Thursday, April 14, 2016

"The Snowman" Book Discussion

The library will sponsor a discussion of The Snowman by Jo Nesbø on Monday, April 25. This is the third and final program in a series of book discussions featuring Scandinavian mysteries. The discussion will begin at 7:00 PM and will be free and open to the public. Copies of the book are available to borrow at the library.

The Snowman is the seventh volume in Nesbø’s series featuring Oslo police detective Harry Hole, a brilliant, cynical, and driven investigator who struggles with alcohol. The Snowman has been termed the author’s “masterpiece” by The New Yorker and “the most terrifying and certainly the most addictive book in the whole series” by Slate. In this book, Hole chases Norway’s first serial killer, a murderer of young mothers who leaves a snowman at each scene.

One of Norway’s bestselling and most popular writers, Nesbø is also the author of a series of books for children featuring an eccentric professor named Doctor Proctor, and a series of thrillers featuring a criminal named Olav Johansen. He is also a (literal) rock star: lead vocalist and songwriter for the Norwegian rock band Di Derre. Several of his novels have been adapted for film or television, and he is the creator of a new television drama called Occupied.

“In the right hands,” writes Wendy Lesser in Slate, “the mystery novel becomes not only a thrilling cat-and-mouse game between a fiendishly clever murderer and a doggedly persistent detective, but also a commentary on the wider society that spawns, polices, and punishes murder. It is this wider view—the social view—at which the Scandinavians excel.” This dynamic is exemplified by The Snowman and has been a focus of the library’s discussion series on Scandinavian mysteries.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Murder Mystery Dinner Party

The library will host a Murder Mystery Dinner Party on Friday, May 20. Tickets will be $25 to benefit the library, and attendees will enjoy dinner and the chance to solve a murder!

Reservations are required for this event, which will be held at 5:30 PM at Alumni Hall on Court Street, next door to the library. This is the library’s second murder mystery dinner fundraiser; its first, held last year, was highly praised by attendees.

The scenario for the murder mystery is as follows: The year is 1925. As we set forth from Monte Carlo on an afternoon and evening cruise of the Mediterranean on the motor yacht Gilded Vessel, some evil person is planning to kill our host, Archibald Frath, owner of the yacht and of The Frath Estate, producers of fine wines and champagne. Is the killer one of his unacknowledged twin children, or one of the guests he is blackmailing?

Attendees will enjoy French wine and hors d’oeuvres, as well as a full dinner, as they seek to solve the murder of Archibald Frath. Please call 603-989-5510 for reservations and information, or the library at 603-989-5578.

In addition to raising funds for the library, this murder mystery dinner will be a Centennial Program, helping celebrate the library’s one hundredth anniversary of our occupation of our building on Court Street.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Henning Mankell Discussion

The library will sponsor a discussion of Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell on Monday, March 28. This is the second in a series of book discussions featuring Scandinavian mysteries.

The discussion will begin at 7:00 PM and will be free and open to the public. Copies of the book are available to borrow at the library.

Faceless Killers is the first novel in Mankell’s bestselling series featuring Swedish police inspector Kurt Wallander, and was the inaugural winner of the Glass Key award for crime novels from Nordic countries. The Wallander novels have been adapted for both Swedish and Anglo-American television; the English versions featured Kenneth Branagh as Wallander and aired in the U.S. on the PBS series “Mystery!”

Faceless Killers opens with the brutal murder of an elderly farming couple in rural Sweden. Inspector Wallander of the Ystad police takes charge of the investigation, assisted by a group of officers who will become regular characters in the series. Recently separated from his wife, estranged from his daughter, and struggling with a father who is developing dementia, Wallander drinks too much, eats poorly, and doesn’t exercise. His personal demons, however, are balanced by his skill as an investigator, though he is put to the test when the original crime later leads to a second murder.

A social critic and activist, Henning Mankell painted an unsparing portrait of Swedish society in his Wallander novels. With the international success of his work, he also became an active philanthropist, particularly supporting organizations in Africa. He was also the author of numerous other works, including a mystery novel featuring Linda Wallander, the daughter of his most famous character. This book was intended to be the first in a trilogy, but Mankell abandoned the project when the actress who played the role in the Swedish television adaptations committed suicide.

Henning Mankell died of cancer in 2015.

The Scandinavian Mysteries series will conclude on April 25 with a discussion of The Snowman by Jo Nesbø.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Scandinavian Mystery Discussion

The library will sponsor a discussion series featuring Scandinavian mysteries this winter. The first discussion will focus on a classic in this category, The Laughing Policeman by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö.

The discussion will be held Monday, February 22 at 7:00 PM, and will be free and open to the public.

The popularity a few years ago of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels considerably raised the international profile of mystery novels from Scandinavian countries, but in fact the region has a significant history in this area. In addition to The Laughing Policeman, this discussion series will also feature Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell (March 28) and The Snowman by Jo Nesbø (April 25), both internationally bestselling authors.

The Laughing Policeman features Swedish police detective Martin Beck. It won the Edgar Award for Best Novel when published in its English translation in 1970, and was subsequently adapted (rather loosely) as a film starring Walter Matthau. In the novel, Beck investigates a mass murder carried out on a city bus, in which a man with a machine gun shoots and kills eight people – including one of Beck’s fellow detectives.

Sjöwall and Wahlöö wrote a total of ten novels featuring Detective Beck. Their police procedurals were unusual in engaging with social issues current in Sweden, and this focus has become characteristic of mystery novels from this region, Reflecting on their influence, Henning Mankell has said, “I think that anyone who writes about crime as a reflection of society has been inspired to some extent by what they wrote.”

Wahlöö died in 1978. In 1995, the Mystery Writers of America ranked The Laughing Policeman second on a list of the best police procedurals.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mah Jongg Class

The library will offer an “Introduction to Mah Jongg” class in February, taught by trustee Eleanor Ingbretson. The class will meet at the library on the four Saturdays in February from noon to 2:00 PM (February 6, 13, 20, and 27).

Participation is limited to eight people and the registration fee of $40 per person will benefit the library.

Mah Jongg is a game for four people played with tiles. Similar to rummy, it is played by drawing and discarding tiles to form hands. Mah Jongg originated in China, where it probably evolved from a card game in the nineteenth century, and traveled to the United State in the 1920s, where it enjoyed an initial fad and has remained popular ever since. This class will teach the American version of the game.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Mah Jongg is the use of tiles, most commonly one hundred forty-four. These are often colorful and are organized into “simples,” “honor,” and “bonus” groups. The simples are numbered tiles in three suits (Bamboos, Circles, Characters); the honor tiles are the Winds and Dragons; the bonus tiles are the Flowers and Seasons. American sets also include Joker tiles.

A match consists of four rounds, each of which represents a “prevailing wind,” beginning in the East. The dealer is always East, and each player takes a turn as dealer. Points are scored according to the hands that players construct by drawing and discarding tiles.

Mah Jongg is a game of skill, strategy, and calculation that also involves a degree of chance. In China, the game is deeply ingrained in the culture; many restaurants keep Mah Jongg sets available for customers, and it is often referenced in popular culture such as songs and movies. The game is also popular throughout East Asia, often with regional variations; it has been said to be the most popular table game in Japan. In the United States, two different governing bodies, the National Mah Jongg League and the American Mah-Jongg Association, sponsor tournaments and other events.

To register for the class, call the library at 603-989-557.