About Me

My photo
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.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg

This week the Crime Fiction in Euro Pass hosted by Kerrie at her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, reaches Denmark. I have recent fond memories of Denmark having spent a week in April exploring the country. We were staying with Stine, an exchange student who lived with us 10 years ago, and her family in Kolding. It is an inviting friendly country. It is also the home of my blogger friend, Dorte Hummelshoj Jakobsen$3.99 and her fine blog http://djskrimiblog.wordpress.com/. My contribution to the meme is a Danish thriller / mystery that was an international success almost 20 years ago.
43. - 506.) Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg – A fascinating thriller mystery from the early-1990’s. Smilla Jespersen, half West Greenlander / half Danish, is obsessed with finding out why her young apartment neighbour and fellow Greenlander, Isaiah, threw himself off their apartment roof and killed himself when he was afraid of heights. Her suspicions are raised by his tracks in the snow. While never completing a university degree Smilla is an expert on snow and ice. Throughout the book are sprinkled the various Greenlander words for different types of snow. Her life is financed by her wealthy father, Moritz, a doctor with an international practice. The authorities try to deflect Smilla but she is determined. Those opposed to her efforts try to kill her. It was an unusual thriller in that I could not grasp what was being sought by the conspirators until very near the end of the book. I actually  bought the book when Stine was a student here. She appeared to hesitate about the book. While an international bestseller it hardly presents the Danes well in their relationship with Greenland. A generation of Greenlanders were uprooted and brought to Denmark for education. It did not go well. It reminded me of Canada’s problems with Residential Schools for Indian children. Smilla is an amazing character who brought to mind Lisbeth Salander. She is independent, smart, tenacious, emotionally troubled, socially awkward – a brilliant misfit in Danish society. After never reading about Greenland I read two books this year. Each speaks highly of living on that forbidding island. A terrific book. (Oct. 29/09) (Third Best of 2009 fiction)


  1. Bill thanks for reminding me of this book. I have not read it yet, your post has just reminded me.

  2. I enjoyed this too Bill. Must have been almost the first translated crime fiction I read apart from Simenon

  3. Jose Ignacio: I believe you will enjoy the book and I look forward to a post sometime in the future reviewing the book.

  4. Kerrie: Thanks for the comment. I thought the translation was very well done.

  5. Bill - Oh, what a fine choice for this stop! This is a terrific novel :-). I enjoyed it very much and I'm glad you did, too. And I think you're quite right; the book is a very effective blend of the mystery itself and the geopolitical realities of the time.

  6. Margot: Thanks for the comment. A mystery becomes a great book when the mystery meshes so well with the era.