

This memoir is outstanding and I will be singing it’s praises to all who will listen. Honest, funny and brave, it’s up there at the very top of all the beautifully written books, that seek to shine a light into the world of those, who work to care for others.

You can purchase this book from Amazon.

About the author

Dr-Liam-Farrell

Dr Liam Farrell is from Rostrevor, Co Down, Ireland. He was a family doctor in Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, for 20 years, and is an award-winning writer and a seasoned broadcaster. He is married to Brid, and has three children Jack, Katie, and Grace.
He was a columnist for the British Medical Journal for 20 years and currently writes for GP, the leading newspaper for general practitioners in the UK. He has also been a columnist for the Lancet, the Journal of General Practice, the Belfast Telegraph and the Irish News. He wrote the entry on ‘Sex’ for The Oxford Companion to the Body.
On Twitter he curates #Irishmed, a weekly tweetchat on all things medical, which has a global following. He also co-curates #WritersWise, a regular tweetchat for writers, with novelist Sharon Thompson.  He was the medical columnist for the BBC Radio Ulster Evening Extra 1996-98; presented the series Health-Check for Ulster TV in 2002, and was medical consultant for both series of Country Practice in 2000 and 2002 for BBC Northern Ireland.
His awards include Columnist of the Year at Irish Medical Media Awards 2003, Periodical Publishers Association of Great Britain 2006 and Medical Journalist’s Society, London 2011, and Advancing Health through Media at the Zenith Global Healthcare Awards 2018.He was shortlisted for the Michael McLaverty Short Story Competition in 2008.

You can follow the author on Twitter and his website.

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