Thursday, January 7, 2010

Missing, by Karin Alvtegen

my edition

  • Fact: I love Scandinavian crime fiction. 
  • Fact: I have an entire three walls of bookshelf dedicated to Scandinavian crime fiction.
  • Fact: I am rarely disappointed in Scandinavian crime fiction.
but this book is the exception.  And actually, I did something I rarely ever do after reading a book of Scandinavian crime fiction: I gave it away on Paperback Swap. So many people there had wishlisted it and I decided that perhaps someone else would like it much more than I. It leaves the house on Monday, after I return from California.  I share and recycle  a lot of books, but it's a rare moment when one is from the Scandinavian collection.  Anyway, getting on with this book, it seems to me that I really must have missed something, because I did not like this book.  It could very well be me, because I look at Amazon or other places where this book's been rated, and people are just in awe over this book.  It also got nominated for an Edgar award.

The story goes something like this:
The main character, Sibylla Forsenstrom,  is homeless, and when she gets desperate, scams wealthy-looking men into paying for dinner or buying her a room in a nice hotel somewhere.  For her, it's a tried and true method, and she's careful.  Her caution, however, does nothing for her when a man who paid for her room at a luxury hotel  is found not only dead but horribly mutilated.  She flees the scene, but accidentally leaves things behind.  When a second murder and mutilation occur, she finds herself on the front pages of every newspaper in Sweden, where she reads that she is wanted for both murders. Not only that, but her entire history (told in a backstory) of mental illness catches up to her and she is the most wanted person in the country.She decides that the only way out of this mess is to find the real killer and clear herself of suspicion.

Sounds like a great plot, and it is, but frankly, for me, it just didn't have that edge to it that would normally keep me in suspense enough to keep turning pages.  To be very fair, the author did a decent job developing Sybilla's childhood history and her journey into mental illness (which I thought were the best parts of this book), but the murder and crime-solving angle just failed to reach out and grab me.  I thought that the writing was a bit flat and that the solution to the crime was something so obvious that the police should have picked up on it right away, making the whole mystery aspect to the book rather...hmmm....what's a good word here...amateurish.

But, the evidence overall points to everyone absolutely loving this book, so don't just take my word for it. I just calls 'em as I sees 'em, and I didn't really like it that much. I'll try another by Alvtegen, in case my dislike of this book was a freak thing, but only if one of her other books drops into my lap.

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