Archive for the ‘Sweden’ Category

The announcement of the Petrona Award Shortlist is always  a bit of a sad time as I remember my friend the late Maxine Clarke.  

Maxine’s blog Petrona was an inspiration to so many, and she was one of a very small group of bloggers who spread the word concerning  Scandinavian crime fiction at a time when very few had even heard of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, or Stieg Larsson. 

This year’s shortlist looks very impressive with books from Norway, Finland and Sweden. I have read two of these books Kati Hiekkapelto’s The Defenceless and Hans Olav Lahlum’s Satellite People and I enjoyed both immensely. I hope to read at least two of the others before the announcement of the winner at Crime Fest in Bristol. 

Last year for the first time I totally disagreed with the judges on their choice of a winner. I think that one important criteria for the award should be that the book that wins should be one that Maxine would have enjoyed reading. 

A few thoughts about the contenders. I noticed the Lagercrantz on a half price offer in our local Waterstones. I haven’t read anything about this book but my natural reaction, possibly misguided, is that the series should have ended with the death of Stieg Larsson, and that the original fans of the series may regard this novel as an exploitation. 

On a more serious subject when I met Karin Fossum at Crime Fest several years ago we very briefly discussed her social work with children with Down’s Syndrome. She is a charming lady and does know what she is talking about on this subject.

The judges comments about her book The Drowned Boy are very interesting:

After the drowning of a young child with Down’s syndrome, Chief Inspector Sejer must ask himself if one of the parents could have been involved. The nature of grief is explored along with the experience of parenting children with learning difficulties. 

This is a subject about which I know a great deal, but reading this novel in the circumstances might be too traumatic. In our case for the wonderful twenty seven years our son Jacob was part of our family we thought we were looking after him, but in reality he was looking after us.  

I have linked to my reviews of two of these books. 

THE DROWNED BOY by Karin Fossum tr. Kari Dickson (Harvill Secker; Norway)

THE DEFENCELESS by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Orenda Books; Finland)

THE CAVEMAN by Jorn Lier Horst tr. Anne Bruce (Sandstone Press; Norway)

THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB by David Lagercrantz tr. George Goulding (MacLehose Press; Sweden)

SATELLITE PEOPLE by Hans Olav Lahlum tr. Kari Dickson (Mantle/Pan Macmillan; Norway)

DARK AS MY HEART by Antti Tuomainen tr. Lola Rogers (Harvill Secker; Finland)     

Liza MarklundThis is the tenth book in the continuing saga of journalist Annika Bengtzon, and takes place a few months after the events of Borderline. I am a great fan of these books which mix crime, details of modern journalistic technique, and the chaotic personal life of Annika, a flawed but likeable character. Annika’s skill as an investigative journalist is contrasted with her poor choice of men, a failing that has caused her much trauma in the past.

The story begins with the discovery of the brutally tortured body of business man and former politician, Ingemar Lerberg. His children are being looked after by his sister-in-law, but his wife Nora is missing. Annika begins to cover the case, and then a second body is discovered hanging from a tree. Karl Ekblad, a man with a business in Spain.

Something to do with property and industrial rights of ownership, the acquisition of property, unlimited trade and acquisition, leasing, sales and rental….. 

The other plot lines in the book, involve the return of Nina Hoffman to policing as she becomes an analyst at National Crime, Annika’s ex-husband Thomas attempting to readjust to life handicapped by the loss of his hand cut off by kidnappers in Somalia, and the internet trolling of Anders Schyman, Annika’s boss, with reference to a story that won him the Best Journalism award almost two decades earlier. The narrative is like a lot of  Swedish crime packed full of detail, of which a small portion is about torture, but is very readable and not too long at 346 pages. 

Annika is now living with Jimmy Halenius, with whom she began an affair in Borderline, and not only has to look after the needs of her own children, Kalle and Ellen, but his twins Serena and Jacob as well. The twins live with Jimmy all the time, and their mother Angela Sisulu, works for the South African government living in Johannesburg. Annika’s family life has become even more complicated as her relationship with Serena is rather strained, and Jimmy may get a promotion which requires him to move away from Stockholm. 

Nina stood outside the front door looking at the nameplate. Four surnames, a mixture of Swedish and foreign. These people had clearly chosen to live together (well, maybe not the children).

Some readers might be irritated that some of the plot lines are not completely resolved, and left for another book, but devotees of the Annika Bengtzon series will simply look forward to the next good read. Without a Trace is a very good example of why Swedish crime fiction has become so popular over the past decade.   

Falling Freely, As If In A Dream by Leif GW Persson (tr Paul Norlen) – published by Transworld.
Camille by Pierre Lemaitre (tr Frank Wynne) – published by Quercus.
Cobra** by Deon Meyer (tr K.L Seegers) – published by Hodder & Stoughton.
Arab Jazz by Karim Miské (tr Sam Gordon) – published by MacLehose Press.
The Invisible Guardian by Dolores Redondo (tr Isabelle Kaufeler) – published by HarperCollins.
Into a Raging Blaze by Andreas Norman (tr Ian Giles) – published by Quercus. 

I have read two books from this shortlist. The link above is to my review of the last book in Leif G.W.Persson’s trilogy about the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme. I sometimes wonder if I am the only person in the world to have read the complete three volume “story of a crime”, and the only person to have enjoyed it? I needed the exercise, both mental and physical, involved in tackling these hefty books.

I have extracted below my comments about Cobra made in a review of my summer reading last September 13. I do have Camille by Pierre LeMaitre translator Frank Wynne ready to read after my current door stop read, but I probably won’t read the others unless one of them wins. 

Cobra** by Deon Meyer translated from the Afrikaans by K.L.Seegers is a fast moving thriller set in Cape Town. Benny Griessel is called to a bloodbath when trained bodyguards have been executed at a luxury guesthouse by a professional killer, or killers, leaving behind distinctive shell casings marked with a cobra. A mysterious Briton Paul Morris, a man seemingly with no past, is missing presumed kidnapped.

Meanwhile charming young pickpocket Tyrone Kleinbooi is plying his trade in order to help pay for his sister Nadia’s university fees. But when he is picked up by security guards for stealing a beautiful foreigner’s purse, a figure intervenes killing the guards but allowing Tyrone to escape leaving behind his mobile phone.

Tyrone still has the disk wanted by the killers, and when Paul Morris is identified a race develops to save him and Nadia who has been seized by the Cobra killers. Yes it is all very complicated, and exciting. Although Cobra is marketed as a Benny Griessel novel, my favourite police person in the novel is:

Captain Mbali Kaleni was the only woman in the DPCI’s Violent Crimes Team. For six long months now. She was short and very fat. She was never to be seen without her SAPS identity card on a ribbon around her neck, and her service pistol on her plump hip. When she left her office, there was a huge handbag of shiny black leather over her shoulder.

She is my favourite character because doesn’t fit the stereotype of women cops in crime fiction, and above all she is honest.

‘State security eavesdropping on us, taking over a criminal case. Just like in apartheid times. We are destroying our democracy, and I will not stand by and let it happen. And it will, if we let it. I owe it to my parents’ struggle, and I owe it to my country.’

Another fine book that should be a contender for the International Dagger. 

borderline 2014It seems like yesterday but it is in fact over three years since translator Neil Smith was kind enough to reply to a post about Liza Marklund with a very informative sketch of the future plans for the Annika Bengtzon series. Read it here.

Since then I have reviewed Last Will, Lifetime and The Long Shadow and have just finished reading Borderline, the 9th Annika Bengtzon book.

If anyone asked me to recommend a real “page-turner” thriller novel I would without any hesitation suggest Borderline [Du Gamla, du fria in the original Swedish, which means Set You Free]. This is Liza Marklund back to her very best, ably assisted by Neil Smith, because Borderline reads as if originally written in English.

Annika is back with her former husband after they have spent three years in the USA, but the philandering Thomas is with an EU delegation in Kenya advising on the strengthening of  frontiers, in reality trying to stop the flow of people into Europe from Africa. But while he is lining up the attractive blonde English representative, Catherine Wilson, as his next conquest the delegation are kidnapped near the Somali border.

The narrative switches back and forth between Thomas and his fellow delegates suffering barbaric treatment from their captors somewhere along the Somali-Kenya frontier; and Stockholm where an important and ironic plot line involves the brutal stabbings of  Swedish women by their former partners, or possibly by a serial killer. Women in this story are treated appallingly in both the Northern European utopia, and the East African dystopia.

‘Oil tankers worth hundreds of millions of dollars float past the coast of Somalia every day, and starving people can do nothing but stand on the beach and watch them.’

The negotiations for the release of Thomas are conducted by his boss Jimmy Halenius, who assists Annika to cope with  the terrible situation. How does she tell her children Ellen and Kalle their father is in grave danger? Annika also juggles her strained relationships with her mother, her sister, and best friend Anne Snapphane none of whom are particularly helpful. 

At the offices of Kvallpressen editor in chief Anders Schyman realises that his news editor Patrik Nilsson is lowering the whole tone of the business with ridiculous lead stories about people losing  control of an alien hand. But then seeking the lowest common denominator is what modern media is all about. 

Liza Marklund imparts a lot of detailed information about the media, banking systems, hostage negotiations, and the outcomes of historic hostage situations, but it is  done quite naturally within the narrative, and not in the laundry list method used by some authors. Her technique of switching back and forth between Stockholm and Somalia/Kenya increases the tension and is handled with some skill. Borderline is a very good thriller, with a good plot, great characters, especially Annika, and an almost live documentary atmosphere that makes the reader keep turning those pages until the conclusion. 

‘The kidnappers have plenty of weapons. It’s striking how many hostages end up getting shot. And Somalia is a country where amputations form part of the legal system. It’s traditional that all the external parts of young girls’ genitals are cut off………’

She turned on the cold tap in the basin and let the water run over her wrists. She felt like crying, but was too angry. There had to be limits. She didn’t want to hear about mutilated little girls. She needed help, but not at any cost.

 I feel any violent events discussed in the book such as the Rwandan Genocide, and the beheading of Daniel Pearl, are necessary to create the atmosphere, and mentioned in a factual way without any embellishments.      

51eK2UHfulL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_We have been away for a week touring the beautiful houses and countryside of Kent and East Sussex in wonderful summer weather [possibly some 09-22-~1 (2)photos later] so that I have only just finished the Arctic set Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc. 

Olivier Truc was born in France but has worked as a journalist based in Stockholm since 1994. He has produced television documentaries including one about the work of the Norwegian Reindeer Police in Lapland. Forty Days, his debut novel draws on that documentary and blends in his journalistic interest concerning social issues such as the treatment of minorities.

The story begins with a short prologue set in Central Lapland in the year 1693, showing the persecution of the Sami by Christian pastors. The reader is taken forward to the present day in January when the polar night will end and the sun will return. At Kautokeino in Norway we are introduced to the main protagonists who are two members of the Reindeer Police. Klemet Nango, a veteran Sami officer, who at one time was working in Stockholm on the Olaf Palme investigation; and the young blonde stunningly beautiful Nina Nansen, a new recruit. They have to investigate the theft of a sacred Sami drum from a local museum, apparently one of only a limited number to survive the drum burning carried out by Christian pastors in a campaign against Sami religion and culture. As they investigate the theft and question reindeer breeders in the harsh Arctic environment Nina moves into unknown territory.

How could people live like this here in Norway, in her own country? The scene reminded her of a TV documentary she had seen once, about a Roma encampment in Romania.

When Mattis one the reindeer breeders is murdered the investigation becomes far more complex. With a UN conference being held shortly in Kautokeino the mismatched pair of police officers must look into a 1939 expedition that included anthropologists from Sweden’s State Institute for Racial Biology, hunt down the Sami drum, and search for Andre Racagnal, a villainous French geologist with a liking for adolescent girls. Racagnal is plotting with local figures to exploit the mineral wealth of the region. When Nina travels to Paris to interview Henri Mons, who donated the Sami drum to the museum and was on the 1939, she learns some shocking facts as she studies photos taken by the Swedish anthropologists.

It did not take Nina long to realise that they were clearly intended to illustrate the racial superiority of the Scandinavians, and the inferiority of not only the Sami, but also the Tartars, Jews, Finns, Balts and Russians.

Forty Days is an excellent read, rather dark and perhaps a little longwinded at times as Klemet and Nina travel hundreds of kilometres back and forth across the Arctic wastelands on their snowmobiles, but it would certainly be a worthy winner of the CWA International Dagger.

The characters are interesting, while the information about Sami culture and the problems that affect their society reminded me of Tony Hillerman’s wonderful books about the Navajo. And I took one of the messages of the book to be that indigenous peoples in many many countries are exploited, and their way of life and their culture threatened in some way by incomers. 

‘The Swedes recruited the Sami by force,’ Nils Ante went on, ‘to work in the mines. And they used reindeer to transport the ores to the rivers. There’s your story. Any Sami who refused was beaten and imprisoned.

Behold the foundations of the wealth of your splendid Nordic kingdoms.   

[the photo shows the nearest we have been to the Arctic…having left the train somewhere north of Helsinki into the freezing wilderness]

51eK2UHfulL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_518g9AKCspL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_P1040738P1040757Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie is a very interesting read set in Lapland, where the Reindeer Police enjoy cross border jurisdiction. The Sami like indigenous people all over the world struggle to hold on to their way of life, as incomers try to exploit the mineral wealth of the country. My own personal experience of the Sami people is limited to a brief alcoholic conversation on a train journey from Uppsala to Stockholm over twenty years ago.  


See The Swedish Apache. I mention this blog post from 2009 because there are some particularly interesting  replies to my post. 

I haven’t read as much of Forty Days Without Shadow as I had originally planned simply because I have been pleasantly distracted by some summer weather, trips out to Devon’s scenic sites, and American visitors. Those visitors from the USA have included, very old friends who emigrated from England to the beautiful Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania in 1981. And fellow blogger Margot Kinberg, who it was a great pleasure to meet in person after a few years of enjoyable internet contact. 

And I have also been seduced into reading chunks of Bill Bryson’s brilliant best seller One Summer America 1927, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Herbert Hoover and Al Capone in a very different USA. I have also been distracted, possibly temporarily, by some football matches. Champions_statue


All this means that unfortunately the announcement of the International Dagger Award and the Endeavour Historical Award winners will take place before I have had a chance to read more of the shortlists. 

More about Forty Days Without Shadow next week……………


51WrzjbXCpL._SL500_AA300_There are some intelligent thoughts from Bernadette about the 2014 Petrona shortlist over at Reactions to Reading.persson

You can also read my own rambling opinions here and here.

The judges chose as the winner Leif G.W. Persson’s Linda, As In The Linda Murder, the first of series featuring the obnoxious and unforgettable Evert Backstrom as the main character.  You can read my review of this excellent book at Euro Crime.



22b874cThe translator was Neil Smith who also won the inaugural  Petrona translating Liza Marklund’s Last Will. 51-XXpEMoPL._SL500_AA300_

We are fortunate today that there are so many outstanding translators around, and we can enjoy the best of foreign crime fiction. 

Update: Read Professor Persson’s message of thanks at Euro Crime.

41sDxT2PRGL._AA160_perssonFree Falling As If In A Dream subtitled The Story Of A Crime is the third book of a trilogy. The previous books are Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End, and Another Time, Another Life.

I would recommend setting out on the marathon task of reading the lengthy books in order. Although this one can be read as a standalone it won’t be as satisfying because the reader won’t appreciate the way in which the clever jigsaw of a plot all fits neatly together over the three books. Author Leif GW Persson has been an adviser to the Swedish Ministry of Justice and a Professor at Sweden’s National Police Board, he is the country’s foremost expert on crime.


517CY6O6qWLHis crime fiction novels have been winning awards for three decades. In 1982 he won Best Swedish crime fiction novel with The Pillar of Society, in 51l72rqLc6L._AA160_2003 Another Time, Another Life won and in 2010 and 2011 The Dying Detective won Best Swedish novel and the Nordic Glass Key.

His dark humour and biting satire exposes the Swedish state and police force to some close scrutiny and they don’t come out of it very well. His writing style may take some getting used to but his books become addictive. There is a lot of detail, a lot of detail, and sometimes the plot drags as any 500 plus page will in places, but this is compensated by the brilliant characters. Of course his plots are complex and convoluted with lots of minor interesting characters, but characters are in my opinion what makes us read crime fiction, and Free Falling has them in abundance.

“Olof Palme,” said the chief of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Lars Martin Johansson. “Are you familiar with that name, ladies and gentleman.”……………………….

“Olof Palme,” Johansson repeated, his voice now sounding more urgent. “Does that ring any bells?” 

Free Falling As If In A Dream is set during the summer of 2007 and is the story of a secret investigation set up by Lars Martin Johansson into the murder of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme on Friday 28 February 1986.

Johansson, the detective known as the man who can see round corners, is determined to deal with the unsolved crime which has remained a blot on the record of Sweden and the police force. After all this time is the investigation dead as Anna Holt says like Monty Python’s parrot or is it just a little tired.

Johansson collects around him an elite team of three; Police Superintendent Anna Holt, Detective Chief Inspector Jan Lewin and Detective Chief Inspector Lisa Mattei. The narrative is the story of their lives, their investigations and the backgrounds of suspects and others involved in some way. The book is full of wonderful set piece meetings as Johansson and his team deal with the investigative tracks previously covered by the shoddy investigation years before. A lone crazed assassin, the Kurds and elements of the police had all been suggested as likely perpetrators. 

Evert Backstrom, the horrible misogynist homophobe, now rightly banished to police “lost and found” begins a lone investigation drooling at the thought of reward money he can possibly share with his informant. Backstrom plays a medium size role in the plot and even takes second level when it comes to the level of revulsion as sadistic SePo [secret police] officer Claes Waltin’s appalling life and suspicious death are dissected by the investigators.

But despite the presence of male characters who treat women badly, luckily the more major roles are played by Anna Holt and Lisa Mattei, who both have that interesting blend of brains and beauty and show a competence that shames their male colleagues. It seems at times that they do the work while the men eat, drink, and talk. 

There is one brilliant passage when Johansson goes for a nine course meal with the “special adviser”. 

The special adviser lived in a palatial villa in the Uppland suburb of Djursholm, where the creme de la creme in the vicinity of the royal capital had the highest fat content…………….

“That’s what characrerizes us real Social Democrats. That we have both our hearts and our wallets to the left.”

The special adviser, Sweden’s own Cardinal Richelieu, the prime minister’s top security adviser, the extended arm of power or perhaps simply power?

The two men definitely a couple of crime fiction’s great characters indulge themselves in the meal which begins with finger foods and champagne:

Mostly beluga caviar, duck liver , and quail eggs, and why fritter away your short life on nonessentials?

The subtle mixture of serious social comment, political double dealing, and dark satirical humour makes this an excellent read, and an example of the very best in Swedish crime fiction.

I don’t buy many books in hardback but Leif G.W. Persson is one author for whom I make an exception.

“Guys,” said Mattei, shrugging her shoulders. “There’s only one thing you need them for.”

What has happened to little Lisa? thought Holt. Is she becoming a grown woman?

” But not Johan, exactly, ” said Holt.

“No, not him,” said Mattei. “He’s actually good for several things. You can talk with him, and he’s really good at cleaning and cooking too.”      

51BvycWWroL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_51Y4W4o-IIL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_51WrzjbXCpL._SL500_AA300_41Tp7vFqe0L._SL500_LiaDHSomeone   These are the Official Petrona Award shortlist nominees and only one of these books, Linda, As In The Linda Murder by Leif G.W.Persson, appeared in my own opinionated shortlist. I have read four of the six books and here are links to my reviews. 

SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir tr. Philip Roughton (Hodder & Stoughton)
LIGHT IN A DARK HOUSE by Jan Costin Wagner tr. Anthea Bell (Harvill Secker)
My own shortlist was based on my personal opinion of what I felt Maxine [to whom this award is dedicated] would have chosen; a Don Bartlett translation and an Annika Bengtzon novel by Liza Marklund.
The Weeping Girl by Hakan Nesser is definitely a worthy contender for the award, but I chose the next book in the series, The Strangler’s Honeymoon, simply because it featured more of Van Veeteren, and concentrated a fraction more on society’s problems. The first Scandinavian crime fiction I read way back in the 1970s was the Martin Beck series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo which is why I prefer a little humour with my murders; even if it is the dark satire of Leif G.W.Persson. There is very little humour in Closed for Winter or Strange Shores and that is why I did not enjoy them very much, annoying in the case of the very depressing and predictable Strange Shores because Arnaldur Indridason is one of my favourites. 
Will I read the remaining two books before the winner is announced?
Someone to Watch Over Me concerns a young man with Down’s syndrome accused of arson and murder. Author Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a charming lady, but I would probably find she had inadvertently put something in the book that clashes with my own knowledge about people with Down’s syndrome, therefore I will give it a miss. 
If I have the time I hope to give the Jan Costin Wagner novel Light In A Dark House a try despite the fact that my TBR mountain never seems to get any smaller. I look forward to the judges decision on the Petrona- my pick the Hakan Nesser or Leif G.W.Persson?  

512S7Oo65LL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Asa Larsson’s The Second Deadly Sin, which is set in Kiruna way up in the Arctic Circle, was chosen as Best Swedish Crime Novel in 2012. 

The story begins when a hunting party bring in an expert to kill a wounded bear that has attacked and eaten a dog. When the bear is killed the stomach contents show that it has also eaten a human. 

District Prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson is having a quiet Sunday morning when her old friend Sivving, asks her and police Dog handler Krister Eriksson to accompany him out Lehtiniemi in order to check on Sol-Britt Uusitalo who hasn’t turned up for work. When they arrive they find Sol-Britt murdered in her bed, and her 7 year old grandson Marcus missing. Sol-Britt, a recovered alcoholic, had pulled herself together in order to look after Marcus, whose father had been rundown by a car three years previously, and whose mother had run off to Stockholm with her new boyfriend, who would not take Marcus. The traumatised Marcus is found and stays with Eriksson pretending to be a “wild dog” along with the real dogs. Asa Larsson captures the atmosphere of Sweden’s far north where there is a close relationship between man and nature and animals.

Police Inspector Anna-Maria Mella leads the investigating team with colleagues, Tommy Rantakyo, Fred Olson and Sven-Erik Stalnacke. In the Swedish system they are supervised by a prosecutor who is a lawyer. But Rebecka who had been assigned the case is removed by her boss, Bjornfot, after pressure from District Prosecutor Carl Von Post. Rebecka knows the locals, Rebecka had a breakdown in the past. The pompous Von Post takes over the case despite being extremely unpopular with the police. 

When they discover that Sol-Britt’s grandmother, young schoolteacher Elina Petersson, was also murdered the reader is taken back in a series of flashbacks to events in 1914/1915 and the story of Kiruna as a frontier mining town. The two strands of the story come together in a dramatic conclusion with a linked theme.

She looked at Sivving. She knew he had stared real poverty in the face. “We could easily have ended up in a children’s home,” he sometimes used to say.

Not everything was better in the good old days, she thought.

I really enjoyed this book especially the contrast between the modern women Rebecka and Anna-Maria,  and the situation of Elina back in the early twentieth century. Sometimes a back story holds up the narrative but in The Second Sin, Elina’s tragic tale of an educated woman with a modern ideas is compelling reading. Elina reads  and reads books including Selma Lagerlof, the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize, and Ellen Key, whose theories that the 20th century should be the century of the child and that motherhood should be supported by the government not by husbands is probably one of the main reasons for Sweden’s advanced position in the world today. But the vulnerability of all women to powerful ruthless men is a theme in crime fiction that never changes.

The Second Deadly Sin is a book full of great characters, the police dog handler Eriksson, disfigured in a fire as a child; Anna-Maria Mella, struggling with a career and three children; the objectionable prosecutor Von Post; and Rebecka, who could have an easier life as her lover Mans is a partner in a trendy Stockholm  law firm, but chooses to live in Kiruna. The Second Deadly Sin is a good read in a series that continues to deservedly win awards, and restores my faith that there are still outstanding Scandinavian crime fiction books being translated. 

Bloody woman, he thought, examining himself in the mirror. Handsome top dog? Old man? He would go to Riche anyway, and have a glass or two. Just sit there, observing beautiful women. Much better than gaping at “Mad Men” on the telly , all alone in his flat.