Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Second Deadly Sin by Åsa Larsson review

Great crime novels keep coming out of Sweden in particular and Scandinavia in general for the past few years, at a rate that sometimes is hard to follow. What is it that all of sudden made Scandinoir, or Nordic Noir, look so appealing in the eyes of readers all over the world? Is it still because of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo phenomenon or is it something else? Whatever the reason Scandinavian authors now seem to command our full attention and I for one are happy about itThis is the second book I read by this author and I’m sure that more will follow. Mrs. Larsson has a way of gripping the reader’s attention without seemingly trying to do so. Her heroes are everyday people who are trying to live their lives as best they can. They have families and pets, they have a lot of worries and most of them are torturing themselves psychologically, because they can’t really express their feelings, or because they do what they do out of greed or lust for glory instead for the right reasons.

The reader travels back and forth in time in rural Sweden as they embark on the journey of solving the many riddles at the heart of this story. A not so strange incident is what gives spark to flame and ignites the plot. A bear appears out of the snowy nowhere and attacks a farm. A professional bear hunter is called in to find and kill the animal, which under the circumstances is considered extremely dangerous. That happens sooner rather than later but the bear’s death brings to light a sinister discovery: within its body lie parts of the remains of a man. In the meantime, a woman is killed in her house, while a boy of seven, her grandson, hardly escapes with his life. What is it that connects the two cases?

Well, the perfect candidate for heading the investigation would be District Prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson, who knows the people and the place really well, but an ambitious colleague that goes by the name of von Post hijacks her case. She expects that he’ll make a mess of it, and of course he obliges. Rebecka is furious with her boss for allowing him to do that to her and the case, but at the same time she’s determined to find the truth, even though at first she doesn’t even know she’s doing that.

As we follow her around and through the many flashbacks that spread throughout the story we get to learn a lot of things about the history of the region and its people, but most importantly about the stories of the victims. Rebecka is thorough in her research and a great detective of sorts and that’s exactly what leads her to discover the truth; a truth that was there for her to see right from the start.

The Second Deadly Sin is a crime novel, a psychological thriller and a social commentary at the same time, but most of all it’s a great book and as such I’d wholeheartedly recommend it to all.

First published in Crime Factory magazine

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