Swedish Crime, neither genre nor nationality that I am particular familiar with but when the brilliant Christopher MacLehose (he who built the Harvill list) urged me to read this book at the Independent Publishers Guild conference a few weeks ago, I thought I’d give it a go.
This is the fourth in the series of books based on investigations by prosecutor Rebekah Martinsson. I’ve not read the others in the series but she seems to have a very loyal fan base all of whom agree that this book can be read alone.
Martinsson together with police detective Anna Marie Mella are investigating the suspected murder of a young couple, Wilma and Simon, and much of the book is told from the dead Wilma’s point of view. As the story progresses we learn not only about the perpetrators of the crime but also their vile motive for it and the guilty local secrets that date back to the Second World War. We also get an insight into Martinsson and Mella’s contrasting love lives and hear about the lives of a lot others in this isolated part of Northern Sweden around the river Torne.
The opening scene is stunning! After reading it, I actually dreamt about the door being placed over the ice and the fingernails clawing to escape. The ending is also good, the historical facts educational, the study of the psychology of killing interesting but all of that aside I did find it quite a slog to get through, mainly because there were about zillion Swedish names and places and what felt like far too many minor characters.
However I’m pleased I’ve read it, and now that I’ve finished it, it has simplified in my memory. I just wish there had been fewer characters to grapple with, oh and I do think it would make a great film, especially that opening scene.
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