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Showing 1-10 of 23 reviews(3 star). See all 133 reviews
on 19 September 2016
Only ordinary and a bit run of the mill. Certainly does not live up to comparisons with the authors namesake. Atmospheric setting as are most Nordic noir books, but not a very memorable book. Will probably try one more book by this author
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on 21 July 2014
Very good writing spoilt by introduction of the supernatural. The supernatural can explain everything and anything thus spoils all attempts to follow the detective story.
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on 28 June 2013
First book I've read by this author and hopefully the next one will be a bit more exciting didn't expect that ending
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on 11 June 2017
3.5 stars

After encountering the feisty Rebecka Martinsson in the fifth outing of this series and enjoying it immensely, it is interesting to see how Åsa Larsson's writing has acquired a certain polish as this series has progressed. At times I felt like the narrative in this first outing was a little awkward, the character of Rebecka Martinsson still carving out a role and personality for herself, whilst also being faced with the unenviable task of returning to a childhood home that she was effectively cast out of a decade previously. Memories are raw for Rebecka and as Larsson ventures more deeply into Martinsson's claustrophobic home it isn't hard to see why her hackles are quickly raised and her outward demeanour is so prickly. At times the translation appears somewhat clunky and the narrative occasionally jarring, but all in all this is a highly competent debut which sees a tax lawyer in Stockholm break out of her predetermined role to return to a home town where she has plenty of unfinished business.

Protagonist Rebecka Martinsson, is a tax lawyer who has seen her hard work take her from the northernmost town in Sweden (Kiruna) to a career in prestigious Stockholm law firm, Meijer and Ditzinger. Working seventy-hours a week to bill for an average of forty-two, Rebecka is living the life of a corporate bunny with a stressful workload, limited social fulfilment and nights of broken sleep. The shocking news of the murder of a religious celebrity in Kiruna, however, takes Rebecka right back to her earlier years when his identity is disclosed as Viktor Strandgård, a man who she knew well, along with his sister, Sanna. Having lost touch with her former friends when she was effectively ostracised from the town, she has no intentions of returning home but a call from Sanna, who discovered Viktor's mutilated body and has been identified as prime suspect sees Rebecka returning north. Contrary to all her intentions, Rebecka risks her job and forces herself to face the legacy of a past and confront the demons that drove her from the town and left her reputation in tatters but she is less certain that she will be able to help Sanna.

A near death experience saw Viktor Strangård devote his life to God and instigate an impassioned Christian following in Kiruna, which involved unifying three separate churches. With a congregation of two-thousand, the combined entity, The Source of All Our Strength, is something of an institution that has secured the finances of its three full-time pastors, which the charismatic and manipulative Thomas Söderberg heads up. With the murder weapon and Viktor's bible found in the home of Sanna amounting to circumstantial evidence only, Rebecka is left to focusing on a possible motive and who might have framed Sanna for the murder. A close-lipped community makes things even tougher but threatening to expose some financial scandals proves fortuitous as the truth comes into sight. Admittedly there is little opportunity to see Rebecka do more than prying into tax/financial accounts and ruffling a few feathers. Sanna swings between truculent slights and silence and makes it difficult to believe a former close friendship ever existed between her and Rebecka. Given that Rebecka's specialism is in tax law her investigations are very intuitive and it proves easy to follow her logic. Taking on responsibility for Sanna's two daughters, Sara (11) and Lova (4) and keeping them out of the clutches of Sanna's domineering father, Olof Strandgärd, sees Rebecka return to her grandmothers remote home in Kurravarra and cabin in Jiekajärvi and forced to rely on her grandmothers elderly neighbour, Sivving.

Investigating Inspector Anna-Maria Mella is heavily pregnant with her fourth child and her second in command, Sven-Erik Stålnacke officially takes the reins but is somewhat overawed by the press interest and defers to Mella. Inspector Fred Olsson and eager younger Sergeant Tommy Rantakyrö assist but it is jumped up Assistant Chief Prosector Carl von Post (aka von Pisspot) who sees this an opportunity to overturn his lowly outposting and get his talents recognised. Rebecka cooperates with Inspector Anna-Maria Mella who are both united in believing that Prosector Carl von Post is blinkered in his determination for a open and shut case and failing to see past Sanna as the guilty party. Much of this story felt very familiar but I think this was due to my reading in quick succession with another case which focused on a religious sect (The Inspector and Silence by Håkan Nesser).

The unique setting and feel of an insular community is well conveyed but if there is one thing lacking it in interaction between characters which struggles to appear natural at times. Skipping to the fifth instalment, shows the considerable improvement in Larsson's writing but this relatively straightforward investigation with very few distractions works as an excellent introduction to the characters. Larsson leaves readers to piece together the fallout from the crime and impact on life in Kiruna but does hint at a future romance for Rebecka with her quick to inflame boss, Mäns Wenngren.

Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)
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on 11 December 2010
A mutilated body is found in a church in northern Sweden - and a lawyer is brought back to the place she once lived and her past amongst the leaders of the church.

This is a competent enough read with a tighter plotline than those of writers like Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo. However many of the elements have been done repeatedly in other crime novels making this definitely feel less than fresh.

The beginning is very strong, but the rest of the book doesn't manage to avoid crime cliché (sexual shenanigans and religious obsession) culminating in the final showdown as the police rush to arrest the culprit...

This isn't a bad read by any means but is far from original.
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VINE VOICEon 26 August 2013
An introduction to Rebecka Martinsson, an assistant to a partner in a Stockholm Tax Law firm. So far so unexciting.

But then she receives a life-changing phone call from an estranged friend. Off she flies up to Karuna to help her friend who has just discovered the body of her murdered brother. Not only murdered but disfigured and dismembered and all this in some oddball church society. So whodunnit?

The tax lawyer's assistant suddenly becomes the avenging detective, no matter there is actually a police force in Karuna who might just get the job done. Well they would but for the crassness of the Prosecutor who has an eye for his image on TV.

Then there is the Christian spirit reflected in the the three pastors very much intent on covering up just why the brother was murdered. It comes as no surprise that the brother was a high flyer within the Church, preaching that God is paramount and....well, you don't want to know.

Regrettably, although within the torrent of biblical readings there is a good story waiting to be unleashed, it's thanks to all this bible stuff that the story flounders. We know who killed the man, only nobody else twigs until the last few pages when Rebecka is called upon to do things she could not have imagined possible.

And that's just the point. Anyway, miss out the religious stuff and the story's worth a 4 star. Sufficient enough to have me now looking for a cheap copy of book 2.
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on 12 May 2013
Please do check other reviews for this author, she is NOT linked to Seig Larrson of 'the girl who....' fame, and is absolutely NOT in his league. That said, I stuck with this book and ended up liking it more than I had expected. It lacks the finesse, pace and believability of Jo Nesbo or Steig Larrson, but is an 'ok' read.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 July 2012
First of all the sticker on the book makes a comparison to Stieg Larsson - that's misleading. It's not in his league by a long chalk.

It's an ok book but (and this is probably a very English reaction) i got bored with the religious quotations and ceremonies and was skipping half pages all over the place.

It doesn't paint a great image of Sweden as all the characters are either religious extremists or (on the law enforcement side) all very bad tempered and disrespectful to each other.

And (this is probably just me) the passages relating to the dog I found upsetting and had to skip over, once I'd realised where it was headed.

But, in summary, it says it's her first crime novel - so there could be more to come.
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on 7 October 2015
I found this book mostly boring, there were no twists nor turns, the main character quite likable, but the plot not really gripping, the story sort of went and went and then just finished, not enough police work involved or described.
Would not recommend this book, if anyone is looking for a good Scandinavian crime, would highly recommend Kristina Olhson' s series which I found really good, if not best out of quite a few writers I tried.
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on 5 January 2017
It's Ok as a run-of-the-mill thriller. Nothing special - certainly way, way, below the quality of the Stieg Lasson's 'Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' trilogy. The plot is basic, although there are some interesting insights into Scandinavian life - do lawyers really start work at between 5 and 6am?! - and the list of suspects is limited, the characters being very two dimensional. OK for a quick read.
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