on 16 February 2011
I was hooked from the beginning by the wry, tightly written style and the descriptions of Newcastle (not the usual cliched grime and deprivation image of crime novels set in the north but quirky places like the Lit & Phil library). The fast-paced plot soon moves to Malmo in Sweden and as the story line rattles along, the author effortlessly gives a real feel for this city, the country and its people. Scottish Strachan is an intersting, likeable but flawed character with a self-depricating humour and it's through his eyes that we see Sweden. The detective Anita Sundstrom is a believable and engaging heroine - refreshing to have a detective as the main character who isn't either a drunk or male. The story grips right to the very last twist. I hope it's the start of a series and that we get to see Anita in action again!
on 4 June 2013
I really enjoyed this book - up to a point. All the way through I had a sneaking suspicion it might turn out like it did, but I thought we'd got past that and then..I got to the end. Initially, I thought the character was joking. I had to re-read the page a few times in case I had misunderstood. Unfortunately I hadn't. I was up for reading the second in the series, but now I'm not sure. Maybe a new author will take all our comments on board. Nobody likes to be made a fool of.
on 13 November 2015
One of the main attractions of Scandinavian thrillers and Nordic Noir is that they are written by Scandinavians: they bring to the table their own particular cultures, idiosyncrasies and styles to create a unique atmosphere. It would therefore be very hard for any British author to recreate the same mood as first rate Scandinavia authors so it came as no big surprise that this was not a classic of the genre. The characters were ok but limited - apparently the blond Swedish police detective has a nice arse but then again so does the barmaid in my local pub!
My biggest problem with the book was the ending - as some other reviewers have commented there was no logical journey whereby the Inspector tracked down and teased out the critical fact that scuppered the guilty party, virtually anyone in the book could have been the murderer and the ending left me feeling like I had wasted my time for little benefit.
On the plus side, the Scottish journalist had a good sense of humour and it was nice to get a bit of a travelogue about Malmo but I won't be rushing out to buy the next in the series.
Sweet but useless journalist Ewan Strachan works for a failing northern English newspaper, having recently been downgraded to working for the monthly lifestyle part of the operation. Strachan is lazy, thinking nothing of copying from elsewhere the articles he "writes" and not in the least able to summon up the enthusiasm for chasing scoops. Desperate to cling on to his job somehow, he attends a showing of an award-winning Swedish film because the director is an old undergraduate friend, Mick Roslyn, with whom he has lost touch. After the two make contact again. Roslyn, who has become a celebrity in Sweden, invites Strachan to Malmo for an interview for a feature, and Strachan manages to persuade his boss to pay for the trip.
On arrival in Malmo, Strachan is plunged into a nightmare when he turns up to do the interview and discovers the body of Roslyn's wife, the star of the film. The ensuing police investigation into this murder is mainly told from the point of view of Anita Sundstrom, an inspector who is highly competent yet who has to put up with sexism and discrimination from her boorish, sometimes less intelligent, superiors. Sundstrom and Strachan strike up a friendship, as the investigation continues down several avenues - could the murder be a crime of passion, a political conspiracy, the work of a deluded ex-serviceman, or an act of vengeance?
There is a lot of detail packed into this 200-page novel. The first section, introducing us to Strachan and his life in England, is too protracted, but the pace picks up once the action shifts to Malmo. The police investigation is told with confidence, the author ringing the changes as new information and suspicions continue to come to light even after initial leads look as if a quick solution has been found. Anita Sundstrom is an attractive character, divorced with a teenage son who is at university, a workaholic and domestically disorganised. Her friendship with Strachan, and indeed Strachan's visit to Malmo, provide the author with a wealth of opportunity to compare Swedish and British behaviour and culture, as well as providing the reader with a great deal of information about the history and geography of Malmo so that if you should ever visit this city, I recommend taking this book with you.
In the end, I felt that the author had been rather unfair in what he chose not to reveal to the reader earlier in the book amid a wealth of other details, for no apparent reason. All the lines of evidence about the mystery come to a climax at the same time to keep the reader guessing right to the end, which is cleverly done, but quite a few aspects depend on facts not having been checked thoroughly or last-minute back-story and revelations that are somewhat plucked out of the air. I do think the ending is something of a cheat, but even so this is a readable, entertaining debut novel; I hope that Anita Sundstrom will be assigned to more cases in future books.
on 4 June 2013
A good twist only works if you get there through clever logic. It doesn't work if you deceive your reader, which is what happens in this book. The writer chooses to let us in on the inner thoughts of pretty much every character in the book, and then goes completely the opposite way. It's not clever, it simply doesn't add up. A pity as the book was quite readable. Won't be getting no 2 though.
on 4 January 2011
In this highly readable debut novel,Ewan Strachan is a mediocre
provincial journalist,who feels he can resurrect his ailing career,
when his editor allows him to travel to Malmo to interview Mick
Roslyn,an old university colleague,who has become a famous film
director in Sweden.
Roslyn's film star wife's dead body is discovered by Strachan,and
his stay in Malmo puts him at the centre of a murder investigation,
and he becomes a suspect.The novel them becomes a thrilling police
procedural tale,as the Swedish detectives turn from one suspect to
another.Meanwhile Strachan falls for the attractive female detective.
This is an enjoyable read with a vivid sense of place and a twist in
on 12 May 2012
I started reading this book not expecting too much, in light of all the scandinavian detective novels now available. however i was blown away , i could not put it down and the ending was totally unexpected. A brilliant debut novel cant wait for a sequel.