Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Midwinter Blood by Mons Kallentoft

In the midst of a cold snap rarely seen in Linkoping, Sweden, a horrific crime occurs.  A man's body is found beaten and hung in a tree, left for whomever to find.  Linkoping is a small town, set in the rural countryside, and has little experience with such a grisly occurance.

Malin Fors is thirty-four, a single mother and a police inspector.  She is assigned to work on the case along with her partner and the rest of the team, but Malin is the lead.  As she and her partner try to determine what happened, the first step is identification of the victim to see if there is an obvious reason he has been killed.  This victim was a loner, an overweight man who kept to himself with no friends.  His only pleasure seemed to be retrieving the balls out of bounds by the local team, but he doesn't interact with team members.  Who could want to kill this man?

There are rumors of teenagers who had singled him out for torment.  Did their juvenile pranks go over the line?  His only real connection was a social worker who encouraged him, but she has been out of the picture for several years, after being the victim of a crime herself.  Her family are also outsiders and it is tempting to suspect that they are involved; perhaps for revenge?  There is even talk of a Satanic ritual, and a coven who wants to use sacrifice to get closer to their idol.

Fors is struggling not only with the case but with her relationship with her teenage daughter, who has found her first boyfriend.  This leads Malin to reflect on her own life and lack of love interest. Also she wants to find the time to get closer with her daughter, the case consumes her time and focus.   Can she solve the murder before another one is committed?

Mons Kallentoft has written a chilling mystery.  Not only is the crime cold-blooded, but the description of what the winter temperatures are in rural Sweden, how people adapt or move away, adds to the moody, remote feeling of the writing.  Readers will be swept along and will cheer for Malin, who is a very human detective.  This book is recommended for mystery lovers, especially in those branching out to novels written in other countries.

1 comment:

Wendy Unsworth said...

This does sound very evocative of the setting and the cover makes me want to run for a thick sweater!