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34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a debut novel not to be missed/overlooked, 18 May 2006
By 
tregatt (Portland, Oregon) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sun Storm (Hardcover)
Unlike some of my other mystery loving friends, I haven't exactly jumped on the aren't-all-mysteries-from-the-Scandanavian-countries-wonderful bandwagon; my enjoyment of Asa Larsson's "Sun Storm," however has made me reconsider my position: perhaps I should check out other mystery novels from this region before making any snap decisions.

Tax attorney, Rebecka Martinsson, thought that she put her embarrassing and painful past behind her when she left the small and provincial town of Kiruna for the big city. But when an old friend, Sanna Strandgard, 'phones her begging her emotional support and legal advice, Rebecka finds herself dropping everything and returning to Kiruna once more. Sanna's younger brother, the charismatic Viktor, has been found ritualistically butchered in the very church that he helped found; and the chief prosecutor seems to have made up his mind that Sanna's committed the crime. Soon, Rebecka finds herself playing detective as well as facing down old ghosts. Trying to get Sanna to help her understand what happened is proving equally frustrating as Sanna's moods swing from apathy to paralyzing fear with alarming regularity. So, who wanted Viktor dead and why was he killed in such a brutal fashion? And what is Sanna hiding? Much to her chagrin, Rebecka finds herself getting more involved in Sanna's affairs than she would like to be...

I was absolutely riveted by "Sun Storm" -- once I started it I simply couldn't put it down. True, the storyline is a much used one and fans of Val McDermid will find few surprises here; what I enjoyed though was the author's engaging and sympathetic portrayal of the novel's chief protagonist, Rebecka, and the two diligent and intelligent police officers assigned to the case (Inspectors Anna-Maria Mella & Sven-Erik Stalnacke), as well as the wonderful manner in which the author layered the tension and kept the suspense going at a fairly high level. Asa Larsson's crisp prose style (or indeed the translator's, Marlaine Delgargy, efforts) also went a long way towards making "Sun Storm" a truly absorbing and engaging read. All in all, this is an author and series to be on the lookout for!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great suspense novel, 1 May 2012
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This review is from: Sun Storm (Paperback)
The plot of this novel by Assa Larsson is very well defined. The narrative takes you to really get to know the characters deeply. Since beginning to end it will take you through the story without you even noticing how fast you are "eating" this book. Highly recommended if you like suspense novels.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Debut crime novel demonstrates why Swedish crime fiction is appealing, 27 Feb 2011
By 
Maxine Clarke "Maxine of Petrona" (Kingston upon Thames, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sun Storm (Paperback)
I was a bit worried when I finally picked up this book, as I'd waited a long time to read it, and it comes garlanded with awards and rave reviews. Could it live up to its reputation? Emphatically, yes.
Rebecka Martinsson is a struggling young lawyer, working insanely long hours to get a foot on the ladder, despite an unsympathetic boss and a corporate environment as cold as the Swedish seasons. She sees on the TV news that an Victor Strandgard, an old friend has been murdered in Kiruna, a remote village in the north. Before she can assimilate this information, she is phoned by a "Moomin troll", otherwise known as Sanna, the dead man's sister, prime suspect for the murder, and Rebecka's ex-flatmate and ex-best friend.
Rebecka is forced to jeopardise her shaky career to return to her roots in Kiruna, the place where she grew up, made her childhood mistakes, and began her involvement with the oppressive church group of which Victor was a leading light. We learn that when young, Victor was involved in a car accident, but survived even though his heart stopped. He subsequently wrote a bestselling book of his post-death experience that is the financial mainstay of the Kiruna church and the main source of its success, as Victor refuses to profit by his religion, allowing the church's three unpleasant pastors and their even more unpleasant wives to exploit the situation.
Rebecka enters this mixture of past dread and present suspicion determined simply to help Sanna through her interview with the police but get no more involved with Sanna and her troubles. Her resolve is immediately broken by Sanna's mental instability and the physical state of her two children, as well as the increasing likelihood that Sanna was involved in Victor's death. Unwillingly, and to her boss's fury, she becomes Sanna's lawyer, is accused of assaulting a TV reporter, and tries to drag Sanna's children, if not Sanna herself, back into normal functioning.
The detectives investigating Victor's murder are the heavily pregnant Anna-Maria Mella, who is supposed to be on desk duty until the birth of her child, Sven-Erik Stalnacke, her deputy who will be covering for her maternity leave, and their odious, publicity seeking boss, Carl von Post. The empathy of Anna-Maria and Sven-Erik for Rebecka and Sanna allows the truth of Victor's death gradually to be realised, rather than being brushed under the carpet by the church officials and the talentless von Post. To find out what really happened, Rebecka has to come to terms with her own past and the hypocrisy of the pastors, as well as face up to Sanna and Victor's demons - most chillingly, to their smug father and complicit mother.
This book is incredibly assured; it is hard to believe it is a first novel. The shifts between past and present, rural and city values, old times (symbolised by the most attractive character in the book, the old neighbour Sivving Fjallborg, as well as Rebecka's dead grandmother) and modern relationships, are all told in a spare, compelling and deft style. Everything is made to count, never does the book slip into sentimentality, and I was delighted to read in the author's note at the end of the book that Rebecka is to return because she "is not that easy to get rid of".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The first novel of a very good writer, 23 May 2013
This review is from: Sun Storm (Paperback)
"Sun Storm" is not the classic foregone thriller: the reader does not know who the culprit is until the entire book is gone. Most of the times with just one breath ... and yes, this book has the power to keep you literally "glued" from the start to its end, and when you finish it you'd just want to start another Asa Larsson's book.
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Sun Storm
Sun Storm by Asa Larsson (Paperback - 26 Dec 2006)
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