You Will Never Be Found by Tove Alsterdal

In my never ending quest to find something interesting to read I picked up You Will Never Be Found from NetGalley. I even went back and read the first book in the High Coast series, We Know You Remember. I am usually a fan of “noir” but this series just didn’t quite work for me.


In the small mining town of Malmberget, north of the Arctic Circle, residents and their houses are being relocated. As the mine that built the town slowly swallows it street by street, building by building, the memories of the community have collapsed into the huge pit they call “the hole.” Only a few stubborn souls cling to their homes, refusing to leave. When two workers making their final preparations hear a sound coming from a basement, they break a cellar window and find a terrified man curled up in a corner.

In Ådalen, 700 kilometers away, police officer Eira Sjödin is investigating the disappearance of a man reported missing by his ex-wife. Eira and her colleagues search his apartment, contact his friends and relatives, and query local hospitals, but the man has vanished without a trace.

Eira knows the pain of loss—she mourns for her mother, whose mind has been stolen by dementia. To escape her loneliness and her memories, Eira loses herself in a casual affair. But she’s wholly unprepared when her feelings deepen for GG, who is twenty years her senior–and her boss.

When the diligent GG doesn’t show up for work two days in a row, Eira and her colleagues quickly realize that something is wrong—their boss has gone missing. In the dramatic second installment of the High Coast Series, Eira Sjödin finds herself at the mercy of an elusive perpetrator—and of a love she can no longer deny.

My Take

In a way very similar to the first book in this series, I enjoyed the underlying mystery but not the relationship aspects of the lead character; the background details.

I just don’t think I made a connection with Eira and so her relationships and emotions didn’t move me. To use a cliché, it felt like Alsterdal told me what Eira felt but didn’t show me in a compelling way.

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2022 The Year of the Unfinished Book?

A decade or so ago, not finishing a book would pain me. I would frequently slog through a book just to finish it; or accurately not leave it unfinished.  Part of it was that it sunk cost; I felt I would waste all the time I had put into reading it.

I have changed my approach since then. If a book doesn’t grab me I frequently just stop reading it.  I have gotten better at making this determination earlier and thus avoiding the perils of the sunk cost fallacy.  But sometime I will reading quite a ways into a book and yet decide at some point it just isn’t worth it.

To be fair, another element is this frequently happens with books I have checked out from the library.  If I borrow an digital book from the library via Libby and have been slogging through it when the book comes due, I just return the book.  If people are waiting for a book and I can’t get excited about finishing it I figure I should let them have a crack.

In 2022, this seemed to happen more than usual. Again, I don’t know if it is my lack of focus/book funk or what. But behold:

Six books started but not finished. And that does not include books I might have read half a dozen pages and decided not to read. What gives?

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The Basel Killings by Hansjörg Schneider, Mike Mitchell (Translator)

It is the end of October, the city of Basel is grey and wet. It could be December. It is just after midnight when Police Inspector Peter Hunkeler, on his way home and slightly worse for wear, spots old man Hardy sitting on a bench under a street light. He wants to smoke a cigarette with him, but the usually very loquacious Hardy is silent―his throat a gaping wound. Turns out he was first strangled, then his left earlobe slit, his diamond stud stolen. The media and the police come quickly to the same conclusion: Hardy’s murder was the work of a gang of Albanian drug smugglers. But for Hunkeler that seems too obvious. Hardy’s murder has much in common with the case of Barbara Amsler, a prostitute also found killed, with an ear slit and pearl stud missing. He follows his own intuition and the trail leads him deep into an edgy world of bars, bordellos and strip clubs, but also into the corrupt core of some of Basel’s political and industrial elite. More ominously, he will soon discover the consequences of certain events in recent Swiss history that those in power would prefer to keep far from the public eye.

I am not sure why The Basil Killings didn’t grab me. It could be that I am in a bit of a funk reading wise. Or it could be that the character didn’t resonate with me. I haven’t had much luck with Scandinavian books in translation lately.

It is sort of Swiss crime noir, I guess. Quirky, grumpy, often troublemaking, but also often very insightful police detective seeks to solve seemingly unsolvable crime while under pressure from authorities and his girlfriend (not to mention his doctor).

The best part of the book was the novel setting and culture; seeing a different part of the world through someone else’s eyes. But I can’t say that I was wowed by the writing or the storyline. The element of the gypsies was interesting but the book didn’t pack much of an emotional punch. Perhaps if you were a native that emotional element would be built in, but I didn’t feel it.

If you are looking for a different sort of crime story, this might be for you. I enjoyed it but wasn’t pulled into it like I have been by other novels in this genre.

We Know You Remember by Tove Alsterdal

Having requested the second book in this series (You Will Never Be Found) from NetGalley, more about that later, I decided to read the first book, We Know You Remember, and was able to borrow it from library using Libby.

Publisher Summary

It’s been more than twenty years since Olof Hagström left home. Returning to his family’s house, he knows instantly that something is amiss. The front door key, hidden under a familiar stone, is still there. Inside, there’s a panicked dog, a terrible stench, water pooling on the floor: the father Olaf has not seen or spoken to in decades is dead in the bathroom shower.

For police detective Eira Sjödin, the investigation of this suspicious death resurrects long-forgotten nightmares. She was only nine when Olof Hagström, then fourteen, was found guilty of raping and murdering a local girl. The case left a mark on the town’s collective memory—a wound that never quite healed—and tinged Eira’s childhood with fear. Too young to be sentenced, Olof was sent to a youth home and exiled from his family. He was never seen in the town again. Until now.

My Take

It was for the most part an enjoyable mystery exploring crime, relationships and history in a small community where privacy is hard to come by and everyone knowing everything about everybody else can be suffocating. As to why I didn’t give it 4 stars, I think what made it less enjoyable was how I didn’t really like any of the characters; there wasn’t anyone who you were rooting for to use a cliché. I also felt like it was a little jumpy in places but perhaps that was translation.

The central thread of the story was well done from the murder of the father to the unpacking of what happened to the son and how that intertwines with Eira Sjödin’s family. As it progressed the suspense increased and the drama really ratcheted up.

But Eira’s relationship with other investigators and with August was off putting to me. I guess it was supposed to relate to her wrestling with returning home, her career choices, her relationships, etc. But it did not click for me. At times the narrative just didn’t seem to flow. When the story returned to the underlying mystery, it moved again.

As always, your mileage may vary…

Book Review: The Last White Man by Mohsin Hamid

I have read a couple of other books by Mohsin Hamid and have found them interesting.  So when I came across his latest book I added it to the TBR list.


One morning, a man wakes up to find himself transformed. Overnight, Anders’s skin has turned dark, and the reflection in the mirror seems a stranger to him. At first he shares his secret only with Oona, an old friend turned new lover. Soon, reports of similar events begin to surface. Across the land, people are awakening in new incarnations, uncertain how their neighbors, friends, and family will greet them.Some see the transformations as the long-dreaded overturning of the established order that must be resisted to a bitter end. In many, like Anders’s father and Oona’s mother, a sense of profound loss and unease wars with profound love. As the bond between Anders and Oona deepens, change takes on a different shading: a chance at a kind of rebirth–an opportunity to see ourselves, face to face, anew.

My Take

The odd thing about The Last White Man is that it is better at exploring family dynamics and relationships than saying anything about race or skin color… but perhaps that is the point.

I’m not sure because nothing really is clear in the end. The basic idea, what if people just woke up dark skinned, is thought provoking but everything after is so vague and generic that I am not sure any insights really are brought to light.

What saved it for me was the way the book explored relationships and family during a time of social crisis. The pandemic is definitely a presence as are the riots. I found it interesting to see how the main characters navigated their way through turbulent times in both their relationship and with their parents. But what struck me was how this dynamic was not inherently tied to skin color but anything that causes this type of tension, or questions things that are deeply held, like politics, religion, etc.

The other thing that makes this story sit just outside the debates about race is that having dark skin does not neatly overlap with the concept of race in America. Again, maybe Hamid was just trying to explore all of these issues without focusing too narrowly on one specific issue. But it doesn’t really cohere in the end. Just feels a little too fuzzy.

How to Navigate Life by Belle Liang, Timothy Klein

With a daughter about to graduate high school and a career in something of an awkward transition, How to Navigate Life: The New Science of Finding Your Way in School, Career, and Beyond by Belle Liang and Timothy Klein seemed like a book I should read. I was lucky enough to get a digital review copy from NetGalley and moved it to the top of the TBR pile.


Today’s college-bound kids are stressed, anxious, and navigating demands in their lives unimaginable to a previous generation. They’re performance machines, hitting the benchmarks they’re “supposed” to in order to reach the next tier of a relentless ladder. Then, their mental and physical exhaustion carries over right into first jobs. What have traditionally been considered the best years of life have become the beaten-down years of life.

Belle Liang and Timothy Klein devote their careers both to counseling individual students and to cutting through the daily pressures to show a better way, a framework, and set of questions to find kids’ “true north”: what really turns them on in life, and how to harness the core qualities that reveal, allowing them to choose a course of study, a college, and a career.

Even the gentlest parents and teachers tend to play into pervasive societal pressure for students to PERFORM. And when we take the foot off the gas, we beg the kids to just figure out what their PASSION is. Neither is a recipe for mental or physical health, or, ironically, for performance or passion. How to Navigate Life shows that successful human beings instead tap into their PURPOSE―the why behind the what and how. Best of all, purpose is a completely translatable quality to every aspect of life, from first jobs to last jobs and everything in between.

My Take

I struggled a little when rating it on Goodreads. It is probably a 3.5 stars but you can’t do half stars so went with 3. The book contains lots of good advice and ways to think about navigating life (which is good given the title). High school and college students and their parents would benefit from reading it and working through the thought processes outlined in the book.

The main weakness, for me anyway, is that it sits awkwardly between a book for students and a book for parents. Some sections are clearly aimed at parents, mentors, etc. and the voice and tone align with this perspective. Others seemed aimed at students or young people and the voice seems just a little off. Perhaps I am just nitpicking, but a book with two seeming audiences and two authors didn’t always speak with one voice.

I also think the focus on inequality is a bit overdone.

Lastly, it wasn’t always a great read as a straightforward book. Some of the early sections almost feel like a workbook. I could see sitting down with young people and working through the skills and value sections but as an older adult it was a bit of a slog reading through that. Or it could be I should have just stopped and worked through the issues for myself and then with my daughter. Regardless, those sections offer very practical career and college planning type advice about how to understand your skills and values.

I guess what I am saying is that intellectually I can see that there is good advice here but I didn’t always love reading it. It just felt a little too self-helpy if that makes sense.

In short, if you need an earnest but insightful guidance counselor in book form, read this book.