Saturday, August 25, 2012

Group Review: Only One Life

Summary:  Jealousy, obsession, and family honor have fatal consequences for an immigrant community on the fringes of seemingly idyllic Copenhagen society. It was clearly no ordinary drowning. Inspector Louise Rick is immediately called out to Holbraek Fjord when a young immigrant girl is found in the watery depths, a piece of concrete tied around her waist and two mysterious circular patches on the back of her neck.

Her name was Samra, and Louise soon learns that her short life was a sad story. Her father had already been charged once with assaulting her and her mother, Sada, who makes it clear that her husband would indeed be capable of killing Samra if she brought dishonor to the family. But she maintains that Samra hadn't done anything dishonorable. Then why was she supposed to be sent back to Jordan?

Samra’s best friend Dicta thinks it was an honor killing. A few days later Dicta is discovered, bludgeoned to death, and Samra's younger sister has gone missing. Navigating the complex web of family and community ties in Copenhagen’s tightly knit ethnic communities, Louise must find this remorseless predator, or predators, before it is too late. ~blurb

Julie's Review: Here's the thing, after finishing Sara Blaedel's most recent Louise Rick novel, Only One Life, I went and put Call Me Princess on my wish list. You see, there's a background to Louise and her other cases that I want to know. It's not necessary to know them for this novel, but I'm intrigued by Louise. I want to know her more and how else do we get to know Detectives but by the crimes they solve.

I was immediately drawn into the case and immediately drawn to Detective Rick. The case seemed so open and shut at first because of preconcieved notions that Ms. Blaedel is very good at making you buy into them. It's here that Ms. Blaedel excels. She hooks you so well with one single idea, that you can't possibly look outside that possiblity until it's upon you. I love it when authors do that. I mean I had my suspicions but she keeps the reader steered towards the premise.

Louise is, in my opinion, an excellent detective. She clearly observes those around her and the crime scene looking for evidence that will point her in the direction of solving the case. She's very observant, meticulous, efficient and concientious, which helps her in her cases. She also appears to be easy to talk to which will have its advantages when talking to a suspect or trying to get witnesses to give them details of what they know or what they saw.

I also want to get to know Camilla Lind more. There is something that obviously happened to her in a previous case, that has changed her. I want to know what it was and how she was involved. I am also intrigued how her and Louise keep their boundaries with her working for a paper. I mean Louise can only be a confidential source so many times, right?

The case is heartbreaking. Samra had such a full life ahead of her and she was a good girl. She was trying to do right by her family only to have her one life taken from her. As humans, we need to do a better job of understanding cultures and religions that are different from our own and not just buy into the media's interpretation of these differences.

Ms. Blaedel does an excellent job of holding the readers attention. There was a point where I wasn't sure if all the storylines were going to be solved but they were without feeling rushed.

I'm so happy to have discovered Ms. Blaedel and Louise Rick. I will definitely be looking for more of her novels in the future.

Final Take: 4.5/5


Jenn's Review:    Though I had a rough idea of what this novel was about after the publicist brought it to our attention, I'm glad I didn't read the blurb.  It says way too much; I'd rather let the story unfold than know in advance what is going to happen.    

I am not as smitten with this book as Julie is and I think that is partially the writing style and partially the cultural barriers.  Having read the description, one might think I was referring to Muslim cultural barriers, but it was actually the Danish ones with which I had issues.  Everyone in the novel, from the police to the press to the neighbors kept calling the family immigrants and while that is technically the correct term for them, it was the connotation that I found irksome.  Perhaps because the United States is a country made up of immigrants, it is not generally a term we use to define someone, which is not the case in other countries where there is a predominantly homogeneous population and stricter immigration laws.  I felt like some of the stereotypical racial profiling problems that the police were trying to avoid were much their own doing.  Because of this, I never really connected with any of the characters.    

The other thing I found slightly jarring while reading was the way Ms. Blaedel switched back and forth from dialogue to descriptions of dialogue.  It was confusing and gave everything a further disjointed feel for me.  Unfortunately, I picked the culprit a third of the way through the novel and, though there was one twist that made my convictions waiver momentarily, I was just waiting for the investigation to catch-up.  The personal stories seemed to be sidebars, but that may be because this is the second book in the series or because I wasn't interested in any of the character's personal lives.

I don't think I will continue this series; for me it just doesn't translate well.  

Final Take:  3/5


Thanks so much to Erin Mitchell at Hew Communications for reaching out to us to review this book!

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