Book Round Up Time! What I Read This Winter:

To say the least, winter was a bad season for my reading. My Goodreads challenge is hiding in a corner, weeping and crying ugly tears. In those three months, I somehow only managed to read 4 books - it is what it is - and the worst about this is not even the amount, it is that half of them weren't even that good ... 

Of those four sad little books, two were in German, and the other two in English. One was giving to me in exchange of an honest review - as always marked with *. 


Overview


The first of the fantastic four was: 


Tod an der Wien

(trans. Death at the Wien) 

This is another murderous adventure for Ernestine and Anton! This time they stumble over the body of a theatre actress who was a famous diva. As always Ernestine can't let the matter drop and starts her own hobby investigation, and, of course, Anton has no other choice but to be dragged along.

Once again, Maly manages to hit Ernestine's tone just right: she cheerfully investigates a crime when she really should not. She thinks it is all exciting but in an adorable way that almost makes you forget that murder is a violent crime. It seems that sometimes even she forgets this as well, getting overly exciting. And since, Anton has an eye on her, he has to come along. 

However, this time Ernestine's enthusiasm was not enough to drag me right into the story. I somehow felt that it lacked a little wit and creativity. Furthermore, I was not really surprised to learn who the "murderer" was, and not even by the motive.  So in the terms of excitement, it was somewhat lacking, even though there were moments that made me chuckle. These moments, plus the dynamic between the main characters saved the story.

⚠ THIS SECTION CONTAINS SPOILERS ⚠

The motive itself was two men being blackmailed for their homosexual relationship. This might be a surprise to many readers who are not expecting this topic to crop up in a novel that is set in the conservative interwar period. I actually liked that Maly chose it, and that she stuck with it until the very end. She did not deal with it in great depth (which would be hard since the point of view is Ernestine and Anton's), but still with respect and displaying what such a society would force two queer men into.  

⚠ PHEW, THAT WAS CLOSE ⚠

In the end, "Tod an der Wien" is a successful novel, and I feel that it fits into the series well, but it has its weaker points as well. 


False Value

Another part of the Rivers of London series and in this one Peter Grant goes undercover at the Serious Cybernetics Corporation. 

As the blurb suggests, this story has a heavy focus on technology. There are plenty of geek jokes, and Hitcher's references in there for your amusement. As the plot revolves around this topic, there is a lot of talk as well and ... it just gets boring at some point when in the end, it did not seem so relevant to the reveal. 

Since we are already many books into the Rivers of London series, there are a few more side characters than at the start. It seems that in "False Value" Aaronovitch wanted to include almost all of them. So I found myself often wondering if that person really is who I think it is. At times, there were paragraphs that quickly reintroduced them - which was helpful. Aaronovitch also tries a new narrative structure in this book, and unfortunately, it merely leads to more confusion. I could not get a grip of it and when he stopped using it after the first part, I was glad. 

Luckily, Peter still tells his story with wit, sarcasm and a healthy dose of cynicism. On top of this, this is the book which has the softest and most domestic moments between Peter and Bev - which was nice to see. 

Overall, "False Value" felt a little disappointing but it still retains its way of telling a story and dips further into the world of urban magic. A full review is available here! 


Predator *

by Zoe Caldwell 

Camilla successfully leads a fashion magazine, lives the high life in an expensive flat and only wears the latest fashion. She also rids the streets of London from men who are rapists and abusers because the legal system is not going to. However, when it comes to Julian Taylor, she may have misjudged because a new detective investigates the case and comes closer to Camilla than comfortable ... 

In short: this book is AMAZING! Camilla is never excused for what she is, freely calling herself a Predator as well as a psychopath. At the same time, you can't help but get hooked to her story, and even the tone in which she tells it - a little stuck up but with a wicked sense of humour. 

Despite those aspects, there are moments in which she dares to show honest emotions, and even seems to panic. There are flashbacks that explain who she has become this person and what motivated her to go down this path in life. Never are those used to justify her behaviours - which was very refreshing - it just shows what shaped her. 

Even until the end, I was never 100% sure if I wanted for Camilla to be caught. If just maybe, it would be okay if she got her happy ending ... 

"Predator" is a must-read and it feels similar to a rougher and more honest sister to "Gone Girl". If that book was up your street, so is "Predator." 

Sadly, the full review will have to wait because the blog tour it is a part of has been postponed. 


Hinter dem Horizont

(orig.: За горизонт| transl.: Beyond the Horizon)

This is the last part of the St. Petersburg trilogy by Djakow, and as such the gang is leaving the metro on a journey to Vladivostok to find a chemical that could rid the Earth of all the radiated ground. However, the journey is far from easy and there are many obstetrical to navigate. Furthermore, the tension among the crew makes this journey even more difficult. 

Compared to the other two books in the series, this was the weakest. While it was fun to see how Djakow imagined the post-apocalyptic landscape in the rest of Russia the crew never spent a lot of time anywhere to explore it. Instead you got a brief look and moved on after shrugging your shoulders. 

I could not help but compare the plot to Metro Exodus but Hinter dem Horizon has the same downfall: the overall story is weak, you never linger anywhere long enough to truly care, and the claustrophobic feeling that makes the metro series appealing gets lost because of this. 

Nevertheless, there are thrilling and interesting passages. Yamantau was one of my favourites, and I liked this version almost more than the Exodus one. I also enjoyed reading about what had happened in Vladivostok - no spoilers. As well as learning about each of the characters than I had before, even though, I could not help but note that Aurora was treated a little like an afterthought for the story ... 

In the end, it is a required read if you want to finish the series. It does not hurt but do not expect the same thrilling and in part touching plot as in the prior two books. 

 


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