read_warbler (read_warbler) wrote,
read_warbler
read_warbler

Catching up

I need to be much better at posting my book reviews over here so my New Year's resolution is to do just that. First up, my 24th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2016 challenge, The Fellowship of Ghosts by Paul Watkins. This is also my 5th. book for the European Reading Challenge 2016 covering the country of 'Norway'.




I'm pinching the Goodreads synopsis for this one: Acclaimed writer Paul Watkins describes his spellbinding solo trek through the wilds of Norway's Rondane and Jutunheimen mountains—grand but harsh landscapes where myth and reality meet. His adventure takes him through valleys bordered by thousand-foot cliffs, roaring waterfalls wreathed in rainbows, blinding glaciers, and shimmering blue snowfields. Yet this is also some of the harshest, most challenging terrain in the world. Watkins's route follows razor-thin ridges, hair-raising paths, and vertigo-inducing drops. An engaging and reflective memoir, The Fellowship of Ghosts captures the profound connection between the Norwegian landscape and the myths, peoples, and dreams that it inspires.

Norway seems to be one of those countries that doesn't get written about a lot so when I saw this on Goodreads somewhere I nabbed myself a copy from Amazon. The author, Paul Watkins, follows in the footsteps of several walkers and mountain climbers who wrote about their experiences in Norway in the late 19th. and early 20th. century. The area covered is the mountainous part of southern Norway, but Watkins also explores fjords, various towns and a little of the capital city, Oslo. He recounts quite a lot of history as well, ranging from the Vikings all the way up to WW2 and the country's occupation by the Nazis. He also talks about those other earlier explorers and what they got up to and how they coped with the conditions. It's all fascinating and I enjoyed it very much, particularly the section where he discusses supernatural experiences people have had in these mountains. Algernon Blackwood even based one of his ghost story novellas on a weird experience he had there. The Willows can be read here. I've downloaded it to my Kindle and have just finished it. The Fellowship of Ghosts is a nice addition to the 'mountains' section of my travel writing shelf and not to be parted with.

Next, a crime fiction story, The Frozen Shroud by Martin Edwards.



In the tiny Lake District community of Ravenbank two murders have been committed. One took place before the first world war, the second only five years ago but the similarities are startling. Both women were battered to death in the same spot and a shroud placed over them to conceal their ruined faces. Daniel Kind, historian and friend of DCI Hannah Scarlett, is fascinated by the original murder and talk that the village is haunted by the ghost of the murdered servant girl. There's a lot of digging to be done and head of cold cases, Hannah, eventually becomes involved when another murder is committed. To all intents and purposes each of the killings was separately solved and the culprit found or on the run. Cut and dried. But is it? Perhaps not...

The Hannah Scarlett 'Lake District' series is one of those that every time I pick up a new instalment it never takes more than a page or two for me to sink right into the story and characters and feel right at home. The Frozen Shroud was no exception. I love the setting of The Lakes and author, Martin Edwards, is fantastic at describing the atmophere and landscape no matter what the weather and conditions. These stories are wonderfully atmospheric. This particular story begins around Halloween so is quite ghostly in feel. One aspect I enjoyed was the discussion of the ghost stories of Hugh Walpole, some of which I've read, and the works of Thomas de Quincy who was obssessed with murder and lived in The Lake District for a while. Daniel Kind is a historian and very into these kinds of books so this makes the series doubly enjoyable for me. The investigation into the murders made for a good, enjoyable crime yarn... quite complicated and involved. My early guess as to who the culprit was turned out to be correct but I didn't know that until the end of course. I have to admit to getting a bit frustrated with the complications of Hannah's personal life but that's fine, I think we're supposed to be. These books are never less than very readable, always well written and one of my favourite crime series of the moment.
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