books, movies, TV

The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell

The second book of the Kurt Wallander series.

Wallander continues as the most troubled and unlucky hero in any detective series.

For example, at the critical moment of the book — Wallander has to take a dump in a waste paper basket.

I actually liked the book. But the plot is totally unbelievable.

It was made into a Swedish film. And was adapted for season 3 of the of the British production of Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

books

The Pyramid by Henning Mankell

There are 8 books in the Inspector Kurt Wallander series, starting with Faceless Killers.

I enjoyed that one, so downloaded The Pyramid, a collection of short stories about Wallander EARLIER than Faceless. Something like a prequel.

The short stories are not as good as the novel for me, but I’m still happy I read them.

I MIGHT end up reading the entire series.

Spanning two decades between 1969 and 1989, the five stories chart Wallander’s “unknown” early years as he progresses from keen police academy graduate to disillusioned senior investigator …

Guardian review
books, TV

Dickinson – seasons 1 & 2

Dickinson is an American historical comedy-drama streaming television series about Emily Dickinson … produced for Apple TV+.

Starring Hailee Steinfeld as Dickinson, the first season was released on November 1, 2019, when Apple TV+ debuted.

Two more seasons are in the works.

Dickinson takes place “during Emily Dickinson‘s era with a modern sensibility and tone.

It takes viewers into the world of Emily, audaciously exploring the constraints of society, gender, and family from the perspective of a budding writer who doesn’t fit in to her own time …

It’s weird and somehow compelling. Modern dialogue. Modern music.

All the characters are great. My favourite is Darlene Hunt as Maggie, their hilarious maid.

74% on Rotten Tomatoes.

A bit gimmicky, I thought the novelty might wear off. BUT season 2 was even better. 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

I hadn’t known that Emily Dickinson’s legendary poetry was not acclaimed until after her death in 1886. Her sister discovered the cache of  1,800 poems and finally had them published. That’s not what’s happening in the TV series.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

books

Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman

A very good whodunnit set in Ottawa.

It would make an excellent Canadian TV series.

I’d watch.

Lead character is police investigator Kala Stonechild, who has left her northern Ontario detachment for the big city.

It’s a week before Christmas when wealthy businessman Tom Underwood disappears into thin air — with more than enough people wanting him dead. …

Old betrayals and complicated family relationships brutally collide when love turns to hate and murder stalks a family. …

brendachapman.ca
books, TV

Young Wallander – season 1

Quite good.

Young Wallander is a young, edgy, and modern series that sees Henning Mankell’s iconic detective Kurt Wallander investigate his gripping first case. The story focuses on the formative experiences – professional and personal – faced by Kurt as a recently graduated police officer in his early twenties.

It’s set in Sweden but the cast is mostly British.

I was impressed with Adam Pålsson as Young Wallander.

Most of the criticism I’ve read comes from fans of earlier adaptations of an older Kurt Wallander played by actors Rolf LassgårdKrister Henriksson, and Sir Kenneth Branagh.

I’d never seen any of those, so Young Wallander worked for me.

In fact, I’ve started reading the Wallander books. Very good.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

books, movies

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

This excellent 2015 book sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide before I read it.

Kristin Hannah has become one of my favourite writers.

… the story of two sisters in France during World War II and their struggle to survive and resist the German occupation of France.

It was inspired by the story of a Belgian woman, Andrée de Jongh, who helped downed Allied pilots to escape Nazi territory. …

wikipedia

Dakota and Elle Fanning will star in the planned movie as the sisters — which would be excellent casting, IF they were French. They were born in Georgia.

This book reminded me of Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan, the story of a young Italian man helping Jews escape over the Alps.

books, ethics, government, human rights, TV

Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

Faceless Killers is a 1991 crime novel by the Swedish writer Henning Mankell, and the first in his acclaimed Wallander series.

Happily, the audio book is read by one of my favourites — Dick Hill — of the excellent Jack Reacher and Harry Bosch series. Hill has 542 audio books, last time I checked.

Inspector Kurt Wallander is called out to a seemingly senseless and brutal murder on a Swedish farm.

Wallander is forty-two-years-old. His wife left him unexpectedly 3 months earlier. He’s constantly worried about his estranged daughter. And unsure whether his own elderly father can continue living alone out on another farm.

Also, he’s gaining weight.

Uncoordinated. Accident prone.

Near broke.

Troubled, to say the least.

Author Henning Mankell was a left-wing social critic and activist. 

But the themes of the book include Sweden’s liberal attitude regarding immigrationracism and national identity. The character Wallander is conflicted.

Kenneth Branagh is one of the actors who’s played Wallander in adaptations.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

books, good news, health & fitness, movies, science, things getting better

The Code Breakers by Walter Isaacson

Have you heard of CRISPR?

(clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)

Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their contributions in the development of a method for genome editing.

It’s called the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors.

Based on how bacteria fights off virus attackers, in future CRISPR will be used to fight coronavirus variations.

Click PLAY or see how it works on YouTube.

Most people my age know about Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA. But I certainly couldn’t explain anything about CRISPR before reading this book.

Once again, Walter Isaacson made a complex story entertaining with this 2021 biography:

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race

The bestselling author of Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs returns with a gripping account of how Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues launched a revolution that will allow us to cure diseases, fend off viruses, and have healthier babies.

When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

The development of CRISPR and the race to create vaccines for coronavirus will hasten our transition to the next great innovation revolution. The past half-century has been a digital age, based on the microchip, computer, and internet. Now we are entering a life-science revolution. Children who study digital coding will be joined by those who study genetic code. …

After helping to discover CRISPR, Doudna became a leader in wrestling with these moral issues and, with her collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier, won the Nobel Prize in 2020. Her story is a thrilling detective tale that involves the most profound wonders of nature, from the origins of life to the future of our species.

simon and schuster

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

The first half of the book is the story. Very entertaining.

Then it gets better.

A detailed look at the drama over WHO wins the awards. WHO gets the patents.

Of course there are many other scientists who could have and should be lauded for breakthroughs in this field. They are covered in the biography, as well.

Most worthy — perhaps — is Feng Zhang. But he and his boss Eric Lander come off as BAD GUYS in this book, unethical in their collaborations.

ONE bit of good news. When COVID-19 was announced early 2020, both Zhang’s and Doudna’s companies changed research priorities towards developing CRISPR-based coronavirus tests. Both were successful and both hope to make simple at-home tests ready for market in 2021: Sherlock and Mammoth.

The most entertaining of the CRISPR giants is geneticist George Church. When the movie is made, he’ll be the fan favourite.

Emmanuelle Charpentier is an intriguing personality, as well. I’d read her biography.

books

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

Quite good.

This is a book about the women of Australia in the early 1840s.

I liked best the story line of Mathinna, the orphaned daughter of the Chief of the Lowreenne tribe, who was adopted by the new governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).

Seduced by her employer’s son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious Newgate Prison.

After months in the fetid, overcrowded jail, she learns she is sentenced to “the land beyond the seas,” Van Diemen’s Land, a penal colony established by Great Britain. Though uncertain of what awaits, Evangeline knows one thing: the child she carries will be born on the months-long voyage to this distant land.

During the journey on a repurposed slave ship, the Medea, Evangeline strikes up a friendship with Hazel, a girl little older than her former pupils who was sentenced to seven years transport for stealing a silver spoon.

Canny where Evangeline is guileless, Hazel — a skilled midwife and herbalist – is soon offering home remedies to both prisoners and sailors in return for a variety of favors. …

christinabakerkline.com