Friday, 1 June 2012

The Murder of Halland by Pia Juul

Who Did It?
 review by Maryom

One quiet morning Halland leaves his house, walks across the square and is killed by a shot from a hunting rifle. Is it an accident? Someone taking a pot shot at a deer? Or was someone deliberately out to kill him?

This novella is a murder mystery with a difference - not a 'whodunnit' but an exploration of bereavement. Although there is a detective trying to puzzle things out, events unfold not from his perspective but from that of Halland's partner Bess. Like the fjord that ripples in constantly changing blues and greens, the simple telling of her story hides uncharted depths. So many small everyday items and events remind her of Halland and their life together, that she feels she's living in perpetual flashbacks. The reader learns about her estranged daughter, rarely seen in the past 10 years, her unsympathetic mother, the ex-husband who after all these years still feels hopeful that they can get back together again. And Halland's little personal and financial secrets all come tumbling out of the closet too....

At one point Bess comments that her mother had the ability to repeat words in a way that completely changed their meaning - and that's how I felt at times as I read, that so many of the phrases and sentences could be interpreted more than one way. I'm not sure if this was in part down to translation - although smooth and readable I wondered if some nuances might have been lost - or if it was deliberate. I'd love to read this with a like-minded group to be able to bounce ideas around and hear their conclusions. This is in a way an interim review - I want to re-read The Murder of Halland in the light of things disclosed later in the book to see if I can to a firm conclusion.

Maryom's review - 4.5 stars
Publisher - Peirene Press

Genre - Adult Literary Fiction

 Buy The Murder of Halland from Amazon or check out Peirene's website for offers and subscription deals.

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