Tag Archives: psychologist

#BookReview ‘The Blue Crimes’ by Enrique Laso (@enriquelaso)

Hi all:

You might remember that a while back I shared an interview with Spanish author Enrique Laso (check here) where we talked, among other things, about his novel The Blue Crimes. Today I wanted to share with you my review, and let you know that I’ll be translating the second novel in the series, so I’ll keep you posted. And if any of you are interested in translations to Spanish, feel free to get in touch with me. And now, the review.

The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso
The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso

Title:   The Blue Crimes
Author:   Enrique Laso
ASIN:  B00UQV3BYA
Published:  21st March 2015
Pages:  308
Genre:  Mystery, Thrillers and Suspense, Police Procedurals

The Blue Crimes by Enrique Laso. An intriguing case and an even more intriguing investigator.

The Blue Crimes is the first book in Enrique Laso’s collection of Ethan Bush Thrillers. Ethan Bush is a young FBI agent, one of the most promising, top of his Psychology class at Stanford and self-assured, or so he seems. He arrives to Jefferson County fresh from solving a serial murder case in Detroit and expectations are running high.

The story is told in first person from the point of view of Bush, and that is one of the most interesting aspects of the novel. If the actual procedural investigation, the process of solving the murders of two young girls that are very similar in details to a murder committed 17 years ago is gripping (and I particularly enjoyed the setting in small town America, with the prejudices and the difficulty understanding and fitting into the mentality of the place that it brings to the big city investigators), I found the insight into Ethan Bush’s mind even more interesting. Why?

Well, he is an intelligent man. He knows it and he’s reminded of that by quite a few of the characters he comes into contact with (sometimes in great contrast with some of the witnesses they come across). His intelligence does not always help him, though. Characters who are far less intelligent than him (the sheriff, local investigators, even his mother…) contribute greatly to the success of his mission. He acknowledges and admires the morality of some people (Jim Worth, a solid character that would make his perfect side-kick and foil, and I hope we’ll come across him again in the series), but he’s not squeaky-clean and has no qualms crossing the line of the ethically correct when he thinks it’s necessary to solve a case (not strictly for his own benefit). He has weaknesses that include his irresistible attraction to Vera, one of the witnesses, but also a suspect. He is somewhat obsessive in his methodology and has to be in control of everything, to the point of preferring keeping handwritten notebooks (in Moleskin, that become his trademark) as he does not like to be dependent on technology that could let him down. And during the book, he becomes as obsessed with running as he is with everything else, to the point of putting off the questioning of suspects to not disturb his running schedule. Running means more to him than the simple exercise, but we only become aware of this later on. (By the way, I am aware that the author is a runner himself and he has written non-fiction books about it so this would add to the interest for those who are keen runners.) Despite Ethan’s constant analysing everything and thinking non-stop (to the point of getting severe headaches although they could well be psychosomatic), he is not the most self-aware of characters, and keeps missing clues and hiding stuff because of his own unresolved issues. But those issues are what make him fascinating.

Ethan Bush is not the most likeable hero and has many flaws, and that is a plus for me. He is a man searching for explanations, about the case and about himself. And he never gives up. He’ll go as far as he has to, whatever that might cost him.

I’m not sure how challenging you’ll find the book if you’re one of these people whose main enjoyment is working out who the guilty party is (I did guess who it was early on, but I kept wondering if I was right) but if you enjoy complex characters, a solid story and interesting dynamics, I think this series could keep us guessing for a long time.

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 4/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 4.5/5
Readability: 5/5
Recommended: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4.5/5
 

Buy it at:  
Format & Pricing:
Paperback:  $11.95 (http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Crimes-Enrique-Laso/dp/1511536322/)

Kindle: $3.07 http://www.amazon.com/BLUE-CRIMES-Enrique-Laso-ebook/dp/B00UQV3BYA/)

 

 

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com

 

#Bookreview ‘The Man Who Watched Women’ (A Sebastian Bergman Thriller) by Michael Hjorth and Hans Rosenfeldt. Sometimes expectations can be a killer

The Man Who Watched Women
The Man Who Watched Women

Title:   The Man Who Watched Women (A Sebastian Bergman Thriller) 
Author:   Michael HjorthHans Rosenfeldt 
ASIN:  B00TQDWIHK
Published:  June 18th 2015
Pages:  528
Genre:  Psychological thriller

Sometimes expectations can be a killer

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC copy of The Man Who Watched Women.

Like most people in the planet (particularly readers) I’m well aware of the phenomenal boom Scandinavian thrillers have experienced in the last few years. I must confess I haven’t read that many of the novels (I have read some Wallander novels and a few others), but I’m a big fan of the TV series. I stumbled upon The Killing, then after watching the BBC version of Wallander I watched the Swedish version (well, there seem to be several), and then The Bridge blew me over, and I recommended it to everybody I met (near enough).

So when I read about this novel and the fact that one of the writers had written The Bridge, I had to get it.

And then, expectations can be a killer.

This is, evidently, the first in a series of novels with Sebastian Bergman, a psychologist expert in serial killers who has experienced a terrible personal loss, as the protagonist. The novel takes on the points of view of most of the characters, including the killers, all the members of the investigative team, and some minor characters (although it is written in the third person). And that was my first issue. I’m not sure if it’s a problem with the formatting of the draft copy I received, or it is intentional, but there is no way of distinguishing when there is a change of point of view. Sometimes within the same paragraph there will be two different characters (or rather, it will pass from one to another), creating confusion, especially at the beginning when you don’t know who anybody is or what is happening. So you need to be on your toes, and not only due to the nature of the story.

Then, the characters. The case itself is interesting, although I’m not sure it’s the most interesting novel with a serial killer (or more than one, but I don’t want to spoil the story) that I’ve read. But I did not find any of the characters likeable enough. Most of them were interesting, but I found it difficult to connect with them. Sebastian is a complicated man, with an awful tragedy in his past, but he is a dislikeable human being, and other than intelligence (and he’s not at his sharpest throughout the novel) there are no redeeming qualities I could find. I also thought there were inconsistencies, like his reaction to a woman who comes into his life during the book (and there were many women in his life, and that’s the central issue, although I found it difficult to see why…), his lack of insight, and his proclaimed love for somebody but total inability to reveal a crucial bit of information that would have made everything easier and possibly mark the difference between life and death for the said person. Egotistical, and as personality disordered as the criminals he studies, he lacks the charm that might make understandable the attraction others seem to feel towards him. Yes, he’s at a low moment, but there is no evidence that he’s ever been any different, apart from possibly with his family, and we only have his memories to rely on. The ending might have been intended as some sort of redemption for Sebastian, but I thought it was too little, too late.

The rest of the characters didn’t fare any better for me. Again some were interesting, but either we didn’t get to know enough about them, or they were presented in such a single-minded fashion that it was not easy to make a connection. I thought Billy and Torkel might have some potential, but there was not enough about them to know. I was not sure about the female character who invades Sebastian’s life. She appears disturbed, and considering he’s a psychologist he should notice, even in the circumstances, and the authors add a twist at the end regarding her character that felt a bit tagged on to ensure a second part. Ursula has potential but I wasn’t sure the snippets of information we were given hang together and the surprise at the end… Well, maybe she’ll be developed further. Vanja… other than being a good police woman, and easily irritated, there was nothing else. Hinde, the baddy, is a psychopath, intelligent, with his own traumas, but no particular appealing characteristics.

There were things in the plot that I wasn’t so sure about. The psychologist Sebastian is visiting at the beginning, who was a promising character, disappears suddenly, and he’s never even questioned, despite one of the victims being his patient. When they are trying to track several people throughout the book, they never try to find them through their mobiles, even when they get phone messages sent to them from the said individuals. Although they know about one of Hinde’s associates, and they know he’s somehow involved, he disappears and it’s not clear what efforts, if any, are being made to track him down. And they should have paid attention.

All in all, maybe somebody who comes to the book without my expectations will find it more satisfying. I suspect I was expecting far too much. It is an interesting book, for sure, but I won’t be coming back for the second part. (And if the commercial edition is better formatted and a paragraph given to each character, that would definitely help).

Ratings:
Realistic Characterization: 3/5
Made Me Think: 4/5
Overall enjoyment: 3/5
Readability: 2/5
Recommended: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
 

Buy it at: 
Format & Pricing:
Hardback: $19.00 http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Watched-Women/dp/1780894554/
Kindle: $10.91 http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Watched-Women-ebook/dp/B00TQDWIHK/

Olga Núñez Miret

@OlgaNM7

http://OlgaNM.wordpress.com

http://www.OlgaNM.com