About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Comparing 1222 and The Lion's Mouth

It has been awhile since I have reacted so differently to a pair of books in a mystery series. I thought 1222 was a good book but The Lion’s Mouth a great book.

If I had not been provided a copy of The Lion’s Mouth by the publisher I doubt I would have purchased another Anne Holt mystery.
 
I had plodded through 1222 wondering all the way why the book had gained such praise and an Edgar Award nomination.

I loved The Lion’s Mouth and could barely wait to see how the story unfolded.

Because of the quirks in the publication of translated books The Lion’s Mouth was written before 1222 but is only now appearing in English in North America.

The Lion’s Mouth should have been the strong contender for book awards. I did not check the date before starting to read the book and was wondering for a time why there was a book set before Hanne was shot that was written after she was shot and then I realized it was another translation out of order. I do not think I will ever get used to books in a series being translated in some apparently random sequence.
 
I liked Hanne better in The Lion’s Mouth. Her sour disposition in 1222 overshadowed her deducting talents. In The Lion’s Mouth she is an outgoing vital woman enjoying life. I can understand the change in her personality because of the shooting that has left her crippled. However, she is a dispiriting character in 1222.

Hanne has a better supporting character in The Lion’s Mouth in BillyT. The huge Oslo detective is emotionally candid and a powerful character. In 1222 she is aided by Geir Rugholmen. While a good man he does not fill out the pages like Billy T.

I found the victim in The Lion’s Mouth made for a more compelling story. It is hard to come up with a victim who commands your attention more than the Prime Minister.

Each involves questions of who could have committed murder in a closed setting. The resort hotel of 1222 and the Prime Minister's office of The Lion's Mouth.
 
What is unusual is that in each book Hanne is not really acting as a police officer. In 1222 she attempts to shun the investigation preferring to sit in her wheelchair waiting for the storm to end. She grudgingly helps in the investigation. In The Lion's Mouth she is not on duty having gone for an extended leave to California. She returns to Norway to help Billy T. but has a significantly secondary role.

They had profoundly different endings.

Hanne in 1222 , intentionally or not gives a strong Nero Wolfe impression, having the suspects assembled for her and then revealing the killer.  The impression is heightened as Wolfe always conducts those meetings seated behind his massive desk.

In The Lion's Mouth the ending unfolds in a series of climaxes as investigators put together what happened. It is far more emotional and realistic.

I remain unsure if I want to read more of the "new" Hanne when I liked the "old" Hanne better.

 

 

8 comments:

  1. What an interesting comparison, Bill. It certainly shows that characters don't always evolve in the way we'd like. Sometimes, they evolve in just the opposite way. In Hanne's case, we can see how she might changed as a result of the shooting, and that's realistic. But it doesn't mean we have to like it.

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    1. Margot: Thanks for the comment. Sometimes I feel guilty about not liking a character. I wished I liked the "new" Hanne better but that is not the case.

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  2. I've read through both your reviews and now this piece - very interesting. I liked 1222 somewhat more than you, I should say, but you have really sold me on Lion's Mouth, which sounds excellent.

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  3. Moira: Thanks for the comment. A lot of people have liked 1222 more than I liked the book. Good reading with The Lion's Mouth.

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  4. I agree with Moira. I liked 1222 because it was unusual. Hanne was complicated and interesting and solved the murders because of her criminal justice background and experience. But she was bitter and it's understandable why. And I liked reading about an unusual character and someone who is disabled. Detectives or other crime solvers are rarely people with disabilities, and like everyone else, those with illnesses or who are not able-bodied are not always pleasant, kind and caring. So, a real character was portrayed.
    But I have liked the books with Hanne before the accident that changed her life. I'll get through the series eventually as Hanne's evolution is interesting.

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  5. Kathy D.: Thanks for the comment. Neither the able nor the disabled are always nice people. For leisure reading my inclination is to read about characters who are not bitter. I get enough reading at work of angry people being difficult.

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  6. I get it about being a lawyer and having to deal with angry people, so you want low stress and pleasant characters.

    My experiences with people I know is that when people are very tired or don't feel well, they are much crankier and sometimes, impossible. That's when escape to a movie, TV show or good work of fiction, usually a mystery, is necessary.

    V.I. Warshawski having a bad day is a lot easier to deal with than stressed-out, exhausted humans. Even Nero Wolfe or Salvo Montalbano, curmudgeons as they are, are easier to deal with than their human equivalents.

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