Review: Hour of the Wolf – Håkan Nesser

hour of the wolfAfter 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.

kindle

My beloved and dearly-departed Kindle 1

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).

Håkan Nesser

Håkan Nesser

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).

14 comments to Review: Hour of the Wolf – Håkan Nesser

  • That was very nice of Amazon to give you a discount on your new Kindle! ^_^

    I’ve noticed in general that buyers are being treated nicer than before. Perhaps it has to do with the great competition for readers and e-books, and online market competition in general. For examples, last month I ordered a book from the BookDepository (I buy books there all the time), however, the book never arrived. When I contacted they sent me a new book again, and even asked to pick a gift book up to $10 for my troubles! :D

    Back to the book above though:

    It does sound like an interesting read, perhaps I should give it a try. Although police procedures aren’t really my thing, but perhaps I should get out of my little fantasy box for a change! ^_^

    Thanks for the lovely review!

  • I too love my Kindle. The story about the Chinese Language choice language is terrific!

    Though it is part of a series, the lack of character development here sounds disappointing.

  • It’s actually a rather funny story your setting your kindle to Chinese but I’m glad they sorted it out promptly.
    I’ve got a few of his books in German translation but couldn’t say how far into the series they are. I always try to start with the first but have noticed that they don’t aöways translate the first in a series into English. They are more systematic in German and I’m grateful for that.

  • Kat

    My e-reader doesn’t know Chinese, but I’m fascinated by your e-reader story. How nice that Amazon could fix it! Honestly, how did they know how far to count down? They’re geniuses (genii).

    My first-edition Nook recently died, and I’d loved it so much that I tried to repair it by turning it on and off, taking out the battery, and doing all kinds of talismanic stuff recommended. I

    So then I had to buy the replacement: Kindle or Nook? Well, I had hundreds of books on the Nook, so I couldn’t very well to switch to the Kindle without losing the books. I bought the cheapest Nook model, but it was, as I husband said, a cheap piece of crap!, so I exchanged it for a Nook tablet, and am very happy with it. It really is nicer.

    We have to support the Nook here because Barnes and Noble is practically the last bookstore in America.

    P.S. I have to say the Nesser book sounds too violent for me. I’m more a Ngaio Marsh kind of person.

  • I’ve a keyboard kindle & love it, but am thinking of geting a Nexus, what do you make of yours?

  • Love your Kindle story – made me laugh. Sounds like something I would wind up doing – pushing the wrong buttons. I still have the kindle with the keyboard, although I have been considering buying the paperwhite kindle. I think I’ll wait until my kindle is kaput though. I love that Amazon gave you such a great discount – seems right that they should (after all the book purchases).

    As far as the book goes, doesn’t really sound like my cup of tea.

  • Good review – I’ve enjoyed a couple of Hakan Nesser novels in the last few years; like you, I wasn’t aware of the size of his back catalogue! Thanks

  • JoV

    Thanks for the mention. It’s interesting to hear of your Mandarin Kindle experience. I would have cold sweat if I have my Kindle in Russian or Greek languages!
    I’m glad you like this book but my favourite of Nesser is “The Woman with the birthmark”. It made me cheered for the perpetrator, something which is very rare in a crime fiction. I still enjoy an old fashioned crime novel.

  • Tom

    Hello WBC – thanks for visiting. Nice to know your site is still going strong

  • Tom

    JoV – thanks for visiting. I can see I will have to read some more Nesser. He has a couple more coming out this year I believe

  • Tom

    Hi Nadia – well, I do find that if you don’t ask you don’t get. Watchdog on BBC did a feature on Kindles last year and found that they don’t last very long

  • Tom

    Parrish – the Nexus is an amazing device – one of the best things I’ve ever bought. The Kindle app works well on it, but research shows that reading LCD screens at night leads to insomnia. Kindle’s don’t have this problem

  • Tom

    Kat – thanks for visiting. The Nook is popular over here too but we don’t have Barnes and Noble. Yes, you do get rather locked into an e-reader don’t you. You can convert all your books using Calibre but its a bit of a chore

  • [...] at least to limit my crime-binge to writers I’ve not read before such as Jan Costin Wagner, Håkan Nesser and now Johan Theorin, three authors whose books try to push the boundaries further than the [...]

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