Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Kjell Eriksson
St Martin's Minotaur, February 2007
320 pages
ISBN: 0312327684

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The tale opens with a domestic scene that transcends cultures and languages. Berit has prepared dinner, her son Justus is anxious for his father to return home. The weather is vile (it is winter and snowing) and adds a degree of extra worry to John's late arrival.

Misfit Vincent Hahn is introduced to the reader as he rides a bus, not being terribly careful to protect other passengers from his swinging bag as the bus proceeds erratically. He is obviously entertained by a former schoolmate's dejected appearance, especially when his bag connects with her head.

John's location doesn't remain a mystery for long. John ("Little John") Harald Jonsson's body looks as though it may have welcomed death, given that it is badly bruised, has had its wrists bound painfully tightly and has had the burning end of cigarettes applied to it.

Inspector Ann Lindell is on maternity leave. Her baby Erik has arrived and she has access to babysitters (including her visiting mother, who is critical of her preoccupation) so is able to take an interest in the case.

John's brother Lennart, a petty criminal, is determined to avenge his brother's death. John himself had, in his younger days, taken some part in criminal activities but he had forsaken that life. Had it been Lennart who had been killed, suspects would have proliferated, but John?

Uppsala police have more than one death that some members of the public feel should be investigated. A rabbit has been hanged. Oddly enough, they feel the human's murder takes precedence.

This is a very good book. The author (in combination with the translator Ebba Segerberg) has the happy knack of evoking atmosphere. The characters are also well done, with a suitable amount of back story created to enhance their credibility. At times, however, the translation seems rather awkward and I would bet (especially when one considers the translator's name) that her first language is not English. Just one example is when Ann is asked if she is married and replies "No, single with a little Erik."

At least one of the errors is surely not to be laid at the feet of the translator. At one point in the story, the whereabouts of a runaway youth become known to Lindell, who contacts the lad's mother. Unfortunately, about a dozen pages later the inspector once more rings the mother with the same news, again to be met with gratitude. Surely an editor doing a reasonable job would have been able to pick up the inconsistency. Failing that, the translator should have noticed.

I do have another criticism to make, one about what I perceive as a fault (though possibly others would not): why do Scandinavian authors have to write, for the most part, without even a glimmer of humour?

From the little I have been able to learn about author Eriksson, he appears to be taking the Swedish crime fiction scene by storm. I could find no references to others of his books being translated from Swedish into English so assume that the award-winning THE PRINCESS OF BURUNDI is the first. Based on the quality of the novel, there are bound to be English translations of others of his books before too long.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, April 2007

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]