Northern European crime stories are big business these days. Henning Mankell‘s Wallander stars in many novels and the BBC have shown me three television versions. (Grumpy dark haired Swedish guy is the best) Stieg Larsson‘s Millenium trilogy became massively popular after his death. Jo Nesbo now appears in the best seller lists. Many of us were captivated for months by ‘The Killing‘ on BBC4. An American version of that is due to be shown on Channel 4; I’ll probably watch that too. So I was all set to be very receptive to The Library of Shadows, by Mikkel Birkegaard. I like books, I like crime fiction, I’m very happy with the Danish setting- what could go wrong?
Oh, what about the writing, the plot, the characters, the dialogue…
Secret societies, intercontinental travel, an outsider to be initiated, a lot of wordy description and historical background… any of this sounding familiar? Yes, it’s like Dan Brown without the energy or the page turning impetus.
I nearly didn’t finish the book and, having done so, am not much the wiser. I got bored and stopped any attempts to care about the charcters or engage with the plot, so maybe that’s why I’m not sure what went on. Had I not been reading this for the bookclub, I’d have given up days ago.
I think it’s meant to be a study on books having their own soul, the potential of the imagination, and good struggling with evil. It felt like an interesting idea (how one’s reading experience can be affected by ‘transmitters’ and ‘receivers’- individuals with specific powers) at the beginning, but developed into a below par crawl, without fun or energy. The plot became more and more preposterous, and I became more and more annoyed. The baddies are obvious from early on, some of the characters care more about books than their mates- reaction to finding a murdered associate ‘What’s going to happen to all the books now?’- the romance is unengaging, and I could go on. I’ll not start about the magic that the dead Luca seems to be able to to, because then I’ll start shouting, and it won’t be pretty.
Luckily I’m not a proper reviewer, since publishers wouldn’t send me anything if I kept telling it so frankly… Anyway, don’t be bothered with this one.