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Book Title: Blodskyld|
The author of the book: Åsa Larsson
Date of issue: February 6th 2006
ISBN 13: 9788773949702
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 828 KB
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Reader ratings: 4.9
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The second in the series featuring the conflicted female tax lawyer in Stockholm, Rebecka Martinsson, sees Åsa Larsson convey the upheaval and emotional turmoil that her protagonist has undergone following her part in a traumatic investigation which left her with the blood of three men on her hands in her childhood home of Kiruna, the northernmost town in Sweden. Sleeping badly, not really connecting with people and more uncomfortable than ever with the enforced bonhomie of corporate entertainment, Rebecka Martinsson’s subsequent breakdown is the source of much speculation. Since the events, almost two-years-ago, Rebecka has withdrawn and fended off all encouragement to face down the scene of the crime and return to her grandmother’s cottage in the village of Kurrawarra. A seemingly innocuous opportunity to visit comes when Rebecka accompanies colleague, Torsten, to present a pitch to the church council. The discovery that whilst she has had her head in the sand and avoided all news, her hometown has since seen another sadistic murder with a female priest discovered hanging from an iron chain in Jukkasjärvi church just three-months-ago hugely unsettles her. A copycat incident or something more sinister, with female priest Mildred Nilsson a divisive figure in the community? From self-defence classes for women, an all female Bible study group named Magdelana, equal rights for women and a church fund to protect the local she-wolf both the hunting community and men in general are her biggest critics. The investigation into the murder has come to a standstill, despite her being a controversial figurehead in the local community. In the absence of team-leader Anna-Maria Mella the investigation has frustrated Inspector Sven-Erik Stålnacke and Mella’s return to part-time operational duty allows her to focus wholly on the case.
It takes very little probing for the church council to reveal the reasons why Mildred Nilsson attracted love and loathing in equal measure. The lack of defensive wounds surprises those closest to the female priest, whose confrontational approach spoke of anything but being easily subdued. A brief meeting with the church council is enough to stick in the craw of Rebecka as she gathers that they are rather hoping the snuff out much of Mildred’s influence in the community. Whilst it might seem that tackling an investigation with much in common to her first encounter is not the most sensible strategy for an author, this time it is much less personal and the ensuing involvement of Rebecka is innocuous, rather than intended when she has to take possession of Mildred’s church keys, locker key and eject her husband from the vicarage. Clearly Mildred’s former colleagues have been less than upfront with the police about the existence of a locker, which has remained unopened all through the summer. However, Rebecka’s conscious soon sees her offer a helping hand to the investigators and passing the evidence to them. As Rebecka stays on for a holiday and to attend to her grandmother’s woodland cottage ahead of the winter, she picks up on the various tensions and is once again in the wrong place at the wrong time. Luckily, the Kiruna police department aren’t too far behind, but it is her assiduous observations of community undercurrents that proves superior to the last gasp bloodshed. A varied cast of suspects with believable motives, from priests who oppose women joining the clergy, abandoned husbands, keen hunters and once cherished lovers scorned all abound.
I find Rebecka Martinsson a fascinating character as she is representative of some many woman of her age, torn between the well-paid corporate job and the fact that it frequently necessitates her biting her tongue and being morally compromised. Her position as a tax lawyer frequently sets her at opposition to her wider beliefs and principles. Likewise Inspector, Anna-Maria Mella, is a working mother juggling her job with four children. With two central characters both portrayed by highly competent and dogmatic females, the interplay between the two as they grow in trust is well explored, despite the undoubted esteem that hold each other in. Rebecka is reluctant to become emotionally attached to those she works alongside, often appearing surly and stand-offish but she doesn’t back down from confrontation and asking the awkward questions. In that sense, the forthright duo of Rebecka and Anna-Maria in tandem is an unappetising prospect for anyone with secrets to hide.
As a mystery, The Blood Spilt is a far superior investigation to chew over than debut novel, The Savage Altar, which I felt got a little sidetracked by Rebecka’s personal connections. Indeed, this case is certainly more pared back in terms of Rebecka’s mental health woes and makes her situation easier for readers to connect with. Numerous different points of view contribute to the narration, not only Rebecka’s but the police investigators and potential suspects which conveys a well-rounded overview of the prevailing atmosphere, although this does make the reader privy to information before the police, which can work against sustaining tension. Rebecka Martinsson is much less essential to the solving of the crime in this second novel, more a bystander who ruffles a few feathers than an proactive agitator. The breathtaking backdrop is the location of Kiruna which itself plays an important role in the mystery, given its isolation and geographical quirks and traditions.
I did have a few minor niggles with this novel, most significantly the story of a wolf named “Yellow Legs” which ran parallel and I am still unsure why it appeared alongside the investigation of a murdered woman. My interpretation is this the story of Yellow Legs is an analogy for the she-wolf that Mildred works so earnestly to protect, in turn because she herself identifies with the animal as a minority female within the male dominated church hierarchy, and hence perhaps indicative of female strength. Secondly there were numerous circumstances where Larsson often mentions Mildred’s relationship with characters in the community and rather than simply relaying the information, she lapses into flashbacks to illustrate the events. I was also frustrated by the ending which leaves the character of Rebecka in a practically identical situation to as in her debut appearance. Despite these minor irks, Åsa Larsson writes well and has a wonderful appreciation of what makes her fascinating cast tick, thus ensuring she is always a more than satisfactory read. Brooding Nordic Noir which wears its heart on its sleeve!
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Read information about the authorÅsa Larsson is a Swedish crime-writer. Although born in Uppsala, she was raised in Kiruna in the far north. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Larsson was a tax lawyer, a profession she shares with the heroine of her novels, Rebecka Martinsson.
* Rebecka Martinsson
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