29 June 2011

Review: THE KILLER'S ART, Mari Jungstedt

Publisher: Transworld Publishers (Random House) 2010
Translated from Swedish into English by Tiina Nunnally
Length: 305 pages
ISBN: 978-0-385-61707-9
Source: my local library

Read an extract here

This is #4 in Mari Jungstedt's Anders Knutas series set in Gotland, Sweden.

Publisher's Blurb
It is a cold wintry morning in the picturesque port town of Visby when art dealer Egon Wallin’s battered and naked body is found hanging from a gate in the town’s old city walls. His was a very public death, but who killed him and why?

As Inspector Knutas begins his investigation, Egon’s secrets quickly begin to come to the surface. He died on the eve of leaving his wife. Is his death a spurned lover’s revenge? And when a painting by a new cause-célèbre artist is stolen from his gallery, more questions are raised.

Another theft and another death, this time in Stockholm, widens the search for the killer. As the police piece together the clues, one scandal is followed by another and Inspector Knutas will discover that beneath the patina of glamour, the high-society world of art collecting hides many secrets – some worth killing for.

My take:

I found THE KILLER'S ART just a little "flatter" than previous titles in the series, although I will still keep Mari Jungstedt on my list of Swedish authors to follow, and Gotland on my list of places to avoid.

What made it seem "flatter"? To start with, Detective Anders Knutas didn't seem as sharp as he should have been. He has a rather ambivalent attitude to journalists - on the one hand he regards them as a threat to his investigation and on the other hand he wants to maintain a good relationship with Johan Berg from Swedish television in particular. Knutas regards himself as a good judge of character and at least twice in THE KILLER'S ART his judgements receive a bit of a knocking

I thought perhaps Jungstedt tried to incorporate too many story lines in the plot. There is the main murder of Egon Wallin and the spider's threads branching out from there. Then there are the developments in the relationship between Johan Berg and Emma, the mother of his child. This is a relationship that began in the first of the series UNSEEN.The third main story line is the relationship between Knutas and one of his detectives Karen Jacobsson, who is ambitious and wants a more authoritative position. This was in many ways the weakest part of the plot and I felt it detracted from the main story. The decision that Knutas makes is a divisive one that deflects his team from their main focus on the murder for a while.

The resolution of the puzzle of who killed Egon Waller and why takes a long time and a lot of police resources because the original crime scene held so few clues. If the murderer hadn't been so obsessed by the idea of "unfinished business" then the original crime may have gone unsolved.

My rating: 4.4

Other Jungstedt titles reviewed on this blog:

Other reviews of THE KILLER'S ART to check:
Crime Scraps,
International Noir Fiction

Inspector Anders Knutas, Gotland, Sweden (courtesy EuroCrime)
The Inner Circle (apa Unknown)20083
The Killer's Art20104
The Dead of Summer20115

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