Sun Storm by Asa Larsson – Rebecka Martinsson is grinding away day and night as a tax lawyer in Stockholm for the law firm of Meijer & Ditzinger when she gets a call from childhood friend, Sanna Strandgard, about the death of Sanna’s brother, Viktor. Sanna found the body and the police are going to question her and she is in shock and feeling overwhelmed. Rebecka says she will come north.
Rebecka returns reluctantly to her hometown of Kiruna in far northern
as distant culturally as it is physically from Sweden . Stockholm
Viktor, known as Paradise Boy after a near death experience, had inspired a spiritual revival of the Free Churches of Kiruna. Physically beautiful he had devoted his life to God. People from all over
came north to talk and pray with him. When he is found brutally murdered and mutilated in the beautiful new Crystal Church there is intense public interest in the murder. Sweden
Sanna’s explanation that she awoke in the middle of the night, felt something wrong and had gone to the Church at in the morning with her daughters where she found Viktor is sceptically viewed by the police.
One of the lead police officers is Inspector Anna-Maria Mella, nine months pregnant and very ready to deliver her fourth child. I do not believe I have read crime fiction where a police officer was investigating crime so late in a pregnancy. I thought of Frances McDormand being a very pregnant Sheriff in the movie,
. With both book and movie set in the middle of winter my image of Anna-Maria is the movie image of McDormand. Fargo
Sanna is a loving, if mentally uncertain, mother of Lova and Sara. The young girls fit well into the story.
Back at the Church the three co-pastors are building a wall of secrecy around the Church. The investigators find it difficult to get information on the members of the church and their relationships with Viktor.
One of the reasons the book works well is that Larsson, as recommended by P.D. James in Talking About Detective Fiction, has created a powerful victim. A reader wants to know why the charismatic Viktor was killed.
Rebecka, obviously tightly wound and organized, is very frustrated with Sanna’s vague attitude toward life.
In the investigation Rebecka draws on her knowledge of Swedish tax law to develop her theory on why Viktor died. I thought of V.I. Warshawski more than Kinsey Milhone in the use of financial information by Rebecka.
There is no courtroom legal mystery. Rebecka barely appears in court for Sanna. I will sill count it as a legal mystery as Rebecka makes good use of her firm connections and knowledge of the law to help solve the murder.
I expect I will venture back to
for further mysteries involving Rebecka. (May 25/12) Sweden