Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Kjell Eriksson

Pub Date: Aug. 2nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-60505-6
Publisher: Minotaur

The disappearance of a small-town politician masks dark secrets and triggers a series of further crimes.

Sven-Arne and his stern uncle Ante have a complicated relationship. Ante, whose shrouded past involves some important role in World War II, has controlled his nephew with an iron fist since boyhood. Many observers find Sven-Arne's devotion, which also contains a streak of defiance, inexplicable. One day Sven-Arne, a county commissioner who lives near Uppsala, walks away with no explanation from his job, his wife Elsa and his life. Over a decade later, Swedish businessman Jan Svensk spots Sven-Arne in, of all places, Bangalore. Under the name John Mailer, Sven-Arne has worked extensively as a volunteer teacher and gardener, endearing himself to locals, who reflexively close ranks against the new interloper. Taking Sven-Arne's rebuff as a challenge, Svensk becomes obsessed with exposing him, both in India and back home in Sweden. Meanwhile, there's much suspicious activity in Sven-Arne's hometown. Elsa lies in hospital after being hit by a truck, and Inspector Ann Lindell (The Demon of Dakar, 2008, etc.), along with local policeman Bosse Marksson, is investigating the discovery of a female foot in the woods. All narrative strands eventually intertwine in Eriksson's intricate thriller, which moves fluidly back and forth in time and place.

Though particulars of local history and culture might baffle some readers, the depth of character and a narrative tapestry that becomes clear in small, disconnected pieces make for a challenging and rewarding mystery.