Hewson, David. The Killing. Pan Macmillan. Oct. 2013. 720p. ISBN 9781447208419. pap. $12.95. F
Layered with political intrigue, this excellent novelization of a hit Scandinavian TV series is a tense crime novel featuring criminal investigator Sarah Lund. As Lund is about to transfer jobs and move from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Stockholm, Sweden, she is called in to look into the death of a young woman. As she investigates, many suspects emerge, including the victim’s family and friends as well as a trio of politicians vying to win the position of Lord Mayor of Copenhagen. With many twists and turns, this work will keep readers guessing the murderer’s identity from beginning to end. VERDICT Despite the use of British slang, Hewson (Death in Seville; Nic Costa series) has done an excellent job capturing the chilly flavor of Nordic noir. Similar in tone to the books of Jo Nesbø, Lene Kaaberbøl, and Stieg Larsson, this will appeal to adult fans of Scandinavian crime novels.
Indridason, Arnaldur. Black Skies: An Inspector Erlendur Novel. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Sept. 2013. 336p. tr. from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb. ISBN 9781250000392. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250036841. F
Indridason’s usual main character, Inspector Erlendur, is away, so his colleague Sigurdur Óli is running the show. A best friend asks Óli to help someone who is being blackmailed. Óli agrees to assist—but as a favor and not as a police matter. It quickly becomes a criminal case, however, as Óli walks in seconds after a vicious attack on the blackmailer. His police cohorts wonder why Óli was there, yet he convinces them that he should continue working on what has now become a murder case. He unravels a trail that involves Icelandic politics and banking prior to the financial crash that devastated the country’s economy. Another case, involving a disturbing kidnapping, is also being investigated. VERDICT Óli is an intricate character plodding through life and his cases. He’s an average guy, someone whom the reader can identify with, and will become a favorite. Readers who enjoy Henning Mankell and Ian Rankin will be intrigued by this character. Although this is the eighth novel (after Outrage) in this series, it’s fine for newcomers to start here. [Library marketing.]
Jansson, Anna. Strange Bird. Stockholm Text. Sept. 2013. 336p. tr. from Swedish by Paula Norlén. ISBN 9789187173950. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9789187173967. M
This is the first of eight books in a popular Swedish mystery series to be translated into English. Maria Wren, a detective inspector on Gotland Island, is a single parent with two young children. When a pigeon keeper suddenly dies from flulike symptoms and two people who recently saw him also die, it is feared that an avian flu epidemic has hit the island. Then the disease breaks out at a children’s soccer camp, panic ensues, and the island is effectively cut off from the outside world. Add to this the murder of a nurse from a private health clinic and the disappearance of a journalist, and Wren has all she can handle. When the bird flu strikes close to home, she must deal with her own anxiety and still concentrate on the search for a killer. VERDICT Jansson is a welcome addition to the Swedish mystery writers now available in English. The author’s knowledge of the medical field is evident in her detailed, fast-paced plot and the moral and ethical decisions facing the characters. Recommended for readers of Scandinavian mysteries, especially for fans of Mari Jungstedt, Camilla Läckberg, and Håkan Nesser.
Kaaberbøl, Lene & Agnete Friis. Death of a Nightingale. Soho Crime. Nov. 2013. 368p. tr. from Danish by Elisabeth Dyssegaard. ISBN 9781616953041. $26.95. M
In the third book of this Scandinavian crime series (after Invisible Murder), Red Cross nurse Nina Borg is once again involved in the lives of Eastern European immigrants living in Denmark. She has been treating an eight-year-old Ukrainian girl at a Red Cross center while the girl’s mother, Natasha Doroshenko, is in police custody. Natasha has been arrested for murdering her Danish fiancé. After Natasha escapes custody on the way to Copenhagen’s police headquarters, her only goal is to be reunited with her daughter. However, someone tries to abduct the child from the center. As Nina investigates the attempted abduction, she realizes she knows very little about Natasha’s life in the Ukraine and will discover that the secret may lie far in the past—back to the Stalinist 1930s. On a personal level, Nina, now divorced, is trying to keep her relationship with her own two children while attempting to safeguard the other woman’s child. VERDICT While the parallel story line describing family life in 1930s Ukraine at times is disruptive to the main plot, fans of the duo’s previous books will not be disappointed. The authors maintain similar tension and mood as in their earlier books, and Nina Borg remains determined to protect those whom others might see as outcasts from society.
Nesbø, Jo. Police. Knopf. Oct. 2013. 416p. tr. from Norwegian by Don Bartlett. ISBN 9780307960498. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307960504. F
The Oslo Crime Squad hunts for the serial killer responsible for the torture and murder of police officers staged at the scenes of earlier unsolved crimes. Nesbø’s (The Redeemer; The Phantom) newest mystery presents an entire school of red herrings as readers try to discern who is the villain, who is the next victim, and what happened to Harry Hole. A stalker/student with a peripheral connection to an earlier case diverts attention from the investigation while obstruction by the politically connected chief of police and his vicious henchman hinders the detectives in their desperate chase to stop the murderer(s) before another colleague is harmed. VERDICT Followers of the Harry Hole (pronounced Hoo·la) series will want to read this book for both the resolution to the end of a previous novel, The Phantom, and the development of an old antagonist. Though Nesbø’s police procedurals have become increasingly violent and heavy on coincidences, crime fiction readers will enjoy the high level of suspense that is sustained throughout as more questions are raised than answered before the startling conclusion is reached.