It’s midsummer in Sweden—when the light lingers through dawn and a long, isolating winter finally comes to an end. In this magical time, a brutal killer has chosen to strike. A female priest—who made enemies and acolytes in equal number—has been found hanging in her church. And a big-city lawyer quite acquainted with death enters the scene as police and parishioners try to pick up the pieces....
Not long ago, attorney Rebecka Martinsson had to kill three men in order to stop an eerily similar murder spree—one that also involved a priest. Now she is back in Kiruna, the region of her birth, while a determined policewoman gnaws on the case and people who loved or loathed the victim mourn or revel in her demise. The further Rebecka is drawn into the mystery—a mystery that will soon take another victim—the more the dead woman’s world clutches her: a world of hurt and healing, sin and sexuality, and, above all, of sacrifice.
In prose that is both lyrical and visceral, Åsa Larsson has crafted a novel of pure entertainment, a taut, atmospheric mystery that will hold you in thrall until the last, unforgettable page is turned
Åsa Larsson is a Swedish crime-writer. Although born in Uppsala, she was raised in Kiruna in the far north. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Larsson was a tax lawyer, a profession she shares with the heroine of her novels, Rebecka Martinsson.
I feel terribly guilty marking down someone's work as 'poor/did not like it' but the more I think about the book the more it makes me annoyed. The first in the series was infinitely better in most respects, it's hard to believe this is the same author.
One positive - the plot is interesting and well woven. Not too many clumsy red herrings and it builds suspense gently. That was the only thing that kept me going to the end.
The narrative style is not ow I recall the first book. It's very staccato and not at all a style that's appropriate or easy to read.
In my edition each chapter's first page was in a modern typeface and the rest of the chapter in a Roman typeface. Is that the publisher or the author who thought that would be appropriate? How pretentious.
Drab and dull. Loads of fairly inconsequential and really drawn out reminiscences by pretty much every main character that completely ruin the pace. I know it's sacrilege but in the last third I started skipping passages.
The 'wolf passages' might have been deeply symbolic if this was a major literary work rather than a book in the nordic crime genre. But as it was they just got in the way and I ended up skipping them. This symbolism and the typeface thing made me feel as though there was a lot of self indulgence in the writing without the originality and directness that made the first book so promising.
The final criticism - the main character Rebecka Martinson isn't that relevant to the story. She's a coincidental bystander who effects no influence on events and could have been any character. Sure there's a sense of deja vu for her when she gets caught up in things but it's hardly worth basing a whole book around this.
Won't be contiuning this series. Off to seek out my next Scandi/Nordic author.
The second in the series featuring the conflicted female tax lawyer in Stockholm, Rebecka Martinsson, sees Åsa Larsson convey the upheaval and emotional turmoil that her protagonist has undergone following her part in a traumatic investigation which left her with the blood of three men on her hands in her childhood home of Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden. Sleeping badly, not really connecting with people and more uncomfortable than ever with the enforced bonhomie of corporate entertainment, Rebecka Martinsson’s subsequent breakdown is the source of much speculation. Since the events, almost two-years-ago, Rebecka has withdrawn and fended off all encouragement to face down the scene of the crime and return to her grandmother’s cottage in the village of Kurrawarra. A seemingly innocuous opportunity to visit comes when Rebecka accompanies colleague, Torsten, to present a pitch to the church council. The discovery that whilst she has had her head in the sand and avoided all news, her hometown has since seen another sadistic murder with a female priest discovered hanging from an iron chain in Jukkasjärvi church just three-months-ago hugely unsettles her. A copycat incident or something more sinister, with female priest Mildred Nilsson a divisive figure in the community? From self-defence classes for women, an all female Bible study group named Magdelana, equal rights for women and a church fund to protect the local she-wolf both the hunting community and men in general are her biggest critics. The investigation into the murder has come to a standstill, despite her being a controversial figurehead in the local community. In the absence of team-leader Anna-Maria Mella the investigation has frustrated Inspector Sven-Erik Stålnacke and Mella’s return to part-time operational duty allows her to focus wholly on the case.
It takes very little probing for the church council to reveal the reasons why Mildred Nilsson attracted love and loathing in equal measure. The lack of defensive wounds surprises those closest to the female priest, whose confrontational approach spoke of anything but being easily subdued. A brief meeting with the church council is enough to stick in the craw of Rebecka as she gathers that they are rather hoping the snuff out much of Mildred’s influence in the community. Whilst it might seem that tackling an investigation with much in common to her first encounter is not the most sensible strategy for an author, this time it is much less personal and the ensuing involvement of Rebecka is innocuous, rather than intended when she has to take possession of Mildred’s church keys, locker key and eject her husband from the vicarage. Clearly Mildred’s former colleagues have been less than upfront with the police about the existence of a locker, which has remained unopened all through the summer. However, Rebecka’s conscious soon sees her offer a helping hand to the investigators and passing the evidence to them. As Rebecka stays on for a holiday and to attend to her grandmother’s woodland cottage ahead of the winter, she picks up on the various tensions and is once again in the wrong place at the wrong time. Luckily, the Kiruna police department aren’t too far behind, but it is her assiduous observations of community undercurrents that proves superior to the last gasp bloodshed. A varied cast of suspects with believable motives, from priests who oppose women joining the clergy, abandoned husbands, keen hunters and once cherished lovers scorned all abound.
I find Rebecka Martinsson a fascinating character as she is representative of some many woman of her age, torn between the well-paid corporate job and the fact that it frequently necessitates her biting her tongue and being morally compromised. Her position as a tax lawyer frequently sets her at opposition to her wider beliefs and principles. Likewise Inspector, Anna-Maria Mella, is a working mother juggling her job with four children. With two central characters both portrayed by highly competent and dogmatic females, the interplay between the two as they grow in trust is well explored, despite the undoubted esteem that hold each other in. Rebecka is reluctant to become emotionally attached to those she works alongside, often appearing surly and stand-offish but she doesn’t back down from confrontation and asking the awkward questions. In that sense, the forthright duo of Rebecka and Anna-Maria in tandem is an unappetising prospect for anyone with secrets to hide.
As a mystery, The Blood Spilt is a far superior investigation to chew over than debut novel, The Savage Altar, which I felt got a little sidetracked by Rebecka’s personal connections. Indeed, this case is certainly more pared back in terms of Rebecka’s mental health woes and makes her situation easier for readers to connect with. Numerous different points of view contribute to the narration, not only Rebecka’s but the police investigators and potential suspects which conveys a well-rounded overview of the prevailing atmosphere, although this does make the reader privy to information before the police, which can work against sustaining tension. Rebecka Martinsson is much less essential to the solving of the crime in this second novel, more a bystander who ruffles a few feathers than an proactive agitator. The breathtaking backdrop is the location of Kiruna which itself plays an important role in the mystery, given its isolation and geographical quirks and traditions.
I did have a few minor niggles with this novel, most significantly the story of a wolf named “Yellow Legs” which ran parallel and I am still unsure why it appeared alongside the investigation of a murdered woman. My interpretation is this the story of Yellow Legs is an analogy for the she-wolf that Mildred works so earnestly to protect, in turn because she herself identifies with the animal as a minority female within the male dominated church hierarchy, and hence perhaps indicative of female strength. Secondly there were numerous circumstances where Larsson often mentions Mildred’s relationship with characters in the community and rather than simply relaying the information, she lapses into flashbacks to illustrate the events. I was also frustrated by the ending which leaves the character of Rebecka in a practically identical situation to as in her debut appearance. Despite these minor irks, Åsa Larsson writes well and has a wonderful appreciation of what makes her fascinating cast tick, thus ensuring she is always a more than satisfactory read. Brooding Nordic Noir which wears its heart on its sleeve!
Ποτέ δεν θα σταματήσω να εκπλήσσομαι από το πόσο ταυτίζομαι συναισθηματικά με την Ρεμπέκα Μάρτινσον· όχι επειδή μοιάζουμε, αλλά επειδή η πέννα της Όσα Λάρσον είναι τόσο ικανή, αργά και βαθιά και αβίαστα, να με μεταχειρίζεται περισσότερο σε κάθε βιβλίο.
Because I just finished this one no more than 10 minutes ago- I have to admit it, my heart is still beating a tad faster. YET!
It's got one of those endings.
This seems more of a crossover genre than a crime/mystery to me at points in the novel. The entire middle 1/2 (not the first quarter or the last quarter) reminds me of a 2 dozen character town study in the middle of a Miss Marple Agatha Christie. You become embedded within the town of Kiruna, Sweden for huge proportions of the book copy. Rebecka Martinsson is "returning home" to her roots during the recovery periods after the events of book #1. She has tried to return to work and other activities several times but is operating as within a wall of disconnect. So she is on a kind of extended and non-descriptive to length or quality "sick leave". So essentially at one level it is a tale of PTSD. Rebecka has killed and her co-workers and nearly all else in her life seems to separate her by that fact. So the PTSD is just one level of this story.
The other levels involve the relationships within the town Kiruna itself. Especially in regards to the parish and the 3 pastors or clerics that run the community and religious services. And also have straightaway connections to social services and some law regards, as well. These seem to overlap in Swedish "group think" of definition and for practical applications.
So- the names are difficult and the roles within the society, small as it is, are not overly familiar to those who read this in English, I would assume anyway. So know that. It's a difficult connection process- this book. Not only in the nomenclature but in the forms. Prose forms and division junctures both. Because Rebecka's story is just one of at least 3 levels.
Be patient with me too. Here it goes, I'll try to define the "levels" themselves. I was over page 300 when I realized the depth of the separations between them, and would have to reread the book again to grasp all the parallels. But I do "get" it. Because it is NOT only the humans that Asa Larsson is writing about. It's about animals. All. Even the ones who happen to be homo sapiens too. But who are also social animals in packs and having their own "pecking order" difficulties.
Level 1- Rebecka's story of recovery
Level 2- Yellow Legs' story of her first 4 years (the non-alpha female wolf who features big in all 3 levels)
Level 3- Karuna's tale as the "village" who helps raise the child or is the fount of all "we think this is a good" within the Socialist or current authority dominated system in Sweden
So why am I telling you all this and not merely saying if I liked it or not- any why? Because I know my GR friends, that's why. And many of you who like this genre the most and especially love the Scandinavian bleakness- you will want to know ahead of time that ALL 3 levels do hold some brutal detailing and also a much less than positive type of result for 3 out of 4 outcomes in each of all three categories.
The time factor jumps too, as it does between the 3 tale placements. So after a death, you will find a category at any one level (and it could be our princess wolf's tale too) will also include a character having lengthy memory of the dead person's conversation or events with them for an entire day or meeting or whatever in the past. As you might, reader, have a clear memory of a departed parent or friend being exact for some hours and then relating it for a conversation you had with someone quite "other" just yesterday.
So THAT is why I would consider this book far more crossover psychological than merely mystery or crime piece. And it is NOT procedural much at all- as I don't even understand how you could ever do investigation in the way they do here. And I DO know that the town is far into the North.
Those of you who have PETA type proclivities to an extreme measure will have to be aware that this book has great love of animals but IMHO also has some issues for the great lovers of animals. Not in the way that most Americans, where I do know what the norm is for dog owner responsibility seems to be?? Hard to explain. But I do connote by nuance that animal "best" behavior also has a ethnic flavor here and is different in Europe? Regardless, I know some dog and cat lovers both will see nasty in this one.
There also may be a 4th level too that I'm not giving due credit for at all. And that is for the annihilation done to the most traditional and strongest, and maybe most loyal and hard working too- a member of any community whose life, job, work, role or worth are negated by the "know betters" who decide to obliterate it as not "fitting" for their own newer agendas.
But that may be too harsh? No, I don't think so at all. You could even say that this also has a politico level for the harshness of "change" which divides a people into "types" or "gender" or age or any "empowered" voice kind of context. Because that also cuts other "out" of the group. It certainly does and Asa Larsson studies here with a lens to that fact.
This would also make a great discussion book, IMHO. Not everyone is going to feel at all easily comparable about Mildred's worldview and 90% of her actions. And will also have very mixed feelings about how she acted or used others or rationalized her own choices, perhaps. And also about what Lisa did over all and for the ending portions of her story especially. Feminists might not care for this book as much as it portends for the strong women we have here throughout all these levels of "her story".
Can you tell that this is a book which leaves you with scores of issues to ponder? And that after all is told, our prime human (who IS the prime perp human?) and our lady wolf have very similar long term problems with "the pack".
Also know that for great lengths in the middle there is nearly no action whatsoever. It's all talk in a pub type tavern where Rebecka actually works one Saturday. A small hub in this "everyone knows about everyone else's business" kind of hamlet. And all the light in summer and all the dark in winter makes it even MORE complicated. But that long philosophical and conversational middle 1/2 might make this too dark in depths and slow for some readers who want the fast horrors only in the shallows of the mystery or crime "pond".
Will I read the next this week. You bet I will- I have it here already. It was 3 or 4 years since I read book #1 and I didn't remember all that Rebecka was recovering from. Now I want the next with this multi-level beauty in front and center memory very fresh for the next.
It only lost the one star for the slowness and disconnections between all the context conversations and jumping to time locations of the middle 2/3rds.
People who have more patience with the bleak Scandinavian outlook and habits may like this one more than I did too.
The Blood Spilt by Åsa Larsson is the second in the series of books featuring Rebecka Martinsson, a tax lawyer working in Stockholm who has been traumatized by her involvement in a murder-three murders in fact. She has not been able to recover from the trauma that took place near her childhood home. Now she has returned to Kiruna and to the scene of another crime, one involving the murder of a priest (as had the first crime). The priest was a controversial, charismatic woman about whom people were passionate, either hating or adoring.
And local policewoman Anna-Maria, a kind of alternative version of Rebecka, is on the case. The two women play a kind of contrapuntal composition against a moody nordic background of isolation, loneliness, and angst.
I loved both these characters in the first book, Sun Storm as well as the setting. Larsson's writing, at least as it comes through in translation, is evocative and atmospheric and her people vulnerable and tough almost simultaneously. I was drawn into this desolate world. The violence in both books is sporadic but horrifying and the level of pain felt by so many of the characters is high and unremitting. Larsson has grown from the one book to the next, the suspense constantly building and the pace powerfully controlled.
I can't wait to read another Larsson. She provides that wonderful opportunity to feel as though I have stepped out of my life into another world-a fascinating, somewhat terrifying (but reassuringly fictional) one that is both stunning and horrifying.
Esperaba cierta mejoría respecto a "Aurora boreal" y la ha habido (más o menos) pero aún así no ha servido para compensar. Definitivamente no soy fan de Åsa Larsson. Su estilo no me atrapa, sus protagonistas ni me van ni me vienen. Y, sin duda, lo que menos me gusta es como estructura la trama y la desarrolla. Tengo la sensación de que ha transcurrido todo ridiculamente despacio y sin darle importancia a nada. Parecía que la cena del vecino estaba a la misma altura que la persecución de un sospechoso (por poner un ejemplo). Aún estoy esperando que me explican que demonios pintan y qué significan las escenas de la loba "Patas doradas". No me han aportado absolutamente nada. No digo que todo se viera venir, pero he intuido quien sería el asesino desde un buen principio y bueno, meh total. Y el final más meh aún si cabe. Lo único que me ha gustado ha sido una escena con perros y el hecho de que saliera de manera tan natural una pareja homosexual. Fin. No lo recomiendo. Ni su predecesor. Y oficialmente abandono esta saga.
I haven't been able to find Sun Storm, so I had to start with this, the second in the series. I liked it very much. I agree with Lisa that the author has painted Rebecka Martinsson as rather pitiful, but after what she has been through, I feel that it's probably pretty realistic. The wolf story didn't aggravate me as much as it did some of you, but I tend to be pretty literal, so if it was laden with lots of symbolism, it was lost on me. I did like the fact that the wolf made her own way, got her needs met (even if she did have to mate beneath her normal standards...so to speak). I also thought that since she was headed for the area of Kiruna, we might meet her in later books.
When I read novels set in foreign countries I always get out a map. Kiruna is waaaaay up in the Far North, as they say in Sweden. I enjoyed the insights into the native cultures up there, how they relate somewhat to the 'southerners' , reindeer culture, etc.
Something to keep in mind is that in this book, the main character is more Anna-Maria than Rebecka, which is great by me. Anna-Maria seems to be a very normal type person, contrasted with Rebecka's antisocial, nerdy traits. The two offset one another and the author does a good job of bringing their 'partnership' to life gradually. A development of trust and mutual interest. (This is explored more in the next novel, which I am reading now.) I also very much like her partner, Sven-Erik. Of course I love cats like he does, so I warmed up to him right away.
Personally I didn't mind having Rebecka easing back into civilization and civility. I thought it made sense, was a logical step basedon Rebecka's experiences. I liked the cafe, Mimmi, and Mike...Nalle's coming into Rebecka's life.
Something I liked a lot in this book was the presentation of the character, Mildred, and the people she affected. IMO like so many do-gooders, Mildred DOES do a lot of good, but also takes a lot for granted and causes a lot of pain, too. I thought the book did a good job of making her and the people around her very complex. It wasn't easy to tell who was the "good" person and who was the "bad" person at any one point in time. I would have had a hard time getting along with Mildred, no doubt in my mind, yet I had to admire her for being true to her challenging nature.
Lars-Gunnar and his son, Nalle, were an interesting pair. I could truly feel Lars anger and frustration with Mildred's interference. That do-good-ism, that moral high road, that give some people such power. The ending came together well. The Lisa character didn't affect me so much. I just wasn't able to feel her pain. not sure why. Was that relationship not as well developed in the story?
Κουτσά στραβά,βγήκε και το δεύτερο.. :Ρ Εντάξει,εγώ και η Asa Larsson δε θα συναντηθούμε ποτέ και πουθενά σ' αυτήν τη ζωή..Είναι η προσωπική σκανδιναβική μου απογοήτευση,όπως φαίνεται..Παρόλο που η "Λευκή νύχτα" είναι λιγάκι καλύτερο από το πρώτο της βιβλίο,το αναγνωρίζω αυτό,δεν κατάφερε να με συγκινήσει και να μου τραβήξει το ενδιαφέρον.Περισσότερο το διάβασα για να δω την εξέλιξη της ιστορίας της Ρεμπέκα(που έμεινε πάλι επάνω στο καλύτερο,άρα θα πρέπει να διαβάσω ΚΑΙ το επόμενο..)κι όχι γιατί ήθελα ντε και καλά να διαβάσω κάτι ακόμα δικό της... Δεύτερο βιβλίο στη σειρά με φόνους παστόρων,με διάχυτο το θρησκευτικό αίσθημα.Βέβαια υπάρχει έντονο και το στοιχείο της μικρής κωμόπολης με τα πολλά κρυμμένα μυστικά - κάτι που 'ξυπνάει τα αίματα' στα αστυνομικά,και πάλι όμως είναι πολύ λίγο.Προσωπικά,δεν ένιωσα ούτε ένα ρίγος ανυπομονησίας για να μάθω το δολοφόνο,να δω την κατάληξη της υπόθεσης,απλά ήθελα να το τελειώσω..Κι αυτό ΔΕΝ είναι καλό για το οποιοδήποτε βιβλίο... :/ Ευτυχώς η Σκανδιναβία έχει να προσφέρει άπειρες επιλογές ταλαντούχων συγγραφέων και υπέροχων,συναρπαστικών βιβλίων,οπότε παρηγοριέμαι... :)
This is the second book in an interesting series by this author, a Swedish crime fiction writer. I enjoyed it in some ways better than the first, maybe due to the poetic inclusion of scenes from the point of view of a wolf who plays a small role in the story. Unfortunately, the primary character of the first book, Rebecka Martinsson, plays a smaller role in this book and seems such a pathetic character, I found myself wishing at times that the author could have been a little kinder to her. The pace of character and relationship development in both books suggest that the author plans to continue the series for some time. I'm in. For now, anyway.
Deși am citit primul volum cu mult timp în urmă, în minte am rămas cu o amintire foarte plăcută legată în mod special de modul de scriere al autoarei. Simțind nevoia să citesc un roman polițist, l-am ales pe acesta, iar în final s-a dovedit a fi o alegere foarte bună.
Protagonista noastră este Rebecka Martinsson, o avocată traumatizată după întâmplările din primul volum al seriei, în care a trebuit să ucidă trei oameni pentru protecția altora. Traumele psihice prin care trece aceasta sunt perfect ilustrate prin interacțiunile sau lipsa acestora față de colegii de la firma de avocatură la care lucrează, prin apatia generală pe care Rebecka o simte pe tot parcursul romanului, care se ameliorează treptat, însă doar parțial atunci când se întoarce în Kiruna, satul din Suedia unde s-a născut și unde au avut loc crimele cu un an în urmă. Deși cercetările ei împreună cu un alt coleg trebuiau să se rezume la câteva formalități, avocata reușește să fie implicată într-un alt caz de proporții ce vizează moartea pastoriței feministe dintr-un oraș din apropiere. Mildred a fost executată chiar în interiorul bisericii, iar prin colaborare cu echipa de poliție locală, Rebecka ajunge să elucideze acest mister, cât și moartea unui alt cetățean și membru al parohiei. Din acest motiv consider Noapte Albă o ficțiune religioasă.
Unde înainte mă concentram mai tare pe caz în sine, punând mare accent pe aflarea identității criminalului și nivelul de șoc cauzat de aceasta, mergând direct proporțional cu valoarea cărții în ochii mei, romanul în cauză se sustrage unei posibile priviri superficiale, în contextul în care am bănuit aproape fiecare personaj în parte de comiterea crimei. Atunci când am aflat în sfârșit identitatea criminalului și motivațiile sale, faptul a venit normal și autenic în cadrul poveștii, demonstrând că romanele detective în general și dacă sunt de bună calitate literară au mult mai mult de oferit decât un mister ce poate fi rezolvat pe cale logică. Implicațiile profund psihologice descrise de Larsson în acest volum m-au făcut să fiu curioasă în continuare de aventurile acestei avocate traumatizate, punându-mi întrebarea: oare cât de mult poate duce mintea umană, câtă rezistență avem de fapt în confruntarea cu moartea altor oameni, comiterea de crime odioase și alte astfel de lucruri? Cum te ridici după ce ai trecut deja prin atâtea experiențe traumatizante datorită job-ului pe care ți l-ai ales în viață?
Autoarea a inclus de asemenea și o frumoasă metaforă episodică în ceea ce privește o anumită lupoaică, pe care Mildred, pastorița, încerca să o protejeze prin fondurile bisericii. Stadiile în care acest animal trece de la o scenă la alta par a fi contrarii stării psihice ale protagonistei, dacă ar fi să ne ghidăm după asta, însă de fapt revelează o stare de conștiință și mai profundă, ducându-ne cu gândul la o eliberare a spiritului peste puterea voinței umane. Felul cum Rebecka își găsește pacea după ce în sfârșit își face curaj să se întoarcă în casa părintească și modul cum reușește să-și adune ultimele puteri pentru a lupta pentru Binele mai mare sunt trăsăturile cele mai de apreciat la acest personaj dotat cu nimic mai puțin sau mai mult decât noi, restul oamenilor. Noapte Albă este doar în plan secundar un roman polițist, căci din punctul meu de vedere este o incursiune deosebit de interesantă și bine structurată în mintea umană, atât cea criminală, cât și cea inocentă. Personajele sunt variate și pline de viață, nimic nu pare să-i fi scăpat din vedere autoarei atunci când a pus cap la cap toate elementele ce au făcut această poveste atât de ușor de parcurs și care cu greu se poate șterge din minte.
Deși nu am foarte multă experiență în materie de romane marketate drept polițiste, sunt convinsă în sufletul meu că autorii nordici merită toate premiile la acest capitol. Recomand cu mult drag seria și pe această autoare atât de autentică prin arta ei.
I'd recommend reading this series in order, otherwise you'll get a painful start. Sun Storm is the book #1, which I didn't have the patience to wait to find before reading this one. When starting with this book, Rebecka is introduced as a depressed, barely functional (PTSD) woman who just casually is mentioned to have killed three men. Wait, what? An attorney who just happened to kill three men and is now on sick leave? They left it like that, so it's only 40 pages later when they go back to the detail, how she essentially happened to kill them.
Let me summarize it for anyone else who starts the series from book #2: Rebecka has PTSD and is on sick leave because of the first book in the series. She had to kill three men accidentally or as in self defense, and "unlike the people in the books" it's a lot harder to get thru that, but she's making progress. She's doing some freelance work for the office she was working earlier. So just bare with the first 50 pages and you'll get much better into the story. She starts to warm and come out of her shell.
Like in the first book of the series, a priest is murdered in a small city in the armpit of Sweden's and Finland's Lapland. This is much different an environment (much more exotic) than e.g. Mankell's Sweden or Nesser's gibberish Sweden-like-Dutch-whatever. A small town in the armpit of Sweden, and there are strong influences of Lapland and of Finland too. A lot of people have Finnish first or last names. A bunch of items are still in Finnish in the book (the original book was in Swedish; Swedish and Finnish are about as close as English is to Portuguese), but I guess for a Swedish reader it'll be easier to find someone who can help translate some of the texts still in Finnish in this book. A few that I remember from the book: "Ei saa peittää" on a radiator = "do not cover". "Äiti" = mum, "älä lyö" = "don't hit". If there were others, just comment and I'll be glad to help :)
Like in the first book, Rebecka ends up helping solve the murder. The murdered female priest was very liked, at least by the loser type women in the town. She also had a lot of enemies. The story goes in two tenses, now (in past tense), and in the past tense (where the story is told in the present tense - this was something that also irritated me for the first 30 % of the story). There are a lot of interesting characters whose side is followed now and in the past. There's also a wolf whose story is told every now and then, yet I'm not that sure the wolf really binds that well to the story.
The characters are interesting and something that pull the story together and forward. The location is exotic, yet this is a bit like most of the Finnish crime stories: there's a huge benefit if you know a bit of the culture before you read it. The exotic things are not explained as you run to them; a sign that this is a translation from Swedish. (If you want to try some Nordic exotic crime stuff but without learning everything about the culture beforehand, try James Thompson's Kari Vaara books. He writes two versions, one for the Finns where there's no need to explain the stuff that isn't exotic to them, and an other for everyone else, who don't need to know everything as the exotic things are explained as you run to them). I don't offhand remember any of the exotic bits but they'd be as banal as the milk cartons and tupperware or Swedish wellingtons.
After requiring weeks of psychotherapy and psychotropic drugs after reading Larsson's mega-bummer "The Black Path," I was very hesitant to pick up this novel, which precedes the aforementioned blackness. "Blood" has a similar setting and similar cast of characters as "Black," but it's not nearly as, well, black, or even bloody.
I can see why "Blood" was voted Sweden's best mystery novel of 2007. Larsson's psychological perceptiveness as she sketches out a number of minor characters is impressive. Of course, many of these people are insecure, or neurotic, or depressive, or bonkers, or, as in the case of the killer, sociopathic. But that should come as no surprise, as they are Swedes. (Cf. Bergman. Strindberg, Josephson. Need I say more?)
The most sane of the major characters is police detective Anna-Maria Mella. She manages to keep her head when all about her are losing theirs and blaming it on her. Her male partner, Sven-Erik Stålnacke, plays a much smaller role in this book than in "Black." In this case, he spends a lot of time worrying about his cat, which has mysteriously disappeared.
The craziest major character is the protagonist, psycho-attorney Rebecka Martinsson. In the previous book in the series, Martinsson kills three people in self-defense, and this has messed her up badly. She's a quivering blob of self-doubt and paranoia, anxiety and agoraphobia (as she still is at the beginning of "Black"). Her emotional problems are so severe, it's hard to read some of her scenes.After a while, I thought, "Why doesn't she get help? Why do I have to be repeatedly given tours of her damaged psyche?" The only explanation I can suggest is that Martinsson is Larsson's alter ego, an lawyer from Kiruna. Perhaps writing out the madness is Larsson's therapy.
Canine imagery plays a large role in the novel, both dogs and wolves. One of the "characters" is a wolf named "Yellow Legs." (By whom she is named is another mystery.) The anthropomorphic Yellow Legs bothered me. It's one thing to present the cerebral musings of people, another to do this for a wild animal. Wolves don't have names; they don't think in Swedish or English.
The setting is Midsummer in the wilds of northern Sweden, a time and place echoed by my memories of June in northern Minnesota. It struck me that the two regions have cultural similarities as well as physical ones. In both places one finds hunters vs. conservationists, rural vs. city, male chauvinists vs. feminists, all clashing in a distinctive, understated Nordic manner.
This is the second book I picked from the free exchange shelf in my office and by now I start to understand why books end up there.
Among the things I did not like:
-This is the second installment of a thriller series featuring a lawyer called Rebecka. I much prefer self-standing novels. Reading this I felt like I jumped in mid way in a show I did not particularly care to watch.
-Main character Rebecka is suffering from a serious case of PTSD after having killed three people in the previous book. This is mentioned clearly in the beginning of the book, so it is not a spoiler. However, I would like to inform Rebecka that the world is overpopulated by over seven billion people - a lot of them very nasty. Therefore, getting rid of three unpleasant specimens should not create that much of a shock.
-There are too many characters and sub-plots going nowhere. I am not sure what was the point of introducing the boss priest, the side-kick policeman, the barman, the waitress, the lawyers colleagues etc.... all people who have little part in the plot, but a lot of space in the book.
-One of the side characters (Lisa, I think was her name), also has not much to do with the main plot, but apart from being a bit of a red herring, she has one of the most disturbing departures I ever read, invented only for -what looked to me - shock value.
-Rebecka herself is not much of a main character, since all she can do is moping around, being disgusted with herself and scream a bit.
-In fact, nobody seemed to be a main character, not even mother-policewoman Anna Maria ( a rip off of the pregnant policewoman in Fargo), who spends a chapter complaining (only in her head) about her family not helping with household chores but ends up saying nothing for peace sake (really a good example of.... I am not sure what....)
-There is an homicide (gory details not spared, again for shock value) and some sort of investigation, but the investigation is totally watered down by the myriad sub-plots and supporting characters.
-There are even some additional disconnected bits about a she-wolf, about which I had a bad feeling given the propensity of the author to create grim departure scenes, but luckily nothing too bad happened.
So, what did I like? Actually nothing, so from now on I'll give the nordic thriller writers a miss.
Blood Spilt: (Rebecka Martinsson #2) by Asa Larssons, Audiobook
Another priest is brutally mudered in this sequel to Sun Storm: (Rebecka Martinsson #1), this time a woman, hung by a chain from the rafters in the sanctuary. Once again the elders in this church are abusing church resources, and Martinsson, who is suffering from post traumatic stress after killing 3 of the church men in the first novel, is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
This novel does not the develop the continuous and heightened suspense like the first but enjoyable all the same. I liked the follow on cast of characters: the intelligent, tough Martinsson, Detective Ann Marie and Detective Sven Eric, and the Swedish location in the north woods of the country. I felt a little disappointment with the similar priest/church story line.
Definitely recommended but think this would not stand alone without reading the first in the series.
Poor Rebecka Martinsson - how much more can this character take? At one point in the book I became almost angry with the author for taking an already damaged person and putting her in another horrifying situation. But it works - and unlike many characters, Rebecka is not "strong in spite of it all" or anything similarly girl-power-y. She's a total mess, which feels realistic (well, as realistic as a murder-mystery novel will ever feel). I also love the style of writing - going from one character to another and switching just as something happens so that you can hardly stop yourself from flipping ahead to see what happens... good stuff. Great plot twists, too - I was guessing till the end.
This is the second book I read by this author. Imust say that I found the first somewhat better, but both are pretty similar to one another. I think that this one was a little disappointing. I'm not really into crime fiction, so maybe the flaws I found are just part of the genre rules. There were many parts that had nothing to do with the plot, and that, in my opinion, have no place in the book. Take the example of Rebecka's boss, Anna-Maria Mella's daily life, the wolf in the forest, and so on. The ending was not brilliant either. Maybe I should switch to another genre.
No me gustó nada. Me resultó una mezcla de cosas que hicieron que la primera mitad del libro fuera por momentos inentendible y además dejaron a la protagonista totalmente desdibujada. Espero que el tercer libro mejore bastante.
Second in the Rebecka Martinsson mystery series set in Sweden in and around Kiruna.
My Take Larsson has put a definite twist on the mystery, creating both a cozy story and an in-depth look at everyday Swedish culture with Blood Spilt similar to Sun Storm, 1, in that again, priests are dying around Kiruna. It did take a bit before I realized that the first chapter was the murder happening. There was a surreal quality to it and yet it played to the basics of the people in this area.
Business is really different in Sweden. Rebecka is unable to work, and her office keeps insisting she take time off. Can you see that happening in the States? Hah! Of course it does help that her aid in Sun Storm has brought the firm a lot of good publicity — and clients.
Between the first story, Sun Storm, and the fifth, The Second Deadly Sin, I know that Rebecka keeps returning to Kiruna, but she also had a relationship with Måns, which still hasn't developed. If anything it's still adversarial. So, on to the Kiruna side and how Larsson brings Rebecka, who's based in Stockholm, back to Kiruna and make it believable. And she does. Make it believable.
Speaking of which, you get the sense of the Swedish being very modern as well as being old-fashioned with their interest in traditions, their obsession with berry picking, hunting, and fishing. Basic, back-to-earth interests that must still be concerned with tax laws, employment rulings, and how the police work.
One difference — and it provides a reason for returning — is that the Swedish church has only recently separated from the government, and this has offered all sorts of opportunities for tax lawyers as well as problems of which they won't be aware.
As much as I enjoy the wolf sequence, I'm not sure what the point is. Sure it's a laudable effort on Mildred's part to want to preserve the wolves, but why is it here? What is the connection that I'm missing?
We learn a tiny bit more about Rebecka's mother. As for Lisa's actions, it takes too long for me to understand, and I had no idea that she missed Mildred that much. It' just heartbreaking.
Something horrible must have happened in Mildred's past that she's so vehement about protecting women. Her murder certainly does provide opportunities for her fellow priests to look back and consider their stances anew. Their reactions are certainly interesting, honest.
The real controversy here are the issues revolving around Mildred: the unfairness of the very cheap hunting lease, the embezzlement of the wolf fund, Mildred's affair, Wikström's personal and moral problems, Bertil's sudden regrets, Kristin's escalation of attack, and another's perception of the "attacks" Mildred was making against them.
It's a look at how marginalized women still are and male attitudes even in such a liberated country as Sweden. Forward thinking versus traditionalism. It's psychological in examining the people involved from Rebecka's PTSD to Lisa to Lars-Gunnar to Mildred to Micke to the "Christianity" of the priests to the blessing of Nalle. How Mildred made me take a second look at him, to appreciate him. It's another look at Anna-Maria and how her family grounds her. You won't regret reading this. It's very definitely a buy series if you like good writing, a cozy quality, and a chance to live in another culture.
The Story It’s Pia who finds Mildred, a restless sleep with a sudden inspiration that takes her to Jukkasjärvi church. Meanwhile, Rebecka is hesitant about this office picnic. She’s not ready to be around people. Luckily Måns is abrasive enough that his dare spurs Rebecka into accompanying Torsten on a pitch to a church group that will include Jukkasjärvi, Vittangi, and Karesuando.
Rebecka is sliding into the community. Taking Nalle about with her. Working as a waitress at Micke’s Café. There when another priest disappears.
The Characters A tax lawyer off on disability, Rebecka Martinsson is a mess since Sun Storm. I think she mostly grew up with her grandmother in Kurravarra. Now Rebecka owns a share in the house along with her Uncle Affe and Aunt Inga-Lill. Sivving is still a neighbor there; Bella is his pointer bitch who's had puppies which gives Nalle a thrill. Lena is Sivving's daughter.
The law office is Meijer & Ditzinger in Stockholm Måns Wenngren is Rebecka's boss; Madelene is his ex-wife. Maria Taube is a fellow lawyer and Rebecka's friend. Tthe partners include Erik Rydén, Ulla Carle is one of the firm's two female partners, and Torsten Karlsson who suggests Rebecka stay in his cottage. Petra Wilhelmsson is a new hire along with Johan Grill, gawkers. Krister Ahlberg is a criminal lawyer. Meijer & Ditzinger is working on a new project with the Jansson Group Auditors.
Kiruna PD Inspector Sven-Erik Stålnackestill doesn't have Anna-Maria back from maternity leave, and he's missing her. Divorced, he lives alone except for his cat, Manne who's missing. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella is the team leader; she's had a little boy, Gustav. Robert is her husband. Her other children include Jenny, Petter, and Marcus. Hanna is Marcus' girlfriend. Sonja still works the exchange.
Other members of the team include Fred Olsson who is good at research and Tommy Rantakyrö. Alf Björnfot is the chief prosecutor. Christer Elsner is a professor of the history of religion. Ah-ha, this is the story when the unsociable Inspector Krister Eriksson makes his appearance. He's a tracker and Tintin is his dog these days. Zack was the dog he had five years ago. Anna Granlund is an autopsy technician; Lars Pohjanen is the senior police surgeon. He had lung cancer a few years ago.
Jukkasjärvi Mildred Nilsson is their priest, a very active and controversial one helping the women and children in the parish. Erik Nilsson is Mildred's husband, a house husband who takes care of the cleaning and cooking. He loves her, and I'm not sure about her. The church wants him out of the house in Poikkijärvi. Mikael Berg is the rural dean and responsible for personnel issues.
Stefan Wikström is a priest as well. His wife, Kristin, is not satisfactory. Benjamin is their oldest and angry son. Bertil Stensson is the parish priest, the one in charge. Pia Svonni is a churchwarden. Mankan Kyrö is also a churchwarden more interested in an easier life. Torbjörn Ylitalo is the church's forest warden and chairman of the hunting club.
Lisa Stöckel chairs the Magdalena, a women's group organized by Mildred that does practical things to help women. She's not really the person for this position, although her day job as a debt counselor and budgeting advisor come in handy. Mimmi is Lisa's daughter. Tommy was her husband until she divorced him. And Lisa prefers her dogs: Majken, Bruno, Karelin, and Sicky-Morris. Magnus Lindmark hated Mildred and the Magdalena for enticing his wife, Anki, away from him along with his children. And from the sound of him, I suspect she'll live a lot longer.
Majvor Kangas is one of the women in the Magdalena. Annette is the vet.
The café Mimmi is waitress and cook and Micke's lover. Micke Kiviniemi owns the bar and café, and he is careful of her, worried she'll up and leave. Malte Alajärvi is one of the regulars. Nalle is slow-witted due to an inflammation of the brain as a toddler; his father is Lars-Gunnar Vinsa, a retired policeman who leads the hunt on the church land. His wife, Eva, left him, and he brought her back when she was ill with cancer. Lisa is his cousin. Lars-Gunnar's father, Isak, was terribly abusive.
The wolf pack I think Yellow Legs is the one Mildred is interested in. Her half-sister is the alpha female.
Catching up… Seems the whole Strandgård family (Olof, Kristina, and Sanna) moved, took the girls, Sara and Lova, away.
The Cover The cover is a black-and-white image of a snowscape before a narrow waterway with trees gathered on both sides and one in the front. A footpath leads to the lake, a snow fence creates a barrier along it and separates the grasses around the lake with a hint of pink to it all. A suggestion of the aurora borealis, perhaps?
The title finds Blood Spilt everywhere, physically and metaphorically.
El primer libro me supo a poco teniendo en cuenta lo mucho que se había hablado de él, pero quise darle otra oportunidad a la autora. Una y no más. El inicio es muy lento, tarda en entrar en la historia, y aunque Anna-María Mella es un personaje que me gusta, a la protagonista, Rebecka, la veo carente de carisma. No soy capaz de empatizar con ella y me resulta muy plana, a pesar del plano psicológico que se le intenta otorgar. Una cosa que me pone muy nerviosa de esta autora es los saltos que da en los tiempos verbales ya no sólo en el mismo capítulo, sino en los mismos párrafos. Los finales de cada capítulo de "Patas doradas" como simbolismo no estaban mal, pero en una novela de este género me sobraban y se me han terminado haciendo aburridos, tanto que terminaba saltándomelos. En definitiva, hay demasiada novela negra como para seguir dedicando el tiempo a una saga que no me termina de convencer en absoluto.
Well, I read book 3 first and just completed book 2, The Blood Spilt. I feel the weight of this story like a heaviness in the heart and an ache of sadness for certain characters. The story of Yellowlegs is told so beautifully, at least Yellowlegs has a happy ending. This story is told with such a haunting tone, Rebecka Martinsson is certainly haunted, but so are many of the characters in this story. The fourth book in this series, Until Thy Wrath be Past, is now available for me at the library so I will in the next day or so I will go and pick it up. Then I think I will have to buy the first book in the series Sun Storm because for whatever reason the library does not carry it. This is a deeply moving and sad series...
Åsa Larsson seems to polarize readers. None of that for me.
Her second book The Blood Spilt vaults her into the thin ranks of the greatest crime writers. The characters are beautifully conceived and drawn, the suspense grows like the beat of an approaching drum, and the emotions I felt were absolutely real. It is a masterpiece that transcends the genre, and leaves other Scandinavian crime writers far behind. Ms. Larsson's portrayal of violence and pain is grit-your-teeth authentic, but she is no less capable in her sensitive and sensual painting of love, desire, and hate.
Sure, it's not the best mystery I've ever read, and the portions "told by" the anthropomorphized shewolf were indulgent. But this book is outstanding for its ability to convey a sense of place. Larsson made me feel like I was in small-town northern Sweden right along with the characters. And it was conveyed with a pitch-perfect mix of affection and critical perspective.
I also appreciated the way Larsson dealt with the aftermath of Rebecka Martinsson's trauma in the previous novel. Too many authors who write mystery series throw their chartacters into one climactic ending after another with no psychological or social aftermath.
I "read" this book as an unabridged audio on a recent trip. Her writing is good, and the plot had potential, but this never made it as a thriller. It is just waly too slow. It is really a book about feminism and psychology, which is alright, unless you are expecting a detective story. In this one, a lady minister is found murdered and hung up in her church. we then try to figure who done it via an ongoing multi-threaded narrative and lots of flash backs. The priest is polarizing, with strong backers and detractors. In addition we get a parallel story of a she wolf in the woods which gives us another story of female strength.
Rebecka Martinsson has to be the unluckiest person ever. I laughed at the end of this book which I can't think was the response the author was after (the penultimate scenes were extremely sad however). Although I can't imagine Larsson expected people to laugh at the end she clearly realised it was a bit much as there was a postscript from her at the end of my edition. The only other time I have read something similar was the online letter Karin Slaughter wrote at the end of one of her novels, readers of the Grant County series will know to what I am referring.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
I love the characters - a really great story. Although it was a bit dark and depressing (about dogs) The story is about life in the northern part of Sweden - and about a murder that happens there.
Rebekah is from the area, and was traumatized in the previous book "Sun Storm". She has been unable to return to normal life following the events in Sun Storm. She returns to the area and has to face her trauma. The story involves murder of another religious figure (like the murder in Sun Storm. It also involves dark secrets, and relationships that have been built on lies.
The writing was better than the first book in the series but...it was like reading the first book again with so many parts of the plot being a repeat. A priest in found brutally dead in a church, there are shenanigans in the church finances, there are power games in the church and with the local community, there is a second murder of a priest, Martinsson's boss still carries on like a love sick puppy, and the book ends with a brutal murder and Martinsson in trauma. That's enough for me.