24 October 2012

Review: MIDWINTER SACRIFICE, Mons Kallentoft

  • published Hodder & Stoughton 2011
  • Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith
  • ISBN 978-1-444-72150-8
  • 440 pages
  • Source: my local library
  • #1 in the Malin Fors series
Synopsis (Amazon)

'An investigation consists of a mass of voices, the sort you can hear, and the sort you can't. You have to listen to the soundless voices, Malin. That's where the truth is hidden.'

Early one morning in the coldest winter in Swedish memory, police detective Malin Fors is called away from the warm flat she shares with her teenage daughter. The naked body of a man has been found hanging from a tree on the deserted, frozen plain outside the town of Linköping.

From the outset Malin is confronted with a host of unanswered questions: Who is the dead man? How did he end up in a tree? And where did the strange wounds on his body come from?

Malin and her team must search for the truth in a community that seems determined to keep its secrets, and follow in the frigid wake of a killer to the darkest corners of the human heart.

My Take

MIDWINTER SACRIFICE is essentially a Swedish police procedural set in area of Linköping where the author grew up. The discovery of a frozen body hanging in a tree is the start of an investigation which grinds to a baffling halt about mid-book, despite the early identification of the victim.

The investigation does reveal that the victim was a suspect in a rape case from about three years earlier when a social worker was viciously assaulted. What it cannot tell Malin Fors and her partner Zeke Martinsson is what is behind this particular killing. Is it "just" murder or are there some links to mid-winter rituals?

There are a number of background stories as one would expect in the first novel in a series where the author is establishing the main characters but I have to agree with other reviewers who have said this book is far too long.

There is also a paranormal element that I really didn't think achieved much except as a sort of overview of what happened to the murder victim and a predictor of events to come. It does give us clues about who is responsible for the crime.

The author chooses to leave one crime unsolved although both the reader and Malin Fors would think they have enough evidence to know who the perpetrator is.

The series continues in a "seasonal" fashion, rather along the lines of Ann Cleeves' Shetland Quartet, which also began with a winter murder.

My rating: 4.3

Other reviews

From the author's site
In 2007, Midvinterblod (Midwinter Sacrifice/Midwinter Blood) - his fourth novel and first venture into crime fiction - was published to great acclaim and quickly became one of the bestselling books in Sweden. His second book about police inspector Malin Fors, Sommardöden (Summertime Death) was published in May 2008 and was followed by Höstoffer (Autumn Killing) in May 2009, Vårlik (Savage Spring) in May 2010 and Den femte årstiden (The fifth season) in June 2011. The latest book about Malin Fors is called Vattenänglar (Water Angels) and was published in August 2012.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Kerrie -Thanks for the review. You've put your finger on one thing I noticed too: the length. I often wonder whether greater length is getting more typical of new novels coming out....


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