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Himmelsdalen by Marie Hermanson


by Marie Hermanson

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Himmelsdalen är namnet på ett rekreationshem i alperna dit Daniel kommer för att hälsa på sin tvillingbror Max. Daniel och Max har inte haft kontakt på flera år och Daniel blir först förvånad och sedan glad över att bli inbjuden, men det visar sig att Max har en baktanke med besöket.

Marie Hermanson har en skicklig förmåga att hålla läsaren på halster i den här boken. Det är en riktig bladvändare, som man både vill läsa klart och inte! ( )
  PernillaZ | Sep 16, 2014 |
Veel te langdradig, onwaarschijnlijk verhaal dat weinig diepgang heeft. Ik verwacht meer diepgang en accuraatheid van de Scandinavische thrillerschrijvers. Dit hangt met haken en ogen aan elkaar en de spanning is ver te zoeken... ( )
  leesvrouw | Oct 21, 2013 |
The back of THE DEVIL'S SANCTUARY says that it has the atmosphere of Shutter Island and the intensity of Jussi Adler-Olsen so I was expecting something... well big.

And for quite a while this was a fascinating scenario. Estranged identical twins, Daniel and Max, were parted by their parents separation when they were very young. Daniel had a fairly normal, if not slightly doted on upbringing by his mother and her parents, Max not quite as lucky staying with his distant father and raised mostly by a nanny. Nothing particularly unusual in that, although Max has been diagnosed bipolar and is in an expensive Swiss recovery clinic when Daniel goes to visit him.

There's obviously something "not quite right" about the clinic, although it is, on the face of it, fairly serene, routine and seemingly quite supportive and comfortable. Not so comfortable that when Max proposes a swap of identities so that he can get out to sort out some financial problems, that Daniel is exactly willing. Doesn't matter as Max does an identity swap in the middle of the night anyway and disappears. Because they've been playing with identities and appearances anyway, nobody believes Daniel when he eventually protests the swap. Especially as all the documentation that they have on Max indicates that he doesn't have an identical twin.

For the longest time I was really intrigued about where this whole thing was going. Because there was that nagging feeling of something about the clinic, because it was kind of obvious that Max wasn't coming back there were all sorts of possible scenarios building up in my mind as I read on. When the ultimate truth about the clinic comes out I will admit I wasn't 100% surprised, but from there, the wheels started to wobble, and the wobble got stronger and stronger until an ending where, frankly, the wheels were off the car and a couple of kilometres in front of me, looking to cause some serious damage.

Aside from the fact that the ending was, well frankly just daft, there was an overwhelming sense of opportunity lost. Without giving away too much of the plot there's a reason behind that clinic that opened up a heap of possible avenues to explore. Instead we seemed to end up in a pointless heap of contrived situations designed to put characters at risk, even though the reader is well aware that they probably aren't. So I must admit by the end of it, despite finding the early part of the book really engaging, I was disappointed. And mildly annoyed. Especially as THE DEVIL'S SANCTUARY seemed to be a reasonably well written, pointless plot. ( )
  austcrimefiction | Jun 26, 2013 |
Daniel really should have known better than to trust his twin brother Max when he invited Daniel to visit him at the Swiss clinic in Himelstat. And then his proposal that they swap places for a few days was quite ludicrous, but then Daniel was always the more compliant. Only too late does Daniel realise that Max will not be coming back any time soon, and that Himelstat is not a place you can just walk out of.

Once Daniel decides to reveal to management that he and his brother have swapped and that Max has escaped, he realises that no-one is going to release him, particularly after the doctor in charge of him starts talking about multiple personalities in the one body. Attempts to escape show him that he doesn't know who he can trust, particularly when it appears that most of the other residents are psychopaths.

The plotlines verge on science fiction and fantasy and give the author some chances to explore possible treatments of psychiatric disorders.

For some reason the story kept reminding me of the 1960s British TV series The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan. Mind you I don't remember the story all that well, just that nothing was ever what it seemed.

To be quite honest, this is a most peculiar novel but it wasn't just the idea that my face to face reading group want to discuss it in a couple of weeks' time that kept me reading. I'm curious now to read another by this author, although THE DEVIL'S SANCTUARY appears to be the first of her novels translated into English.. ( )
  smik | Jun 6, 2013 |
Despite being identical twins, Max and Daniel aren’t very close. Max’ bipolarity has made it difficult for Daniel to rely on him. But when Max writes Daniel to ask him to come and visit him in an exclusive resthome in the Swiss alps, it sounds urgent enough for Daniel to go. Himmelstal turns out to be a beautiful, isolated valley, where the rich and discreet can occasionally patch up their stressed out psyches. However, it’s not cheap, and Max asks Daniel for a favour: to take his place for just a few days while Max gets money for the very steep hospital bill. Daniel reluctantly accepts. But Max doesn’t return, and it soon becomes evident there are a few things about Himmelstal he neglected to tell his brother about.

Marie Hermanson has written two brilliant novels (“Musselstranden” and “Mannen under trappan”), and about a handful books that aren’t nowhere near as good. So I always pick up her books hoping for greatness, but am often a little disappointed. The setup here is great, I think, and the first half of the book, where Daniel is trying to pass as his twin, while discovering things are not as they seem, is nailbitingly thrilling. But when bringing it home, Hermanson over-explains things and becomes a little predictable. Still, I hope this book gets translated into English. The idea is really cool, the characters are interesting, and lovers of for instance Dennis Lehane’s “Shutter Island” will find a lot to like here. ( )
  GingerbreadMan | Sep 20, 2012 |
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When Daniel arrives in Himmelstal, a private Swiss psychiatric facility, to visit his twin brother Max, he has no idea what's in store for him. He finds himself unquestioningly accepting Max's plea for help and the brothers swap paces in order for Max to take care of some business. All he claims to need is a couple of days in the outside world to settle his debt. But soon Daniel realizes Max isn't coming back-- and the clinic is far from a place of recovery. Struggling to get anyone to believe who he really is, Daniel finds himself trapped in a cruel and highly secretive prison. This is no sanctuary. It's a living nightmare.… (more)

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