Readers hungry for more Stieg Larsson will find much to laugh about in this clever, tongue-in-cheek adventure starring Gotilda Salamander and Jerker Rhindtwist.
When Olaf Gedda is found dead in his rose garden, his friend and fishing buddy Salamander is arrested and accused of firing the fatal shot. Her prints were found on the bucket of worms beside the body, so who else could it be? Salamander’s old flame, journalist Rhindtwist, makes some inquiries and discovers that a few others had motive as well—the lawyer Manfred von Otter, the butler Henrik Paulsson and the business partner Gunnar Hakanson. Salamander escapes from jail to better conduct an investigation of her own via computer, and manages to snare the murder weapon while trying to take a break from the stress of being a hunted criminal. With the help of solid research on Rhindtwist’s part, and well-planted karate kicks on Salamander’s, the efficient duo finds its way to justice, Swedish style. Groome has done substantial homework and adeptly recreates the quick pace and clipped tone of Larsson’s supremely popular books. He proves himself clever at planting the same type of benign character clues—the copious amounts of coffee consumed, the frequency of sex between Rhindtwist and his managing editor—that Larsson also uses to excess. The few times Groome’s characters branch off their worn paths feel slightly false, such as when Salamander cries in front of the police. Also, Groome shows his writerly hand too much when he follows certain plot lines—“Salamander was stumped and thought that spending a little time fishing might clear her head.” (Her prototype would never have admitted to being stumped.) Groome’s spoof highlights what millions love about the Larsson books—fast-paced action and smart, unconventional heroes—and pays tribute to what drove at least a few of those fans a little crazy—occasionally flat dialogue and tedious moments of explanatory connection.
A fun farce that will either anger or delight the throngs of hopeful Larsson fans.