The murder of Halland by Pia Juul

Murder of Halland

The murder of Halland by Pia Juul

Danish Fiction

Orginal title Mordet pa Halland

Translator Martin Aitken

Pia Juul is a Danish poet ,playwright and novelist ,she also translates books from English into Danish .She joined the Danish academy in 2006 and won a big poetry prize in 2011 for her collection radio theatre.This book won Danish banks literature prize a big prize in Denmark .

As I stood under the shower ,I suddenly realized that I had seen his coat and briefcase in the hall .He hadn’t left the house at all .Turning off the water .I called out to him nothing .The silence made me anxious .

Bess finds something isn’t right the morning after Halland is murdered .

The murder of Halland is a crime novel, but it is not the normal detective novel you may expect with the murder and detectives at the centre not in this book it is told from the point of view of Bess she is the wife of Halland in the title of the book is her husband who has been found murdered . The book follows what happens after that event .His body was discovered in the main square of the small town they live in . So Bess has to try to cope with his death and how it happened this make her to start to see those around here in a completely new light .Bess is a writer by trade so she starts to work out what happened between her and Halland and dealing with her own grief ,we start to see that every thing in their marriage isn’t as clear as it was first seems and many things had been Kept from Bess in the past .A refreshing change and twist on the normal crime novel

When’s the funeral ?

“Funeral ?” the concept seemed beyond me .

“Won’t there be one ?”

I felt like saying , ” how should I know ?” stupid but true .I supposed there would ne a funeral .But what was I meant to do ? how did one go about getting people buried ?

Bess struggles to cope at first .

Well the second in peirene’s year of small epics books and the first crime novel well that said ,it isn’t a crime novel in the true sense of the word .In fact more some one trying to fathom out what lead to the crime . A sort of paint by numbers to fill in the last bit that will be who killed Halland ,but as Bess goes along filling in the gaps she uncovers much more than a murder .The one book I’d compared it too after I read it was a south american novel by Horacio Castellanos Moya and his novel The she devil in the mirror ,in which a friend comes to find out what happened after the murder to find out what happened ,that story also had secrets in the background like this book did .I had found this one of the cleverest crime novels I ve read because you don’t have an idea who killed Halland and in a way the discovery of the murderer plays second place to Bess discovering what her life really was and how she has been hidden away from truths .Another book mention on the cover is Umberto Eco’s “The name of the rose “on the cover ,I can see the comparison with this book and Eco’s crime based books where the discovering of what went on takes a whole new angle and leads to wider discoveries usually .Well as I said with the first in tis series yesterday another gem from Meike and after 300 plus books I finally read a book from Denmark .

Have you read this one ?

What type of crime fiction do you like ?

28 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maryom
    Jan 09, 2013 @ 22:46:25

    The uncovering of all the details of the back story in this was great. I must say I prefer my crime novels to round off more conclusively. I ‘think’ I know who the murderer was but would have liked to be told without ambiguity.


  2. Kelly
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 01:07:55

    This sounds like a really different take on a “murder” story, how it focuses on his wife instead of the detectives. I’m definitely a fan of crime novels, and this one seems different enough from the rest that it would keep me captivated.


  3. Charlie
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 11:05:49

    I can only agree with you on the refreshing nature of it and how the difference in focus makes it appealing. It may be short but it includes everything necessary to be a success.


  4. Alex in Leeds
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 12:26:14

    I loved this one and I’ve got my fingers crossed that Juul will have more of her work translated to English in the future. I believe I know who did it but to be honest, it was far more interesting seeing how she blended film noir and psychological drama into the book’s focus on the grief of aftermath. 🙂


  5. Sarah
    Jan 10, 2013 @ 17:26:10

    I’ve got this book on my shelf Stu so I will come back and read your review properly when I’ve read it. It sounds good!


  6. parrish lantern
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 12:01:05

    A recall enjoying this book when I read & agree that it makes a great change from the usual genre clichés found in murder fiction.


  7. savidgereads
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 17:23:49

    I really, really like the sound of this one Stu. I love it when a crime novel is told from a new and unusual perspective and this one sounds like it fits that bill completely. I need to get my hands on it.


  8. 1streading
    Jan 11, 2013 @ 20:19:56

    I have this on my Kindle and must get round to reading it – it sounds brilliant, as Peirene Press usually are. (I must admit I often forget what I’ve downloaded so thanks for reminding me!)


  9. Richard
    Jan 13, 2013 @ 04:25:05

    I’ll have to keep this in mind, Stu, as I tend to like unconventional crime novels when I have/make time for them. My last Danish novel was a dud, so maybe this would make a nice palate cleanser. Anyway, thanks for the rec.


  10. pburt
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 02:57:22

    This is on my list to read. I was hoping to find a copy when I was in Germany but was unsuccessful so I will download it onto my Kindle soon.


  11. Ashlee Stalling
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 16:50:14

    I will certainly add this to my list. I especially like what you said about it being different from the usual crime novels. I recently read Blood Land by R.S. Guthrie, and I had thought it was going to be like so many others, but he writes so well that you forget you are in a book about finding a killer! He has a few more that are just as good. So if you are looking for a new book to find his. I will be looking for this book soon! Thanks for the post!


  12. acommonreaderuk
    Jan 15, 2013 @ 08:09:57

    Sounds good Stu. I just looked through my tags and found that I’ve not read any Danish books either – this could be a first. Sounds like a good read


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January 2013


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