After two years and three months my Kindle finally gave up the ghost by presenting me with a screen consisting of a mess of horizontal lines and black and white blocks. It’s had some pretty rough treatment – being put in my trouser pocket while on long cycle rides, being rolled on when I fell asleep while reading it and being exposed to sand and salt on many days on the beach.
I decided it was still worth ringing Amazon to see if they could offer me anything and was surprised to find that after being passed around three different people I was offered a significant discount on a new Kindle (with the amount of money I spend on ebooks I could say that they should just have sent me a new one for free).
Without a lot of thought I opted for the Paperwhite version and didn’t realise it was a touch-screen model. When it arrived I turned it on and while I was looking for non-existent buttons I didn’t realise that the screen was asking me to choose a language and I inadvertently selected Chinese. The confirmation screen then gave me two choices – in Chinese (presumably accept or cancel) and I chose the wrong one – result: a fully Chinese Kindle.
It would of course be a simple job to change the language back again were the menus not now written in Chinese characters. I rang Amazon again and the agent was able to tell me which menu options to choose by counting down from the top and eventually I ended up with an English language Kindle but with some irritating Chinese pop-ups such as dictionary which I managed to get rid of over the next couple of days.
This is all rather embarrassing as I think of myself as a bit of a tekkie and I managed to set up my Google Nexus tablet without any trouble. Incidentally, I do of course have the Kindle app on the Nexus, but I still feel that the Amazon Kindle offers several advantages for ebook reading, mostly in the areas of general ease of use and portability.
Anyway, to get back to books, which is what this website is all about, I thought I would download something fairly entertaining to try out the new Kindle and having read a review of Hour of the Wolf by Håkan Nesser on JoV’s Book Pyramid, I decided to make my first purchase from the Paperwhite.
Hour of the Wolf is the classic “police procedural” novel. After a hit and run accident in which a teenage boy is mown down by a drunk driver, we follow the driver back to his home and listen to his inner dialogue which enables him to decide there is little point in reporting the crime – the radio tells him the boy is dead, and what’s the point in ruining two lives by handing himself in:
Three significant thoughts. Conclusions chiseled out in minute detail that he had no intention of compromising. Of abandoning, come what may. He had made up his mind, full stop.
First: the boy in the ditch was dead, and he was guilty of killing him.
Second: no matter what he did, he could not bring the boy back to life. Third: there was nothing to be gained by giving himself up. Nothing at all. On the contrary, he thought in connection with this number three. Why compensate for a ruined life by sacrificing another one? His own.
The perfect crime – no witnesses, complete darkness at the time it happened, a man living alone with no-one around to question the blood stains or the signs of a troubled conscience. But then a letter arrives a few days later –
Some time has passed since you murdered the boy. I have been waiting for your conscience to wake up, but I now realize that you are a weak person who doesn’t have the courage to own up to what you have done. I have irrefutable evidence which will put you in jail the moment I hand it over to the police. My silence will cost you ten thousand – a piffling amount for a man of your stature, but nevertheless I shall give you a week (exactly seven days) to produce the money. – Do the necessary.
This lays the foundations for further terrible crimes and the involvement of Chief Inspector Reinhart, who has recently taken over from Chief Inspector Van Veeteren, the detective on whom Håkan Nesser built his reputation on and who is now running an antiquarian bookshop (and turns out to have a greater involvement in this case than you would expect).
There’s little point in going further in describing this book as it would only spoil it for other readers. My only comment is that this is the seventh novel in a series and while it is complete in itself, I did notice the complete absence of any character build up of the various police officers. Presumably readers of the previous six books know these people well but for a reader who dives in at number seven, the book seems to take it for granted that you know who these people are and I would have liked a little more background about them.
I’d never heard of Håkan Nesser before but apparently he’s quite a big deal with 20 to 30 books to his name and a fan-site. I wasn’t too surprised to find that Hour of the Wolf was written in 1999 (although only translated into English this year) as the technology mentioned in it seems a bit unsophisticated. How things change!
Apart from those minor quibbles it was a very enjoyable read and was a great introduction to the Kindle Paperwhite. I love the way the screen light is so easily adjustable, enabling you to read it in any light from bright daylight to total darkness. This alone makes it a great choice over the standard Kindle. The touch-screen is good giving you a “next page” touch area of about 80% of the right hand side of the screen and a previous page area of about 20%. Just a shame that left-handed people don’t have an option in the preferences to reverse the proportions (I like to press next screen with my left hand).