Faroe by Remigiusz Mróz – Book Review

Discalimer: This book has not yet been published in English - nor have ANY of the author's books. But reading this review, anyone can easily decide WHETHER it is worth publishing.
Faroe by Remigiusz Mróz - Book Cover

What could be more depressing in the case of notoriously gloomy Scandinavian crime novels than if the setting itself is oppressive? The Faroe Islands? The smell of fish, economic stagnation, and alcoholism. Remigiusz Mróz’s crime novel titled “Feröer” doesn’t exactly inspire a strong desire to travel there for vacation.

Of course, the Faroe Islands might not be such a miserable place, and Remigiusz Mróz might be saying this just to create the necessary mood for his book. (A Hungarian, for instance, would probably feel right at home. As for the fish smell, one would probably get used to it…) And what makes you doubt Mróz’s judgment entirely is that not only is the setting depressing, but the novel itself isn’t that great either…

Sixteen-year-old Poula Lokin, a popular player in the local handball team, goes missing. The island is in turmoil, locals organize search teams, and soon Danish police officer Katrin Ellegaard arrives at the scene. As time passes, it becomes increasingly doubtful that the girl will be found alive.

Hallbjorn Olsen, the father of Poula’s teammate, was the last one to see the girl alive. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Hallbjorn, who, adhering to the island’s traditions, bravely indulged in some alcohol that day, doesn’t remember a SINGLE SECOND of that evening. So, it’s not SURPRISING that he begins to doubt himself: is it possible that he killed Poula, and then, just to be safe, hid the body?

Ellegaard starts the investigation in a hostile environment, as the Faroese dislike the Danes more than the murderers, and among the Danes, they dislike the Danish cops EVEN MORE. She is forced into an alliance with Hallbjorn.

And then you start thinking that police officers from other countries would probably view the unorthodox methods of the Danish police with some suspicion. Not only do they involve complete strangers, even suspects, in the investigation, revealing everything to them, but they also take them along to interrogations. And those left out of the interrogations are the ones who should be questioned first. (The handball team members, darn it.)

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The Helicopter Heist by Jonas Bonnier – Book Review

The Helicopter Heist by Jonas Bonnier - book cover

Jonas Bonnier’s book is roughly a Chance Meeting on a Dissecting Table of a Scandinavian crime and documentary novel. Or something like that. Actually, not entirely because the former genre is only hinted at by the setting, however, the incessant whining of nameless characters throughout pages is not the case with this book. And if you’re worried that, since the book is a true story, it will just throw facts at you, that’s not the case either because “The Helicopter Heist” is thoroughly fictionalized.

In 2009, a few guys robbed the G4S cash logistics company’s warehouse in Stockholm, using a helicopter. (Millions of crowns were just flying around.) The novel tells the story of the preparation and the heist. The greater part of the book, that naturally centering around the preparations, can be described, well, at most, with the term moderately interesting.

It’s not as exciting and twisty as the heist genre would dictate; that mostly applies to the action part. However, “The Helicopter Heist” is still enjoyable because the characters are very well-crafted. These guys are criminals, but they’ve been made so interesting and even likable that, darn it, you start rooting for them to succeed.

The police subplot seems a bit unnecessary; it mostly hangs in the air – i mean, near THAT helicopter. Although there’s this police girl, Miss Thurn, and you find yourself rooting for her a bit too.

The closing chapter, framing the story, is totally meaningless and unnecessary. It feels like Bonnier just added it to his book as an end in itself.

However, if you’ve read the book, you must find out what happened to the guys. And you need to do it yourself, a-deary me, because instead of the usual way of closing this type of book, it’s missing from the end. (See: Wikipedia: Västberga helicopter robbery)

7.5/10 (75%)

416 pages, Paperback
Published in 2017 by Simon & Schuster Canada

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg – Book Review

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Söderberg - Book Cover

If you go by the title* and look forward to some overheated emotions and romantic squabbles, you’re out of luck because this is just a thriller; there’s hardly any love in it—numerically expressed, precisely: 0.

There isn’t really a classic crime thread (whodunit) in it. You can follow the power struggle between two criminal interest groups and the investigation of the police looking into one of the companies. Moreover, there are too many characters introduced at the beginning, making it difficult to follow the parallel events. But then the picture becomes clearer.

On another note, it’s challenging to connect with the main characters since each of them seems a bit bland. The blandest of them all is Hector, the Andalusian lover himself. In the second half of Söderberg’s book, the balance shifts, and the least sympathetic characters take center stage. The police also handle the investigation increasingly strangely, so you can only look at it with suspicion: Something is rotten in the state of Swedenmark. Several threads simply disappear into thin air (e.g., Jens, one of the best characters), and if you pay close attention, you may notice that the motivations of several characters are questionable, to say the least. (Hector’s decision regarding Sophie seems completely contrived.)

However, if you don’t pay closer attention, you’ll get a reasonably average but fair crime novel, and it’s guaranteed that if you reach the end, you’ll be interested enough in the fate of the characters to grab the next volume.

7/10

The Andalucian Friend (Brinkmann Trilogy #1) by Alexander Söderberg
464 pages, Paperback
Published May 1, 2014 by Vintage

* The Andalusian Friend was published in Hungary as Andalusian Lover.