review, Sweden, Translated

Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson

Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson is the first Rebecka Martinsson novel.  Rebecka is a tax lawyer in Stockholm who returns to Kiruna, her hometown in northern Sweden for the first time in ten years when her childhood friend Sanna asks her for help after her brother Viktor is murdered.  Viktor is a charismatic religious figure who claimed to come back to life after a traffic accident, and his church monopolizes on his fame to build a massive building for a flock of 2,000, which is an impressive size for a town the size of Kiruna.
First off, the main asset of the book is the interesting heroine, Rebecka Martinsson.  Yes, professionally she lives in her head and in her small office, drafting memoranda, but it doesn’t prevent her from jumping into a criminal investigation.  The novel jumps between the investigation into Viktor’s murder and Rebecka’s years growing up in the Church of the Source of All Our Strength. I won’t reveal more of her backstory here, but suffice it to say that it’s an interesting one.  As the novel progresses, we see more of her gritty side as well, which is refreshing.  Finally, it’s great to have a heroine who’s smart and not just lucky.
The advantage of having a main character who specializes in tax law is that she can readily follow the money to find out what’s going on with the church.  It’s not an overly complicated conspiracy or cover-up in which the church is engaged, and I don’t think I’m giving anything away by mentioning that the Church is involved in tax improprieties.  Such a large church, ledby three pastors, in such a flashy building is obviously an enterprise flush with cash.
Finally, the setting of the story in the northern reaches of Sweden make for a nice switch from lots of urban mysteries and thrillers that I read.  There are cozy moments in Rebecka’s grandparents’ home and hunting cabin, as she spends time with Sanna’s children and her northern neighbor/ friend of her deceased grandparents Sivving.  It’s an interesting place for a respite for a reader from the northern Midwest of the United States.
I’m looking forward to reading more books in this series, and I’ve heard good things about them from Keishon at Avid Mystery Reader, Sarah at Crimepieces, Maxine at Petrona, and Margot at Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.
Highly recommended.
SUN STORM by Åsa Larsson
Translated by Marlaine Delargy
Also published as: The Savage Altar
Delacorte Press
Publication date: April 25, 2006
Source:  library
Finalist 2007 International Dagger Award
Winner of Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel Award
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2 thoughts on “Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson”

  1. “Sarah February 5, 2012 at 3:27 AM
    Thanks for the links to my blog, Rebecca. Asa Larsson is one of my favourite Scandinavian authors. I like the mix of her private and public lives and usually find the ‘mystery’ element well done. I do recommend her later books – the quality remains high.

    Reply
    Replies

    RebeccaK February 5, 2012 at 2:19 PM
    You’re welcome, Sarah. I’ve already requested “The Blood Spilt,” from the library.

    Reply

    Maxine February 5, 2012 at 1:03 PM
    I loved this novel too, I was first alerted to it by a US blog (Sarah Weinman) and read the US edition which came out a long time before the UK edition (here, the book was retitled The Savage Altar which I don’t think anything like as good or evocative). I think your review captures perfectly the reasons why I liked the book so much. (And thanks also for the link to my review, very kind of you).

    I’ve read the next translated titles in the series and have enjoyed them all very much.

    Reply
    Replies

    RebeccaK February 5, 2012 at 2:24 PM
    You’re welcome, Maxine. My immediate response to the UK title is that he wasn’t killed on an altar, just in the aisle. I haven’t read much of Sarah Weinman’s blog, but I do follow her on Twitter.

    Reply

    Anonymous February 5, 2012 at 8:07 PM
    Hi Rebecca, thanks for the link and am glad you enjoyed SUN STORM. Maxine alerted me to her and I’ve read them all and enjoyed them all (some more than others of course). –Keishon”

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