Ann Cleeves, translated from English by Lee Joo-hye; Younglim Cardinal: 400 pp., 10,000 won
If you are looking for a mystery crime thriller to ease into a summer night, this book should be your choice. The novel is written faithfully in the tradition of the atmospheric ``Whodunit'' with colorful characters having little eccentricities and secrets of their own. It won the prestigious Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award last year.
On a remote island in the Scottish Shetlands, a teenage girl Catherine Ross is found dead, strangled and half-buried in the snow. Eccentric recluse Magnus Tait becomes the prime suspect, as he is not only thought to be the last person to have met the girl that night, but is also suspected of being involved in the disappearance of another girl eight years before. But Jimmy Perez, a rather worn-out yet earnest police detective inspector, has doubts and searches for evidence.
It won't be easy even for mystery-savvy readers to guess the identity of the murderer until the last chapter. When it is revealed, it is less surprising than understandable, as the writer does an excellent job of portraying each character's psychological traits. The landscape of the isolated island is also very vivid along with the suppressed emotions and animosities among small village residents.
I Am a Wallet
Miyuki Miyabe, translated from Japanese by Kwon Il-young; Random House Korea: 384 pp., 10,000 won
This book is an early work of Miyuki Miyabe, a multiple award-winning popular Japanese novelist who has quite a sizeable fan base in Korea with her numerous offbeat mystery and historical fiction.
The book is not likely to disappoint her fans, with its unique story-telling method: ten different wallets take turns to tell readers the stories of their owners in each chapter, which taken together unfold into a story about a series of mysterious murders.
While the crimes at first appear rather typical cases of people killing their spouses for life insurance money, toward the end the story takes an unexpected turn and becomes a mild rebuke at contemporary society steered by individuals' distorted desires.
The wallets -- whose owners include a boy, a detective, a blackmailer and a murderer, among others -- have characters resembling those of their owners, and truthfully relay the dialogue and events related to the mystery. Through the wallets, which are mostly nonchalant about human affairs but sometimes genuinely concerned about their owners, the writer skillfully delivers her story from a fresh angle while maintaining a warm-hearted tone.
The Indelible Image 3
Edited by Park Do; Noonbit: 240 pp., 35,000 won
This is the third in the series of photography books on the Korean War (1950-1953), edited by Park Do, who in recent years has been unearthing photographs from the National Archives and Records Administration in Maryland, the United States.
International journalists or members of the United Nations forces took most of about 250 black and white photographs featured in this book. The images range from those of President Syngman Rhee and Gen. Douglas McArthur to Marilyn Monroe in uniforms and boots, who visited South Korea to console U.S. soldiers stationed here in 1954. There are also images of the ruins in Gaeseong and Incheon, as well as Korean children lining up to get chocolates and sweets from U.S. soldiers, and Korean Navy sailors having a meal consisting only of a bowl of rice and soup.
Flipping through these images is like riding a time machine. Also interesting are captured documents from the North Korean army, which include posters and pamphlets calling on the South Korean army to convert, and private letters.
The Road of Transcendence, Golf.
Bang Min-jun; Hwanam Publishers: 376 pp., 13,800 won
Journalist/columnist Bang Min-jun's second golf anthology brings together 90 short essays that include a good sprinkling of golf-related morals and anecdotes. He makes an argument for the case that golf is a mental sport. Unlike most other sports that require innate talent and effort, golf is a series of transcensiions. The author hopes to help readers along this path by explaining his philosophy, ``be a golfer more like the moon than the sun.'' The book offers not only golfers but also non-golfers, a glimpse into the unique mental world of golf.