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3.8 out of 5 stars
37
3.8 out of 5 stars
Summertime Death: Malin Fors 2
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on 10 October 2017
A very well constructed plot with a twist at the end. The tension builds up as the final scenes approach.
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on 2 October 2017
As good as I expected from my favourite Scandinavian author - in other words excellent!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 February 2015
I was slightly disappointed by the first book by Mons Kallentoft, Midwinter Sacrifice, but was keen to see how the author's second book, translated by Neil Smith, turned out. The author changes seasons and sets this book in the middle of a stifling summer when forest fires are breaking out around Linköping, southwest of Stockholm.

Detectives Malin Fors and Zeke Martinsson are called to a local park where a teenager has been found, abused and scrubbed with bleach, with no memory of what happened to her. The police, who are short-handed because of the holiday period, must rely on forensic evidence but this is not very helpful. Then a second young girl goes missing and is found buried by a lake, abused and scrubbed clean.

On the positive side, the author and translator create a very vivid impression of the sweltering heat and how individual characters deal with it. The reader can almost feel the consequences of the air conditioning breaking down or of getting into a car than has been standing in the full sun. Fors is by far the most rounded character but others are not much more developed than at the end of the first book. The forensic investigator, Karin Johannison, [`indecently fresh and alert', `her blue eyes radiating a positive shimmer, her skin glowing with care', I won't mention her clothes and body] is increasingly unbelievable.

Kallentoft describes the hard slog of a police investigation where there are few clues and, for a long time, no real suspects. Fors' teenage daughter, Tove, and her ex-husband, Janne, have gone to Bali for a holiday but she stays at home pleading pressure of work. However, she is very aware of the fragility of her relationship with Tove and Kallentoft very sensitively describes this. Fors is also sleeping with Daniel Högfeldt, crime reporter of the Correspondent, but finds her thoughts turning to Janne who, when he returns from holiday, immediately sets out to help fight the fires.

Fors was once told by a senior colleague to listen to all the voices in an investigation and the author exploits this device throughout the novel. At times I found the voices of the ghostly victims rather intrusive and, having used this in his first book, I hope that it will not be a feature of the series. The problems of Fors' personal life are believably described and get greater as the book reaches its climax. However, some background introduced in Midwinter Sacrifice, for example her brooding over her parents who now live in Spain, is not really taken any further.

Stronger editing might have weeded out some repetitive sections and removed some unnecessary characters, such as a female runner who thinks she was followed in the woods but wasn't and a Serbian kiosk-owner who, although very well drawn, adds little to the plot. The loss of 50 or so pages from its 486 would have made this a much tighter book. The police investigation has some shortcomings - the most obvious being the amount of time spent trying to identify paint fragments from a particular item then finding a suspect with what appears to be the very article used in the attacks only to find that it is openly on sale in the one shop in the city selling such products.

The police team, supplemented by two colleagues from other areas, interact very well and allows Kallentoft to show how one detective is able to contravene regulations and viciously assault a suspect and his parents in the desperate search for victims and killer. Rather depressingly this attracts little attention from senior officers who otherwise appear to operate within the constraints of the law. Later we find that this detective and his wife are unable to have a child and that he `can honestly say that he loves her.' So that's all right then.

The character of the Police Chief, Karim Akbar, a Kurdish refugee allows the author to comment on the social problems of immigrants and attitudes towards them. However, he is rather disappointingly peripheral as the story develops. There are also some interesting references to lesbianism that show the Swedes not quite as open and inclusive as I had believed.

The psychological explanation of the killer's motive is not very convincing but Kallentoft does ramp up the tension in the last 50 pages or so, although the identity of the final `victim' comes as little surprise; I will give this series one further try, 7/10.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 May 2012
Mons Kallentoft's previous book, Midwinter Sacrifice, was a promising debut that showed a new, unique and literary voice working in Scandinavian crime fiction. Those qualities come into fruition brilliantly in the second Malin Fors book, Summertime Death. Even though it's under rather different weather conditions, it doesn't take long to slip back into the author's idiosyncratic and expansive view of provincial Sweden, or indeed to establish that each book in the tetralogy is going to be closely connected to the seasons. If midwinter in Linköping was as bleak as you can imagine, the record breaking heatwave that afflicts the city in the new book seeps into Detective Fors' investigation every bit as deeply.

Creating atmosphere is undoubtedly the strength of Mons Kallentoft's writing, but it extends way beyond using the weather for effect. As with the first book, there's an impressionistic clamour of voices from people from all walks of life (and even dead voices) in the community that flit through the writing. It's an essential part of the author's style, but it really distinguishes the writing above other similar works of crime fiction, putting the reader not only into the first-person perspective of Fors, but building up a much wider view of Swedish society. It's incredibly expansive in this respect, dipping into the minds of colleagues, victims and their families, but even if many of those figures appear to be peripheral to the story, it provides a deeper and essential insight into the society in which the crimes take place.

That was evident in Midwinter Sacrifice, but it's even more relevant, important and skillfully employed here in Summertime Death. Since it initially involves a raped girl with no memory and another who has gone missing, it's a case that goes to some very dark places and challenges both small-minded prejudice and political correctness, as well as giving cause for personal self-examination in the case of Malin Fors herself. Kallentoft ties this in to an atmosphere of forest fires and suffocating heat in a manner that is extraordinarily powerful and intense, all the while developing and strengthening the personalities of recurring characters in a way that is going to make this a far more important collection than Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.
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on 29 July 2012
Took this book on holiday this week and was hooked by the end of 2nd chapter- characters interesting, quite gory at times but original. Loved the scene setting with forest fires, I could almost smell the smoke in the air...
The main character Malin Fors is interesting and I am looking forward to finding out her dark secret in later books. The last half of the book was so gripping that I was ignoring everyone on my holiday . A really good read if you like Steig Larsson, the Killing series etc
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VINE VOICEon 24 August 2012
Having downloaded, listened to, and enjoyed Midwinter Sacrifice, the first book featuring Malin Fors, I was keen to listen to this, especially since it had a different narrator.

The story's pacing is slow at first , and only really picks up towards the very end, but the use of voices, including those of the murder victims, kept me interested. The weather and seasons are notable as characters in these books, and as a heatwave raged around me in real life, it was easy to imagine the one in the book. Perhaps the slow pace was a reflection on the heat in Linköping, adding to the feeling of sluggishness felt by the characters themselves.

I was pleased to find Malin's inner thoughts more believable than in the last book, and I was much happier with the narration in Summertime Death (Unabridged), too because it wasn't as monotonous, thus breathing more life into the various characters; and this despite some being dead. Pleasingly, I was unable to discern the perpetrator in this book which counterbalanced the lack of astonishment at the identity of the last abductee.

I would recommend this audio book, especially if the listener has enjoyed Midwinter Sacrifice. I also look forward to listening to Autumn Killing and Savage Spring (Malin Fors) in the same series being translated.
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on 28 August 2013
A good story, and I got through it quickly. I don't find the italicised 'voices of the dead' an irritation, but I did find the obsession with immigration, integration and political correctness a bit wearing. If a suspect was from an 'oppressed minority' the characters felt obliged to question their motives. The words 'prejudice' and 'racism' crop up frequently. For example 'Malin immediately thought of Abdul Iqbal as a viable suspect, then checked herself. Was that racist? Should she report herself to the Racial Thoughtcrime Division for re-education?'. OK, that wasn't in it as such, but it's how some of the text goes. It seems that in Sweden all low-paid work is done by downtrodden immigrants, yet if this is anything like true to life then Sweden must be the most institutionally politically correct nation on earth. Still, worth a read.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 26 May 2015
I have mixed feelings about Summertime Death as I thought some of it was terrific and some of it dire. A young girl is found in a park and has obviously been raped but she has no memory of it and there are very few clues to the perpetrator. Shortly afterwards another girl is reported missing. This is the start of the "investigation", but there is really very little investigation, just a few blind alleys. Summertime Death is definitely not a police procedural although the main protagonists are police inspectors as there is very little procedure and they seem to float from one idea to the next guided by intuition and intangible links - it's all extremely vague and nebulous. This is not the image any modern police force would wish to present but represents very well, I imagine, the feelings most detectives have when faced with violent crime. It is also the story of Malin Fors's home life and that also is vague, not vague in the detail (daughter, ex, lover), but she is restless and seems to be looking for something she can't define but in this book is her ex husband. She is a very frustrating character and it is hard to identify with her. I particularly liked the atmosphere of oppressive heat evoked throughout the book and thought it was very well done. I liked the voices of the dead in the previous book as I thought it contributed to the story but in this book I found it annoying and pointless as it contributed nothing to the narrative.
I was glued to the plotline, wondering what would come next but I wanted to shake Malin and the dead voices quite often so I'm recommending Summertime Death with reservations - only read it if you can deal with flakiness.
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on 25 July 2012
The murderer employs very different methods of killing to other books I've read. The author has succeeded in producing a different type of novel and it does keep your attention. I found the heroine's musings repetitive and annoying but other than that it is worth reading so I say go for it!
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on 14 December 2012
A teenage girl is found naked in a public park having been assaulted but she has no memory of the event. Shortly later another teenager is found but this time the victim is dead. Malin Fors is the detective who must work out who is committing these crimes and why before there are any more victims.

The characters are building nicely in this second book in the series. We see more about how Malin ticks and her relationships with her daughter, Tove, ex husband Janne and her colleagues even though the former two are on holiday in Bali. It is another well written Scandinavian police procedural which is not afraid to tackle some of the darker elements of the police force. My only criticism with this book is that it is written in the present tense which at times I found irritating.
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