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