Swedish mysterian Persson (Linda, As in the Linda Murder, 2016, etc.) brings a memorable creation to a close in this pensive whodunit.
Lars Martin Johansson, a CSI detective who can “see around corners,” figures in other books by Persson, especially Free Falling, as If in a Dream (2014). Here, at the outset of a yarn whose very title tells the reader that things will not go well for the Swedish Sherlock, Johansson has been discovered slumped behind a steering wheel, the victim of a stroke. His doctors warn him that not only is his brain bleeding, but he’s also got heart problems, dietary troubles, and other woes. “If you don’t change your way of life, and I mean radically, then you’ll die,” one doctor warns. Casually, she then spins out a little tale from the cold-case file, one involving her late father, who—Sweden being a small country—connected at an oblique angle with the rape and murder of a young girl three decades earlier. Johansson cannot remember the details, and it bothers him: “He could live with the fact that he had forgotten the name of his only son’s second wife,” writes Persson, but not that he now cannot retrieve young Yasmine Ermegan from the encyclopedia of crime that had been his head. He reconstructs the case, filling in detail by detail with the aid of an odd assemblage of allies and newfangled DNA evidence. There aren’t many red herrings: the real mystery in this well-paced though brooding story is what to do with what Johansson uncovers about the “perfectly ordinary, decent Swede” to whom all the evidence points. Indeed, the crux of the story lies in Johansson's wrestling with an appropriate solution to a crime that, incredibly, is fast slipping to the other side of the statute of limitations: does he let the bad guy get away, or does he take justice into his own hands?
A knotty, sinuous story that leads to a hard-won resolution—and a decidedly conclusive end.