Archive for January 7, 2012

I was inspired, perhaps encouraged is a better word to go back and read The Tears of Autumn because it was recently plagiarized by Q.R.Markham in Assassin of Secrets. Even though I had read it thirty years ago because of my failing memory I came to it eagerly as a new book. There advantages to getting older. 

The Tears of Autumn is an intelligently written intriguing spy story featuring secret agent  and poet Paul Christopher set during the weeks following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. Christopher works out who, and more importantly why the President was killed, and this puts him in danger from both people in the White House and those that organized the killing. I won’t say more about the plot as I don’t want to spoil the dangerous journey of discovery through which Christopher and the reader are taken across Europe, Asia and Africa. It is an easy read and a masterpiece of concise story telling weighing in at only 276 pages. 

The contrast between clever drawing room chatter dialogue, and the violent action scenes is stunning and it is sometimes hard to believe the book was written as long ago as 1975.

“Oh, we’re all going to be very respectful, Tom. I do think this administration has raised the whole tone of American life. Why, Peggy McKinley has been reading Proust in the original French and learning the names of all the new African countries. She says the people of Zimbabwe want rice and respect. I always thought they wanted money.”

” Sybille, how about making this your last martini?” Webster said.

Author Charles McCarry was during the Cold War an intelligence officer operating under deep cover in Europe , Africa and Asia, and he has put much of his knowledge and experience into this book. No wonder it was plagiarized, brilliant stuff.

I shall be reading more spy stories over the next few months as part of a personal challenge.     

A young woman’s body surfaces in the River Torne near Kiruna in the far north of Sweden, and Police Inspector Anna-Maria Mella and prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson begin an investigation suspecting that local bully boys Tore and Hjalmar Krekula are somehow involved. This is one of those stories where the reader is given more information than the investigators. Some of this comes from the supernatural, and some from a series of back stories about the characters. These are beautifully integrated into the narrative, and show how back stories that are well done can be a vital weapon in an author’s armory.

If the supernatural element is inclined to put you off reading the book, don’t be, it is not intrusive and adds to the brooding atmosphere of the story. 

The tales of the past lives of people in this remote area of Sweden and their difficult relationships are woven into what is really a simple plot. The two main characters of this series may be Anna-Maria Mella, with her four young children and her fiery relationship with her subordinate Sven-Erik, and Rebecka Martinsson, with her on-off relationship with lover Mans Wenngren, but in this tale we learn a lot about the lives of some old-timers in the villages as well as Sweden’s contentious wartime relationship with the Nazis. It is the stories of life in the villages and the problems people face in the harsh environment that make this book so interesting.

“There are hardly any young people left in the village. Just us old-timers. The children live in Kiruna or somewhere in the south. They argue among themselves about who’s going to look after the houses they’ve inherited from their parents.” 

Until Thy Wrath is Past is an unusual book, which I found refreshingly different and very thought provoking, it is well worth reading. 

You can read Maxine’s review of Until Thy Wrath Be Past at Euro Crime.