Highly Recommended: Missing by Karin Alvtegen

missingMissing is one of my favorite reads of the year so far. I picked it up on Saturday morning and finished it in less than a day, which shows that I was hooked from the start. It’s a condensed psychological thriller with an incredibly sympathetic main character, it’s critical of Swedish society, and it’s very well-paced: good stuff all around.

Sibylla is a 32-year-old homeless woman who is wanted for murder, and the story not only takes place in the present while she hides from the police and tries to clear her name: it also covers her devastating upbringing in a small, rural town in a family with money but not much else that led to her homelessness. The book begins with her plan to get a free night in a nice hotel, but she wakes up the next morning to find out that her benefactor for the evening was found murdered in the hotel. She is the prime suspect, and she goes on the run.

I’ve read quite a few wrongly-accused-character-on-the-run books, but this one feels different than, say, Lisa Lutz’s The Passenger. Sibylla’s travels are more circumscribed than some of the longer chase books I’ve read, so the story feels more specific. The story is shorter and the pacing is really good. My only complaint about the book is that there are a few sections in the real killer’s mind, which is never my favorite trick in a book.

This book impressed me more than the only other Alvtegen book I’ve read, Shame, which I don’t remember too well now. I will be seeking out more of her books right away.

Missing by Karin Alvtegen, translated by Anna Paterson

Felony & Mayhem Press, 2009

Originally published as Saknad, 2000

I bought my copy of the book.

5 thoughts on “Highly Recommended: Missing by Karin Alvtegen

  1. I don’t have anything by this author, and this sound interesting. (However I do agree with you on not liking sections from the killer’s point of view.) It appears all her books are standalone? I will put this on my list to look for at the book sale.

    • I have three that are all stand-alones, but I don’t know about the rest. Hope you enjoy them, Tracy! I’m headed to a big book sale this weekend…

  2. I had the same reaction on reading Missing, and promptly read Alftegen’s other two (at the time) books, which I likewise loved. I have her fourth novel waiting for me, but I’m trying to wait until the right moment, rather than binge as I did with the first three. She’s certainly my favorite Scandi author.

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