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No Exit Press, 11 December 2014. ISBN: 978-1-61695-012-5(pb)
In 1989 newly-appointed Detective Inspector Irene Huss
and her colleague Tommy Persson are told to take over the investigation of a
case in which a man, Magnus Eriksson, died in a house fire. His 11-year old
stepdaughter Sophie had been with him but was so traumatised by events that
three months later she cannot speak of them. A reason for concern is that there
have previously been several fires: not fatal but undoubtedly arson. In the
case of this fire there is little or no evidence of arson. It is hoped that
Irene, who had been the officer who had found Sophie at the time and who is
herself the mother of young children, will be able to get some inkling as to
what had happened. But she cannot, and shortly her boss, irritated by the lack
of progress, takes her off the case, ignoring Irene's suggestion that looking
into Sophie's family may assist. Certainly the family dynamics leave something
to be desired. Sophie's dance instructor mother Angelika who had left her first
husband, the composer Ernst Malmborg whose first wife had committed suicide
when Malmborg took up with the youthful Angelika, seems to care little for
Sophie: any maternal feelings she has are reserved for Frey, her son by her
second marriage. Malmborg himself is a not very successful freelance journalist
who both drinks and gambles. Eventually the fire is assumed to have been an
accident and is consigned to the files. Sixteen years later Sophie, now a
ballet dancer and dancing instructor like her mother, disappears; three weeks
later her burnt body is discovered in a shed in an industrial site. By now
Sophie had become well-to-do, her father having died and left her everything.
She was a ballet dancer and, like her mother, a dance instructor. And she was
clearly still so traumatised by her earlier experience that she found
relationships very difficult. In order to disentangle the events leading to
Sophie's death Irene also has to delve into the death of Sophie's stepfather
and to unearth family secrets that some would wish to remain hidden.
This is very much in the genre
of Scandinavian crime fiction with its attention to characterisation and to the
details of the plot.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Tursten is the author of the Irene Huss series.The series has been adapted into a film and
TV series in Sweden.
She lives in Goitenborg.