cover image The Second Deadly Sin

The Second Deadly Sin

Åsa Larsson, trans. from the Swedish by Laurie Thompson. Quercus/MacLehose, $26

In Larsson’s compelling fifth Rebecka Martinsson thriller (after 2011’s Until Thy Wrath Be Past), the prosecutor travels to the far north of Sweden to investigate a murder victim’s troubling family history. Before Sol-Britt Uusitalo was stabbed to death, her son was killed in an unsolved hit-and-run, and her father’s remains were discovered inside a slain bear. The century-old murder of Sol-Britt’s grandmother in Kiruna, an iron mining town, also remains unsolved. Rebecka, sidelined by a conniving colleague, looks into the earlier deaths for a motive as the official investigation focuses more narrowly on Sol-Britt’s case. The murderer stalks the woman’s seven-year-old grandson, Marcus. Larsson excels at creating engaging, complex characters whose interactions and development provide as much forward momentum as the search for the killer. The settingalternates between the present and WWI-era Kiruna, with uneven pacing and a few holes. Depictions of brutality are unflinching, and readers should be prepared for scenes of animal cruelty. Agent: Astri von Arbin Ahlander, Ahlander Agency (Sweden). (Aug.)