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Under the Snow

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3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  206 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
In a village nestling at the foot of a snowy mountain in Lapland, Constable Torsson receives a phone call from an outlying district. He skis off to investigate the death of a teacher following a drunken brawl. The dark deeds of winter finally come to light under the relentless summer sun.
Paperback, 164 pages
Published July 7th 1997 by Vintage (first published 1961)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Lucy Pollard-Gott
Under the Snow stretches the police procedural genre--or rather, freezes it--to fit its setting: a tiny Sami village on the Arctic circle in Norbotten County, the northernmost county of Sweden. Constable Bengt Torsson is called to investigate the death of art teacher Matti Olsson, at the small Rakisjokk Nomad School, situated at the far west end of a long, narrow lake. The school exists only for the Sami children, and the few Swedish people in the village are those doing weather measurements, te ...more
Matt P.
I selected this book, Under the Snow because I felt as though I needed to explore the mystery genre of books again. As a kid some of my favorite books were mysteries, and I hoped I would resurface my enjoyment for them. I also selected this book because it wasn't too long and I needed a book that didn't drag on. It was a good thing this book was indeed short though, as I did not resurface my love for mysteries through this particular book. The book did have the aspects of mystery which I appreci ...more
Donna
Jan 19, 2013 Donna rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
This was a strange little book. Set in a small rural Finnish community, a young man is found dead in the snow. The investigation concludes that he died of exposure after becoming drunk and falling asleep in the freezing cold.
Six months later a friend of his arrives to discover his death and reopens the investigation. It appears that the whole community is keeping a huge secret about what happened. Apart from that not a lot happens, there seems to be a lot of walking up the hill and walking down
...more
Linda  Branham Greenwell
This is as much a mystery as it is a learning about a culture. It IS a mystery - Matti was found dead under the snow under suspicious circumstances and Aili is missing - in a Sami village in the north pole winter
I admit I had a difficult time understanding what was going on at first - but once I caught on to the wording and thought processes, I really enjoyed the book. I felt transported to another way of life - where people live in the cold dark winter and live in a closed society - with their
...more
Tony
Apr 25, 2012 Tony rated it really liked it
Written in 1961, another book like Blackwater set in a closed rural community in Northern Sweden. As always Ekman's descriptions of the natural world are second to none. The main protagonist David an eccentric artist is almost comic, especially when paired with the over-weight policeman Torsson. But this is far more than a detective novel, indeed the detection almost happens by accident. A slow unravelling that finally reveals the truth.
Mary Ahlgren
Jan 18, 2017 Mary Ahlgren rated it really liked it
More an evocation of the Sami culture than a mystery. People who live in northern regions of the world sure know how to survive deprivation.
Scott
Feb 25, 2013 Scott rated it liked it
On the surface this is a mystery, with the attendant false leads, feints, twists and surprises, set in an exotic local to intrigue us. The two protagonists are the unlikely buddies newly met, a half-whacked painter and a stolid, buddha-like Swedish policeman. They're both out of their element, thrust into a rural community committed to educating the Sami (Laplanders) and filled with eccentrics that somehow can't fit in anywhere else but in the farthest north of Sweden. The darkness, a character ...more
Mary-Ann
Sep 28, 2008 Mary-Ann rated it liked it
Resigned to expanding my mystery reading horizons beyond the cozy mystery (which I commonly recommend to older library patrons) but really not anxious to delve into violent crime fiction, I was drawn to this book by its brevity, the fame of its author, and the northern Sweden setting in which the action takes place.

Ekman introduces many characters into this work, most of whom are so sparingly described that a reader easily can become confused.

What I appreciated: the wry wit, the occasional inc
...more
Larissa
Nov 25, 2007 Larissa rated it it was ok
Although many of Ekman's future concerns--tensions between the Sami communities in Northern Sweden and Swedish society, small town politics, the meaningless violence that comes as the consequence of violence with motivation--are also elemental in this, her first novel, Under the Snow definitely reads as a primer for better things to come. Namely, Blackwater. If this had been the first novel of Ekman's that I had read, I wouldn't necessarily believe that she'd develop into so fine a prose-writer. ...more
Rachel Hirstwood
Nov 18, 2011 Rachel Hirstwood rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Kat Mortensson
This little gem of a story turned up hidden among a box of dusty books at a local book fair - I nearly missed it, but am so glad I didn't, despite it being very tatty. Its a Swedish crime novel - my favourite - but it is set in the very far north among the Sami people. It gives the impression that the Sami are totally foreign to Swedes, and they have their own language and culture, and seem to prefer to speak Finnish not Swedish, although this may well be antagonistic against the Swedish constab ...more
Alyson
May 26, 2014 Alyson rated it it was ok
Hmm. This seemed a little strange. Maybe that was the intention. The first chapter started off relatively sensible: a murder is reported, policeman heads north to investigate. Then from chapter 2 onwards one of the new characters appears and he just seems a little 'odd'. Do people talk like that? Maybe the oddness was to reflect the near darkness winters that far north. I don't know.
I got a bit confused by all the characters, some with slightly similar names, and who was meant to have said what
...more
Aileen
Feb 16, 2010 Aileen rated it really liked it
A nice compact detective story set in northern Sweden and written in 1961, a long time before the current trend for Scandi-crime. Matti a young man has died in a remote village populated by a few loners and some Sami. The policeman Torsson is satisfied it was am accident but a few months later he returns with an old friend of Matti who is not convinced. The villagers clam up and are obviously hiding something, it takes a lot of poking around the village and surrounding mountains before the real ...more
Rita
Apr 28, 2015 Rita rated it really liked it
Interesting little book. It reads like exquisite literature. There's no hack cop or hammering detective but a wise, quiet man. The characters are finely tuned. The descriptiveness is beautiful. But it is not a mystery or thriller. It is a reading and journey of a group. You come to know them. Their homes. The snow and mud and the smells. And the coffee. So, it's getting four stars. I hope people don't pass it by thinking it's a who done it. It's so much more.
Kim
Jan 14, 2012 Kim rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery
For a short book it took forever to read. The clumsy translation had to be re-translated while reading. While interesting enough to finish, I felt the setting and descriptions of the Sami culture were superior to the story. The disappointing ending didn't compare to the outcomes that I had imagined. I don't know why certain characters were developed the way they were when they had no real significance to the story. Per-Anders/Per-Anti - are the same person?!?!
Bettie☯
Jan 04, 2009 Bettie☯ rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller
Translated by Joan Tate.

Opening paragraph:

I

Rakisjokk's Upper Ten

He had been fighting with a fly all morning. Starving, it had overwintered between the venetian blind and the inner pane of the duty-room window. It was staggering around in there, occaisionally tumbling head over heels - if it had heels. He was swiping at it with the ruler, but couldn't reach to give it the coup de grâce


Arlene Richards
Mar 15, 2011 Arlene Richards rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
This an excellent mystery thriller. The fact that it is written in the harshest of conditions in northern Lapland where the never ending darkness of winter and the constant exposing sun of the summer play such a major role in the unfolding of this intriguing story. I was literally left in the dark till the last chapter. A very good read.
Eric Hines
Not bad. Ekman is more in control of her materials than, say, Stieg Larsson was, but she's not quite where she would be with Blackwater, which so well balances a large number of plot elements to create a sense of northern Scandinavia as a world unto itself, but also make it significant to readers who know little of that world.
Maria
May 13, 2013 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As always when it comes to Kerstin Ekman, the language is absolutely beautiful. In the case of De Tre Små Mästarna, it is close to tailor-made for the descriptions of the harsh and taciturn landscapes and people of the north of Sweden. Wonderful story all the way, especially if you read between the lines.
Virginia
Aug 11, 2012 Virginia rated it really liked it
I read this book a while ago and found it very atmospheric. The mystery was beguiling and the characters and setting interesting. The author has vividly portrayed a sense of cold, bleak isolation. I've also read another book by this author and will be looking out for more.
Susan Mueller
Apr 14, 2010 Susan Mueller rated it it was ok
I found it difficult to follow the story - thought it might be the translation. Finished the book, but wondered what it really was about -the bleakness of the story is overwehlming. I just I didn't like this book.
Greg
Nov 09, 2011 Greg rated it it was ok
Shelves: scandivavian, mystery
This book was harder to follow and did not hold my attention as well as other Scandinavian murder mysteries. The ending brought a little excitment, though. It was interesting to hear about life in the far north, however.
Kirsty Darbyshire
Dec 07, 2010 Kirsty Darbyshire rated it liked it
Shelves: paperback

This book felt more like a long short story than a novel and probably because of that I enjoyed it more than I did Blackwater. Small town Sweden and some excellent writing/translation.

Josephine
Not going to rate the book, as I didn't get past page 25; don't let that put you off though! Keep in mind that the book is a translation of a Swedish book written in 1961...so the language is a bit different from modern books written in English.
Ann Tonks
Ms Ekman creates interesing protagonists, neither sane nor attractive nor young nor smart. But with layers of sensitivity and interest that you keep you connected to the story.

And for a non-European, the physical world that she writes about is engaging and unusual.

A good read.
Janet Aileen
Jun 24, 2013 Janet Aileen rated it it was ok
I am glad that I read this sample of the author's work. Not sure I want to spend time with any more. Slow and boring, not the best of Scandinavian crime/mystery.
Bitty
Oct 17, 2009 Bitty rated it liked it
I hope to one day read this in Swedish! This was very different from most mystery books I have read lately, a nice change from the norm.
Jackie
Mar 28, 2009 Jackie rated it liked it
I want to read more non-English fiction and I came upon this one, originally written in Swedish. The setting and story are good; not great. I look forward to Ekman's other works.
Tiina
Aug 31, 2011 Tiina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The great thing about this book was that it happened in the north of Sweden. Very different surroundings from the usual detective stories.
Casey
Casey rated it really liked it
Jun 09, 2010
Kate
Kate rated it really liked it
Dec 29, 2014
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Kerstin Lillemor Ekman is a Swedish novelist.
She began her career with a string of successful detective novels (among others De tre små mästarna ("The Three Little Masters") and Dödsklockan ("The Death Clock")) but later went on to persue psychological and social themes. Among her later works are Mörker och blåbärsris ("Darkness and Blueberries"), set in northern Sweden, and Händelser vid vatten (
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