The Blood Spilt by Åsa Larsson

The Blood Spilt by Åsa Larsson, translated by Marlaine Delargy

Delacorte Press, February 2007

Rebecka Martinsson book 2

source: library copy

The Blood Spilt picks up about 18 months after the end of the first book in the series, Sun Storm: Rebecka Martinsson is still dealing– or not dealing– with the fact that she killed three people at the end of the Strandgard investigation.  She is on sick leave from her job as a tax lawyer, but she has been doing some legal work:  she occasionally sits in on her firm’s burgeoning criminal law business.  She is currently living in one of the partner’s vacation homes, far away from the bustle of Stockholm, and she can’t contemplate returning to work as a lawyer.

The murder plot kicks off with Martinsson accompanying a colleague to a church in Kiruna.  Her firm is trying to woo church clients for tax advice.  From there, she manages to become involved in the investigation of the months-old murder of a priest, Mildred Nilsson, a priest who was loved by some and hated by others.  The story involves church doings and misdoings, troubled marriages, and scenes of small village life in northern Sweden.  We learn Mildred’s story in flashbacks.

It’s a bit odd to call this the second Rebecka Martinsson novel because Martinsson is in the sidelines of the investigation for most of the book.  The story is primarily the investigation led by returning characters Anna-Maria Mella and Sven-Erik Stålnacke.

Much like the first book in the series, The Blood Spilt has a pretty bleak ending, not only for Rebecca, but for everyone touched by the crime.  Swedish crime novels have pretty wrenching endings, I think.  Thankfully, the beginning of the author’s note is that Rebecca Martinsson will be okay (and there are several more books in the series I’ve yet to read that bear that out).

The pleasures of the book are with the vivid characters and scenes.  Every character has a filled-in back story and has psychological issues he/she is working on, which is refreshing.  No one feels artificial in this book.  Highly recommended.

Other reviews of this book appear in Yet Another Crime Fiction Blog, Reviewing the Evidence, Eurocrime, and The Game’s Afoot .

My review of the first book in the series, Sun Storm, appears here.

8 thoughts on “The Blood Spilt by Åsa Larsson

  1. Rebecca – Oh, you’re discussing one of my favourite series! Yay! I think you’re spot on too about the characters in this novel (well, in the series, actually). The backstories of all of the main characters and the way they’re all interwoven is not just interesting but compelling. And I was glad too that Larsson reassures her readers that Martinsson will be OK. I really hope you’ll like the rest of the novels in this series.

    • Thanks for bringing the series to my attention on your blog, Margot! I’m not sure what post exactly, but I remember being intrigued. I think I may read a lot of Swedish crime fiction for the time being.

      • That’s kind of you to mention my blog, Rebecca. And if I’m responsible for introducing you to this series I’ll cheerfully plead guilty. 🙂

  2. Lovely review. I liked this book very much, too. I was a bit hesitant at first as it was, like the first, based round a religious murder – not my favourite – but I think the author handled it very well. I liked the wolf parts, and the awful “small village” atmosphere/characters were very well done.

    • Thanks, Maxine. I’m still trying to figure out what it is exactly that I like about Larsson’s books, and I think it comes down to the fact that they feel graceful to me. She doesn’t get too bogged down in the tax implications of the church schemes, she doesn’t get too bogged down in Rebecka’s mental state, she doesn’t get too bogged down in the detective’s personal lives: there are a lot of moving parts, and she moves between them well.

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