The Girl Who Died Twice

          Never one to hide her feelings, Lisbeth Salander is angry and back for vengeance in the sixth novel of the series that started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. 

          Abused by both her mobster father as well as the psychiatrist treating her, Lisbeth is an avenging angel of sorts—determined to punish evil and the powerful people who prey on others. Her doppelganger is her own twin sister Camilla.

© 2019 Fotograf Anna-Lena Ahlström

          “The sisters chose different sides,” says author David Lagercrantz, discussing the plot of The Girl Who Lived Twice in a phone call from Stockholm, Sweden where he lives. “Camilla chose the strength—her father and Lisbeth chose taking care of the weak—protecting her mother from her father’s violence. The sisters are bitter enemies, and this is their final battle.”

          Though social skills aren’t one of Salander’s strong suits—she likely falls on the autism spectrum, she does have the ability to hack through the fire walls of almost any computer system.  Add to that her martial arts abilities and photographic memory and she makes a worthy adversary of her equally brilliant but pathological sister.

          Lagercrantz, who is embarking on a two month worldwide tour, took over writing the Salander series after the death of Steig Larsson, author of the original three novels.

          “I was scared to death to death when they asked me to do this,” says Lagercrantz, noting he was smuggled into a side door of the publishing house to avoid speculation he was being selected to write the best selling thrillers. “It was a suicidal mission in many ways to agree to do it because people loved his books so much. But it’s been fantastic.”

          Like Larsson, Lagercrantz’s Salander novels are complex, leading Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, the crusading journalist who befriended her, into a dark world of scheming crooks, billionaires and corrupt politicians. The latter includes the Minister of Defense, the only survivor of a Mount Everest climbing expedition who may be involved in the murder of a homeless Nepalese Sherpa.

          Lagercrantz says The Girl Who Lived Twice will be his final book in the series.

          “They’d like me to write ten or more, but I want to move on to my own fiction,” he says. “It was a bittersweet decision.”

          In an intriguing aside, Lagercrantz lives in the same neighborhood as the fictional Blomkvist and Salander.

          “When I’m walking, I sometime wonder if I’ll run into them,” he says.

          What would he say if he did?

          “That would be interesting, wouldn’t it?” he says.

The Pretty One

          Born with cerebral palsy, for much of her life Keah Brown longed for normalcy, hating the disability which she believed defined her in the eyes of others as well as herself.

          “It’s very painful when people treat me differently,” says Brown, author of the recently released The Pretty One:  On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me. “Black people with disabilities are all but invisible. We simply don’t exist.”

          Brown, whose cerebral palsy impacts the right side of her body, also suffers from seasonal depression, chronic migraines and anxiety. But despite all this, she also learned not to stand down.

          “I never gave anybody the chance to say anything to me, I showed I wouldn’t back down,” she says, “I put forth a front that if you say anything to me, I’m going to say it back.”

          She also, encouraged by her mother, started writing her thoughts and emotions into poems and short stories at a young age.

          “My mom was really adamant that I finish school and also making sure I had every opportunity to just be a kid,” she says.

          All this helped Brown discover her place in the world and an acceptance of herself and a way of dealing with others.  It’s a journey of growth and shedding feelings of powerlessness.  For most of her life she hated mirrors but now that she embraces who she is, she no longer avoids them. Such empowerment led her to create the hashtag #DisabledAndCute. She also is a contributor to such magazines as Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and Teen Vogue.

          Brown describes her book as a collection of essays about the idea that we’re on a journey to joy.

“With this book, people can see my journey and I really hope people can take things from I and to look at their own lives,” says Brown. “I wanted to be sure to tell the whole story, to create a kinship with others. By reading books like these outside of our experiences, we could learn so much about other people and to open us up.”

Cerebral palsy sometimes impacts Brown’s ability to write on certain days.

“Sometimes I don’t have the energy, I have pain, so when I have those days, I take breaks or I’ll write on my phone using an app,” she says.  “But I try to get something done every day.”  

Brown is already focusing on her next book. She’d like to write fiction which Brown describes as her first love.

In the meantime, she encourages all of us to listen to people, whether they’re disabled or not. And always continue on despite the odds.

“We all have bad days—all of us,” she says. “I try to go forward though, no matter what.”

Ifyougo:

What:

When: September 25 at 6:30 p.m.

Where: American Writers Museum,180 N. Michigan Avenue, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL

Cost: Free for members; $12 for non-members.

FYI: ASL Interpretation will be provided at this event; let the museum know how they can make event more comfortable by contacting them or RSVP at general@americanwritersmuseum.org or (312) 374-8790.

What Rose Forgot: Nevada Barr’s Latest Mystery

Overhearing one of the administrators says that she’s “not making it through the week,” Rose Dennis, who has been committed as an Alzheimer’s patient, knows she has to escape.


Waking up in a hospital, her brain foggy, Rose Dennis finds herself in a nightmare situation. She’s been committed to an Alzheimer’s Unit in a nursing home and has no memory of how she how she ended up there. But one thing Rose does know. Overhearing one of the administrators says that she’s “not making it through the week,” she realizes her only chance of staying alive is to escape from the nursing home.

Best selling author Nevada Barr, known for her award winning series about National Park Ranger Anna Pigeon, has created What Rose Forgot, a fascinating stand alone thriller in which we watch Rose try to outwit whoever is trying to kill her.

She starts by not taking her medications and by outwitting the nursing home aides, is able to escape. But that’s just the beginning. She needs to convince people she isn’t demented. But it’s her relatives who had the legal papers drawn up and authorities side with the nursing home. At times, even Rose isn’t sure she’s completely sane–that is until a person intent on killing her arrives.

Fortunately her sister Marion, a reclusive computer hacker as well as Rose’s thirteen-year old granddaughter Mel, and Mel’s friend Royal are on her side. Gathering her strength and her wits, Rose begins to fight back, intent on finding out who is after her. She’s going to have to be quick though and find out who wants her dead before they succeed.

A Better Man

As flood waters threaten to engulf the province where Chief Inspector Armand Gamache agrees to help grief-stricken father looking for his missing
daughter.

          Louise Penny’s latest mystery, A Better Man, finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who previously had been demoted, back on the job at the Sûreté du Québec. But his first day isn’t going well at all.  As flood waters threaten to engulf the province where he lives and works and bridges are being shut down, he is approached by a grief-stricken father looking for his missing daughter. It is not a case Gamache should take on during this emergency, but he feels a sense of obligation and he agrees.  

          It’s a tough juggling act, made more so because of the fury of social media criticizing the decisions he’s made both past and present and the ever increasing dangers as the water rises. rise When thinks about calling off the search for the missing girl to focus on the crisis on hand, he finds he can’t. After all, he has a daughter too.

          This is the 15th book in the Gamache series and Penny, who lives in a small village outside of Montreal, says she created Gamache as her main character because she wanted to write about someone she could be married to.

          It’s a decision that made even more sense after the death of her husband several years ago. It was writing that helped her ease back into the world, returning to Gamache and the fictional Canadian village of Three Pines. Ironically, it was her husband, a pediatric hematologist, who helped her enter that world. A former journalist and then anchor for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, she struggled with an addiction to alcohol before joining AA and never having a drink again. Shortly after that she met her husband and he encouraged her to quit her job and try writing, saying he would support her while she did so.

          At first Penny struggled writing what she calls “the great historical novel.”

          “Then I looked at my bedside table, which was very well represented with crime novels,” she recalls. “Seeing those I had one of those moments where I thought, oh, maybe that’s what I should be writing.”       

It was the right choice. Penny’s Gamache novels are often #1 on the New York Times Best-Seller list and she’s earned numerous accolades including being a seven time winner of the Agatha. In 2017 received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture.

Author Catherine O’Connell in Chicago to Discuss Her Latest Books

          Northbrook native, mystery writer Catherine O’Connell who divides her time between Chicago and Aspen will be home this week and back to her old haunts including a book signing for her newest mystery, First Tracks, at Pippin’s Tavern when she managed the bar there in the 1980s.

          First Tracks, described by Booklist as “a compelling, Scandinavian noir–style thriller” that should appeal to readers of both Ruth Ware and Arnaldur Indridason, introduces a new character, Aspen ski patroller Greta Westerlind.

Caught in an avalanche, Westerlind wakes in the hospital with no memory of what happened. She’s even more surprised to discover that her close friend, Warren McGovern was with her when the avalanche swept them up. But McGovern didn’t make it. Not only doesn’t she know what happened, but Westerlind, who knows mountain safety, can’t understand why either of them were even in such a dangerous area.

          While trying to regain her memory of events, Westerlind begins to realize she’s in danger as more and more frightening incidents start happening to her. With her life in danger, Westerlind knows if she is to live, she needs to figure out who wants her dead.

          “It’s the first in the series about Greta,” says O’Connell, who when she isn’t writing mysteries sits on the board of Aspen Words, a literary center whose aim is to support writers and reach out to readers. It’s also the literary arm of the prestigious the Aspen Institute.

          O’Connell, who is a skier, says that when her new published asked if she could come up with a series not being done yet, she immediately suggested a ski patrol woman who was an amateur sleuth.

          “I chose ski patroller because they have more autonomy than instructors plus they have dynamite and morphine type drugs for injured skiers which gives me a couple of ideas for other books,” she says. “Aspen is the perfect setting for all kinds of stories with billionaires and locals, celebrities and developers, mountain climbers and ski racers, visiting politicians and world class musicians. All set in one of the most beautiful settings on the planet. So, this series is a gift to me that I’ll be able to write plots set in this world so familiar to me.”

          First Tracks isn’t the only book O’Connell will be talking about.

          Her mystery, The Last Night Out, begins with a bachelorette party that goes very wrong. Not only does Maggie Trueheart, who is the bride to be, wake up in bed with a really bad hangover, there’s a strange man in her bed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, she gets more bad news when she learns that her best friend was murdered. As her wedding day draws closer, so does the police investigation. Of the five friends left from the party, at least one of them is lying and many have secrets to hide.

          Besides her book signings, O’Connell also be discussing her books on After Hours with Rick Kogan on Sunday, September 15 from 9 to 11 a.m. on WGN Radio.

          “It’s always great to be back in the city,” says O’Connell, who is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime and is already at work on her next mystery.

For more about Catherine O’Connell

Ifyougo:

What: Catherine O’Connell has three Chicago area book events.

When & Where:

Sunday, September 15 at 2 p.m.

The Book Stall, 811 Elm St., Winnetka, IL

Page to Published: Piercing the Literary Firewall. Talk and signing of First Tracks 

FYI: 847-446-8880; thebookstall.com

Tuesday, September 12, 4:30 to 6:00

Pippin’s Tavern, 806 N. Rush St., Chicago, IL

Signing of The Last Night Out 

FYI: 312-787-5435; pippinstavern.com/

Friday, Sept 20, 7 p.m.

Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 Madison St. Forest Park, IL

Discussion and signing of The Last Night Out

FYI: 708-771-7243; centuriesandsleuths.com/

A Better Man: A Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Mystery

Louise Penny’s latest mystery, A Better Man, finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who previously had been demoted, back on the job at the Sûreté du Québec.

          Louise Penny’s latest mystery, A Better Man, finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, who previously had been demoted, back on the job at the Sûreté du Québec. But his first day isn’t going well at all.  As flood waters threaten to engulf the province where he lives and works and bridges are being shut down, he is approached by a grief-stricken father looking for his missing daughter. It is not a case Gamache should take on during this emergency, but he feels a sense of obligation and he agrees.  

          It’s a tough juggling act, made more so because of the fury of social media criticizing the decisions he’s made both past and present and the ever increasing dangers as the water rises. rise When thinks about calling off the search for the missing girl to focus on the crisis on hand, he finds he can’t. After all, he has a daughter too.

          This is the 15th book in the Gamache series and Penny, who lives in a small village outside of Montreal, says she created Gamache as her main character because she wanted to write about someone she could be married to.

          It’s a decision that made even more sense after the death of her husband several years ago. It was writing that helped her ease back into the world, returning to Gamache and the fictional Canadian village of Three Pines. Ironically, it was her husband, a pediatric hematologist, who helped her enter that world. A former journalist and then anchor for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, she struggled with an addiction to alcohol before joining AA and never having a drink again. Shortly after that she met her husband and he encouraged her to quit her job and try writing, saying he would support her while she did so.

          At first Penny struggled writing what she calls “the great historical novel.”

          “Then I looked at my bedside table, which was very well represented with crime novels,” she recalls. “Seeing those I had one of those moments where I thought, oh, maybe that’s what I should be writing.”       

It was the right choice. Penny’s Gamache novels are often #1 on the New York Times Best-Seller list and she’s earned numerous accolades including being a seven time winner of the Agatha. In 2017 received the Order of Canada for her contributions to Canadian culture.

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