Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg is set in Denmark and Greenland. It is the only mystery I have read that features Greenlanders and the huge icy island of Greenland. The book explores the uncomfortable issues of Greenlanders brought to Denmark to attend school. There are many challenges for the Greenlanders trying to adjust and fit into a new culture. What makes the book outstanding is Smilla, a vivid unusual character, long to be remembered. (I also thought of my visit to Copenhagen in the spring taking a lovely boat tour around the harbor area and enjoying supper on the dock after the tour.)
The Premier by Georges Simenon was my contribution for the stop in France. Most of my reading of Simenon has involved the series he wrote featuring detective Maigret. The Premier features the 82 year old former Premier of France. The book is unusual in the main character being in his 80’s. It is a rare mystery which gives precedence to an elderly character. I think more interesting mysteries could be written involving the 80+. Much of the book explores the thoughts and assessments of the Premier. It is a superb exploration of a mind.
My favourite book of the journey was TheMiracle Game by Joseph Skvorecky set in what was Czechoslovakia during the Communist years of the 1940’s through the Prague Spring of 1968. The book explored the bizarre results of taking all actions and making all decisions based on rigid Marxist – Leninist dogma. Freedom of thought was a dangerous concept as it did not fit with the required thoughts of communist doctrines. The lead character, Daniel Smiricky, publicly goes along, as much as needed, with communist thought while privately rejecting them.
In reading the book I was struck by how attitudes have changed. Smiricky is a young teacher in the late 1940’s teaching at a high school of all girls. He is pursued by the girls. There is no condemnation of a relationship between a teenage girl and her teacher. It would find disfavor with Communist authorities of the time but not the societal disapproval of today against such relations.
I enjoyed a pair of posts from other contributors concerning Turkey, the final destination.
Host Kerrie Smith on her blog, Mysteries in Paradise, offered a lovely post on the hotel in Instanbul, the Pera Palace Hotel, where Agatha Christie is believed to have written Murder on the Orient Express. You can stay in the actual “Agatha Christie” room at the hotel.
John on his blog, Pretty Sinister Books, reviewed Mehmet Murat Somer, a Turkish writer, whose sleuth is a Turkish transvestite (handsome computer consultant by day and glamorous nightclub owner by night wearing Audrey Hepburn lookalike outfits). John said the series explores aspects of gay life within an Islamic culture.
I am very glad I was on Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass.