cover image Midwinter Blood

Midwinter Blood

Mons Kallentoft, trans. from the Swedish by Neil Smith. Atria/Emily Bestler, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-4516-4247-6

First published in Sweden in 2007, Kallentoft’s psychologically astute, carefully crafted first novel featuring Linköping police inspector Malin Fors, a 33-year-old divorced mother, centers on the death of 330-pound Bengt Andersson, an eccentric loner found beaten, cut, and hanging naked from a solitary oak in the frozen countryside. As part of the investigation, Fors and her partner, Zeke Martinsson, look into Andersson’s disjointed family history, the teenage boys who tormented him, and the ritualistic nature of the murder that a local history professor likens to a “midwinter blood” sacrifice of Viking vintage. The case develops with painstaking slowness, allowing for a detailed, nuanced portrait of the relationship of Fors with her 13-year-old daughter as well as with her fellow officers. Meanwhile, the murder victim’s spirit floats around, offering its wry observations on the proceedings. Readers will look forward to the next three volumes in the series, already scheduled to appear in successive years. Agent: Joakim Hansson, Nordin Agency. (June)