review, Sweden, Translated

Unseen by Mari Jungstedt

unseenUnseen by Mari Jungstedt, translated by Tiina Nunnally

St. Martin’s Minotaur, September 2006

Originally published as Den du inte ser, 2003

Inspector Knutas series book 1

Unseen is the first in a series by Mari Jungstedt set in Gotland and featuring Inspector Knutas and journalist Johan Berg. The setting on the vacation island with a permanent population of 58,000 that swells to over ten times that during the summer is one of the main draws of the series, as is the emotional drama of both Knutas and Berg. The mystery itself was not my favorite part of the book because it featured a serial killer, but I liked the characters enough to compensate for that storyline.

The murders take place in the month of June as tourist season begins, and they begin with the murder of woman who is a native now living in Stockholm who is visiting for the weekend. Knutas and his team are deeply affected by the murders they are investigating, which is a good touch. Berg, a crime reporter for Regional News television, is embroiled in the murder story and some others, and his scenes are a good picture of the workings of the mass media for sensational stories. He also has a strong personal story that is a thread in this novel that must continue in other books in the series. If Jungstedt, a former journalist, weren’t critical of the press or hadn’t made Berg a human who is affected by the stories he reports, this story would be much harder to take.

This book was not overly innovative, but it was a fairly quick read that focused on characters, which made me able to stand the serial killer storyline. I also thought she balanced the personal story with the investigation very well instead of letting one take precedent over the other. However, I hope the murderer in the other books in the series is a bit more interesting than this one was. My mixed feelings are probably a sign that I need to read something besides police procedurals for awhile, and I am working on it.

Other reviews appear in Euro Crime, Mysteries in Paradise.

I borrowed the book from the library.

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14 thoughts on “Unseen by Mari Jungstedt”

  1. Rebecca – I know what you mean about the serial killer thing. I’m very much over that motif myself. That said though, I’m glad you found this a decent read. I agree to that there’s a solid balance needed in police procedurals betweem the sleuths’ work lives and their home lives. That’s not easy to do, but it’s easy enough to tell if it’s not done well.

  2. Sounds interesting, and I always find Tiina Nunnally’s translations very good. But I know what you mean about needing a break from police procedurals every now and again…

  3. This is great, Rebecca. I’ve always been curious about this book and have it in my wishlist. Think I shall give it a try. Thanks!

  4. I was not overly impressed with this – but then I did start at the third book or so in the series. And I completely understand what you mean by ‘let serial killers lie’.

  5. I just read — and could not put down — John Grisham’s latest book titled “Sycamore Row.” It’s what I needed, lots of character development, important social history and issues, legal strategy and a lot of wit. Grisham at his finest.
    Also, Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller is a change of pace and excellent.
    And there’s always more of Jayne Keeney’s adventures in Thailand, as explored by Angela Savage.

  6. Oh, but reading a good book when the weather is wreaking havoc outside, and sitting in a nice spot with tea and cookies is just one of life’s most enjoyable experiences.
    I’ve been stuck inside since I fell and broke my arm in December — and wow, have I taken advantage of the confinement to read and make a dent in my TBR stacks.
    I had gotten cabin fever, but that was relieved by a two-block walk to the library and back.
    Somehow, if I have good books, it is quite a consolation. That and heat.

    1. I hope your recovery goes well, Kathy. We’ve had cabin fever for long stretches this winter because of the dangerous windchills for good chunks of December in January, but thankfully not as much snow as some people have gotten. Blech, winter. Hope you still have a good stash of books and tea to make it through the latest storms!

  7. I have read about this author before, but don’t know much about her series. I appreciated your candor in the review. Given the opportunity I am sure I will try one of her books. Serial killer thrillers are not my thing either… ever since I read Giles Blunt’s first book, I have been afraid to try one again. But I have a lot on my shelves.

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