The Martin Beck novels

So far this month I’ve re-read from my shelves three Swedish police procedurals by Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö. They wrote ten altogether and they are so good I’ve ordered the other seven! I’ll space them out so that I don’t get tired of them.

The main character in all the novels is Martin Beck and we very much enjoyed the TV series Beck which was based on the novels. Interestingly, though Maj Sjöwall & Per Wahlöö plotted and researched the stories together, they wrote alternate chapters.

In the meantime I’ve just finished reading The Offing, by Benjamin Myers. It’s set around the lovely, Yorkshire fishing village of Robin Hood’s Bay. An old man looks back to 1946 when, as a 16-year-old boy, he set off for an adventure and stumbles across an eccentric, older woman. A really lovely read. I’ll certainly look out for other novels by the same author.

I’m currently reading A Dry White Season, by André Brink. Set in apartheid South Africa, this is a step outside my usual fiction comfort zone and, so far so good.

The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

Subtitled ‘Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness’, this wonderful book describes the truly shocking level of imprisonment in the USA, brought about by the ‘war on drugs’, and of how African-Americans have been most affected. It’s an eye-opening analysis and shatters any illusions that America has a healthy political or judicial system. Is it any wonder that someone like Trump can get elected! I’ve had my eyes opened. It’s a stunning read and highly recommended.

A full review can be found in this Guardian article.

This short article “19 Actual Statistics About America’s Prison System” by Laura Dimon succinctly shows how shocking it is.

Machines – an astonishing documentary

This astonishing documentary about life in an Indian textile factory is available once again on the BBC iPlayer, but only until Tuesday (now expired): https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09g8cc9/machines
At the very least, these workers deserve 65 minutes of your time.

Capture“A mesmerising and unflinching look behind the doors of a textile factory in India, as director Rahul Jain observes the life of the workers and the oppressive environment they seldom escape from. Machines tells a story of the human cost of mass production in a globalised world, showing the gulf between rich and poor from both perspectives.”

Visages Villages (Faces Places)

What a delightful film Visages Villages is. It’s a documentary by, and starring film director and photographer Agnès Varda and photographer JR, who travel through France visiting villages, taking photos of the people and then plastering large images of them on walls and buildings. The two artists form a warm bond whilst engaging with the villagers. The film looks terrific, from the opening credits to the very end. We watched it on Netflix and is highly recommended.

The Tiger – John Vaillant

What a magnificent read The Tiger by John Vaillant is.

A long, detailed examination of everything to do with tigers in their natural habitat. But more than that it’s an investigation of tiger killings, the communities affected, life in the Soviet Union and animal conservation.

There’s so much in this book. I’ll probably read it again in future years. A great read.

Calibre

Calibre is an extremely taut and tense film set in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands. At the first major scene I wondered whether I would be up to dealing with the shocking development, but my motto is “it’s only dots on a screen”, so I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. A terrific, tense thriller, though not suitable for all.

I viewed this on Netflix using my free, 1-month, introductory offer. Thank you Netflix.

Face-Time – Erik Tarloff

What a terrific novel this is – I raced through it in a couple of days.
A first novel, written 20 years ago, it’s the story of a US president’s extra-marital affair involving a young couple working in the White House. It’s about power rather than politics and is an easy, well-written tale. Fabulous.
I’m on the lookout for his two later novels – I think I’ve tracked down one of them.