My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A slow-building, surprise-laden Scandinavian mystery with the smart and quirky Magnus Markusson and his squad of detectives.
Magnus Markusson is the chief superintendent over a good investigative squad in the Varsberg (Sweden) Police Department. He has a horrid, NO experience police commissioner boss breathing down his neck after the body of a local piano teacher is found hanging in the woods. Set up to look like a suicide, forensic evidence and good, common sense shows that Sven Julin, a sweet man apparently loved by all, was murdered; this was no suicide. With few leads to work, the investigation stalls until a year-old cold case with similar circumstances comes to light in another city.Written in more of a narrative style, it took me a little reading to get in sync with this story, however, once I did, I can easily say this was one of the most entertaining murder mysteries I’ve read in a long while. I did not want to put it down. The author does a fabulous job developing the characters that comprise the members of Magnus’s detective squad. Each, including Magnus himself, has their own interesting backstory that builds throughout the book.
Magnus, clearly on the brink of retirement, still keeps his hand in the active cases but, unlike most detectives you commonly read about, he takes time out of his day for a nap or a book break or an afternoon here and there for gambling or tennis with one of his buddies. It does seem to rejuvenate him and allow him to tackle the big questions in cases, and he is known for getting results. He has a lovely relationship with his wife, Lena, which is (and this is pointed out), unusual in his line of work (and in this genre.) And he loves dogs … adding to his pack at home as he finds a pooch in need. He has a non-existent relationship with his one and only son, Sebastian, which is an underlying heartbreak for him and his wife.Like Magnus, the complex identities of his squad members, victims, and witnesses slowly unfold, demonstrating perhaps one of the themes of the book that “we all have our problems and by always pushing forwards, we can overcome them.” The squad members all deal together quite well and advance the investigation with good, solid police work.I enjoyed the setting of Varsberg, and reading the little tidbits of regular life that the author slips in: shopping, new-to-me products, and organizations, “Taco Friday” which is apparently a thing in Sweden.
The action moves forward at an understandable pace with some quite detailed detective work going on, some fruitful, some not, really showing the highs and lows of a complex case. I wanted to keep reading and not put the story down but it does come to an exciting conclusion with some clear surprises. With a teaser ending, I will definitely be watching out for the next book in the series. I recommend this book to mystery readers that enjoy this type of slow-burner or mysteries with Scandinavian settings or those that enjoy a particularly well-rounded cast of quirky characters. I am so glad to have run across this author and book.I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.
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