Our Own Little Secret by Ninni Schulman

Swedish Social Worker Anna-Karin Ehn is reported missing by her husband. The next day the husband finds her car outside the town, which makes him the main suspect. And when the police find blood in the car the suspicions are strengthened. But she had also received threats at work so they need to keep their minds open. It also turns out that she had surprising secrets.

The Main Characters

The journalist Magdalena Hansson plays a central role just like in previous novels. She suspects that one of her son’s friends is in trouble at home and she has contacted the Social Services. When Anna-Karin disappears she wonders if there is a connection. The police Petra Wilander and Christer Berglund struggle with personal problems. Petra’s health is faltering and Christer’s fiancée is overly jealous.

Family Tragedies

As indicated in the title the novel is about secrets. What happens behind a family’s close doors is not always what it seems. Many women and children suffer and feel anything but safe in their own homes and Schulman depicts this perfectly. The real world is scary; can society even do anything to help?

A Favorite

The novel is the fourth in the series set in Hagfors, Sweden. It is as suspenseful as its predecessors and the language is very reader-friendly. The series has become one of my favorites and I look forward to the next one.

 

Original title in Swedish: Vår egen lilla hemlighet. (I do know know if/when the novel will be published in English.)

New Series by Ingrid Hedström

13-year-old Mikael Granberg disappears without a trace in 1978. Thirty years later Astrid Sammils finds Mikael’s hat in the house of her deceased uncle, whose farm she has inherited. Could her uncle have had something to do with the disappearance? She does not think so, and decides to try to find out what really happened.

At the same time a drug trial is under way in Romania. One of the physicians gets suspicious when several patients drop out. It is no surprise that the two storylines are connected, but it takes a while before you understand how.

New Series

Ingrid Hedström has written the popular Villette series (six novels) about the investigating magistrate Martine Poirot in Belgium. This novel is the first one in her new series about the diplomat Astrid Sammils. The next novel in the series will be published in Swedish later this year.

The novel was pretty slow at first and it took a while for me to get hooked. Some things were fairly obvious but there were some surprises too. I thought this novel was better than the ones I have read from the Villette series.

 

Original title in Swedish: Bortfall (I do not know if/when the novel will be published in English.)

The City Murders by Lars Bill Lundholm


A masked group carries out a robbery on Stockholm’s metro and two men are brutally killed. The police suspects it is a terror attack, but when the same gang robs a bank in Stockholm where one of the managers are killed they question if there could be another motive. Axel Hake becomes responsible for the investigation, but he goes on “vacation” after a conflict with his boss. However, he continues the investigation on his own and his family ends up in a dangerous situation.

The Motive

We find out who the guilty ones are pretty quickly. Three young women. The main question throughout the whole book is the motive. Why are they robbing and killing people? They are all successful and one of them even goes to the Police School and is called in to help with the investigation.

Pretty Good

Overall the book is pretty good, but I wish that the motive could have peeked through a little earlier so you at least had had a chance to understand it.

 

Original title in Swedish: Citymorden (I do not know if/when the book will be available in English and what title it will have. The City Murders is a direct translation of the Swedish title.)

Everyone Can See You by Anna Jansson

Just released from prison Sten Hörsne returns to Gotland to ask his son for forgiveness. As he is leaving his son’s place he is hit by a car and dies. Soon thereafter Sten’s father is murdered. Is this a coincidence? And is that murder instead connected to a number of assaults on elderly people?

A bullied teenage boy disappears from a ferry between Gotland and the mainland. Did he commit suicide? An elderly woman claims to have seen the boy with a man in one of the ferry’s bathrooms. Who is the man and what does he have to do with things?

Social Media

When I saw the title and book cover I thought the story would focus more on social media. Sure it runs as a thread through the story, but it does not play as central of a role as I thought it would. The main question is what is a person prepared to do to stop info/photos/movie-clips from getting posted on the Internet? Several of the novel’s characters are struggling with that question, including Maria Wern.

Typical Wern-Novel

In this novel Maria Wern is back for the 16th time. The novel is a typical Wern-novel. If you have liked the previous books you will not be disappointed. Simply put, you’ll  know what you’ll get.

 

Original title in Swedish: Alla kan se dig (Please note, I do not know if/when the novel will be published in English, or what the translated title will actually be. Everyone Can See You is a direct translation of the Swedish title.)

Second Novel in Thomas Hallgren Series

The police/author/TV-personality Martin Melin is back with the sequel to Status 12. We once again get to follow Thomas Hallgren. He is no longer the newest police in his department and he is frustrated by the limited budget and too much paperwork like many of his colleagues. Thomas is struggling with his personal life and his marriage is rocky. He is also trying to find out what really happened during his father’s time as a police.

A Police Novel

The cover states that it is a police novel and that description is spot on. We get to follow the everyday life of the police and there is no doubt that the jargon is real since Martin Melin is a police. Instead you wonder how much is based on real events. The novel is different in that we do not get to follow a specific investigation. Instead there are adolescents who mug people, a colleague who abuses his wife, and a dead body that is found but since the case is closed no one seem to care.

Loyalty vs. Morality

The theme of the novel is loyalty vs. morality. As a police you are expected to follow the law, but what do you do if someone asks you for a “favor.” Without a testimony it will be difficult to prove the crime…

This novel was not as good as the first one. The language is good and the novel is an easy read, but it felt a bit unfocused. Thomas’s character feels real, but somewhat boring and I am not that fond of him. It seems like a third book is in the making and I hope it is more exciting (because I will read that one too).

 

Original title in Swedish: Brott kan ej styrkas (I do not know if/when the novel will be translated to English and what the title will be.)

Birdman by Mo Hayder

Birdman was the first novel I read by Mo Hayder. I found it randomly at the library and thought I would give it a chance since it was by an English female crime writer and that is usually a good combination. It is a bit strange that I gave Hayder another chance after this novel, because my first impression was not the best. Birdman is very bloody and graphic, almost to the point where you have to put the book away sometimes. So I want to issue a warning to sensitive readers.

Storyline

A number of women are found murdered at a junkyard close to the Millennium Dome in London. The murders are unusually cruel and the London police soon realize that they are dealing with an extremely twisted serial killer that leaves a special signature: a small live bird sown into the victim’s chest.

Jack Caffrey is the hero supposed to solve the case. A detective tormented by his brother’s disappearance during their childhod. A case he still tries to solve at the same time as the man, a convicted pedophile who is suspected of abducting the brother, still lives next door.

A Few Thoughts

Birdman is the first novel about Jack Caffery but it is not a part of The Walking Man series. I am still torn about the graphic and sexual violence that is described in the novel. Normally I get too upset about graphic sexual violence in novels and I often get an aversion to the novel instead of an exciting reading experience. Stieg Larsson’s trilogy is one example. The horrible rape of Lisbeth Salander in the first novel was enough to put me off all three novels. I just could not take it. Maybe I am too sensitive?

 

The Monogram Murders (Poirot) by Sophie Hannah

Agatha Christie’s relatives have apparently authorized Sophie Hannah to write a new Poirot story. I do not know what to think about that. After much consideration I think I am cautiously optimistic about it, as long as the characters and Christie’s authorship are treated with respect.

First Novel…I assume there will be more?

The Monogram Murders contains all the ingredients for a classic Poirot mystery. It starts with a murder where the victim is found with a monogrammed cufflink in the mouth. Poirot gets involved and the solution to the mystery is found after a long investigation with a lot of red herrings along the way.

It does not feel like a traditional Christie novel, but more like a modern crime novel. Is that good or bad? I do not know. When it comes to Poirot I am influenced by the TV-series with David Suchet. I have seen every episode and for me David Suchet IS Poirot. But the TV-series differs a lot from the novels, and sometimes it is hard to separate the novels’ Poirot from the one in the TV-series when I compare them to the new novel.

Summary

I must admit that Hannah has succeeded. The style feels like an updated Christie and Poirot is portrayed correctly. But the storyline is not one of the best Poirot mysteries, but not the worst either. Definitely worth reading!

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Sharp objects by Gillian Flynn

 

This is the third book I’ve read by the author Gillian Flynn and the first of the three separate books she’s written. For being the first book it’s more brutal and dark than her other books but you couldn’t really put your finger on why. I would describe it as a Thriller in a Dollhouse. The allegory isn’t far of the truth either.

 

You could say that the core of the story takes place in Camille’s hometown, or to be more specific, in her old childhood home.  Camille, being a journalist, is reluctantly sent back to her hometown to unravel the case of the two young girls murdered there. She is not only forced back to the old neighbourhood but also to her own past, meanwhile living with her mother.

 

But the world outside her mothers house is like a foggy mixture of the real housewives of New Jersey and True Detective. The civic life of the Chicago pulse which Camille leaves behind is merely a whisper in the back of our minds. That’s all left behind her and she is far, far away from anything that comes near civil behaviour. Throughout the book Chicago, and foremost the conversations with her boss Mr Curry, is the laps in time and space in witch Camille is given a chance to breath. But it’s much like giving a drowning man a straw to breath through. It helps, but not nearly enough.

 

Corporal focus

Its not even important what the characters are saying nor what they are not saying.  The bodies are explicitly speaking for them in a number of ways. For Camille this is essential. Her body is etching, stretching, screaming. Its constantly telling/ tempting her like a painful struggle for forbidden pleasure.

 

A few things a love about the book:

 

The language. It’s raw and awake. It doesn’t hide anything, nor is it ashamed of anything. With simple means you are smitten with a strong feeling of illness. And you commit to different characters only through a few describing words. And as always, the title is beautifully placed.

 

The adulthood that is distilled down to Camille, a cocktail of the sense of being an adult and at the same time a child. The bounders in between are merged together. To have cravings and impulses and needs like a child is one thing, but to have them as an adult its shamefully painful.

 

Do you think you can figure out how it’s all linked? – Brace yourself for the exciting solution that isn’t primarily about who committed the murders of the girls.

 

As with all of Flynn’s works, the resolution of the crime is not of utmost importance, but rather the process of unravelling the story. The way the story shapes and changes, and keeps you guessing at all times, is what really makes this story a fantastic experience. It makes for a very pleasurable, albeit sometimes almost stressful, read.

Stalker by Lars Kepler

Someone is secretly filming women, then sending the clip to the police and shortly thereafter killing them. The murders remind the police of a murder that happened nine years ago, but the priest Rocky Kyrklund who was convicted is still in prison. Detective Inspector Joona Linna (from Kepler’s previous novels) is missing and assumed dead. In his absence the pregnant Margot Silverman becomes responsible for the investigation. Psychiatrist Erik Maria Bark is called in. When he hypnotizes the husband of one victim he realizes that his career may be in danger and lies to the police.

Perfect Title

Stalker is Lars Kepler’s fifth novel and what can I say, the novels just get better and better and Lars Kepler (or rather the Ahndoril’s who is behind the pseudonym) is now one of my favorite Swedish crime writers. I was hooked a few pages into the book and I was so scared that I made sure that all windows and doors were locked and I asked my husband to walk the dog… I really recommend this book, but I would lock the doors and close the curtains before you start reading.