Asa Larsson, , trans. from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy. . Delacorte, $22 (310pp) ISBN 978-0-385-33981-0
At the start of Larsson's solid procedural debut, neurotic, troubled Sanna Strandgård discovers the brutally butchered body of her brother, Viktor, on the floor of the church he founded in Kiruna, a provincial town in the north of Sweden. Sanna turns to her childhood friend, Rebecka Martinsson, a tax attorney in Stockholm, for emotional support and legal assistance when Sanna is charged with her brother's murder. While the local police investigate, led by refreshingly down-to-earth Insp. Anna-Maria Mella, Martinsson starts digging into the case as well as her own past connection with the victim and his church. Potential motives for Strandgård's murder range from the church's business dealings to sexual intrigue, but the focus is on Martinsson's anger and frustration at being sucked back into her own past. The story builds to a thrillerlike ending, though Larsson introduces far more characters than she needs or can handle. The book won Sweden's Best First Crime Novel award.
Reviewed on: 03/13/2006
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