Tag Archives: crime

The Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt

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“The jogger ran north along the water’s edge, the sand heavy underfoot after the night’s rain. At the promontory he turned and headed back down the beach. In the distance he saw a figure walking towards him. Suddenly the person stumbled and fell, then just lay there not moving. Feeling uneasy, he ran forward.

‘Are you all right?’

The face that turned towards him was expressionless, the eyes cold.

For the jogger, time seemed to stand still. Deep down inside him something came alive, something he had tried to bury for years.

Then he saw the muzzle of the gun. It was pointed straight at him. He sank to his knees; everything in his mind went still.”

When I read this paragraph from the The Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt,  I immediately began to picture myself on the Swedish island of Gotska Sandön, the most isolated island in the Baltic sea.  It is impossible not to be immediately drawn in to the story and while it is not  fast-paced, it is alive with suspense and mystery.  Jungstedt takes time to develop the relationships between the characters and is descriptive without being too wordy.  This is important to those who may be reading this book out of sequence as it is easy to catch up on the earlier back-stories of the characters so the story makes more sense.

The story starts off with carpenter, Peter Bovide, who is camping with his wife and two young children, taking a run along the beach in the early morning fog.  In the distance, he sees a stranger who appears to be in need of help, but when Peter approaches, he is shot in the head and several times in the stomach.  Anders Knutas, the Detective Superintendent of the local police department is on vacation so the crime scene is secured by his deputy, Karin Jacobsson.  Jacobsson is new to the position and is excited to lead such an important investigation but her joy is short-lived as Knutas abruptly cuts short his vacation and returns to the island.

The investigators, along with news reporter, Johan Berg, slowly begin to work their way through interview after interview of the victims family, friends and co-workers and it isn’t until another murder takes place that the motives begin to become clear.

While the book is well-written, some of the clues to solving the crime were a bit too obvious, however the plot was tight, flowed well and was logical.  Sometimes, the characters behaved a bit unprofessionally and maybe a bit unbelievable.  For example, I cannot imagine a detective going to confront a murder suspect without a weapon AND turning his cell phone off (or alone, for that matter).  I’ve noticed the lack of carrying a service weapon quite often in Scandinavian crime novels and I’m not certain if this is, in fact, the case or if the writers haven’t researched the actual police procedures.  It just comes across as a bit strange to readers in countries where the police are well-trained, well-armed and have strict investigation techniques.

There was an interesting (but timely) side story that touch lightly on the issue of foreign workers in Sweden.  Some of the attitudes sounded familiar and I found it interesting how many similarities between two seemingly very different cultures.  It also paints a very different side of Sweden, one that might be shocking to people who have not visited or are not knowledgeable about the Swedish culture.

The translation from Swedish to English was very good, though a lot of British-English phrases were used despite the translator being American.  Translated books often have a special charm and sometimes the sentences may come across as child-like and the sentence structure a bit awkward at times.  This doesn’t deter from the story itself, but is something to be aware of if the reader does not often read books translated from another language.

Swedish crime thriller author Mari Junstedt is is the author of the exciting & suspenseful  crime series featuring police detective Anders Knutas.  Since the 2003 release of Unseen (Den du inte ser), the first novel in the series, she has been recognized as part of the élite group of Swedish crime writers.  The Dead of Summer is the fifth book in Jungstedt’s Gotland crime series.

Translated by: Tiina Nunnally

Published by: Stockholm Text Publishing AB

Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 9789187173202

Imprint: Stockholm Tex Publishing AB

 
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The Three-Day Affair by Michael Kardos

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The Three-Day Affair by Michael Kardos.  Published by Grove/Atlantic and The Mysterious Press.

Imagine a group of best friends planning a yearly get-together to play golf, hang-out, no wives, no kids.  Just old friends from college, each going their own way after graduation but finding their way back to each other once a year to reconnect.

Evan is a successful lawyer.  Will a struggling music producer.  Jeffrey is a dot.com millionaire and Nolan is an up and coming state Senator.  Things are looking up for all four:  Will and Jeffrey are married and expecting their first children, Evan is on the verge of a huge promotion and Nolan is working his way from state Senator to Washington D.C.  Good, stable men with degrees from an Ivy League school, making their dent in the world.

Now imagine stopping at a convenience store to grab a quick snack.  Jeffrey goes inside while two wait in the car.  A few minutes later, he comes out pulling a girl by the arm and pushing her into the car.  They’ve all just unwittingly become involved in a kidnapping and robbery.  Suddenly that dent has become a crater and no-one knows why.  Not even the Jeffrey who seemingly has no reason to rob a convenience store, let alone kidnap someone.

As this suspenseful story unfolds, secrets revealed, past betrayals come to surface and lives are irrevocably changed.  This much-anticipated, fun, casual “guys weekend” has turned into a nightmare than none of them could have ever imagined.

Or, could they?  Jeffrey seems confused, dazed and completely unclear on what made him commit such a horrible crime.  As each hour passes, the group knows they are digging themselves deeper and deeper into a hole they may never climb out of.  They see their futures crumbling in front of their eyes and feel helpless to stop it.

As the story winds its way through fond memories of their Princeton days to the casual drifting apart that comes with growing up to horror at what their friend has done, both to them and to the girl he kidnapped, the reader slowly realizes that nothing is as it seems.  Does the girl escape and turn them into the police?  Do they kill her to hide the crime?  Or does something happen that is so unexpected that takes the story from a good crime/thriller to one that will leave you shocked and strangely satisfied at the end?

I really enjoy thrillers and this one didn’t disappoint.  The characters were all believable, the plot solid and the ending definitely unexpected.  I’m always delighted to find new authors (or new-to-me) to read and Michael Kardos is definitely being added to my list.