Home > 1990, 2010, 2020s, 20th Century, 21st Century, Australian Literature, Beach and Public Transports Books, Crime Fiction, Gerhardsen Carin, Harper Jane, Higashino Keigo, Japanese Literature, Swedish Literature > Three beach-and-public-transport crime fiction books: let’s go to Sweden, Japan and Australia.

Three beach-and-public-transport crime fiction books: let’s go to Sweden, Japan and Australia.

The summer holiday are coming soon, with lazy reading hours, waiting time in airports or train stations, train or plane travels and all kinds of noisy reading environments. That’s what my Beach and Public Transports category is for: help you locate page turners that help pass the time and don’t need a lot of concentration. So, let’s make a three-stops journey, starting in Stockholm with…

The Last Lullaby by Carin Gerardhsen. (2010) French title: La comptine des coupables. Translated from the Swedish by Charlotte Drake and Patrick Vandar.

It’s a classic crime fiction book that opens with a murder. Catherine Larsson and her two children are murdered in their apartment. She was from the Philippines, got married to Christer Larsson and they were divorced. He was deeply depressed and had no contact with his children.

Catherine lived in a nice apartment in a posh neighborhood in Stockholm. How could this cleaning lady afford such a lavish home?

The commissaire Conny Sjöberg and his team are on the case. The troubling fact is that their colleague Einar Ericksson has not shown up for work and hasn’t call in sick. Sjöberg looks for him and soon discover that Catherine Larsson and Einar Ericksson were close, that he used to come and meet her and play with the children. His sweater was in her flat.

Now the police are in a difficult position: their colleague is a suspect but Sjöberg thinks he’s a victim too. It complicates the investigation.

I enjoyed The Last Lullaby as the story progressed nicely, all clues clicking into place one after the other. I thought that the police team’s personal lives were a bit heavy. What are the odds to have on the same team someone with a traumatic past, someone who was raped and filmed, someone recovering of a heart attack and multiples divorces and affairs. It seemed a bit too much for me.

That minor detail aside, it’s a nice Beach and Public Transport book. Now, let’s travel to Japan for a very unusual story.

The House Where I Once Died by Keigo Higashino (1994) French title: La maison où je suis mort autrefois. Translated from the Japanese by Yukatan Makino. Not available in English.

The unnamed Narrator of the book and Sayaka met in high school and were a couple for a few years. Sayaka broke up with him when she met her future husband. He wasn’t too heartbroken, they never meant to spend their life together anyway. Seven years later, they reconnect at a high school reunion.

Sayaka contacts the Narrator a few weeks later and asks him to accompany her on a strange trip. When her father died, he left her with a key to a house. She knows that her father used to go there once a month but never talked about it. Since her husband is on a business trip, she doesn’t want to go alone. The Narrator accepts and they drive to a strange house in the woods by Matsubara Lake.

Sayaka doesn’t have any family left and has no memories of her early childhood. She wants her memory back and hopes that this house will trigger something in her.

The Narrator and Sayaka enter the house and start playing detective to find out whose house it is, why it is empty, where its inhabitants are and how they are linked to Sayaka’s father.

The House Where I Once Died is a fascinating tale and as a reader, I was captivated from the start. It’s like a children’s mystery tale, a strange house, clues in the rooms, a memory loss and weird details everywhere.

Step by step, along with the Narrator and Sayaka, we discover the truth about the house and its family. The ending was unexpected and the whole experience was a great reading time.

That’s another excellent Beach and Public Transport book at least for readers who can read in French, since it hasn’t been translated into English.

Now let’s move to Tasmania with…

The Survivors by Jane Harper (2020) French title: Les survivants.

This is not my first Jane Harper, I’ve already read The Dry and Force of Nature. This time, Jane Harper takes us to the fictional Tasmanian small town on Evelyn Bay. It’s on the ocean and along the coasts are caves that can be explored when the tide is low and that get flooded when the tide is high.

Kieran and his girlfriend Mia live in Sydney with their three-month old baby but they both grew up in Evelyn Bay. They are visiting Kieran’s parents Brian and Verity in their hometown. Brian has dementia and the young couple is here to help Verity pack their house to move Verity into an apartment and Brian goes to a medical facility.

This family is still haunted by the drama that occurred twelve years ago. Kieran was in the caves when a bad storm hit the town. Finn, his older brother who had a diving business with his friend Toby, went out to sea to rescue him. The storm turned their boat and they both drowned. Kieran has always felt responsible for the death of his older brother.

The storm devastated the town. The material damage was repaired. The psychological one, not really. That same day of the historical storm, Gabby Birch disappeared and never came back. She was fourteen and she probably drowned too. Her body was never found.

That summer, Kieran and his friends Ash and Sean were a tight unit who partied a lot. They were just out of high school and Kieran had secret hook-ups with Olivia in the caves. Gabby was Olivia’s younger sister and Mia’s best friend.

So, the group of friends who meet again in Evelyn Bay has this traumatic past in common. Olivia and Ash are now in a relationship. Olivia works at the local pub, with a student who is there for the summer. Bronte is an art student at university in Canberra. She waitresses at the pub too and shares a house on the beach with Olivia.

One morning shortly after Kieran and Mia’s arrival, Bronte is found dead on the beach. Who could have wanted to kill her? Old wounds reopen and everyone thinks about the storm and Gabby Birch’s unexplained death. The digital rumour mill runs freely on the town’s forum.

Are the two deaths related? How will Kieran deal with being in this town again in the middle of another dramatic event? What happens in those caves?

The Survivors isn’t an outstanding crime fiction book but it does the job. It’s entertaining and exactly what you need to read on a beach. Well, except for the fear you may get about rising tides and being stuck in caves…

The Survivors is my first of my #20BooksOfSummer challenge. Do you look for easy and entertaining reads for the summer or do you take advantage of the slower pace (no school and related activities, holidays…) to read more challenging books?

  1. June 13, 2022 at 11:59 am

    Now you have nothing left to read on the beach. You’ll just have to buy some more. The House where I once Died sounds the most interesting (You know which sounds the least, to me). I have just purchased my own Japanese read,The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – “An elegantly spare dystopian fable”. Now all I need is a beach to read it on.

    Like

    • June 18, 2022 at 6:15 am

      Don’t worry about my beach TBR, I have it covered! 🙂

      The Higashino was definitely the best of the three. I really don’t understand why it hasn’t been translated into English.

      I’ve never read Yoko Ogawa but it sounds like something you’d enjoy.

      PS : don’t you have beaches in Perth?

      Like

      • June 18, 2022 at 1:57 pm

        Perth is 100km north to south, and nearly every inch of that is beaches, mostly surf, facing the Indian Ocean, but some protected. But I’ve never been a lie on the beach sort of person.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. June 13, 2022 at 10:44 pm

    Nice list, and a Higashino I haven’t read yet!

    Like

    • June 18, 2022 at 6:15 am

      Thanks! You’ll have to read this Higashino in French, it’s not available in English.

      Like

  3. June 25, 2022 at 9:16 pm

    I think I’ve read all of Keigo Higashino’s English translated works. Too bad this one isn’t in English. On another note, thanks to your previous posts, I’ve been reading and trying to finish Proust’s In Search of Lost Time and hopefully by Nov. 18 I can finish and post to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death.

    Like

    • June 26, 2022 at 6:33 am

      I don’t understand why this Higashino isn’t available in English, I’m sure readers would love it.
      Re-Proust: what a great message to receive! Thank you. Stay tuned, I’ve just been to another Proust exhibition and I’ve finished re-reading Time Regained.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. June 28, 2022 at 12:37 pm

    I look for easy and entertaining reads as well as more challenging reads in summertime. So far this summer, I’ve only managed to finish easy and entertaining reads.

    Like

    • June 30, 2022 at 8:42 pm

      Hello!
      Thanks for dropping by.
      Same here, I’ve read good but entertaining books.
      I’ve just started In Cold Blood. Easier than expected, so far.

      Like

  5. June 29, 2022 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Emma! on a totally unrelated topic, would you be able to join us for a Tokarczuk reading on 1 October? I remember you mentioned that’s a busy period for you but I hope you’ll be able to take part in a lecture commune!

    Like

    • June 30, 2022 at 8:38 pm

      Hi! Yes, I plan on it. I have already Sur les ossements des morts on the shelf.

      Like

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