Friday, 23 July 2010


Title: Unseen

Author: Mari Jungstedt

Number of pages: 368

Started: 15 July 2010

Finished: 23 July 2010

Opening words:


The evening was turning out better than expected. Of course she had been a little nervous earlier, because it had been a long time since they had all seen each other, but now her anxiety had eased. After an extra-strong welcome drink, white wine with the appetizer, several glasses of red with the entrée, and port with dessert, everyone at the table was in a lively mood. Kristian told another joke about his boss, and the hoots of laughter echoed off the walls in the old limestone house.

Outside the window, fields of grain were swaying, and the poppies were still a few weeks from blooming in the meadows. Beyond the fields, the sea could be glimpsed in the last glow of twilight.

Over Whitsuntide, Helena and Per had taken a few days off and driven to the cabin on Gotland. They usually got together with Helena’s childhood friends on one evening during the holiday. This year, the second day of Whitsun was the only time that was good for everybody, so that’s when they had agreed to meet.

It was unusually cold for the time of year, around fifty degrees. The wind was blowing hard, howling and whistling in the treetops.

Read a longer extract here.

Plot summary:

The first body they found was the dog. The poor creature's throat has been cut, and one paw severed completely. Then they found the body of the woman. She had been stabbed, again and again; she was naked, a piece of cloth had been stuffed into her mouth. The picturesque holiday island of Gotland is in the middle of a busy tourist season when the young woman is discovered murdered. Suspicion falls on her husband - the couple had been seen fighting the evening before. Inspector Anders Knutas is hoping it will be a straight-forward case; the local authorities are hoping so too, but more out of an interest in protecting the tourist trade than any desire to see justice served. Then another victim is discovered, again she is a young woman and she has been murdered in the same chilling manner. Inspector Knutas must face up to the horrifying prospect that there is a serial killer loose on the island. Knutas, aided by investigative journalist Johan Berg, begins to piece together the tragic history that unites the two victims, and alarmingly points to more murders to come. The killer remains unknown, moving freely, unseen, on the island. All that is clear is that the two victims are just the beginning, unless Knutas and Berg find the killer before he strikes again.

What I thought:

This was the second Swedish book that I read while I was on holiday. I was initially slightly irritated by this book based on something rather superficial – the lines were very spaced out and it used a slightly larger font than is normally used in a book. I rather suspected this was a deliberate ploy to make the book look rather longer than it was. However, once I had come to terms with this, the book turned out to be very good. It was another murder/ detective novel, but it drew the reader in right from the beginning and had some genuinely suspenseful moments.

It was very readable, but did rather add to my feeling that Sweden must be a very dangerous place to live if their novels are anything to go by.


Sarah said...

Enjoyed your re-cap of Swedish books read in Sweden. Think it is a great idea to read appropriately authored books when abroad, but can't help feeling that you might choose the subject matter a little more carefully...

Hope any anxiety/tension this generated did not intefere with the important business of having a really relaxing and enjoyable holiday!

Random Reflections said...

Sarah - Swedes seem to author a lot of books that are about murders! I was careful as I wandered about and made sure that I checked behind bushes before venturing too far.

I did read a non-crime related Swedish book as well, that I will add a review of shortly. It gave a more pleasant view of Sweden!