Soho Crime, 2013
originally published as Guldkalven, 2033
translated by Laura A. Wideburg
I've been a huge fan of Helene Tursten's Irene Huss novels since I picked up the first book in the series. My favorite of the series is her third book, The Torso, an excellent novel that not only satisfies in terms of the crime and its twisted solution, but also because it is extremely well written. Now here we are at book six (fifth to be translated), and I have to say I'm a wee bit disappointed, most decidedly because of the ending. Up to that point, she had me hanging on to the story's every word and then out of nowhere comes this ending that did not at all fit.
Together with friend and partner Tommy Persson, Detective Inspector Irene Huss is on the scene of a particularly brutal murder in a magnificent home overlooking the bay. The dead man is Kjell Bengtsson Ceder, a restauranteur who is also in the hotel business. Shot at point-blank range, he leaves behind a beautiful young wife, Sanna, and a baby. Kjell's name has come up with the police before in connection with a tragic boating accident which led to the death of his first wife. There is enough to link the killing of Ceder with a double homicide under investigation as well as to another unsolved missing persons case the police have already worked on. When the detectives put their heads together, the common denominator of all of these incidents turns out to be Sanna, via an earlier IT business that crashed when the bubble burst. The problem is that Sanna is not being exactly up front with the police, and nothing the detectives do can persuade her to tell all she knows. Hopefully, the police will be able to convince her before someone else is found dead.
Aside from the already-known crew of detectives and Huss' family, Tursten has done an especially fine job in building the key player Sanna. She comes across as a spoiled, pampered, newly-rich but clueless person, and her character remains consistent throughout the book. Another quality I admired in this novel was the pacing. It was plotted carefully so as to continue to add layer upon layer of suspense, so that the reader is very much drawn into the story and can't wait to find out all of the answers and get to the big reveal. At that point is where I started having problems. Here I am, majorly invested in this story, and it all goes a bit sideways with the rather (imho) flimsy ending that I thought sort of came out of left field. The ride was both fun and kept me completely involved while it lasted, but really, I think she could have done much better in bringing the mysteries to a close.
The book is being well received by many readers, with many 4 and 5 star ratings, and had the ending been stronger, I probably would have rated it up there as well. As happy as I am that Soho Crime is publishing Tursten's previously-untranslated novels, Helene Tursten's work is so much better than this book might acknowledge. I would love to see her get back to that same level of intensity that gave me so much pleasure in the first three translated novels -- Detective Inspector Huss, The Torso, and The Glass Devil.
crime fiction from Sweden