This third seasonal case for Superintendent Malin Fors of the Linköping Police proves that Sweden’s autumn can be just as grueling as its frigid winter or pitilessly bright summer.
Ten years after their divorce, Malin is back with Janne, her firefighter ex-husband, trying to make a go of it with their daughter, Tove, who’s gradually recovering from the trauma of her abduction (A Summer Death, 2013). When Jerry Petersson, the wealthy lawyer who’s just purchased Skogså Castle, is found floating in his ancient property’s moat, “[m]urdered with extreme force,” Malin and her partner, Zeke Martinsson, catch the case. The first mystery they face is the question of why Count Axel Fågelsjö would suddenly have sold the castle after it had been in the family for nearly 500 years. Only after answering that question can they begin rooting around for suspects, who turn out to be disconcertingly plentiful. The Fågelsjö children, Fredrik and Katarina, aren’t exactly happy that their father sold their ancestral home. Petersson may have conspired with his client Jochen Goldman, a celebrated corporate looter who’s fled to the good life in Tenerife. Years ago, Petersson was involved in a fatal car crash on the Skogså estate that seems to have left deep scars. But Malin’s dedication to the case is seriously undermined by her drinking, which escalates so insidiously that she has to keep assuring everyone she’s not an alcoholic. Despite her paranoia about the dangers her investigation may pose to her daughter, it’s clear that the greatest threat to Tove comes from her mother.
More than most recent Scandinavian procedurals, this series draws its model from Stieg Larsson’s buried family secrets, troubled investigators, flaring emotional intensity, excessive length and multivolume architecture. The sex, however, is mostly good old-fashioned adultery.