Kallentoft’s first English-language translation pits Detective Inspector Malin Fors against a killer who committed an unspeakably ritualistic murder.
In the middle of what feels like Linköping’s coldest winter in years, Malin Fors is called to a horrific crime scene. Someone has bashed Bengt Andersson to death, stabbed him several times for good measure, stripped him naked and hung him from a high branch of an oak tree. Since his blood is already frozen and there’s no hurry to examine the forensic evidence, Malin orders the body left in place for the time being. Bad mistake: Bengt crashes into the tent pitched beneath him, breaking a police officer’s arm in the process. It’s the first of many missteps Malin will make in trying to figure out who might have killed the eccentric loner and why. Rickard Skoglöf and his girlfriend, Valkyria Karlsson, who advocate sacrificing animals each midwinter and hanging them from trees, sniff that they wouldn’t sanction anything so depraved. And the family of Maria Murvall, whose rape years ago sent her deep into psychosis, simply closes ranks against the authorities they insist are harassing them. Malin seems to be doing little better on the home front. Tove, the 13-year-old daughter she’s raising alone, has found a boyfriend and discovered sex, to the disapproval of Malin’s father and the consternation of Malin, who became a teen bride when she found herself pregnant with Tove. No wonder then, that on meeting the speechless, unresponsive Maria, Malin thinks: “You’re a lot like me.”
A complex, heartfelt, rather grueling procedural, middling for the current bumper crop of Scandinavian imports, and first of a series of four seasonal cases for Malin.