Friday, 27 August 2010
Author: Mari Jungstedt
Number of pages: 363
Started: 21 August 2010
Finished: 27 August 2010
For the first time in a week the sky cleared. The wan rays of November sunshine found their way through the clouds, and the spectators at the Visby trotting track turned their faces with yearning up toward the sun. It was the last race of the season, and there was a sense of anticipation in the air, mixed with a touch of melancholy. A chilly but enthusiastic crowd had gathered in the grandstands. They were drinking beer and hot coffee from plastic cups, eating hot dogs, and making notes in their track programs.
Henry “Flash” Dahlström got out his hip flask and took a good swig of his home-brewed liquor. It made him grimace, but it also warmed him nicely. With him in the stands sat the whole gang: Bengan, Gunsan, Monica, and Kjelle. All of them were rapidly advancing toward various states of intoxication.
The procession had just started. The snorting standardbreds, glossy with sweat, were lined up and prancing forward as the music blared from the loudspeakers. The drivers, with their legs wide apart, were firmly seated in their lightweight sulkies.
The odds were posted on a black tote board out near the track, with the numbers ticking past.
Read a longer excerpt here
The dead man man was a drunk; a regular on the park benches of Gotland's city centre. He had been celebrating winning 80,000 Krona at the races. His body is discovered by one of his drinking buddies: he is drenched in blood and someone or something has left a hole the size of a fist in the back of his head.
It's winter on the island of Gotland. The tourists have returned home. The tree branches are bare, the sky is sleet grey and the days are getting shorter and darker. Winter is a quiet time for Chief Inspector Anders Knutas and Detective Karin Jacobsson; the tourists tend to take the violent crimes with them back to the mainland. To keep their lives simple, they are tempted to assume that the victim died as a result of a drunken brawl over money. But all of the clues point to something far more sinister.
Then 14-year old Fanny Jansson, a volunteer at the local stables, vanishes. At first Knutas and Jacobsson find it hard to believe that the two cases are linked: one is a violent murder, the other, the disappearance of a lonely and isolated child who has probably run away. Painstakingly, they work the clues, assisted by ambitious TV reporter Johan Berg. But what none of them realise is that truth is much closer to home than they'd ever imagine.
What I thought:
I took a while to warm to this book, but I think that was more of a reflection on me than the book itself. It was another good Scandinavian mystery and as the pages turned I enjoyed it more.
This book was based in the run up to Christmas and would make a good crime novel to read on a dark December Sunday afternoon. I seem to find that about Swedish books – that they are suited to reading at particular times of the year, and this is a good winter book.