The Black Path by Åsa Larsson

black pathI’m catching up with one of my favorite series, this time reading  The Black Path, book 3 in the Rebecka Martinsson series. The book starts off pretty close to the ending of the previous installment, now finding Martinsson in a mental hospital after her breakdown at the end of the last book. It’s heartbreaking. The police procedural aspect starts a bit later: Rebecka continues to improve and starts working for the prosecutor in Kiruna. She helps Investigator Anna-Maria Mella on a murder case by digging into the victim Inna Wattrang’s financial and business past. She worked for a mining company, and the financial side deals with the expansion of mining operations in Uganda.

The elements of murder and big financial operations are there and could have turned the story into a thriller of sorts, and there are definitely sections of the book that feel more fast-paced, but  Larsson is most interested in characters. She spends a great deal of time in all of her characters’ heads as they are going through the time of the police investigation, but the actual investigation fades into the background quite often.

The strongest parts of the book for me were the sections told from Rebecka’s perspective and from the perspective of Ester, an artist who is the half-sister of Kallis, the mining company executive. She is a painter whose clairvoyance felt a bit off to me. She was adopted by a Sami family and lives with her half-brother after her mother dies, and the scenes of her painting are quite good. The link between Rebecka, who lost her mother at a young age, and Ester, who was adopted as a baby, is quite good. Like I said, the characters’ and their pain affected me more than the murder plot. This is a good entry in the series.

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The Black Path by Åsa Larsson, translated by Marlaine Delargy

Quercus, 2012

Originally published as Svart stig, 2006

I bought my copy of the book.

 

The Second Deadly Sin by by Åsa Larsson

second deadly sin

The Second Deadly Sin by by Åsa Larsson
Translated by Laurie Thompson
MacLehose Press, August, 2014
Rebecka Martinsson book 5

Disclosure: I received a review copy from the publisher.

I’m a big Åsa Larsson fan: the first two books in the series are some of my favorites. Rebecka is not a typical heroine, her cases are tough on her, and the setting in extreme northern Sweden is different and vivid.

This particular outing in the series is not as great as the others. I’ve read. Martinsson takes a back seat in the investigation of the murder of a middle-aged waitress who was brutally murdered. There is also a parallel story to the murdered woman’s grandmother, Elina who moves to Kiruna to take a position as a school teacher in the booming mine town at the start of the First World War.

Rebecka’s sexist boss is not my favorite type of character (and he feels a bit undeveloped to me), and the actual mystery wasn’t as strong as I’d like, but the contemporary storyline of Rebecka as well as the details about life in a company town before World War I were the strongest parts of the novel.

Other reviews appear in Crimepieces, Reactions to Reading, Avid Mystery Reader, and Crimescraps.

 

 

 

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.

My Favorite Reads of 2016

My favorite reads of 2016 are not all crime fiction. I got a little bored with some of my favorite crime authors so spent quite a bit of time reading widely, and I found some good stuff.

  1. Until They Wrath Be Past by Asa Larsson was my favorite crime novel, by far. I like the smart heroines, I like the set-up of young divers drowned in a frozen lake, and I like the tone of these books. I read somewhere that Larsson expects this to be a 7 book series, and I eagerly await the final 2 books.
  2. Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny was a book I admired a great deal structurally: the story of Gamache’s crisis that led him to retreat to Montreal one bitterly cold winter was well-done. And it was nice to see the imperfections of that character.
  3. In Twenty Years by Allison Winn Scotch was a very good story about friends from college reuniting for the 20th class reunion. I liked it not only because I was the target audience, but I think Scotch did a great job making the entire cast of characters believable, which is quite a trick in a novel that alternates points-of-view.
  4. How to Be a Person in the World by Heather Havrilesky is the book I will keep giving as a gift. It’s a collection of existential advice columns that are so great I keep rereading them.
  5. H is for Hawk by Helen Fielding. This was a great memoir about grief and goshawks, and I highly recommend the audio read by the author. It was the most beautifully written book I read/listened to this year.

My February Crime Fiction Pick of the Month

Thanks to Kerrie for hosting the Crime Fiction Pick of the Month meme.  This month I will do two separate recaps:  one for crime fiction and one for everything else I read.  This month I reviewed five crime novels, and my favorite is Sun Storm by Asa Larsson. I never thought I’d call a tax lawyer kick-ass, but Rebecka Martinsson definitely is. I definitely prefer crime novels written by women with female protagonists and police procedurals over cozies.

Find below the complete list of crime novels I reviewed in February.

  1. Sun Storm by Asa Larsson
  2. Twice by Lisa Unger writing as Lisa Miscione
  3. A Cold Day in Paradise by Steve Hamilton
  4. Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton
  5. Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham
Crime Fiction

2012 Year in Review

Best wishes for the new year to all of you who read my blog, and thanks for reading during my first full year of book blogging!  Thanks for broadening my reading horizons with all your comments and posts.

2012 was a light reading year for me in terms of numbers, but I found a number of authors I really love.  I read 56 books, including 34 crime novels.  I read books by authors from 13 countries, led by the United States (27) and Sweden (6).  I read slightly more books by female authors (29) than male (25), and I read two books by author pairs.

The authors I’m happy to have discovered this year are Åsa Larsson and Håkan Nesser. The longest book I finished was Game of Thrones.  Finally, the book that has stayed with me the longest is Borkmann’s Point.

For 2013 my reading and blogging resolutions are to review even more translated crime fiction and read authors from more countries than this year.  I didn’t read any African or Central and South American authors in 2012, and only one Asian author, so those are my areas of focus.