The Girl In Front Of the Wall

Västgöta University’s temporary principal receives death threats, so the ceremony where a German professor will receive her honorary doctorate is heavily guarded. Despite that the ceremony ends abruptly, and literature researcher Helena Waller finds herself involved in the search for a killer. Several of the novel’s characters have ties to DDR. Does that have anything to do with the murder?

Main Character

This is the second novel in Kristina Appelqvist’s series about literature researcher Helena Waller. She tends to find out a lot more than the police (who sometimes do not even seem to care) and this cannot only be explained by the fact that she has keys to the victim’s apartment.

Cozy Crime

It took me a while to get into the novel and I thought that the story would not engage me. I had changed my mind towards the end, but the start was still too slow. I like the political connection and it is interesting to read about DDR and how views of the same thing can differ so much.

The novel is an easy read and if you are ok with a slow tempo and prefer a cozy crime without too much violence then this is a good choice, since it does have some unexpected turns.

 

Original title in Swedish: Flickan framför muren. (I do know know if/when the novel will be published in English.)

Crimetime Gotland – Sweden’s New Crime Festival

We are so excited that there will be a new crime festival in Sweden this summer – Crimetime Gotland. More than 40 crime writers will gather in Visby, August 13-16. Visitors can mingle with crime writers, participate in seminars, watch movies, drink crime drinks, attend writing classes and much more.

We think it sounds like a lovely long weekend!

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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