Shelleyrae at Book'd Out's Reviews > Midwinter Blood

Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft
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's review
Apr 30, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: arc-are, netgalley-reviews
Read from June 04 to 06, 2012 — I own a copy

I have to admit I slogged my way through three quarters of this book and considered abandoning it several times. I didn't for several reasons, one being that this was a Netgalley request, the second because two reviewers I respect gave it a 4 star rating and thirdly because I admired several elements of the novel.
Midwinter Blood is a part crime/part police procedural in the style of what has been labeled 'Scandinavian Crime', not only for the author's origin and the setting but also distinguished by the cold weather, gruesome murder and reserved literary tone(think Stieg Larsson, Camilla Läckberg, Jo Nesbø). It begins in the depths of winter in a small Swedish town where an obese man is found hanging from a tree in the middle of a paddock, badly beaten, cut and half frozen. Inspector Malin Fors and her colleagues of the Violent Crime Squad at Linköping Police Department are tasked with discovering the man's identity, and the identity of the killer. The crime scene suggests that the man could have been a sacrifice in the reenactment of an ancient Viking rite but as the victim's life is unraveled the detectives discover a shocking family secret.

"An investigation consists of a mass of voices, the sort you can hear, and the sort you can’t."

It may be that the translation is partly at fault but it was the abrupt shifting between voices, sometimes within a paragraph, that I found the most distracting. The author uses multiple viewpoints to narrate Midwinter Blood, the dead victim speaks of observing the police clustering at his swinging feet, a third person narrative provides glimpses into the lives of Malin's colleagues but it is primarily Malin's third person voice that tells the story.
Inspector Malin Fors is a single mother of a teenage daughter who has a complicated relationship with her ex-husband, her parents, and a tendency to drink too much. She is a dogged investigator, not afraid to push the boundaries and determined to find the answers she needs to solve the crimes she is assigned. The characters of Midwinter Blood, from Malin to the truly disturbing Murvall family are fascinating and I admired the way in which Kallentoft crafted such complex persona's. Even the victim is well developed, and though I disliked the corpses philosophical musings, I appreciated that the author honoured the man with a depth of characterisation rarely afforded to the victim.
The investigation itself was interesting as the detectives followed up leads, evidence and hunches but he pace of the story was a source of frustration for me. I imagine a real police investigation would have a similar rate of progress but the glacially slow beginning simply made me impatient and it barely improved for me until the last few chapters. How much the fact that Midwinter Blood is written in the present tense had to do with that, I'm not sure.

Judging by other reviews of this title if you have a fondness for Scandinavian crime then my review of Midwinter Blood you should not let my review put you off. However for me, while there were individual elements of Midwinter Blood I admired, the novel failed to coalesce into a satisfying read.
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Reading Progress

06/05 page 73
16.0% "Considering giving up"
06/05 page 211
45.0% "Still not really enjoying it but has gotten better"
08/07 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Susie Vavasour I agree. Just a so-so effort.

Minor point: Malin's sections are not told in the first person; the victim's are.

Shelleyrae at Book'd Out Susie wrote: "I agree. Just a so-so effort.

Minor point: Malin's sections are not told in the first person; the victim's are."

Thanks for picking up the error!

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