The island of Gotland during the longest days of the Scandinavian midsummer is the setting for Jungstedt’s grim procedural debut, first published in Sweden in 2003.
The morning after Per Bergdal, Helena Hillerström’s boyfriend, punches out both her and Kristian Nordström because he thinks Kristian—Helena’s old boyfriend—is groping her during a slow dance, Helena goes out for a run with her dog and doesn’t come back. A visiting pensioner finds both of them hacked to death with an axe. Detective Superintendent Andres Knutas and his colleagues from the Visby police, 25 miles away, investigate and duly arrest Per when they find the axe with his prints on the handle. They don’t realize her murder is only the opening act in a tragedy that continues ten days later with the fatal stabbing of a flirtatious hairdresser. As local investigators, joined by imperious Detective Superintendent Martin Kihlgård of the National Criminal Police, chase down one false lead after another, pesky Regional News reporter Johan Berg, who’s getting some anonymous tips from a suspiciously well-informed source, is sitting on a story of his own: his crush on Helena’s beautiful best friend Emma Winarve, who’s not only grief-stricken, but married with children.
Jungstedt kicks off her series—the subsequent two are headed for English translation—with foreboding atmosphere, plausible police work, a pat ending, several loose ends and a particularly handsome use of those endless days in a Swedish June.