D.I. Huss, closing in on 40, is an experienced police office in Göteborg, Sweden. She enjoys the loving support of her husband, Krister, and her twin 13 year old girls, Jenny and Katarina.
A dreary November day becomes dramatic when Richard von Knecht smashes into the pavement below his luxury apartment. Sylvia, his wife of 30 years, and his son, Henrik, almost witness the fall arriving in a car moments after Richard’s death. The police immediately form a large team to investigate the death of the wealthy and prominent von Knecht.
Having just turned 60 I reflected alittle more on the death of a victim who has just celebrated his 60th birthday.
A sense of the marriage of Richard and Sylvia comes from the oft used expression in the book that it has been the Thirty Years War.
The detectives are more than alittle awe struck as they search the almost antiseptic apartment featuring the combined smells of javex and cigars. Every likely spot for fingerprints has been wiped clean by the powerful cleaner.
Superintendent Andersson is in charge of an often fractious team. He keeps some order while fairly providing assignments to all the members of the team.
The relationships between the detectives felt real. It is an era when female detective inspectors are not yet common. Sexist remarks are frequent at the police station.
The investigation is painstaking. There are no highly dramatic discoveries. The detectives keep assembling evidence as they carefully sort through the lives of the von Knecht family.
While they are shocked by Henrik’s death it is hard to find a family member who actually mourns Richard’s passing. Henrik and Sylvia look forward to the millions of kroner that will flow their way.
There is a haunting episode where Huss interviews a young man dying of AIDS in a hospice. It evoked memories of my representation, starting in 1991, of hemophiliacs and blood transfused who were all infected with HIV. Most of my clients died of AIDS. Each one died hard.
I liked that Huss went home each night to an average family. Her girls are not perfect. Jenny impulsively becomes a skinhead dating a neo-Nazi and aspiring to play in a skinhead band.
I was intrigued and impressed by Huss being a judo champion. At the same time I found some of the references to judo expressions puzzling. The phrases in English did not always fit.
The nasty wet cold weather persists through the book. My older son, Jonathan, lived near Göteborg for a year. He recalled getting depressed when he did not see the sun for a month. I am going to see if agrees with Göteborg being nicknamed “Soaking-borg”.
It is not really a suspenseful mystery as the pool of suspects is so small but Tursten does a good job of building tension through the book. It is a very good police procedural which I enjoyed. Huss is a strong character about whom I want to learn more in further books. (May 13/12)