Misterioso by Arne Dahl

misteriosoMisterioso by Arne Dahl, translated by Tiina Nunnally

Pantheon Books, 2011, originally published in Sweden in 1999, published in the UK as The Blinded Man

Source: library

I picked up Misterioso because I tend to read lots of Swedish crime novels. I’ve also seen plenty of talk online about the BBC series which won’t be aired here for some time. Since I tend to believe books are better than their adaptations, I dove in.

Misterioso introduces Paul Hjelm, a police officer in crisis after defusing a hostage crisis at an immigration office. He believes his career is in jeopardy because of the ensuing Internal Affairs investigation, but abruptly he is recruited to join the A-Unit, a newly formed division of the National Criminal Police charged with investigating a serial killer who is targeting capitalist bigwigs.

This was a serial killer book that I really, really liked, and I think it was because it involved a whole investigative unit instead of a profiler or one sole detective versus a serial killer. The A-Unit is made up of six highly capable investigators and their boss, former soccer star Jan-Olov Hultin. The book goes into everyone’s backstories to a degree, but there’s plenty to cover in subsequent books.

The plotting is brisk, with a few slow spots but that’s because the investigation covers the span of two months and there are some dead ends the investigators pursue. There’s also lots of discussion of politics, the economy at the end of the 1990s, and sociology, and it doesn’t slow the story down because it’s so integral to the world in which the A-unit works. Maybe the speeches didn’t bother me because Dahl also uses plenty of humor during the course of the investigation, which I much appreciated.

Highly recommended.

The next book in the Intercrime series is Bad Blood, and it’s going to be published in the U.S. in August 2013. Harvill Secker purchased two additional books in the series recently.

For other reviews, see International Noir FictionYet Another Crime Fiction Blog, and The Game’s Afoot.

19 thoughts on “Misterioso by Arne Dahl

  1. Glad you enjoyed this one, Rebecca. I agree with you that it really adds to a novel when you’ve got a unit of people working on a case like this one rather than just one person. It’s much more realistic.

  2. The book’s much better than the TV series, I thought. The characters are filled out much better and as you say you get a much better feel for the society they’re operating in.

    • I’ve seen a few reviews/comments on blogs saying the book was much better: I’m glad I got to read this before I see the show, whenever it makes an appearance in the US.

  3. This is a great review that really makes me want to read this book. I have so many Swedish mysteries to read, though. I will put it on my book sale list and look for it later in the year.

  4. I liked this one but didn’t love it – though very willing to give the second one a go. I do remember thinking the start was a bit odd and overly complex but after it settled down it got really good.

    • I didn’t love the main investigator as much as the others, and I hope the series alternates lead characters. It’s got to be more interesting to write a series that way.

  5. I haven’t read this series yet, but have seen the TV adaptation of this and the next in the series, which seems to be a bit different from what you describe (for one, their boss is a woman instead of a football star). I do like a good social commentary, so it seems this will be a must-read for me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s