Saturday, June 11, 2011

THE DEAD OF SUMMER: MARI JUNGSTEDT


Peter Bovide, his wife Vendela, and their two young children are looking forward to four weeks holiday, two weeks on the island of Faro, just off the north coast of Gotland, and two weeks in Mallorca. Peter goes out for his usual early morning run, and is later found with one bullet hole between his eyes, and seven in his stomach.
Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas is on holiday in Denmark, therefore the investigation is begun under the command of Knutas's capable deputy Karin Jacobsson.

'I've contacted the National Criminal Police. Martin Kihlgard and some of his colleagues will be here early tomorrow morning.'
'Good,' said Lars Norrby. 'Sounds like we'll need their help.'

Johan Berg , the TV reporter, and his photographer Pia will as usual in this series conduct their own investigation. Johan has settled on Gotland to be close to his daughter Elin. Johan's life had fallen apart when Emma Wingrave, Elin's mother, broke off their engagement but now he is through the crisis although still very confused and vulnerable to unwise liaisons.
Karin has the investigation under control, but Knutas comes back early from his holiday to take charge and this causes some tension in their close relationship.
The victim Bovide owned a construction company and the police investigate his use of illegal Estonian labour. The killer's use of an 80 year old Russian pistol suggest other lines of enquiry concerning the sale of vodka from Russian ships.
As well as the main narrative there are flashbacks to 1985 with another family preparing to go on holiday to Faro, and this story line will eventually give the reader a clue as to the motive for Peter Bovide's murder.

This is Mari Jungstedt's fifth book in this series set on the island of Gotland, all of which have been smoothly translated by the excellent Tiina Nunnaly.
One of the strengths of The Dead of Summer is we learn something fresh about the character's personal life. The enigmatic Karin Jacobsson becomes a larger presence, and the attraction felt for her by Knutas is a continuing sub plot that will keep the reader guessing as to how, and if, this relationship will develop.
The creation of a team of investigators, in this case both the police and journalists, gives the author a lot of scope for interesting sub plots, such as the tempestuous relationship between Emma and Johan, Anders marriage to his Danish wife Lina, and his tentative feelings for Karin.

Mari Jungstedt gives the reader a very good classic police procedural, but with the extra dimension of exploring the personal lives of the investigators. She also provides in this book some neat red herrings and a surprising twist at the end. The Anders Knutas series seems to me to be getting better and better, and it is a shame that it still has not received the wide attention in the UK that it thoroughly deserves.

'Lina, yes. Terribly attractive woman. And what a sense of humour. They're a lot of fun, those Danes.'
'Right.'
Jacobsson felt a sudden stab of annoyance. She wasn't sure why. But it was gone as abruptly as it had happened.

I never got round to reading Unknown the third book in the series, but here are reviews of the entire series, including Maxine's of Unknown at Euro Crime.

2 Comments:

Blogger Maxine said...

Excellent review, Norman, sums up the book and its appeal very well. I too think this series deserves wider appeal, and agree it is getting better. Knutas was a lot fonder of his wife in the first couple of books, if memory serves. It will be interesting to see how that aspect pans out, perhaps the author has introduced this element now that the Johannes/Emma arc has possibly settled down at last.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

I must get my hands on this one. It is always interesting when there is a Danish angle. She may handle it better than Robert Goddard who placed a sheep farm near Aarhus :O

2:26 PM  

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