The Devil’s Wedding Ring
by Vidar Sundstøl
Release date: September 26th, 2017
I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noir and The Devil’s Wedding Ring by Vidar Sundstøl is a perfect example. Dark, edgy and brilliantly plotted, this novel captures your attention and holds it through to its very satisfying conclusion.
When Knut Abrahamson, a Police Officer is found a victim of apparent suicide, his former partner Max Fjellanger returns from the US to pay his respects but finds that all is not what it seems. Max, now a private investigator in Florida, doesn’t believe Knut would choose to end his life especially when the pieces surrounding his death don’t seem to fit. Thirty years ago the last case Knut and Max investigated, the mysterious disappearance of Peter Schram, a case that would drive Max from the force and still seems to still weigh heavily on Max’s soul. In 1985, Schram a folklore researcher writing about Pagan rituals and the Stave Church in Eidsborg disappears without a trace on Midsummer Eve, an important date in Pagan culture. The Stave Church is a tourist stop, although a Christian Church today was notorious for its Pagan history and rumours of a ghostly Monk who walks the grounds. The case of Schram’s disappearance remained unsolved but when Knut’s death looks like it is possibly related to the disappearance of a young grad student, Cecilie Weiborg as well as Schram, a shocking mystery begins to unravel. With the help of a quirky young librarian and mystery buff, Tirill Vesterli, Max sets out to solve the mystery but not before putting his and Tirill’s life in danger.
This story has it all, mystery, murder, Norse myths and the mysterious ghostly Monk. Vidar Sundstøl ( Translated by Tiina Nunnally) has written a story that is fast paced, well written and contains multi faceted characters. It has that great atmosphere that is indicative of Nordic Noir. I would definitely recommend this read to anyone looking for an exciting Nordic Noir thriller that perfectly blends murder and mythology.
I recently had an opportunity to catch up with a familiar face on this blog, Author MaryAnn Kempher! MaryAnn is extremely busy but was kind enough to take a few moments to answer some questions for us. Welcome Back MaryAnn!
I understand you’ve got a new book out…Play Dead: A Detective Jack Harney Murder Mystery (Under the Moonlight, Book Four) tell us a bit about it.
Jack Harney is a former police detective turned Private Detective. Jack was introduced in my first book, Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder, but became the main character in my second book—Forever Doomed—a murder mystery set aboard a cruise ship where two people have been murdered. In my third book, Sweet Mystery, he and an old Army buddy open up their own agency in Reno NV and investigate the murder of Jack’s ex-girlfriend. In Play Dead, business is slow and money is tight. Jack reluctantly agrees to find the missing dog of a very wealthy woman—and to investigate, unofficially, the murder of an elderly man, whose body was found at a local park and who also was friends with the elderly man who lives above the detective agency. Nene and Gaga Albright, two sisters who first appeared in book two, Forever Doomed, are back to provide comic relief. This book is another murder mystery and like the others, has an ending you won’t see coming.
Every great writer has critics. What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received about your writing? What was the best compliment? What did you learn from each?
I always feel a bit stabbed in the heart when they call my writing boring. Thankfully, that is rare. The best compliment I can ever get is when they say they did not see the ending coming and that they were totally taken by surprise. Also, one reader compared me to Agatha Christie. Now, that’s not me, I didn’t say this—she did—and I’ll take that compliment and relish it forever. I greatly admire Agatha Christie.
Which character do you most enjoy writing about?
I’m happiest when I’m writing from Jack’s perspective. When I’m writing the mystery, the twists and turns, that is a lot of fun for me. On the other hand, Nene and Gaga Albright are funny ladies, and fun to write too.
Your characters are very well developed; where do you start when creating your characters? Are they based on people you know or even yourself?
Thank you. I appreciate that compliment. Nene and Gaga Albright are loosely based on my mother and aunt; my mother’s nickname was Nene and my aunt’s nickname was Gaga—pronounced Guga. My personality comes through most in the character of Katherine. She’s the “star” of my first book, Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder. The characters of Jack and Curt are my idea of perfect men; handsome, strong, sexy, flirtatious—but always gentlemen, never vulgar.
What if you were to meet Jack and Curt in the “real world”, what would they think? Would they be friends with you, their creator or fear you (insert evil laugh)?
Let’s assume that they don’t know I’m their creator. Curt would be reserved, but courteous. Jack would flirt and charm me. I’d giggle, blush, and then we’d make mad passionate love. I don’t look at Jack as one of my children, trust me. 😉 He’s way too hot for that.
When writing a story, do you stop to consider how readers will react to certain plot twists and changes to characters?
Yes. Twice, a main character has died in my books—but the reader never knew—because I reconsidered and that character got to live.
You have a military background, how do you feel that lends to your writing and/or writing process?
I’d like to think that my background has made me very detail oriented. This is a good thing when writing mystery; sometimes it’s the little things that turn out to be the most important.
As far as your process, now that you have four books under your belt what changes (if any) have you made to the way you work? Any advice you could offer other writers just starting out?
I’m more organized and have more self-discipline. Some writers are called Plotters, they create a very detailed outline—they plot the book—from start to finish and all that’s left to do is actually write it. Other writers are called, Pantsers. They just sit down at the computer start writing. I am a little of both. I have a hard time writing a detailed outline. When I write, things just come to me. On the other hand, I brainstorm a lot before I start, and take a lot notes once I have started. It’s also important to set a daily word count goal. If you’re just starting, start low. For instance, say to yourself—today I’ll write 500 words. Gradually increase that number. I have a friend who can write 10,000 words a day. I’m lucky if I can do that in five days. The important thing to remember is that it takes dedication, determination, and self-discipline. It’s up to you to get it done, the book won’t write itself.
Are there any authors you would recommend to fans of your books, possibly that you love yourself?
I’m a big fan of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels. I’ve read them all, twice.
Are you working on your next book?
Yes. I’ve started brainstorming book five, another Jack Harney/Curt Noble murder mystery.
Thank you Belinda!
Under the Moonlight series #4
Play dead. It might just save your life.
When Jack Harney and Curt Noble opened their detective agency, they expected to investigate the occasional cheating husband or minor theft. Instead, they’ve somehow found themselves, once again, investigating not one, but two grisly murders.
Nene and Gaga Albright; one sweet, one sour, both suspicious of the new tenants above. Strange things are happening in the apartment across the hall. Are the new tenants eccentric, or just plain crazy?
Can Jack and Curt find the killer before he kills again? Will Nene find out what’s going on behind door number two, or die trying?
Purchase Link: Link to Amazon Page
MaryAnn Kempher writes mystery novels with a dash of humor.
She is the author of three other books in the Under the Moonlight series: Mocha, Moonlight, and Murder; a romantic mystery set in Reno NV. Forever Doomed, a mystery set aboard a cruise ship, and Sweet Mystery—another “I did not see that ending coming.” mystery. All three will make you giggle, and keep you guessing until the very end.
Her influences include Janet Evanovich and Agatha Christie.
If you’d like to connect with MaryAnn Kempher, that will be easy:
Tell us a little about yourself. When did your interest in writing begin?
I live with my husband, who is an actor and musician, and two cats (named after Roman goddesses), in London (UK). I love to listen to music and read books. I am very passionate about history, and archaeology, and am also a big fan of motor racing.
I have had a varied life in regards to work. When I was at school I wanted to be either an actress or an archaeologist, two very different career paths. Things weren’t easy and after much investigation and thought, I eventually settled upon actress. Partway through training, I decided I didn’t really want to be an actress after all, as I much preferred the technical side of theatre, so I re-trained, whilst working at the Bristol hippodrome Theatre. I then became a Freelance Production Assistant and later a Production Coordinator, I worked at my local TV station as studio crew, toured with cover bands and worked as a freelancer on feature films, documentaries and a variety of TV programmes.
Over the years I enjoyed re-discovering my love of ancient History and Archaeology. Recently I completed a six-month course in Archeological Techniques, and a six-month course in Ancient Egyptian History with Exeter University. I hope to undertake another course with them next year, but not sure which one yet!
Writing is something that has always been with me. I was always writing short stories at school, and in my teens I also wrote a lot of poetry. Over the years I tried unsuccessfully to write numerous novels, but could never find my niche. Despite that, I never gave up, and kept trying. It is something I love doing and am glad that I have finally succeeded in releasing my first novella. Last year I was very lucky to have one of my poems ‘Maisie’ read at the Bath Literary Festival as part of the ‘100 poems by 100 Women’ event.
Tell us about your book “Integrate”. What was the inspiration behind it?
“Integrate” actually began life as a screenplay. I had always wanted to write one and in the 1990’s I began work on something that was slightly dark, that centered on a murder, with a few twists and turns. It was laced with paranormal elements, namely tarot and premonitions/visions. I enjoyed working on it, but it never got made into a film, and was resigned to a box in the attic, which is where I re-discovered it a few years ago along with a lot of other half finished manuscripts. I re-read it and enjoyed the story so much that I decided to turn it into a novella. I kept most of the original elements of the script but decided to expand the story in a few areas to give the characters, etc. a bit more depth. I love the connections between the characters and the simplicity of the storyline, even though it does twist and turn a lot!
What do you feel is the most important thing for you when writing?
The most important thing for me is to be able to have large chunks of time to work, time where I don’t get interrupted; I hate sitting down and starting work only to have to stop again an hour later. I am lucky as I only work part-time, so I am able to have a few full days a week to work solely on my writing. As most of my future work is set against historic backgrounds and in archaeological fields, research is also very important to me, so I do have to set aside time for that as well. I am quite an organised person, all of my manuscripts are filed neatly on my computer and backed-up regularly. I also have a notebook for each book that I write, where I note details on my characters, the place where the book is set, a plot synopsis, and research information. I also like to try and set deadlines, I like to have something to aim for!
Do you outline/plot or are you a “pantser”? Has your process changed from when you first started?
I would describe myself as an ‘in-betweener’.
I do like to fly by the seat of my pants whilst writing, I like letting the characters decide where we are heading and what is happening in their lives. In some respects I like to lose myself in the manuscript and let what is in my head flow onto the page as much as possible. But I do also like to plan a little too, with my forthcoming books, there are a lot of archaeological and historical elements involved, which require a lot of planning and research.
I also like to have a brief plot outline before I start, as well as description of my characters etc. I hate having to stop mid-flow to have to go back to sort out specific or important details later when a little planning could have helped.
Do you ever have times when your writing just isn’t flowing for you? If you do, how do you work through it?
So far I have been lucky and haven’t had too many periods of this, but if I do find that I am having a day where I get stuck or just can’t get past a particular point, then I stop writing and do some more research, or sit and read a history book, or watch a historical documentary. It may sound a little boring, but for me it is fun and usually helps to get my brain working again.
If I do need to get out and away from the desk completely, then I will either go for a walk and window shop, or go and visit either The British Museum (which I adore and spend a lot of time in), the Petrie Museum, or the Museum of London. I am very lucky to have such great institutions so close.
What authors and/or books have most influenced your life?
I am a huge reader. I collect books and I think at last count had about a thousand! As a child I loved reading series like ‘The Famous Five’ by Enid Blyton, as well as the C.S Lewis collection, and The Wizard of Oz. As an adult I absolutely love Agatha Christie, I am only a few books away from having the whole collection. I also like reading books by Nora Roberts, Belinda Jones and Elizabeth Peters (The Amelia Peabody series). I also love reading Christmas themed books in November and December, it’s a great build up to the season.
In some way I think every book I read influences my life in some way, I just can’t live without reading. I have no idea what I would do if they ever banned books…
Is there one character in your book who holds a special place in your heart and who you would want to spend time with if they were real?
That is a really tough question. In one way I would love to step into both Corinne and Jack’s lives to help them and tell them that life doesn’t have to be so hard, and to tell that even when things go bad, there is always a way out and that things do get better.
However for this purpose, I would probably have to chose Helena. I think her character is wise – she is very like me, slightly quirky, a go getter and someone who likes to have a bit of fun. She would be a great person to invite to an evening out with friends. I could see it being a lot of fun!
What is the most memorable feedback you have received about your work?
I think the most memorable feedback I had was during the reading process of ‘Integrate’. Someone highlighted a twist/red herring in the story, saying it was very clever and worked really well. I hadn’t even realized that I had written that part of the story that way. Other people have also mentioned it to me since, and I feel quite proud of myself for writing something so clever, without even realising it!
Can you tell us what is coming up for you ?
In regards to what’s coming up next, I am working on two full-length novels that I hope to release next year.
The first is called ‘Wind across the Nile’. It is set in Egypt and spans 5 generations of a family, who have all suffered with tragic loss. I don’t want to give too much away at this point, as it will spoil the story, but I can tell you it is a thriller/suspense and it throws you right into the heart of Egypt, its heritage and history.
The second book is called ‘Among the Olive Groves’. It is set on the Greek Island of Zakynthos, during World War Two. I love the Island and I wanted to highlight some of what happened to the Islanders during the war. Some of my research has been a little harrowing, but I am really enjoying writing the book.
I am also working on plots for books set in the following locations:
Italy, (around Pompeii and Herculaneum), with elements of Roman history.
The UK, (around Devon and Somerset) with elements of medieval history.
I am hoping to re-publish a story set in Petra, Jordan, which will be re-named ‘Secrets Beneath the Sands’.
A sequel to ‘Wind Across the Nile’ is also planned.
I would like to take the time to thank you for interviewing me for your excellent blog Belinda.
“A battered and broken body lies in the road. A discovery that leaves the local community gripped with fear. Suspicion as to who killed the woman is rife. Corinne’s peaceful life is shattered by the tragic death, forcing her to struggle daily with overwhelming grief and loss. A chance meeting with a stranger helps Corinne through the hurt and pain, but can she really trust Jack?”
Twin sisters Corinne and Helena have always been close, growing up in the same small town. Corinne lives alone in the house that used to belong to their parents and Helena lives with her husband and love of her life, Jimmy, and their two children.
Helena loves life, she enjoys spending time with her friends and relishes being a wife and mother. Corinne lives in isolation, unable to get over the death of their parents. She relies on the spiritual world, reading tarot cards, surrounding herself with crystals and candles. She also has to deal with unwanted premonitions that strike when she least expects them.
During a tarot reading Corinne predicts Helena’s death, and is distraught when she learns that Helena has been murdered. The grief and sudden loss of her twin sister overwhelms Corinne and she struggles to live day to day. At Helena’s funeral Corinne falls out with her brother in law and is left feeling alone and unloved.
At her lowest ebb Corinne becomes friends with Jack, a stranger in town, but the grief remains and whenever she is around Jack, she gets a vision; one that takes her back to the horrifying scene of Helena’s death. Unable to stop them, Corinne realises the visions may be her only chance of finally understanding what happened to her sister and why. But will it be the answer she is looking for?
To find out more about Chrissie visit her website www.chrissieparker.com
Twitter – @Chrissie_author
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chrissie for taking time out of her busy schedule to share with us. Please stop by her links to find out more about her amazing work.