cover image The Dying Detective

The Dying Detective

Leif G.W. Persson, trans. from the Swedish by Neil Smith. Pantheon, $27.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-307-90763-9

At the start of Persson’s cleverly plotted police procedural, Lars Martin Johansson, a celebrated Stockholm investigator who’s now retired and living in the country, suffers a stroke and is taken to the local hospital, where his doctor, Ulrika Stenholm, tells him about an unsolved 25-year-old murder. Ulrika’s father, a retired vicar, told her shortly before his recent death that he once took confession from someone who knew who had kidnapped and killed nine-year-old Yasmine Ermegan, the daughter of two Iranian immigrants. After recovering, Johansson—unofficially—investigates, with the help of his former partner, Jarnebring. The initial case was botched back in 1985; thanks to a law abolishing the statute of limitations, it can’t be prosecuted now. Johansson demonstrates real brilliance in identifying the killer, but equally impressive is what he does with the knowledge. Persson (Free Falling, as if in a Dream) provides plenty of domestic details and lengthy asides, which lend interest but slow the narrative. [em]Agent: Niclas Salomonsson, Salomonsson Agency (Sweden). (May) [/em]