Wilma recalls the day she and Simon died: “I remember how we died. I remember, and I know. . . . I was seventeen.” Wilma's spirit has been wandering tWilma recalls the day she and Simon died: “I remember how we died. I remember, and I know. . . . I was seventeen.” Wilma's spirit has been wandering the village of Piilijärvi, nearly 50 miles southeast of Kiruna, for eight months before her body is found. Her great-grandmother, Anni, still has the pancakes she was making for Wilma that day in her freezer. And as her body is removed from the River Torne, Wilma knows that now her great-grandmother can finally cry.
A week after police remove what is left of Wilma from the river, forensic analysis confirms District Prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson's suspicion that Wilma's death was not a diving accident, but murder. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella heads the investigation. Although she feels estranged from her team after a questionable judgment call the previous year, Mella knows she has a job to do: Find who murdered Wilma and, by assumption, Simon. The two obvious suspects are the district's own local mafioso-type brothers, Tore and Hjalmar Krekula, who operate the family hauling business. Everyone, it seems, knows better than to cross the Krekula family. Proving the brothers had anything to do with Wilma's death will not be easy and almost certainly dangerous.
Åsa Larsson's Until Thy Wrath Be Past, fourth in the Rebecka Martinsson series, is not a straight-forward tale. Told in many voices from many perspectives, the story fluctuates between past and present events. Piilijärvi is a small community where memories and relationships go back a long way. Who aided or resisted the Germans during World War II is still a sensitive topic. Childhood incidents of sibling rivalry are not easily dismissed. Additionally, through the voice of Wilma's spirit, the victim is actively present, lending yet another dimension to this police procedural. Likewise, part of the narrative is told through Tore and Hjalmar, the main suspects. And, both Martinsson and Mella are struggling with personal and professional decisions about their futures, adding depth to these two principal characters. While this constant shifting of the narrative ground provides a major force of interest, the murder plot itself comes off as somewhat weak and convoluted. But despite this drawback, Larsson knows her characters and setting. Her Sweden is far from perfect but definitely revealing and her characters are full and alive. For both fans and new explorers of Scandinavian mysteries, Until Thy Wrath Be Past is well worth reading....more
The Killer's Art is Mari Jungstedt's fourth and latest offering in the Inspector Anders Knutas series. The plot centers on the shocking murder of EgonThe Killer's Art is Mari Jungstedt's fourth and latest offering in the Inspector Anders Knutas series. The plot centers on the shocking murder of Egon Wallin, Visby's successful and well-liked gallery owner, whose body is found hanging early one morning from the Dalman Gate in the city wall. The sensational nature of the murder, which occurred during the night after a very successful show at the victim's gallery, attracts the attention of the press, and reporter Johan Berg is again heading to the island of Gotland to cover the story. The ensuing investigation by Knutas and his team raises many questions but precious few answers, and everyone gets discouraged. Not until a small statue by a minor artist is found deliberately placed at the scene of a museum robbery does the investigation gain some traction and begin to move forward again. But it takes a second murder of another gallery owner before the pieces begin to form a coherent picture and Knutas can get the killer in his sights.
In addition to a clever mystery with several possible suspects, Jungstedt provides a very interesting and seductive introduction to Swedish art history by anchoring the plot to the theft of a well-known painting entitled “The Dying Dandy” by Swedish artist August Dardel. What Arnaldur Indridason's Artic Chill does for Icelandic poet Steinn Steinarr, Jungstedt's The Killer's Art does for Dardel by using fiction as an ambassador for her country's flesh-and-blood artists. Jungstedt also weaves other Swedish artists into the narrative as well, along with some biographical tidbits about the artists and their families, friends, and paramours. Additionally, part of the action is set in Gotland's landmark artist colony known as Muramaris, which supplies a bit of romantic intrigue to the overall tone.
The story, however, is somewhat diluted by the crowded cast of characters, and readers will need to pay close attention right from the start to keep them all straight. Along with the murder plot, there are several continuing narrative threads providing updates on returning characters, including the reporter Johan Berg and Emma, the mother of Berg's child. There are also tensions within the detective squad and Knutas must face rebellion at some of his personnel decisions. With the focus constantly shifting it's easy to become disoriented as location and perspective change. But despite these challenges, Knutas fans will cheer the detective's return and new readers will find a rich setting to explore.
(This item has not been published yet in the U.S. Review is of a used copy purchased from Cin and JF, used book sellers in California.) ...more