The above illustration, "Blowing Bubbles," has been adapted for use here by generous permission from the artist, Cyril Rolando.

January 17, 2012

A pair worth perusing.

Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, Vol. II, is a solid follow up to the debut collection of Western short stories. The opening story, Origin of White Deer, is a terrific introduction to the young Cash and lays the foundation for the more mature hero in the other stories. The final story, Reflections in a Glass of Maryland Rye (first published here courtesy of author Edward A. Grainger), is a particularly fine tale, a dark episode that reveals a more human, more fallible Cash, but a man to whom the reader can still relate. Only one Gideon Miles story in this volume, sadly, but it's a dandy. Fans of tales of western justice won't go wrong by saddling up and riding with Laramie and Miles.

The most recent installment in Arnaldur Indriðason's Erlandur series, Hypothermia, may well be the best book in an already fine series. The theme running throughout the series, that of being lost and in search of, is beautifully rendered as Erlandur studies a clear cut case of suicide while following up on a pair of decades-old missing persons cases. The suicide case fascinates Erlandur: the victim was consumed by the possibility of communicating with the dead; she had dreams and visions of the dead mother to whom she was unusually close. The two cold cases are particularly poignant, as both of the missing persons were young people and their families are dead or dying without knowing what ever became of their loved ones. As always, the chill beauty of Iceland stands as backdrop to a story grim but gentle.


  1. First off, I think that Cash Laramie 1 is great. I keep meaning to get to 2, but things keep distracting me. I must do it because it will be one of my favourites, I know.
    Secondly, I'm a lucky guy. I won a prize from Vintage in their review competition and could pick 6 titles. So I got Hypothermia last wee, from them (different cover) and will make it the first I read. Only thing is, I've not read any others in the series - help! Should I go back before I start with what I got, and how far would you recommend?

  2. Nigel, I don't think there's any need to start at the beginning with the Erlandur series. In fact, this latest book is improved by a new translator where the earliest books suffered from some jarring colloquialisms.

    To help you a bit with the major character:
    Erlandur is a middle-aged police detective who lost his younger brother in a blizzard many years prior. The brother's body was never found. This incident has colored Erlandur's entire life. He is divorced, he walked out and abandoned his children when they were quite young, and now those children are troubled adults, esp his drug addicted daughter, Eva Lind. And that really is all you need to know, if that much.

  3. Really like both series here. So different and yet both have an element of true feeling to them.

  4. That was a big help, Naomi. I read it over not so many days and really enjoyed it very much indeed. I'll review it and you'll be able to see what I thought in more detail (soon as I've pinned it down). Intersing point on the translator. I thought Hypo could have done with an extra one; I wonder if it's so hard to get an Icelandic interpreter that it had to be an Icelandic translator working into English - sometimes it felt a bit overly wordy and more frequent use of simple things like pronouns might have made a difference. I did get used to the language though and found it rather endearing in the end. I'll be picking up the next one, definitely. x

  5. The hardest part for me is developing a mental pronunciation of the Icelandic names. If I don't do that, I have trouble remembering which character is which.