Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Solstorm/Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson (3/5)

First published: 2003
Original title: Solstorm
Original language: Swedish
Translation to English by: Marlaine Delargy, 2006
Page count: 349

GoodReads says: On the floor of a church in northern Sweden, the body of a man lies mutilated and defiled–and in the night sky, the aurora borealis dances as the snow begins to fall... So begins Åsa Larsson’s spellbinding thriller, winner of Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel Award and an international literary sensation.

Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she’d left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess...

I say: I read this in Swedish for uni and would never have picked it up myself because I don’t like these Nordic crime novels – honestly; they’re all pretty much the same but with different names and places.

Having said that, this was neither good nor terribly bad; it was actually pretty ok.

I think the reason I sort of liked this was because it involved a church full of corruption and evil deeds, and I love that sort of thing. It was interesting to see how all the churchgoing townspeople were determined to stick together and keep the police out of the investigation. Another reason this was rather good was because I grew quite fond of Rebecka; she wasn’t your typical crime solver, but more a normal person who was determined to help her childhood friend Sanna – and also to find out what happened to Sanna’s brother. Most of her actions were plausible, and even though she did make some silly mistakes here and there, I believed in the character.

All the others, however, were such stereotypes it was painful reading about them. I could tell the way the church was heading and what the outcome was going to be; even though I didn’t figure out who the murderer was until a few pages before it was revealed. In fact, if the characters had been less stereotypical I would have liked this better.

However, it was fast-paced and easy enough for me to finish it in one sitting without getting bored. Larsson isn’t the best of writers, but when it comes to these crime novels she gets the job done without too much unnecessary fuss, and I wouldn’t mind reading the other books involving Rebecka – because of course this was part one of a series.


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