A lawyer scrutinizes the investigation and trial that imprisoned a scientist for murdering a teen in this intriguing legal thriller.
The victim carefully prepares herself and a meal, but the lover’s visit goes terribly wrong, and 15-year-old Katrin Björk is found beaten to death in her house after her terrified dog barks so much that the neighbors call the police. Stig Ahlin, the research scientist convicted of the murder, has been in jail for 13 years when lawyer Sophia Weber is asked to revisit the case and petition for a new trial. Persson Giolito (Quicksand, 2016), a retired Swedish lawyer, toggles between two time periods to give background on Katrin and Stig and the police investigation of the murder. Because Stig admits he was sleeping with Katrin and is also being investigated for allegedly abusing his daughter, Chief Inspector Bertil Lundberg—who’s about to become a father—has little doubt about his guilt and proceeds accordingly. The press dubs him Professor Death. In the novel’s present, Sophia pieces together a vital flaw in the investigation and prosecution involving questionable evidence from a too-helpful forensic dentist. Something clicks for her about the dog at the crime scene. A journalist offers another angle on the past. Katrin morphs from model student to bad seed. Stig has a thing for prostitutes and biting. The author shows unusual restraint in keeping violence offstage while keeping the reader guessing right up to the two very different twists that make for a gut-punching finale. Sophia was featured in a previous novel along with her irascible grandfather and a love interest in one DI Adam Sahla, who resurfaces here. An ongoing series would be welcome given the author’s legal savvy, well-drawn characters, and insightful look at the subtle variations of guilt.
No courtroom fireworks but smart, well-written legal and procedural drama.