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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended
Swedish Detective Malin Fors and her partner Zeke Martinsson investigate the murder of a morbidly obese loner found hanging in a tree.

I suppose the increasing popularity of Scandanavian crime fiction has a lot to do with the fact that, unlike much American crime fiction in the last ten years, the authors concentrate less on plot and more on character. This...
Published on 27 Aug 2011 by Johnnybluetime

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, Noir-ish Work of Scandinavian Crime Lit
It's official; we are all lovers of Scandinavian crime-lit in this country - just check the crime bestseller charts and the profusion of titles in the bookshops written by authors with hard to pronounce names for evidence. And here's another new Swedish author for your delectation - Mons Kallentoft - with 'Midwinter Sacrifice'.

The obese body of a man is found...
Published on 18 Oct 2011 by G. J. Oxley


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well Written, Noir-ish Work of Scandinavian Crime Lit, 18 Oct 2011
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Midwinter Sacrifice (Paperback)
It's official; we are all lovers of Scandinavian crime-lit in this country - just check the crime bestseller charts and the profusion of titles in the bookshops written by authors with hard to pronounce names for evidence. And here's another new Swedish author for your delectation - Mons Kallentoft - with 'Midwinter Sacrifice'.

The obese body of a man is found battered, bruised and hanging from a tree and the local police force are brought in to solve the murder. Is the title a tease, or are the dark forces of the occult at work? Unusually for a male crime writer, his main character, Malin Fors, is a woman - although she's not the lead detective, merely part of a team assigned to investigate the killing.

She lives with Tove, her bright 13-year-old daughter, but the child's estranged father (we never find out if they divorced) lives within a short driving distance. The book demonstrates the difficulties of Fors balancing her demanding professional life with her responsibilities as a mother. She seems a realistically drawn character to me, and the daughter, for once, is not an infuriating brat.

As my review title indicates, it's no side-splitter - but it's not completely grim and unrelenting either. Some of the writing is rather well done: the Scandinavian winter is brilliantly evoked, so much so that I felt cold just reading the book; and the relationships between most of the characters are well-handled too.

On the negative side, the translation is clunking in places, and interspersed throughout the narrative is a commentary by the murdered man, urging Malin on to trace the murderer/s. I found this device both silly and annoying - though no doubt the author would cite poetic license.

The book is, as usual for most crime novels these days, pretty long; but is the pay off at the end worth it? I would say `just about' but for me there are two main threads left hanging. There are also one or two elements that are very similar to Jo Nesbo's 'The Snowman'.

Inevitably it will draw comparisons with super-Swede Stieg Larsson, but the answer to the inevitable question is `no' this won't engage you anywhere near as much as the `Millennium' trilogy. Still, a lot of people will find major enjoyment within its pages.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 27 Aug 2011
By 
Johnnybluetime - See all my reviews
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Swedish Detective Malin Fors and her partner Zeke Martinsson investigate the murder of a morbidly obese loner found hanging in a tree.

I suppose the increasing popularity of Scandanavian crime fiction has a lot to do with the fact that, unlike much American crime fiction in the last ten years, the authors concentrate less on plot and more on character. This certainly follows that pattern with the lead detective, Malin Fors, troubled family life almost as important as the crime she is investigating. Kallentoft also spends a lot of time taking us into the mind of Fors as she ponders the reasons and causes for murder and this gives the book a weight that many other authors can't manage or can't be bothered to manage. Despite the fact that by the end we know who the murderer is and what is their fate other strands are deliberately left unresolved and there is a great sadness and sympathy for many of the damaged characters Fors meets.

I enjoyed this very much,despite finding it quite hard going at times. It isn't just a simple plot driven page turner and consequently requires a bit more effort, but I think if you enjoy someone like Camilla Lackberg's books then you will enjoy this.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Genuine Article, 19 Sep 2011
By 
P. G. Strachan (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
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I'm always deeply suspicious of books that have "the next Stieg Larsson" (or somesuch) splattered over the jacket. And this one goes even further - invoking "The Killing" just for good measure. But truth be told this turns out to be a pretty damned fine piece of writing (so that would rule out any similarity with Larsson 2+3). Complex and unsettling...it's clear Kallentoft isn't scared to challenge his readers. As a lesser mortal I found myself occasionally flicking back through the pages to see if I'd missed something....only to find that the answers were waiting further down the line.
Anyway....I see from trawling elsewhere on Amazon that Kallentoft has written four more in the Malin Fors series. Sadly none of them available in English translation yet. Hurry it up. I can't wait.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Quiet Killing, 28 Oct 2011
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
At a time when it seems like every crime book, not just Scandinavian crime fiction, is compared to one particular writer, the best thing I can say about the first book from the latest Swedish writer to make it into translation is that Mons Kallentoft is nothing like Stieg Larsson. His first novel, Midwinter Sacrifice, is much more realistic in its depiction of crime in Sweden - even though it is centred around a murder that has all the hallmarks of a ritual Æsir sacrifice - with no moments of Grand Guignol, but it's not strictly realistic either, the author using an unusual impressionistic style of writing that takes in a number of perspectives, and tries to build up a wider picture of the society that the killing takes place in.

That place is in the punishing winter plains and forests around Linköping in Sweden, where Malin Fors is a police detective heading up the investigation of an unknown man whose body has been found hanging naked and mutilated from a tree in the frozen midwinter. The man is identified as Bengt Andersson, regarded as an outcast and a loner, who has been mercilessly tormented by the local children all his life. Looking into his background however, Fors finds that there are connections between the man and the fearsome Murvall family relating to long-buried and near-forgotten family secrets, and an abusive and violent past.

What is revealed over the course of Midwinter Sacrifice then is not just a killer, but an expansive and unsettling view of the kind of society that ekes out a living in this inhospitable region. In passing, mainly through Malin Fors and her family and love life, the reader comes into contact with a full cross-section of this society - immigrants, doctors, journalists, IKEA employees - showing the limited options for work in the region, and how this shapes their lives, all of which is every bit as fascinating as the crime investigation.

What is even more fascinating is the manner in which the author gets into the heads of his characters, sometimes letting them take the lead, exposing a variety of thought processes and mindsets, some of them violent, some of them searching for peace and answers, some of them even dead. That makes the writing in Midwinter Sacrifice sound difficult or complicated, but it's not. Rather it creates a wonderful impressionistic flow, adding depth and character, not least to the police detective, Malin Fors, who it seems still has some other depths and unresolved issues that it will be intriguing to follow in subsequent books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilly Swedish crime well done!, 26 Jan 2013
By 
EllyBlue (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This novel, one of a quartet by Mons Kallentoft each one based around a season of the year. With this one, you can really feel the cold. A naked body is found hanging in a tree at the height of winter and to begin with, no-one is sure who it is. Unusually, we hear the voice of the dead man intermittently throughout the novel in a device which I found quite effective. The story is written in the present tense, and I admit it did take me a few chapters to get used to the writer's style. However, I was soon hooked, and found the quality of the writing a key strength of this book. The plot is pure police procedural, with dead ends, links to past events, waits for results of forensic tests and the rest. It was satisfyingly complex without being impenetrable and dealt with the complexity of motive well. The leading detective Malin Fors I liked very much. A single mum who lives with her teenage daughter Tove, she is an intuitive and committed detective and a flawed and searching human being. The city of Linkoping made an excellent backdrop for the story with the author showing the range of people who live in relatively close proximity to one another yet whose worlds are miles apart.
If you like Scandinavian crime, then you will probably enjoy this. Don't be put off if you find it takes a few chapters to adjust to the style. It is well worth persevering, and I will be downloading the next book, Summertime Death (Malin Fors) to my Kindle shortly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scandinavian crime fiction just got darker and more interesting, 3 Nov 2012
By 
Richard Latham (Burton on Trent) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midwinter Sacrifice (Paperback)
Here is yet another Scandinavian crime novel from Sweden; more of the same you think cashing in the success of this genre. Even the blurb gets in on the act: "Larrson, Nesbo. Now there's a new king of crime".
Well stop right there.
This is an evocative, thought-proving piece. Stylish prose unlike his contemporaries in that he often seems to write poetry to convey emotion, location and the prevailing wind and cold.
A mystery. A whodunnit. A police procedural and a bright, intuitive female cop whose own life is a bit of a mess.
Complex characters; witnesses withholding information; alibis that can't be trusted and the dead trying to convey meaning and direction even when no-one listened to them when the were flesh and bone.
I found his writing style annoying at first but once you get into the book it is a complete delight to read and refreshingly different in this crowded subject matter.
I particularly liked how he conjured up the setting, the sense of place and historical context. The mentality of the townsfolk and the exclusion of some parts of society. Above all his descriptions where the happenings on the ground were almost grid referenced by landmarks and familiar places gave you a real sense of the community and the setting of the book.
I really enjoyed this book and I'm pleased that other stories in this series are available in the UK.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Linköping, Östergötland, Sweden in a freezing February, 11 Jun 2012
By 
Mikey (UK) - See all my reviews
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Picking up Midwinter Sacrifice certainly was a wise move. The book was fantastic!
Malin Fors is a 33 year old police detective who, from her previous relationship with fireman Janne, has a 13 year old daughter Tove. Linköping in central Sweden is the setting for the novel during one of the coldest ever winters. Having been to Linköping several times and loved it, this book really brought back some memories of times spent there. Swedish Elite League ice hockey is played at the Cloetta Center as mentioned in the book and I found the fact that ice hockey player Martin, son of Malin's colleague Zeke, would indeed be playing for the local team at the Cloetta Center. Other descriptions of the town seem extremely accurate too.
Mons Kallentoft has a different style of writing. It does take some time getting used to it, but I must admit I liked it. I also loved learnibg more about the fantastic characters that Kallentoft has created in this first in the series. The plot does move slowly along but only as there are heaps more details about the characters and their thoughts, particularly Malin.
I've already bought the next in the series and started already. Looking forward to the next in the series too.
This is one character that I would love to see adapted for TV. If the Wallander books can be done, then so can Fors.

A WORD OF WARNING! This book is the 2011 United Kingdom release. In June 2012 another version has hit the market - this version has the title MIDWINTER BLOOD (the United States release of the same book) If you have already read or bought MIDWINTER BLOOD, please AVOID this novel!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A cold case with a warm heart., 15 Aug 2014
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If you are a fan of Mankell and Lackberg then you will like this book. Murder and evil corrupts the air of a Swedish town. Malin Fors is another conflicted Scandinavian detective, fretting over her family life as she tries to uncover who carried out the midwinter sacrifice. In fact, police work offers some solace from uneasy home lives for the whole police squad. They are all coping with "work-life balance".
As Fors and her colleagues search for motive behind a savage act, we are introduced to a range of characters from the eccentric to the disturbed. Ultimately only a few secrets need to surface to solve the mystery. As the book slowly unfolds there is no great puzzle to knowing who committed the crime and what drove them to it.
If you want a gripping thriller this is probably not the book for you. You will be impatient with Fors' stressed out motherhood.
If, on the other hand, you like police procedurals in unfamiliar sub-zero places you will enjoy this book. You have to be prepared to share the journey as well as to arrive at the destination. You have to want to share the squad's frustrations as much as to enjoy the thrill of the chase. The book is the first of a series and I would be interested in finding out more.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Midwinter Sacrifice, 27 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Midwinter Sacrifice (Paperback)
Not as good as other Scandi crime books I've read. I want to put the main character into a bag and give her a good shake. She annoys me intensely, but I guess you can't like everyone......
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No talking corpses please., 17 July 2013
By 
Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midwinter Sacrifice (Paperback)
Like an increasing number of murder mysteries, this book has short sections, italicized, in which the murder victim, an obese social outsider, adds his perspective to the proceedings and comments on how close the detectives are from discovering who killed him. I always find this very annoying even though some of the information provided helps to move the story along. Corpses do not speak.

This novel, which is well translated by Neil Smith, concerns a police procedural investigation by single mother, Malin Fors, and her colleagues in the rural area of Southern Sweden, around Linkoping. A badly mutilated body is found hanging high up from a tree in bitter mid-winter, which suggests that this is not suicide.

Fors is a very interesting character, worrying about her daughter, Tove, about whether she did the right thing in divorcing her husband and how her parents, who have retired to Spain, are faring. Many of Malin's colleagues, mostly sketched in here, look very interesting, are of different ages and backgrounds, and have rivalries and disagreements that are beautifully translated in the very believable dialogue. The relationship between the police, social workers and their clients is explored very well, although at times the focus tends to wander. The book is also a very good depiction of the lives and concerns of a dedicated policewoman and her colleagues, which will be broadened out more in future books.

I enjoyed this novel and some of its digressions, but the mystery's solution is obvious, and the book is far too long, well over 400 pages. A significant number of pages could be cut if the comments by the victim, mentioned above, were excluded. The author might also pay more attention to the main story in future, rather than getting side-tracked into stories which, however interesting, are not relevant to the central plot.

The author was very good at describing the weather and the environment, and he clearly plays to this strength in subsequent novels that have been translated into English. The narrative was rather slow at the beginning but then picked up pace and the narrative is taken by different characters that helped maintain this reader's interest and attention.

The ending of the book was somewhat melodramatic and not all the loose ends were tied up, but that is life. However, the author had built up some of the back stories in such detail that it was disappointing not to know more, especially when the characters on the very edge of society were so well drawn. My rating just edges into 4* territory. However, I will certainly try another book about Malin and her colleagues, just as long as there is not a voice addressing me from beyond the grave.
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Midwinter Sacrifice
Midwinter Sacrifice by Mons Kallentoft (Paperback - 5 Jan 2012)
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