Game of Mirrors

Overall Game of Mirrors by Andrea Camilleri, was a good mystery but not a character I’d like to read again. The characters are well written and the plot thought out. However, the antiquated way the men deal with women, or the way Montalbano orders his subordinates to make phone calls or procure a cell phone on his behalf, drove me crazy. The only woman who can be considered a somewhat main character is called a slut repeatedly and ends up dying in a sexually, brutal, unnecessary way.

Read April 2020

The Darkness

The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson tells of Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir final case with the Reykjavik police department. She’s being pushed into early retirement, but is allowed to work on one cold case of her choosing. She picks the death of a Russian woman who was found by the sea.

Hulda’s bitterness after years of mistreatment by her colleagues buoys her into solving this case and ending her career on a high note. Along the way, she steps gets in the way of active investigation, angers coworkers, and begins to see life as a retiree.

I really enjoyed this with the twists in her investigation as well as the glimpses we see that maybe her impression of the world around her isn’t accurate. As we learn more of her past, her future happiness finally seems possible. The final twist shocked me which doesn’t happen very often.

Great read, great characters, great back story.

Read March 2020

A Darker Sky

Mari Jungstedt and Ruben Eliassen collaborated on The Canary Island Series. A Darker Sky follows Chief  Inspector Diego Quintana and expatriate journalist Sara Moberg. The setting is the beautiful Canary Island in an area full of Swedes.

I read this a couple of weeks ago, and while I remember enjoying it, I can’t even remember what the mystery is. So, fun, easy read, but not so memorable.

Read February 2020

Snowblind

Ragnar Jonasson’s Snowblind is a story about place as much as the people. Siglufjordur is a small fishing village that is cut off from the rest of Iceland when the one road leading to town are closed due to weather. Ari Thor is transferred here for his first police job while finishing the police training. He’s isolated from his girlfriend, he’s claustrophobic from the tall mountains and the blinding snow, and he sees murder when no one else does.

Jonasson paints a very white, cold picture and has Thor investigating the death of a prominent author even though his captain thinks he just got drunk and fell down the stairs. Then a young woman is found almost dead in the snow, bleeding red into the pristine white.

This was a stark read. Its one of the things I love about Scandinavian mysteries when the setting becomes impossibly bleak. Now I can add Iceland to the same category.

Read February 2020

Silenced

In Kristina Bergman’s Silenced, a religious couple is found dead in their apartment. Fredrika Bergman and the Criminal Investigation Department soon find out that one of their adult daughters had recently committed suicide and the other cannot be located after taking a 5 week leave of absence from her work. A sub story contains one of the daughters being harassed in Thailand, but neither the woman nor the audience knows whats happening. Another story is following a Iraqi immigrant making his way illegally to Sweden with the help of unknown group whose assistance is not based on pay but on services. How all these storylines fit together got a little confusing at times since some stories didn’t use names and then when the connections were made between stories it didn’t always make immediate sense.

Overall, a very good story, but it lost me a couple of times when I needed to refer back to prior chapters. Well done characters or gaps in storylines? Hard to tell.

Read January 2020

Strange Shores

Strange Shores by Arnaldur Indridason was a great read. Inspector Erlendur is off of work and travels to his desolate childhood home to camp. He’s visited by a ghost-like figure often and is haunted by the memories of his younger brother being lost in a storm. After chatting with a local about the history of the area, he starts researching the disappearance of a woman’s from decades ago. She went missing during another sudden storm where a unit of military also went missing. All the men were found, but the woman’s body never was.

Along the way, Erlendur is dealing with the loss of his brother and looking for any clues possible from where his brother ended up.

This was a dark tale with cold scenes and colder people. How the old stories unravel in the present is disturbing. Erlendur is not working within the law here, but its probably for the best.

Great read! Read January 2020

The Second Deadly Sin

Asa Larsson’s The Second Deadly Sin may be the best Swedish mystery I’ve read in years. Larsson brings in the isolation and environment of northern Sweden as well as the history of the area being a mining company town. She entraps the reader with stories of bears hunting dogs and people in a remote area, and follows it with the death of an elderly neighbor of prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson.

Martinsson initiates the investigation into the murder but finds the family circumstances of the victims strange. The victim’s son was killed in a hit and run 3 years ago. Her father was accidentally killed in the woods a couple of months ago. Her grandmother was killed when her father was an infant. So much murder and bad luck in one family seems unlikely and Martinsson feels in her gut that there must be a connection. When she’s kicked off the case, she refuses the let it go.

There are a lot of twists and turns. The relationships between Martinsson and her neighbors and coworkers shows the depth of friendships that can exist with minimal conversation and a sauna. The level of human indifference shown opposed to those that do care is dramatic. I can’t tell more about this book and why I liked it so much without telling too many details. Theres several layers of societal flaws wrapped up in one family’s tragic history.

Great read! Great social commentary mixed in with a mystery.

Read October 2019