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Welcome to my Blog!The lion roars!!!
I hope to share here my irrepressible thoughts on news, music, books, arts and such like. In general these will be items, events and issues which I feel have no place on my website (which focusses on aviation history and my travel photography).

The item immediately below this would be the latest posting.

Anybody, providing he knows how to be amusing, has the right to talk about himself. - Charles Baudelaire
Esse est percipi (To be is to be perceived) ¬Bishop George Berkeley

Not even I understand everything I am ¬Aurelius Augustinus of Hippo

In 2013 I started a series of photo albums on Blurb.com, named '36Exp' (a subject adressed in 36 exposures, a reference to the exposures on most common rolls of 35 mm film: 12, 24 & 36.).
The books can be ordered directly from the Blurb.com website or Amazon.




Bravemouth, by Pamela Stephenson

Bravemouth: Living With Billy Connolly by Pamela Stephenson, his wife.
Arguably one of Scotland's most famous exports, Billy Connolly's life and adventures have been well documented in print, in his stage acts as well as various television shows created for British audiences.
I stumbled on this very funny and entertaining character many years ago on BBC television, him doing travel shows interspersed with recordings of his comedy acts (later these vanished from the travel docs).

The Connolly family alternates between Scotland and Los Angeles, with much traveling in between. This book has Billy on location in Canada and Somalia; Pamela takes their two teenaged daughters to India, where they visit the shelters established by the Connollys for streetwalkers' children.
Billy is ambivalent about his 60th birthday and is also still subject to frequent nightmares in which he relives his troubled childhood: his mother left home, he was reared in a Glasgow slum by sadistic aunts, his father abused him.
He worked as a welder at the docks and meanwhile started a career in the music business with Gerry Rafferty, until their ways seperated and while Billy stayed true to his banjo playing he found his niche in comedy. He worked his way out of misery and formed a rather unique look on life.

This book, lovingly written (with a tinge of exasperation now and then) by his wife Pamela Stephenson who met Billy on Not The Nine O'clock News but took up a career as a psychotherapist a long time ago.
'Bravemouth' gives an interesting insight into their marriage and into Billy's evolving relationship with himself as he ages, cleans-up, and embraces a life as a celebrity.

During the family's travels in India, when Billy had to stay home due to back problems, his reactions are documented on their travels and encounters. Inspite of Billy insecurities and grumbling about old age, Pamela organizes his 60th anniversary (celebrated on more than one occasion) and while Billy normally doesn't like birthday parties, he finds he absolutely loved his own.

Apparently this book is a sequel to 'Billy'  which dealt with his traumatic youth in more detail; this
book is a window to a year or so with Billy and less an in-depth biography into the character of the subject. The perks and colourful (boring people he refers to as 'beige people') character of Billy Connolly is hugely entertaining.
So more a 'year in the life of' rather than a true biography. Photos are included in the book. Billy's witty observations may cause you to laugh out loud!




Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

An Icelandic lawyer helps investigate the murder and mutilation of a witchcraft-obsessed student.
Þriðja táknið was published in 2005, 'Last Rituals' in US in 2007 and in the UK in 2008. English translation by Bernard Scudder:

When wealthy German student Harald Guntlieb is found dead in the history department of his Reykjavik university, his parents are dissatisfied with the police investigation and unconvinced that the drug dealer they have arrested is the actual culprit. For th epolice it is an open and shut case. But the family send a business associate and family friend, Matthew Reich, to Iceland to conduct his own investigation but he struggles with language- and Icelandic procedural barriers and thus hires local lawyer and single mother Thóra Gudmundsdóttir to assist him.

Harald was killed by asphyxiation and it is suggested Harald experimented, alone or with others, in sexual practises that may lead thus to his death. But suicide or misadventure can soon be ruled out as his eyes were also gouged out and a bizarre symbol was carved on his chest....
He had an intense academic interest in Medieval witchhunts, the reason why he studied in Iceland. Harald had formed a small loyal student cult group around him. Harald’s closest friend, a medical student named Dóri, is one of them and one of the prime suspects.

Matthew and Thóra question the members of the group and find them suspicious and not overly enthusiastic in cooperating with the inquiries. But tensions start to play a role.
Meanwhile, an important letter (on loan from Danish authorities) has gone missing from the university and an arrogant professor named Gunnar is convinced that Harald was behind their disappearance.

Thóra is drawn back to the homefront when she finds out that her 15-year-old son is going to be a father.
She and Matthew, in spite of their differences and cynic banter about suitable each others clothing, strike up something of a relationship.

The fact that Thóra is anything but a heroine, but balks at gruesume details appearing in the investigations as any normal person would do and struggles with all aspects of a single mother of two including her empty bed, is for me one of the attractions of the Yrsa Sigurðardóttir novels.




Manhunt with Martin Clunes

Manhunt with Martin Clunes

Manhunt with Martin Clunes

Manhunt is a British tv drama based on the true story surrounding the investigation into the death of French student Amélie Delagrange,  a 22-year young woman, who suffered a deadly attack on Twickenham Green.
The London Metropolitan Police selected Detective Chief Inspector Colin Sutton (an excellent role here by a stern Martin Clunes) to lead a large task force as Senior Investigating Officer.
No forensic evidence could be procured from the scene, and there was no links in Delagrange's past that could indicate a motive.
There had been several previous attacks and murders of young women in the area. Within 24 hours, the investigation established that she might have been killed by the same person who had killed Marsha McDonnell on 03Feb2003.
The subsequent manhunt eventually led to the arrest of Levi Bellfield for Amélie's murder, and several other high profile, yet previously unsolved cases.

This first series was produced in 3 episodes. Since it is an authentic reproduction of events there is little insight in the character or motivations of the murderer Levi.
I am glad to learn that the show was renewed for a 2nd series, expected to premiere in 2020.

Alexander Martin Clunes, OBE (born 28 November 1961) is an English actor, television presenter, film director and comedian.



Middle England by Jonathan Coe

Jonathan Coe adresses in his often very funny 'Middle England' the current crisis of national identity in Britain.
This is a socalled state-of-the-nation novel which storyline details the election of the British coalition government in 2010, through the riots of 2011, the brief upswelling of multicultural national pride that was the 2012 Olympics, to the 2016 referendum and its subsequent fallout, ending in 2018.
For my recent summer holiday travel it seemed a rather apt book to read, while I travelled from Cambridge to Aberdeen.
I liked the multilayered portrait of a country so dear to me, but which in the past 10 years or so also increasingly continued to test my composure while dealing on a daily basis the frustrations of things out of order, decrepid or unable to supply.

Coe has published several books (The Rotters' Club in 2001 and The Closed Circle in 2004) in which some of the characters of Middle England, including Benjamin Trotter, the likable hero of those earlier novels, have a previous history. But I found it did not matter I had not read those books for me to enjoy Middle England.
Benjamin Trotter has retreated to a Shropshire mill house overlooking a stretch of the Severn and enjoys his solitude while he has come to terms with a failed marriage. He strikes up a relations ship with a woman of his schooldays. He and his sister Lois take care of their cantankerous father, a widower since the start of this book.
Doug Anderton writes articles for the New Statesman, while beginning an affair with a Remain-supporting Tory MP. He is feels he is loosing contact with the subjects of society he writes about.
Coriander, Doug's daughter, is developing a taste for activism and actively supports 'Students for Corbyn'.
Another central character in the book is Sophie, daughter of Lois, Benjamin's sister. She's a university lecturer in fine art and embarks on a  relationship with Ian, a driving instructor, but they seem ill matched in their respective political views. Ian is in awe of his mother and has a blid spot for her distinct racist views.
A new character is one Charlie Chappell, a childhood friend of Benjamin. Chappell is a children's entertainer, a quasi-stepfather to the fiercely ambitious Aneeqa; he's also poor enough to be reliant on the local food bank.

All these characters have an outlook on their lifes and their chances in a changing society. The reader can draw conclusions on who the 'baddies' are and if we should look with dismay or not to our future.
I at least read this book with great enthusiasm.

Jonathan Coe (b. 19Aug1961) is an English novelist and writer. His work has an underlying preoccupation with political issues.




Put On By Cunning by Ruth Rendell

'Put on by Cunning' was first published in 1981 and features Rendell's popular series protagonist Inspector Wexford. It is the 11th in this series.
In the US, the novel was published under the title 'Death Notes'. It may well be that I read that title decades ago, the story was vaguely familiar to me. One would think a 1981 would be rather dated, but I did not find that at all.

When the esteemed flautist Sir Manuel Camargue slips on a snowy path one dark night and falls into an icy river, his death seems like an open and shut case. However, when Wexford discovers that the old man's long lost daughter has just arrived in anticipation of the reading of his will, suspicions of foul play arise!
Chief Inspector Wexford has a few niggling doubts about the disturbing return of Carmargue's daughter, now a considerable heiress, after an absence of 19 years... Wexford, in spite of the warnings by his loyal sidekick (whatshisname), becomes obsessed with his inability to proof foul play by this woman who claims to be the true daughter of Sir Manuel Camargue and even goes sofar as to invest his holidays in an expensive trip with his wife to sunny California, to find out more about the character of the woman Natalie: is she who she says she is?!

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (née Grasemann; b.17Feb1930 – d.02May2015), was an English author of thrillers and psychological murder mysteries.
Rendell's best-known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, was the hero of many popular police stories, some of them successfully adapted for TV. But Rendell also wrote a second type of crime novel that deeply explored the psychological background of criminals and their victims, many of them mentally afflicted or otherwise socially isolated. This theme was developed further in a third series of novels, published under a pseudonym: Barbara Vine.




The Victim, 4-episode tv mini series

The Victim is a four-part Scottish thriller miniseries starring Kelly Macdonald (as Anna Dean), James Harkness (as Craig Myers) and John Hannah (the first 'John Rebus', as DI Steven Grover).
The series was  first broadcast on BBC One in April 2019. Filming was on location in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Port Glasgow and Largs.

Anna's son Liam in her first marriage was murdered 14 years ago, the killer convicted and given a new identity after finishing his sentence, with which she can't live. Through social media she exposes the murderer, now living as Craig Myers with a family of his own. Someone takes it upon himself to assault Craig, who ends up seriously injured in hospital.
Gradually it becomes apparent that Craig is not the killer Eddie J. Turner, but the damage is done as everyone eyes him as the killer, even his own marriage slowly unravels.
Anna is the last one to become convinced, cajoling people even after she ends up in court: not as the victim but as the accused.
Very strong character play by Kelly Macdonald and James Harkness.



Lust For Life, photography by Ed van der Elsken

Lust For Life, photography by Ed van der Elsken

Lust For Life, photography by Ed van der Elsken

Lust For Life, photography by Ed van der Elsken

Lust For Life, photography by Ed van der Elsken

The Nederlands Fotomuseum, the national museum of photography in Rotterdam (the Netherlands), has restored the colour slides of photographer Ed van der Elsken from destruction due to long time storage in poor condition.
This summer (25 May - 06 Oct. 2019), the museum celebrates with 'Lust for Life' the first retrospective
of Ed's colour work.
With his colour photography, van der Elsken pays tribute to human-kind and life around universal themes such as love, life and death.
As he could not afford the best storage conditions for his slides and over the years damp and rot had set in. The museum found a technology to restore by far the most of the colour slides, a pain-staking affair using a unique technique which has drawn international attention.

Ed van der Elsken was a unique figure. The first true Dutch street photographer, he roamed cities like Paris, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Tokyo seeking out colourful personalities, head-turning young women and wayward youth. Ed van der Elsken both chronicled, and influenced, the Zeitgeist. In his work, he developed a bold, unconventional and personal style.
Van der Elsken’s presence resonates throughout his work: he cared about making a personal connection with the people he photographed and, like a playful art director, often staged situations, too.

The oeuvre of Ed van der Elsken is mentioned in the same breath as those of legendary international photographers Robert Frank (1924, CH) and William Klein (1928, VS) and his legacy inspires contemporary artists such as Nan Goldin (1953, US) and Paulien Oltheten (1982, NL).

His work was also discussed on my blog 2014Q2 and 2017Q1.

More photos on MyFlickr.com



Onrustig Tij door Donna Leon

As one can see I read the Dutch title: Onrustig Tij.
The murder of two clam fishermen off the island of Pellestrina, south of the Lido on the Venetian Lagoon, draws Commissario Brunetti into the island's close-knit community, bound together by a code of loyalty and a suspicion of outsiders. When Signorina Elettra volunteers to visit the island, where she has relatives, Brunetti finds himself torn between his duty to solve the murders, concerns for Elettra's safety, and his not entirely straightforward feelings for her (something I haven’t come across in the other Brunetti novels, so probably a one off thing here).




Those Who Kill, series 2
Den som dræber - Fanget af mørket

In my Blog 2012Q4 I reviewed Those Who Kill, the first series, a Danish-German-Swedish-Norwegian 2011 co-production.
The final episode premiered in Danish cinemas on 15 March 2012, and was being aired as a final, 6th episode of the series in many other countries, such as the UK and Germany.
Police detective Katrina Ries Jensen and profiler Thomas Schaeffer, investigate a series of gruesome murders.
At the time, in spite of optimistic plans, Danish TV2 announced that no further seasons would follow due to falling viewer shares after the first few episodes.

So imagine my surprise that in 2018 a decision was made for Those Who Kill to return to the screens in 2019 with a new separate season, this time starring Kenneth M Christensen and, as a profiler, Natalie Madueño (whom we remember from Follow The Money).
A serial killer is identified who abducts, abuses and kills young women who all resemble a young woman who disappeared many years ago after a schoolball, wearing a yellow dress. The profile seems straightforward, but things become more complicated while the investigation progresses: are two serial killers on the prowl?
Police detective Jan Michelsen has difficulties facing two realities: his relation is on the rocks and he made promises to find the abducted girls but fails to deliver. Profiler Louise Bergstein made a career change and is reluctant to work for the police again after having made a fatal mistake in an earlier case abroad.
Perhaps the character of the fiendish mastermind is the most fascinating in this 2nd season of Those
Who Kill...
We may yet see more seasons to follow!




Don McCullin, retrospective by Tate (2019)

Don McCullin, retrospective by Tate (2019)
Left: Young Boys Boxing, near the Caledonian Road, London 1960
Right: Hessel Street, Jewish District, East End, London 1962

Don McCullin, retrospective by Tate (2019)
Left: U.S. Marine medic rushing a wounded two-year-old child from the battle (Vietnam 1968)
Right: Old Vietnamese man, Tet Offensive, Hue, South Vietnam 1968

Don McCullin, retrospective by Tate (2019)
Northern Ireland, Londonderry 1971

Don McCullin, retrospective by Tate (2019)
Left: Boys in the book of the prophet, Arbil, Kurdistan 1991
Right: Kurdish men with prisoners 1991

Don McCullin, retrospective by Tate (2019)
Left: Blind man with leprosy, Sonepur Mela, State of Bihar (India 1987)
Right: Sandboats on the Ganges near the Mahatma Gandhi Bridge, Patna, Bihar (India 1993)

Don McCullin, retrospective by Tate (2019)
Left: Dew-pond by Iron Age Hill Fort, Somerset 1988
Right: Approaching Evening, looking from my house during winter 1991

A few years ago I was visiting London (UK) and was shopping for photobooks at various locations. I was on the brink of buying my first photobook by Don McCullin, but I opted for two or three different books. In early-2018 I watched the BBC documentary 'The Road to Palmyra', following Don McCullin (82) and historian Dan Cruickshank among the ruins, which in turn instigated reading Don McCullin's biography, 'Unreasonable Behaviour', soon afterwards.
And now, finally, I bought this book last week. Worth the wait.

This photobook, simply titled 'Don McCullin', is a retrospective of McCullin's work and accompanied the exhibition at Tate Britain in London (which I have yet to visit) of this iconic photographer.

Sir Donald McCullin, CBE, Hon FRPS (born 9 October 1935), is a British photojournalist, particularly recognized for his war photography and images of urban strife.
His career, which began in 1959, has specialised in examining the underside of society, and his photographs have depicted the unemployed, downtrodden and the impoverished.
This book, editted by Aïcha Mehrez, has the chapters Early Work ¬ Berlin ¬ Cyprus ¬ Congo ¬ Biafra ¬ Vietnam ¬ Combodia ¬ The East End ¬ Bradford and The North ¬ Northern Ireland ¬ British Summer Time ¬ Bangladesh ¬ Beirut ¬ Iran-Iraq ¬ India ¬ Southen Ethiopia ¬ The Aids Crisis ¬ Still Life ¬ Landscapes ¬ Southern Frontiers
Labelling him a war photographer would not do him justice, as the above subjects illustrate.

"In my photography I always lean towards the underprivilgeded because that's where I came from."

The book contains essays by Aïcha Mehrez, Shoair Mavlian and Simon Baker. As well as chapters Directors Foreword, Chronology, List of Exhibited Works, Further Reading and Credits.
All the photographs on display, and reproduced in this book, were printed by McCullin for this occasion.

Very, very pleased I came across this book.
'England' is discussed on MyBlog 2019Q3. And I'll be on the lookout for more of his photobooks!

MyBlog2018Q2 on Unreasonable Behaviour
www.youtube.com - Don McCullin - Looking for England (2019)



STHLM Requiem

'STHLM Rekviem' is a Swedish thriller series that premiered at 'C More' on 03Oct2018.
The series is about three police officers of the 'serious crime' police department in Stockholm with intertwining storylines, often connected in the episode or later episodes and all cases contribute to the series ending.
We see as main characters Liv Mjönes as Fredrika Bergman, Jonas Karlsson as Alex Recht and Alexej Manvelov as Peder. We see some phenomenal acting here.
Fredrika was forced to give up her musical career after an accident had broken her arm in several places; she joins the police force in a civilian capacity for a period of 6 months, but is soon offered a permanent job with the serious crime' unit. Fredrika joins the team in a somewhat hostile atmosphere towards her, with both Alex and Peder being very dismissive to the others including their superior, Aina.
Through the episodes we see Fredrika, in a relation with her partner Spencer, becoming pregnant and with a small child.
Alex is becoming more and more unravelled (his marriage fails but it also about his work) and is undergoing mental treatment, while Peder is having troubles in his marriage. They all have serious complications in their relations.
The episodes have video footage taken in the year 2020, while Fredrika has found Alex as a cab driver and they look back in a philosphical manner on the time they worked together while driving. I did not much care for this, found it added very little and disruptive.
The storylines were very good, complicated sometimes with having the viewer think of changes and endings; don't look for hapy endings!

sv.wikipedia.org:_Sthlm_Rekviem (Swedish)



Sunday Morning Coming Down by Nicci French (crime writing fiction)

Sunday Morning Coming Down, by Nicci French, another gratifying read in the Frieda Klein series.

The title is 'stolen'  from the Kris Kristoffersen song, a song I like so well. But I like it on this book too, the Frieda Klein #7 book.
I've been a fan of the Frieda Klein series since #2 and am regretting getting closer to the end of the series.

The book starts with the ending in #6: in her home she found beneath the floorboards the body of a man she had hired as an investigator. Frieda is convinced this was done by Dean Reeve, but she never managed to convince the police Dean Reeve was still at large. In this book the police does reopen the Dean Reeve investigation and DI Petra Burge appears on the scene.
Then those closest to Frieda, Chloe and Reuben, are targeted but the patterns are unclear. Dean Reeve remains elusive and the investigation winds down.
When a client of Frieda Klein is killed the suspicion grows that a Dean Reeve copycat is at work. Frieda collects all her friends in Reuben's house: Olivia, Josef, Chloe and Jack. She thinks DI Karlsson can provide his own security.
While her suspicions becomes more and more focussed on one person as the evildoer, she finds she has overlooked one friend of hers.
And of course Dean Reeve, her stalker, also makes his appearance again.

One more novel to go in the Frieda Klein series: The Day of the Dead (#8, 2018)!

Nicci French is the pseudonym for the writing partnership of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire. In the early 1980s she taught English Literature in Sheffield, London and Los Angeles, but moved into publishing in 1985 with the launch of Women's Review, a magazine for women on art, literature and female issues. In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor. It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French.
Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. In 1981 he won Vogue magazine's Writing Talent Contest, and from 1981 to 1986 he was their theatre critic. During that time he also worked at the Sunday Times as deputy literary editor and television critic, and was the film critic for Marie Claire and deputy editor of New Society. Sean and Nicci were married in Hackney in October 1990. Their daughters, Hadley and Molly, were born in 1991 and 1993.





Amsterdam, may 2019

'In an era when television's ubiquitous visual flow bombards us with footage, the arrest of time in the photograph offers space for thought and reflection' ¬Susan Sontag


World Press Photo 2019 in Amsterdam
Immigration policy of Donald Trump Administration ¬John Moore

World Press Photo 2019 in Amsterdam

World Press Photo 2019 in Amsterdam

World Press Photo 2019 in Amsterdam
A timeline of WPP Winners over the years (note the link below for their names)

Since 1955 the annual World Press Photo Contest has awarded the best visual journalism of the year.
This is the 2019 exhibition of news photography in the year 2018.
Prize-winning images by 43 photographers from 25 countries, selected from 78,801 pictures taken by 4,738 visual journalists from 129 countries, chosen by an independent jury.

Phenomenal photography.




CARDINAL, 2 season

Cardinal is a Canadian crime drama television series, first broadcasted on 25Jan17.
The series adapts the novels of crime writer Giles Blunt, focusing on police detective John Cardinal (Billy Campbell) and his partner Lise Delorme (Karine Vanasse), who investigate crimes in the fictional city of Algonquin Bay.
The first season (6 episodes, discussed on MyBlog 2018 Q1) adapted the novel 'Forty Words for Sorrow'.
I watched the 2nd series recently, recorded from tv. It was based on Blunt's 3rd Cardinal novel. 

Season 2, 'Blackfly Season', concerns a young woman who suffers from amnesia after having been shot in the head and is brought to the hospital in Algonquin Bay.
Soon mutilated bodies, in accordance to some occult religious rituals, are discovered. The bodies are members of a local group of bikers known for trafficking drugs. John Cardinal and the team suspect that someone is trying to replace the local gang in the drug trade.
Meanwhile, the mental health of his wife still worries Cardinal though Cath is convinced she is on the mend, while she thinks he is being overprotective and crowding here. 

At the moment I am recording the 3rd series ('By The Time You Read This') of Cardinal from BBC Four. Looking forward watching those soon!




Kiri | tv-crime drama series

Kiri is a four-part British television crime drama miniseries starring Sarah Lancashire. It aired on Channel 4 from 10 to 31 January 2018. I had it on the recorder and watched it last week.
The series is set in Bristol. It centres on the abduction and murder of Kiri Akindele (Felicia Mukasa), a nine-year-old black girl, involved in an adoption procedure under supervision of careworker Miriam.
Miriam is under stress of work, has her mother in an expensive care home and death of her son. She drinks.
The murder of Kiri hits the media and the adoption family Jim and Alice Warner (Steven Mackintosh
and Lia Williams) blame Miriam for negligence while all involved 'know' the murderer is the estranged birth father of Kiri, a young criminal, who goes in hiding.
But the plot goes sideways and other suspects are considered, including Jim & Alice's teenage son Si (Finn Bennett).
It is a very bleak series, not for the faint-hearted.




De Kleine Tocqueville - Martin Sommer
Atlas Contact, 2019; 94 pages

In 'De kleine Tocqueville' Martin Sommer gives a clear summary of the life, career and works of the French nobleman Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) in less than a hundred pages.
Tocqueville is seen as the man who has written the most exhausting, original and readable about democracy as a political system.
His magnum opus is entitled 'About Democracy in America' (two volumes, 1835-1840) and remains highly recommended more than a century and a half later.
I have the single edition but got stuck about 1/3 in this humongous book. This concise little book has restarted my interest to pick up the big book again..
'Democracy in America' was published after Tocqueville's travels in the United States and is today considered an early work of sociology and political science. It is as much an insight in the young democracy in the USA as a mirror to the situation in France, where upheavels such as revolutions brought change but not a satisfying form of democracy.

Tocqueville was born an aristocrat, whose role in society was to rule and protect. But he saw the change coming where the common people would get more rights and an increased rol in society.
He was a classical liberal who advocated parliamentary government, but he was skeptical of the extremes of democracy. In later life De Tocqueville was a politician himself, but his legacy stands as an author with ideas about modern democracy, its strengths and its weaknesses.
The dangers to democracy he saw and remarked on what we now face, 150 years later, in common people turning away from politics and government while populists increasingly waylay the voters with false promises.

He retired from political life after Louis Napoléon Bonaparte's 02Dec1851 coup and thereafter began work on 'The Old Regime and the Revolution'.
A longtime sufferer from bouts of tuberculosis, Tocqueville would eventually succumb to the disease on 16Apr1859 and was buried in the Tocqueville cemetery in Normandy.




Baptiste, series 1

Baptiste is a spin-off series from the equally 'noir' series The Missing using one of the central characters, Julien Baptiste, played by Tchéky Karyo.
I watched both previous series and found ' Baptiste' as unsettling and dark as 'The Missing'. The main location is Amsterdam in this series.
Julien Baptiste is again played by Tchéky Karyo. His wife and daughter are played by the same actors from The Missing.

After having had an operation on his brain tumor, Julien Baptiste claims he is not the man he once was.
A friend at the Amsterdam Police persuades him to look into missing person case, a sex worker in Amsterdam. Edward (Tom Hollander) claims he is looking for his daughter, but it soon appears his daughter, who did work as a sex worker, had died because of drugs abuse in Amsterdam. Edward found solace with Natalie and it is she who he is looking for.
But Edward's motivation is different still..
Natalie has intercepted a bag of cash from an Albanian crime cell in Amsterdam. The Albanians are heavily involved in human trafficking and have abducted Natalie's younger sister. The bag with 1 million euros is intended to buy the freedom of Natalie's sister; Edward has offered his services to Natalie to make the deal, but things do not go as planned.
The bag of cash goes missing and a series of owners make it hard to trace for Edward and Baptiste.
Europol get in the mix in the person of a young female investigator who has personal reasons to kill off this crime cell with root and branch.
The Albanians turn against all involved with ruthless violence, threats are made to family members of all those involved.
Edward and Baptiste see a higher priority in trying to buy their family's safety again than helping the investigation by Europol.
Not everybody can be saved.




Karppi tv-series

Karppi tv-series

Karppi tv-series

Deadwind (Finnish: Karppi) is a Finnish crime drama and Nordic noir television series.
We see Sofia Karppi, a female detective of the Finnish police who is in her 30s and recently widowed with two children, returning to police work in Helsinki. Her first case is the murder of Anna Bergdahl, a social affairs consultant.
Anna is buried in a shallow grave on a parking lot near the waterfront. Her pose, including flowers, portrays a bride.
After her work with the local communal social affairs she worked as a consultant for a company which is in the throws of setting up a new housing estate including wind energy.
Anna is married with cab driver Usko and they have 2 kids. First a drug dealer she dealt with during her social affairs work is suspected of Anna's killing but then the suspicion shifts to Usko, for Anna seems to have lived a secret extramarital life.

Sofia Karppi (Pihla Viitala, a striking beauty) returns to her work as a homicide detective but is still grieving Yussi, her husband. Her teenage daughter rebels against the move from Germany to Finland.
Sofia is the proverbial type of 'detective-with-issues-while-obsessed-with-work'. She is assisted by a
young police investigator with a fraud background, Sakari Nurmi (Lauri Tilkanen), and their characters collide at first.

'Karppi' (a.k.a. 'Deadwind') premiered in Finland on 14Mar2018 on Yle TV2 and on 23Aug18 on Netflix.
I hope we see a 2nd series, the storyline was excellent and the eyes on Pihla Viitala don't tire!




China Revealed, by Basil Pao
'A Portrait of the Rising Dragon'

China Revealed, by Basil Pao

China Revealed, by Basil Pao

China Revealed, by Basil Pao

China Revealed, by Basil Pao

China Revealed, by Basil Pao

China Revealed, by Basil Pao

For several decades China has held my fascination. Over the years I have visited the Middle Kingdom three times during vacation and found China both attractive as well as repugnant. This book 'China Revealed' by Basil Pao has the travel as well as the photography I would have liked to endure, but I lack the passion for such an enterprise. And the talent for such superb photography.

Basil Pao Ho-Yun is a Hong Kong-based photographer. He has been the stills photographer on the BBC filming teams that made Michael Palin's television travel programmes.
Pao was born in Hong Kong, but started his career as an art director and graphic designer in New York and Los Angeles. His work during that time included making numerous record covers and posters for Atlantic Records, Polygram and Warner Bros. Records. During this time, Pao also met Michael Palin, when they worked together on the book for the Monty Python film Life of Brian in 1979.
In 1980, Pao returned to Hong Kong and took up photography as his new career.

The book is an all encompassing portrait of China, compiled during extensive travelling in 2005 (mainly) and 2006, the provinces captured in the chapters The Middle Kingdom, The Silk Road, North by Northeast, On the Waterfront, The Tribal Mountains and The Tibetan Plateau.
The book starts with a personal account of his personal circumstance, Pao's international career and on how this endeavour came about. Each chapter (e.g. The Middle Kingdom) starts with an essay, sharing insights into the actual travel. The book concludes with a postscript, also has a detailed Map of the Journey and there is a timeline of major historic events in Europe, Asia and China, side by side.

Each province is detailed in some 'Wikipedia'-type information at the start, concerning geography, climate, population, major cities, agriculture, main industries, annual per capita income, important historical sites and food. The pages with photos have captions including general information about the shown subject(s) and information on the actual (numbered) photos.

Art direction & design is by Basil Pao himself, a very clean cut design and the information proportional and easy to take in. The photography is superb, I can get quite lyrical about it in fact!
First published in 2007, by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.




Koningsdag 2019

Koningsdag 2019

Koningsdag 2019

Koningsdag 2019

Koningsdag 2019

Koningsdag, or King's Day, is a national holiday in the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Celebrated on 27th of April (26 April if the 27th is a Sunday), the date marks the birth of King Willem-Alexander.
Koningsdag is known for its nationwide vrijmarkt ("free market"), at which the Dutch sell their used goods. It is also an opportunity for 'orange madness' (NL: oranjegekte), a kind of nationwide frenzy named for the national colour.
Today the attendance was much less here than some other years, as always having to do with the weather: the forecast today was lamentable with much rain and wind. The diehards were treated on an occasional sunny spell.

More (+24) photos on Flickr.com



Ons Soort Amerika

This is a very amusing book by Dutch author Anton Stolwijk, which would translate to Our Sort Americans. Anton spends a year with his wife and two very small children (18 months and 4 months old) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Anton's wife spends a year, as a researcher I believe, at a University and Anton is houseman, taking care of the children. They arrive in the winter and Anton has difficulty pushing the pram through the snow. The kids sit side by side and the pram is an obstacle to get through doorways at times.
While pushing the pram Anton makes his observations of streetlife and the houses. He obviously has more trouble connecting to people than his wife, but on occasion when he 'connects' he is stunned and overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of people and find some of their acts hard to follow. He is always kind in his considerations, never a cynic.
Cambridge is obviously a liberal society, anti-Trump, but the observations and Anton's reflections are more down to street level than the political climate.

While amusing it is also a very informative little the book and a pleasure to 'consume'!




Arctic Circle, tv-series crime drama

Ivalo, Finland
Ivalo is the main location of this crime fiction, north of Rovaniemi.

'Arctic Circle' (Finnish: Ivalo) is Finnish-German crime drama, which premiered on Finnish streaming service Elisa Viihde on Christmas 2018 and later on Yle. I watched it on NPO3.
The series stars Iina Kuustonen, Maximilian Brückner, Pihla Viitala, Clemens Schick and Susanna Haavisto. A fine cast that soon make you forget about a rather foreign sounding language.
Arctic Circle is the first co-production between Finland’s Yellow Film & TV and Germany’s Bavaria Film, picked up for world distribution by Paris-based Lagardère Studios.

Set in snow covered Finnish Lapland, police officer Nina Kautsalo (Iina Kuustonen) finds a nearly dead prostitute in a cabin in the wilderness. The case takes a surprise turn when a deadly virus is found in the prostitute's body. Nina and German virologist Thomas Lorenz (Maximilian Brückner) start investigating the case.  

Nina is a single mother with a small child who has Down syndrome. The father, Esko, is a truck driver and small criminal; he refuses to acknowledge Venla for he never wanted children from the relationship.
Nina's mother takes care of her grandchild, when Nina has to work all hours.
Thomas is married and has a teenage daughter; his wife is very jealous and she sets things in motion for a divorce with full custody of their daughter. Mother and daughter live in Germany, while Thomas is based in Helsinki.

While Thomas wants to set up a large scale bloodtest to analyse how widespread the virus (deadly for pregnant women) is in the remote Lapland area, he encounters opposition from the KRP (Keskusrikospoliisi, Nat'l Bureau of Investigation) for not seeing 'the bigger picture', from those who exploit Russian prostitutes (they travel on 'whore busses' through the North) as well as from religious sects.
The Russian maffia connection and a business man with an interest in exploiting an anti-virus comes late to development in the series, when things becomes more action packed.
We see the virus spreading, Lorenz saw a village in Yemen completely wiped out by this virus and fears the worst for Lapland and the world: HIV remained underestimated for many years and was allowed to spread all over the world. 

The scenery of Lapland in winter is breathtaking and various aspects such as the humor sets this series 'Arctic Circle' in a league of its own. The ending would make a 2nd series possible... I hope so!




In Extremis: The Life of War Correspondent Marie Colvin

Marie Colvin, war correspondent

In Extremis, The Life of Marie Colvin

Lindsey Hilsum, a friend and fellow war reporter, details Colvin's hard-drinking, hard-living decades and her impressive career covering one humanitarian disaster after another.

During the Lebanese civil war in 1987, Marie Colvin was the first journalist on the scene at a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut. The camp was under siege by Shia militia, backed by Syria's President Hafez al-Assad, which made it hazardous for journalists to enter the campound and for inmates to go out to buy food.
Colvin risked her life by entering. Once there, she watched as a group of women ran across the 'Path of Death' to buy provisions. One young woman was shot by a sniper in the head and abdomen.
Colvin's story on the front page of the Sunday Times had the headline War on Women: "She lay where she had fallen, face down on the dirt path leading out of Bourj al-Barajneh."
Three days later Syrian authorities ordered the militia to stop sniping. The 163-day siege was over.
This event was pivotal in Colvin's career: she was on the scene for close up reporting, witnessed a civilian falling victim to warfare, was able to contradict cover up stories by an agressor state and (perhaps) make a difference in the senselless violence (to civilians).
This was Colvin's breakthrough, aged 31.

It was also the validation for her tendency towards recklessness, emboldening her to go further into war zones than other reporters would. Her brazenness was there when she was a teenager, sailing into the rough seas, relishing a storm. She experimented with drugs, became a heavy drinker (manly?) and went through various partners.
Her bravery, commitment and recklessness eventually led to her death in Syria in 2012.
She never managed to settle down with a partner, a craving she cultivated but the challenges of upcoming assignments (and later on her insecurities towards the growing competition in reporting from war torn areas) always took precedence over personal relations (being either family, friends or lovers).

Colvin's friend and fellow war correspondent Lindsey Hilsum has written a compelling biography, taking Colvin from her suburban American childhood into her awe inspiring career as a reporter covering one humanitarian disaster after another in Iraq, Kosovo, East Timor, Chechnya, Sri Lanka and Libya.
Along the way there are love affairs (during assignments as well as off assignments), friendships and endless parties.
In her personal life she was erratic and frantic, forgetful (she also forgot or ignored her deadlines to supply material), had terrible moodswings, was taken to buying expensive clothes and gifts (also when she could ill afford it) but during her assignments she was more focussed and composed. Until she was diagnosed with PTSD.
Colvin's energy and passion are well portrayed and everyone who encountered was taken in by her, including Yasser Arafat and Muammar Gaddafi.

Her heroine and role model was Martha Gellhorn and the two women had a lot in common, from their backgrounds to their desire to change the world.
Gellhorn (b.08Nov1908 - d.15Feb1998) was an American novelist, travel writer, and journalist who is considered one of the great war correspondents of the 20th century. She was married to Ernest Hemingway from 1940 to 1945.
Colvin shared Gellhorn's distrust of "all that objectivity shit". After getting trapped in Kosovo, she declared that: "When you're physically uncovering graves in Kosovo, I don't think there are two sides to the story. To me there is a right and a wrong, a morality, and if I don't report that, I don't see the reason for being there."
She also shared Gellhorn's difficulties with sexual relationships. Both tended to flee the men who made them feel safe and to make themselves dangerously vulnerable with the men who didn't.
When relations became unsettling or complicated Colvin escaped to a war zone, fleeing the most recent chaos she had left behind at home...

War reporters are employed by the newspaper or broadcaster that has sent them, so the first necessity is to get the story. During Colvin's 27 years at the Sunday Times, its culture changed so that the correspondents were competing to bring back the best stories and to take the greatest risks. Colvin said in 2010: "We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery, what is bravado?" She seems to have struggled to distinguish between them, partly because her editors encouraged her to pursue greater feats and partly because of a complicated personal combination of competitiveness, self-destructiveness and passionate sympathy with the underdog.

These factors came together painfully in the days leading to her death. She'd been injured before, losing sight in one eye in Sri Lanka in 2001. Since then, Colvin had been treated for PTSD and was often more anxious than she was prepared to admit.
Hilsum tells the story of her final week masterfully in a way that makes the end seem both inevitable and unnecessary.
She was hopeless with technology, lacking the interest and patience, and underestimated the agressor's ability to track her  traceable satellite phone. The press camp in the most dangerous part of Homs took a direct hit, killing Colvin and French photojournalist Rémi Ochlik, seriously wounding her companion, photographer Paul Conroy (who had tried convincing her it was too dangerous to stay) as well as others. The Syrian authorities celebrated the death of Marie Colvin, silencing her voice forever.

Paul Conroy's book Under The Wire is dicussed on MyBlog-2021Q1.

Superbly written, impressive and highly informative!




HuisKinesis - Huis voor Fotografie (Delft)

HuisKinesis - Huis voor Fotografie (Delft)

Huis Kinesis - fotografie

Today I visited 'Huis Kinesis', a new adress for me to enjoy photography on display.
I found a wine business sharing store space with work by photography enthusiasts.
This was a project about Social Documentary Photography (a person, an event, et cetera). Participants were Marian van Heuveln, Paul Korving, Petri Coomans, Tineke Moor, Wil Vrancken and Wil Groen.

I found most documentaries very interesting, e.g. four photos showing expats having breakfast: that is a pretty unique subject I thought. And I liked the elderly couple (91 + 89 years old, top, in photo above)
in their 55 year old bookstore; also the series about a train project running in delays again and again was a good theme too. Two documentaries had a single male person, Mr X and Kris, as a subject, very nicely done. There was a striking documentary about an American automobile event (bottom, photo above), done in very graphic colours.
Anyway, plenty to enjoy and an adress to remember for a future visit: Huis Kinesis in Delft.




Delft, The Netherlands

A nice day for an afternoon stroll through the historic center of Delft. Follow the link for a pictorial report on Flickr.com.

Delft is a city and municipality in the province of South Holland, Netherlands. It is located between Rotterdam, to the southeast, and The Hague, to the northwest. Together with them, it is part of both Rotterdam–The Hague metropolitan area and the Randstad.
Delft is a popular tourist attraction in the country.
It is home to Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), regarded as center of technological research and development in the Netherlands, Delft Blue pottery and the currently reigning House of Orange-Nassau.
Historically, Delft played a highly influential role in the Dutch Golden Age.




Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Flowerparade Haarlem e.o.

Visited the Bloemencorso in Haarlem last sunday, the floats of the parade the day prior were now parked for viewing on the Gedempte Oude Gracht. A nice colourful tradition mixing with the historic skyline of the center of Haarlem.
An annual event I love going to.

More photos (53) on Flickr.com



Dark Heart, British tv-series

Dark Heart is a British television crime drama series, based on the Will Wagstaffe novels by writer Adam Creed, that was first broadcasted on 09Nov2016.
The series stars Tom Riley as DI Will Wagstaffe, a police detective haunted by the unsolved double murder of his parents when he was just 16 years old.
After a single feature-length pilot, based on the novel Suffer the Children, its success prompted a series of six hour-long episodes was commissioned in December 2017, with filming taking place in Spring 2018. The series consists of 4 newly-written episodes alongside the pilot, which has been re-edited, with some scenes re-shot, to form the first two episodes of the series.
I recorded it from television, which had broadcasted it as 2 episodes. Maybe these were the 2 episodes mentioned above, it had 2 complete stories. Maybe this was the two-part (recut) pilot which had aired a couple of years ago (ITV Encore) and the six-episode series is yet to be broadcasted. I did not recognize the trailer videos on ImDb.

The dark side of DI 'Staffe' is an interesting one as well as his relation to the women surrounding him: his sister Juliette ('Jules', role by Charlotte Riley), his colleague Josie (Anjli Mohindra) and Sylvie with whom he has a noncommittal sort of relationship (played by Miranda Raison, whom I remember from the series Spooks).
I wouldn't mind to see more of this series.




Endeavour, series 6

Endeavour is a British television detective drama series. It is a prequel to the long-running Inspector Morse (starring John Thaw) and, like that series, is set primarily in Oxford.
Shaun Evans portrays the young Endeavour Morse beginning his career as a detective constable, and later as a detective sergeant, with the Oxford City Police CID.
This is the 6th season and it numbered 4 episodes.

The storyline starts in July 1969, with Morse sporting a moustache for the first time. We see the news dominated by the Apollo moonlanding.
Morse has been given a uniform post out in the sticks. He investigates a report of a missing horse and a report of someone sleeping rough, allegedly an addict. But the death of a schoolgirl brings Endeavour back in contact with the Oxford constabulary.

DS Jim Strange (Sean Rigby) pursues the murder of the young DC George Fancy (finale of series 5) on
his own. He tries to involve Morse in his own investigation but Morse is bitter and unwilling. Nevertheless, Strange uses his influence to get Morse back to the Oxford police and the young detective is assigned a desk in the basement (' the bunker') of Castle Gate Police Station.
While seperate murder investigations dominate each episode, there are continuous plotlines: the investigation into the murder of George Fancy and deaths of addicts out on the streets due to bad drugs, while Fred Thursday (Roger Allam) gets drawn into the influence of his superior DCI Ronnie Box meanwhile Fred's marriage is becoming bleaker and bleaker (his wife Winnifred blaims him for squandering their savings, however noble the cause, without consulting here).
Joan Thursday (Sara Vickers) makes her appearance in about each episode but the relation between Morse and Fed's daughter seems to have lost the required chemistry. Morse seems more introvert and morose than in previous series, growing to the character portrayed by John Thaw?

PCS Reginal Bright (Anton Lesser) is assigned to Traffic and features in a tv commercial for the police, featuring a pelican. At the staion he is the butt of many jokes but he finds himself popular and recognized in the streets. His wife is terminally ill which very much effects Bright's outlook on life and his career.

DCI Ronnie Box and his sidekick DS Alan Jago seem to run a racket on the sly.
Dr. Max DeBryn (James Bradshaw) recognizes a special confidentiality among the group of former Cowley police station (although Fred Thursday is kept out of the loop at times for a quantity of distrust) and shares his findings accordingly. DeBryn is made hostage in the last episode and the finale is a showdown much akin to that of the O.K. Corral!




CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen
'Een verdwijnend Nederlands fenomeen' door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

CHIN.IND.SPEC.REST. door Mark van Wonderen

As a reporter in Noord-Holland Mark van Wonderen travelled criss-cross through the province for many years. Walking through neighbourhoods he noticed that even the smallest village had a church, a local pub but also a Chinese-Indonesian Restaurant.
Also, such a restaurant was often found at some dismal location. As a lover of all things 'urban sadness and decline' Mark started to record these restaurants on camera.
Graphic designer Yolanda Huntelaar noticed these photos in 2016 and suggested to make a photobook of Mark's subjects, attracted to the nostalgia and feelings of recognition.
Things worked out perfectly, publishing company Zoetzuur produced in 2018 Mark's photobook Chin.Ind.Spec.Rest.
The young woman in my local bookshop, a girl really, spoke the title outloud phonetically: she obviously did not recognize the title, confirming her generation had left these restaurants far behind already.

The Chinese-Indonesian restaurant is a very Dutch cultural phenomenon, might even be considered a cultural heritage!
This odd combination of Chinese and Indonesian cuisine can only be found in Holland.
For generations these restaurants provided the only taste of exotic food and for many if not most families the first experience of dining out on occasion.

However times, they are a-changin'...
The original Chinese-Indonesian restaurants see their number fast in decline, being replaced by other type of restaurants (e.g. sushi- or wokrestaurants). But many, perhaps because of their awkward location, remain empty for years while others are torn down.
For many this is a crying shame.
Hence Mark's work to record and photograph all 1090 Chinese-Indonesian Specialty Restaurants in The Netherlands. Before it really is too late.

I am happy to say I found several restaurants in this book I dined in and am still a frequent visitor to my local Chin.Ind.Spec.Rest., either for a sit down dinner or collect my take-away food. But I will never look at these restaurant in the same way as before, now that I have read Mark's book!




Missing (Saknad), mini series

Police superintendent Maja Silver (Helena Bergström) goes back to her old hometown Bogesund, in the Swedish Bible belt, to see her daughter and enjoy a well deserved vacation. Nothing much happens in this small town, until...

Upon a visit to her mentor at the local police station, a call comes in about a terrible discovery.
While examining the body of a young woman found dead at the side of the road, her former colleague, mentor and friend (who is counting the days to his retirement), Ragnar, suffers a heart attack and dies. Maja is asked to take his place and out of respect for Ragnar she accepts; not all of her former colleagues look positive upon her return.
While the police struggles to identify the young woman, another young woman disappears.

Many of the close knit community are involved in the deeply religious conservative congregation and everybody eyes each other, gossip is widespread and plentiful. The congregation is led by a popular, enthralling young priest, Stein. 
And while Maja is struggling with her investigations and obstinate staff, her daughter from a failed marriage has shacked up with a young man and got herself pregnant..

Four episodes of drama and interesting twists in the plotlines.
I wouldn't mind a follow up on this 2017 mini-series!




Black-tailed godwit (Grutto)

Carrion crow
Carrion crow (Zwarte kraai)

Exploring the possibilities of 'birding', photography mainly. Not yet sure if this will work for me.
But these are the first truly acceptable photos since I started this about a year ago.
I am happiest snapping pictures and since aviation photography is on a steady decline for me, I have looked at other events and subjects. I like events and street photography, the latter also returning in my travel photography (as is at times the vintage aviation).
Bird photography came about during walks, like when I visited music concerts this developed in concert photography.
But birds are often tiny and at quite a distance.. I found my Sony RX10M3 (which I swapped for a RX10M4 laste week) not ideally suited: among branches I found the RX10 III difficult to focus (am hoping the RX10 IV will do better) in spite of its impressive 600mm.
The Canon SX70hs has an even grander zoom lens: 1356mm, but I found the quality on the maximum range disappointing (esspecially when cropping the image). Then again it is much lighter and smaller than the RX10 and so the SX70 is handier to take on travels as an extra, for an occasional need.
The black crow above was photographed with the RX10 IV on its maximum zoom range, cropping it to a vertival format.

The Black-tailed godwit (Grutto) was photographed using a Canon EOS 77D with a Tamron 150-600mm on its max range. Cropped about 50%.
The Tamron 150-600/5.0-6.3 Di VC USD is affordable and has good enough results for me, but I also acquired a secondhand Canon 400/f4 L lens in 2017 which also provides a good range on the EOS 77D with the 1.6x cropfactor. And the Canon 400mm is much lighter than the Tamron zoomlens, a consideration when travelling.
My trip to Japan last year had no need for long lenses (the RX10 sufficed), most of my USA trips over the years needed them only occasionally and my next trip to Great-Britain this year will definitely need long lenses.
It will require careful consideration which cameras and lenses to take with me on future travels, considering all my different tastes in photography.
My profile page has a lenghty report on which cameras I use and used: about me

Index on my travel pages
My birds and wildlife photos on Flickr.com



Judge Dee mysteries

Judge Dee mysteries
Illustration by Robert van Gulik

Ever since China sparked my interest during the 1980s, I find occasion to read or explore something on the subject, in whatever form. The 'Rechter (=Judge or Magistrate) Tie Mysteries' by Robert van Gulik offer an easy insight in China in historic times.

Dutchman van Gulik wrote historic crime novels in English; the translations into Dutch (including the name of the magistrate change from Judge Dee to Rechter Tie) are mostly by others.

Judge Dee (also, Judge Di) is the eponymous protagonist of Robert van Gulik's series of detective novels. The series is set in Tang Dynasty China and deals with various criminal cases solved by the upright Judge Dee (judges often play the investigator role in ancient Chinese crime stories).
The Judge Dee character is based on the historical figure Di Renjie (c. 630–c. 700), magistrate and statesman of the Tang court. During the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in China, a 'folk novel' was written set in former times, but filled with anachronisms.
Van Gulik found in the 18th century Di Gong An an original tale dealing with three cases simultaneously, and, which was unusual among Chinese mystery tales, a plot that for the most part lacked an overbearing supernatural element which could alienate Western readers. He translated it into English and had it published under the title Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee.
This gave van Gulik the idea of writing his own novels, set with the similar Ming anachronisms, but using the historical character. Van Gulik was careful in writing the main novels to deal with cases where Dee was newly appointed to a city, thereby isolating him from the existing lifestyle and enabling him to maintain an objective role in the books.
Van Gulik's novels and stories made no direct reference to the original Chinese work and so 'Celebrated Cases of Judge Dee' is not considered to be part of the Judge Dee series.

Van Gulik also wrote series of newspaper comics about Judge Dee in 1964-1967, adding up to a total of 19 adventures. The first 4 were regular balloon strips, but the later 15 had the more typically Dutch textblock under the pictures.

Robert Hans van Gulik was born in 1910, in Zutphen,Netherlands and spent most of his youth in the Dutch East-Indies.
Later he studied several Asian languages, became a diplomat, indulged in scientific research and found himself a literary talent.
He passed away in 1967, in The Hague,Netherlands.

About this particular book, The Phantom of the Temple (Het Spook van de Tempel):
Judge Dee (Rechter Tie) buys a present for his 1st wife (he has three), a nice little box with some jade on the lid; but after closer examination he finds a piece of paper hidden in it with written on it, in blood, a plea to be saved by someone called Jade.
While Judge Dee decides to investigate this further (and buy an other present for his 1st wife), another investigation takes precedence: a dead body in an abandoned temple. Upon closer examination the body and head don't match, they are from different murdered victims.

These Dutch translations (the editions I read) have interesting introductions by Janwillem van de Wetering.

Other Judge Dee (Rechter Tie) mysteries were discussed by me on my blog-2011q3 ¬ blog-2014q2 ¬
blog-2016q1 ¬ blog-2016q2.

www.judge-dee.info/judge_dee/titles/ - English, Dutch, French & German




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Created: 01-APR-2019