The Unlucky Lottery

After the thick, superficial novel I last read, it was great to dive into a great mystery by Hakan Nesser. The Unlucky Lottery follows a group of old friends who finally hit it big on the lottery on their celebratory evening. The next morning, one of the friends is dead, another missing.

With Chief Inspector VanVeeteren still on sabbatical and only offering occasional advice, Inspector Munson must work the case with his team with very little clues why one of the men was stabbed repeatedly and excessively to death in his own bed. When his wife pleads guilty, the pieces seem almost but not quite together and Munson keeps looking for further confirmation of the murderer.

As always, this Scandanavian mystery has a slow, steady pace with several turns along the way. I enjoyed the unveiling of the murderer but the inspector and the last vignette of peace.

Read April 2017

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The Snowman

The Snowman is the second Harry Hole mystery that I’ve read by Jo Nesbo. The story follows a serial killer that began in 1980 and killed one woman a year unnoticed until 2004 when Harry Hole receives an anonymous note regarding the Snowman. Harry has to piece together a mystery that many don’t believe exists since it starts with a list of missing women whose bodies have never been found.

Nesbo takes us around Oslo and Bergen to try to find any evidence that these women had a connection to each other or any of the suspects that Harry considers. There are clues left along the way but they took Harry and the reader in the wrong direction several times. Its not until the end that the reader is given a clear picture of the murderer and why he did what he did.

Harry is a bit of a recluse inspector, always close to being fired, but he’s so dedicated to the job that he’s lost so much in his life. And almost loses everything.

This is another great read by Nesbo. The story and characters drew me in and I took all the plot twists along with Harry. I felt his pain over his lost relationship with Rakel and her son. And Harry’s concern over their future. In the end, Harry’s personal life and murder investigation cross each other in an unexpected and disturbing way.

Read September 2013

The Fire Engine that Disappeared

The Fire Engine that Disappeared is the 5th Martin Beck novel by Sjowall and Wahloo. Written over 40 years ago, it retains its fresh outlook on life and crime while also having the nostalgic aspect of no cell phones, computers, etc. A trio of criminals die and it is up to the Stockholm police to piece together the widely arranged puzzle.

Sjowall and Wahloo show the slow pace of detective work. A lot of time passes from the first death until the police have a suspect. The slow meandering narrative that leads to the discovery of the murderer and motive is more realistic that the a shoot-em-up crime drama. In this novel, and the others in this series as well, it is the inaction of the police that lead to the greatest discoveries. Casual conversation triggers theories that are explored and it is grunt work that finally helps the police to track down the killer. While these novels are considered to be Martin Beck mysteries, it is truly a team effort to put the information together.

I discovered these novels after reading an article saying that Stieg Larsson was inspired by Sjowall and Wahloo’s use of culture and societal injustice in crime novels. From the beginning of this novel, we see how poorly the elderly are cared for in the state system, the contempt of certain officers for the women affected by the fire, and even in the way that the women use sex to exert their power. The sexual revolution gave some of the women freedom over their bodies, but mostly we see that the women are objects for the men to use as they see fit. Sjowall and Wahloo dont beat you over the head with it the way Larsson does in his novels, but its there, and the contempt is clear when Gunvald Larsson interviews one of the survivors while she’s naked in her bed.

I haven’t read all the other Martine Beck novels, but hope to soon and will continue to post!

Read February 2013