Sweden’s Det. Supt. Anders Knutas shows that the weeks leading up to Christmas can be just as bleak as the pitiless midsummer of Unseen (2006).
Ever since his heavy drinking ended his career as a photographer, Henry (“Flash”) Dahlström’s life has been on a downturn. The Sunday he picks five consecutive winners at the racetrack seems to be an exception, but he brags about it to his friends the next day, and that night he’s beaten to death and his home is ransacked. Though it seems a straightforward case of robbery and murder, Knutas and his team soon unearth complications that make it something more. At least part of Flash’s windfall was swiped by one of his mates. A hefty pair of deposits, source unknown, had already fattened his bank account. Finally, though the Gotland police aren’t to know this, there’s evidently some connection between Flash’s death and the disappearance of Fanny Jansson, a teenaged stable hand whose troubles are revealed in an increasingly ominous series of flashbacks. As Stockholm journalist Johan Berg resumes his ill-advised affair with Emma Winarve despite her pleas that she can never leave her family, Knutas and his colleagues close in on a killer whose identity is as surprising as it is logical.
Features all the virtues of Knutas’ English-language debut, from grim atmosphere to sharply rendered characters, plus a better constructed mystery with some unusually subtle clues.