Wednesday, June 13, 2012
"How deadly the viper that lives in the heart of man." Variation of quote by Martin Delany
This significant novel tells of a police investigation of a double homicide. The author provides perceptive characterization through introspection, monologue and flashbacks.
Arvid Traneus is a ruthless, arrogant businessman who returns home to Sweden after spending years in the Tokyo region building assets for his company and himself.
Shortly after his return, the maid discovers two dead bodies in the Traneus's home. The female victim was stabbed and the male was so disfigured that police had difficulty identifying him. Thinking that it must have been the woman's husband, officials are surprised when they learn that it was his cousin, Anders Traneus.
The action takes place on the island of Gotland, located sixty miles off the southeastern coast of Sweden. It is an island where gossip is a part of life and many people take pride in knowing what their neighbors are doing. We also have families who multiply and remain on the island. One such family is the Traneus. Not only are their the cousins but older and younger generations who know all of the family secrets.
During the course of the investigation we see the relationship of the members of the Gotland police department, their friendship, camaraderie and professionalism. At the start of the novel, detective Fredrik Broman is helicoptered to the emergency room with a severe head wound. His friends and comrades wonder if he will recover. Through the course of the novel, the action moves back to the hospital where Fredrik's family and friends see him regain consciousness and hope for a full recovery.
The island life, the exotic setting of an island off Sweden and the closeness of the characters all blend together to create a novel rich in psychological drama and intelligently written.
Hakan Ostlundh is another Scandinavian writer whose skillful plotting places him as one of the best authors of police detective fiction.