Misterioso by Arne Dahl

Misterioso by Arne Dahl_front and back cover

Published by Vintage Books. Click to enlarge.

I have not read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by the late Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson or the other two novels from his hugely famous Millennium series trilogy, although I have seen the Swedish film adaptation of all three books, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Misterioso by Arne Dahl is also a Swedish crime thriller, originally published in 1999. The English version I read had been translated from the Swedish by Tiina Nunnally and published in 2011.

Set in the 1990s, the criminal in the story is a serial killer who targets high-profile businessmen in Stockholm. He breaks into their homes at night, waits patiently for them to get home and shoots two bullets into their heads. Detective Paul Hjelm is enlisted into an investigative team called the A-Unit, just as he was about to be fired or demoted due to a disciplinary committee’s unhappiness at how he handled a hostage situation involving an immigrant, despite the obvious courage and compassion Hjelm had displayed in that incident. The A-Unit had been specially and swiftly set up to investigate the murders, a small but elite team made up of experienced and highly skilled officers selected from all over Sweden.

The book starts off promisingly with what seems to be a bank robbery gone wrong, and then an interesting and likeable protagonist is created in Paul Hjelm, a dependable professional with a cool head. But I started getting a little bored and fidgety after about 80 pages of the 340-page book, reading about Hjelm and the other detectives pursuing false leads, even though there are well crafted and finely paced red herrings. I did enjoy the juicy bits for example when the murder victims are revealed to be less than honourable men, although it would had been nicer if the part about some of them being secret society members came with some entertainingly scandalous revelations. However the part about one of the detectives falling into the hands of the Russian mafia was spine-tingling.

Overall, I didn’t quite enjoy this book. I don’t know, maybe this type of fiction just isn’t my thing, but then I do remember I have read a few other crime mysteries and enjoyed them. I can’t really put a finger on why this book just didn’t click for me. Maybe it’s because I can’t quite root for the hero, or any other character in the book. I do like Paul Hjelm and I think just the right amount of detail is revealed about his personal family, his wife and kids. After all this is a thriller, not a drama about his family. But one problem for me here is that Hjelm is written as having serious friction is his relationship with his wife. Quite a lot of verses are invested in this, yet it doesn’t reveal satisfactorily the cause, and the development of this side story is frustrating. So it just seemed meaningless. If it was supposed to illustrate something about Hjelm’s character, well it was lost on me.

And that stupid zit on his cheek. *Spoiler Alert – for this paragraph* Gosh that was a major peeve for me. Its mention was scattered throughout the book and kept brief, but in such dark mysterious tones that at one point I thought it was going to take on supernatural proportions or something. I was all prepared, and feeling a bit scared for him, for the thing to turn into something really bad. To mean something; to culminate into something worthwhile of the steady suspense built up for it. But in the end it turned out to be just a blemish mark, that’s all. Ugh.

What did I enjoy? The descriptions of the the weather and the scenery in Sweden are concise and starkly beautiful, and the way the words are weaved to describe the music favoured by the killer is nothing short of breathtaking. A gorgeous symphony in itself. Social issues Sweden faces (or faced? Story was set in the 90s.) are also touched in an interesting and informative way. There are a lot of interesting supporting characters. The ones I like best are Hjelm’s boss Jan-Olov Hultin, whose dialogue in my mind was inhabited by Anthony Hopkins (which makes the character more entertaining), and fellow A-Unit team member Kerstin Holm, who matches Hjelm in temperament and is even better than him in some ways as a detective.

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Go Kindergarten by The Lonely Island, feat. Robyn

(Please be advised that the song in the video below contains explicit lyrics.)

I love this silly fun new Robyn video. And thanks to Towleroad, I now know The Lonely Island too. ‘Comedy hip hop’. Hilarious. I’ve watched more of their videos and they are really funny. Go Kindergarten is from their latest album, The Wack Album.

Robyn’s deadpan delivery of her lines are cute. She’s always a lot of fun to watch. In the shots where she’s standing in front of the brainwashing spiral thing, she makes me think ‘spawn of Elton John‘ haha. A long-lost daughter. She just reminds me of him all of a sudden for some reason.

And as a nice bonus this video even features Paul Rudd, always a welcome sight.

It’s a nice catchy song in itself even if it comes with generic lyrics, but the satire of ridiculous lyrics in some songs and the influence some performers have over their fans, is what makes it so entertaining. In the video, this satire is illustrated by club goers being hypnotized into doing some crazy and dumb dance moves.

“Yeah, you know, some of it might seem strange /
But don’t think, just obey /
Let the music play, ’cause we put it in the song /
So do everything that we say”

Rapgenius has the full lyrics, and so does this video below by YouTube user 933crossbow. (Again, be warned that song contains explicit lyrics just in case you’re bothered by that.)

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Image from angel-the-anglophile.tumblr.com. Click to go there.

Justin Fashanu documentary

A BBC documentary about Justin Fashanu I found on YouTube recently.

I mentioned him briefly in this post more than a year ago, and am pleased to come across this, thanks to user danny13234 who uploaded it back in February. Here the hour-long documentary is divided into four parts.

Part Two link here.

Part Three here.

And Part Four here.

What adds interest to this is that it’s presented/narrated by his niece Amal Fashanu, a gorgeous 23-year-old who works in fashion and TV. Amal was only 10 when her Uncle Justin took his own life on 1st May 1998. Justin came out in 1990 at the age of 29.

So it’s a very personal story. Among the people interviewed are her parents. I have to admit I felt uncomfortable watching some parts, like when she sat down with her dad and asked that maybe he was not supportive enough of his brother after he came out. I think that sort of thing should be private, not included here.

But I guess her presenting this is what gives this heart. The mission of the documentary is to investigate why there have not been other gay footballers in Britain coming out publicly about it, but it’s also about her coming to terms about what her uncle went through after he came out.

Other people who made appearances and contributed their thoughts include the following famous people who are also openly gay: Little Britain comedian Matt Lucas, retired rugby player Gareth Thomas and footballer Anton Hysén.

Related stuff: The Justin Campaign site and video.

Alexander Skarsgård

A good-looking Swedish actor with a fit bod, tall and lean. From what I come across on the net, Alexander Skarsgård is very popular and a lot of people find him very sexy.

Photo by David Shankbone, via Wikipedia

I tend to like my guys (hmm here that would refer to wanking material haha)  chunkier, not the lean and lanky pretty male model type. And when it comes to white guys; seldom blond, come to think of it. Most of the time I like ’em dark and hairy, yum!

But. Guys who look somewhat like Alexander or have some similarities, with the same vibes somewhat (to me), who I find more attractive, one of them would be Aaron Eckhart.

Aaron Eckhart. Photo by oandu, via Flickr.

Also: Jim Carrey (yep) and Cary Elwes, when they were younger. Actually I find Jim and Cary much more attractive now, no surprise since my tastes lean more to ‘older’ men. So maybe I’ll finally get it what Alexander’s appeal is … 10 or 20 years from now, haha… not to mention because his dad Stellan sure is a sexy fox!

Justin Fashanu and Anton Hysén

Justin Fashanu 1993. Photo Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk

I don’t follow any sports. Never been the sporty type. Certainly not when I was in school, and not now. I suppose some people would think that’s typical of gay men. I suppose they would say that if they want to be hateful. But I’ve met some gay men who are into sports, at least as followers if not participating actively. Getting together with friends for a weekend football game, example.

To me that would make more sense. To call yourself a sports fan because you actually participate in the sport, even if only every other week. I don’t understand people who say they ‘follow’ sports, that they have a passion for that particular sport, even going so far as to call themselves a ‘die-hard’ fan. Are you really a sports fan if you’re just a spectator, even if you passionately root for a particular athlete or team? In Singapore for example, there are many who follow football, especially the English Premier League. And to a lesser extent I believe, the Singapore football league known as the S.League. But all these people, how many actually get together with friends or colleagues to play? The same goes for ‘followers’ of other sports like tennis, basketball, badminton, table tennis, cycling, etc…

Anyway, I’m touching the subject of sports because a Finn friend of mine recently related something to me which I found incredible and sad. That there are approximately 500,000 professional football players in the world, but out of those, how many are openly gay?

One. Yes, just one. Out of about half a million. The prejudice and discrimination in the sporting world is ruthless.

As if that is not terrible enough, how’s this to add to the blow… there used to be another guy openly gay as well but he ended up committing suicide in 1998, at the age of 37. His name is Justin Fashanu. I’ve only read a short article about him, written by his friend, and already I find his story heartbreaking. I’d like to find out more about Justin, an Englishman. I think this is a good place to start, The Justin Campaign.

Justin Fashanu. Photo Source: http://www.dagbladet.no

As I found out from my friend, the one footballer openly gay today is Anton Hysén from Sweden, who is only 20 years old. I read from that too-brief Wikipedia page of his that his two elder brothers Tobias and Alexander are football players too. And in the excellent article about him in the sports blog of Tim Franks of the BBC, I also learned that his father is a former player, and till now is still very much involved in football as a coach and commentator. So Anton comes from a very sporty family, and not just any sport but one that is notorious with its prejudice against homosexuality. He’s incredibly courageous.

And, what a pleasant surprise that he’s furry, as shown in the following photo, on the cover of a gay magazine, no less. Truly a cool guy, showing other young gay guys that it’s way better-looking to let the fur be if you have it, instead of being all girly by getting your torso waxed. I first saw the photo on a blog called The State of the Nation U.K., by Stephen Chapman, which I happily discovered while doing a bit of surfing for info regarding Anton. I cannot wait to go back and read that blog. Looks very interesting.

*Photo Source: ‘attitude active‘ magazine