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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, December 7, 2014

On Finding a New Scandinavian Crime Novel

Autumn Killing: A ThrillerAutumn Killing: A Thriller by Mons Kallentoft
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was at first difficult to get into. The rhythm was chaotic and the syntax kept changing making it even more so. In addition, italicized lengthy paragraphs appearing to be the thoughts of the corpse were disconcerting. Still, something drew me into the story. Maybe the unusual presentation, which I though might have to do with the fact that it was translated from the Swedish. Though it was slow going in the beginning, the story started to unfold and move more rapidly and smoothly. The characters, for the most part, were highly developed, though as in many of the Scandinavian books a bit difficult, as first, to keep straight--their names being unusual to me.
There was one section in the book that I particularly enjoyed. Each of the characters and their activities were described in one paragraph after another during the same time period. It was one of the most clever way of revealing the differences in their lifestyles and circumstances.
The alcoholism of the main character, Malin Fors, and its affects on her family, particularly her teenage daughter, and her relationship to them and on her work and her co-workers was harrowing.

The continued use of the italics to start additional comments from the murder victims and the murderer did become confusing and at times irritating, as did the dreams Fors continued to have throughout the book. At one point she tells her supervisor, Sven, that she has been listening to the voices, as he'd taught her, to solve the case. At that point, it became clear to me that reading the third book in the series without having read the first two, may have been part of the problem. Not only because this aspect of Malin's approach to a crime was unknown to me, but also that her daughter, Tove, had apparently been a victim of one of Malin's earlier perpetrators.

Nevertheless, the book was engrossing with its red herrings, dead ends and lack of clues for most of the investigation. Lots of disjointed pieces until at almost the very end a new piece clicked and everything fell into place. Sort of like trying hundreds of keys in a lock to no avail and then one day in a forgotten drawer another key appears and opens the lock without a bit of trouble. Interesting and different enough to make me seek out the earlier chapters in Malin Fors life.

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