Wednesday, March 10, 2010


We have only six more letters to go. My contribution this week to the Crime Fiction Alphabet meme hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise is U for Unspoken.

Unspoken is the second book in the Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas and reporter Johan Berg series set on the island of Gotland written by Mari Jungstedt and translated from the Swedish by Tiina Nunnally.

Henry Dahlstrom, an alcoholic photographer, wins over eighty thousand kroner by picking five straight winners at Visby trotting track. A week later he is found murdered in his basement darkroom and Knutas leads the investigating team of detectives [who include the very private Karin Jacobsson, and the always eating Martin Kihlgard co-opted from the national police] making enquiries among Dahlstrom's down and out associates.
The story moves back in time to a story of the abuse of Fanny Jansson, a beautiful dark skinned 14 year old school girl, by a mysterious older man.
A third strand of this story follows the continuing affair and its complications between Emma, married mother of two young children and Johan Berg, the reporter who helped Knutas solve the multiple murders in Unseen.
When Fanny, whose mother is a drunk, disappears it seems possible that this is linked in some way to the Dahlstrom murder case, which itself has become more complex when large sums of money are found in his bank account.

"People with high incomes who use illegal workers even though they could afford to pay them legitimately . And then when someone is murdered, they won't even go to the police because they are afraid of getting into trouble! That's about as low as it gets."

I enjoyed this book a fraction more than the first in the series even though the police work once again seems a little hit and miss. The police procedural aspect of the book is quite well done but it is the accounts of family life on Gotland and the social interaction between the characters that defines the book. I still don't care for Johan Berg although the sub-plot of his affair with the incredibly naive and rather unlucky Emma does add considerable interest to the novel.
The ending was telegraphed and a bit weak, but what had gone before especially the relationship between Knutas and his fiery Danish wife, Lina, made up for this.
I shall definitely be reading number three in this series hoping that Emma will dump the handsome Johan, and stick with her husband Ollie.

"And what about you? Have you taken a look at yourself ?" Lina yelled from upstairs. "I could buy you an arm exerciser for Christmas. And maybe some Viagra-that wouldn't hurt!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Norman - Thanks for this review. You so often introduce me to books and authors that I don't know, and I appreciate that. It may add a lot to my already-unwieldy TBR stack, but I am grateful nonetheless.

11:30 AM  
Blogger Bernadette said...

I have her first book on Mt TBR - if only I had read it in time for this week's crime fiction alphabet - oh well. As I like to start with first books wherever possible I'd better start with that one before I think about this one, though you've made it sound appealing - I like multiple threads that all weave together in strange ways.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Thanks Margot and Bernadette.
Maxine kindly gave me book one, and Tiina Nunnally gave me a signed copy of book three so I naturally bought book two.
I think more and more that interesting characters are slightly more important than plot in getting the reader into a series. Of course good plots become vital to keep the series going.
Bernadette, I too love those multiple thread books just as long as the writer does not lose their way, which did not happen in this book.
I watched a BBC series Five Days last week and despite having good actors there were so many different threads and sub-plots it was a shambles. I have come to the conclusion that the BBC can't do crime compared with the USA [Law and Order, The Wire] France [Spiral] Sweden [Wallander] or Italy [Montalbano].

2:13 AM  
Blogger Dorte H said...

"I enjoyed this book a fraction more than the first in the series even though the police work once again seems a little hit and miss." LOL

I have always wondered whether Jungstedt would have sold so many books if she hadn´t been a friend of Camilla Läckberg. The books are cozy enough, but I wouldn´t mind more excitement and proper police work.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

On the evidence of the first two books Knutas is not going to be promoted to lead the Stockholm murder squad but nevertheless I did enjoy this book. ;o)

2:04 PM  

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