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Misterioso: A Crime Novel Hardcover – July 12, 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A truly fine crime novel." —The Advocate

"[A] superb police procedural…Dahl has created a brilliant character and a terrific story, and should that not be enough, this is a classic cop-shop tale of the old school." —The Globe and Mail (Canada)

"Arne Dahl's Misterioso is an endearingly dour procedural…[The] existential brooding is very much part of the novel's charm…most of the fun of Misterioso comes from the follow-the-power, follow-the-money games played by Hjelm and his associates. And while Dahl clearly sees detective fiction as having the ability to tackle hard-hitting issues of the day, the mystery's solution isn't lacking in good old-fashioned puzzle intrigue, either." —Portland Mercury (US)

"Misterioso is a unique and wonderful book. It is part mystery, part police procedural, part existential philosophy, and part comedy. There is something so distinctive about this book that it resists categorization… There is not a dull moment. It seems like the Scandinavians are having a true renaissance in crime writing and Arne Dahl is right at the top." —Mostly Fiction

“Although this is Mankell’s turf, Dahl handles it differently but also very successfully. Mystery devotees who loved Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, and crime fiction ‘lifers’ who still treasure Sjowall’s and Wahloo’s Martin Beck, will want to add Paul Hjelm to their short lists of international favorites.” —Booklist (starred)
“An exciting debut…Fans of hard-boiled detective and Swedish novels will enjoy this.” —Library Journal
“Thoughtfully haunting and sometimes beautifully written, the first of Hjelm’s cases to be translated into English is likely to resonate with readers of the Stieg Larsson trilogy.” —Kirkus (starred)

“This is, without a doubt, one of the best Swedish crime novels of the year; well-written . . . and a chilling blow to the ways of contemporary society.”  —Götesborgs-Posten (Sweden)
“A masterly crime novel.” —Kristelig Dagblad (Denmark)
“It seems as though Sweden has once again produced a brilliant and socially engaged crime novelist.” —Fyens Stiftstidende (Denmark)
Misterioso is a detective story you have to read; as a debut novel it couldn’t be better.” —Xzine (Germany)
“Arne Dahl is phenomenal . . . Few Swedish crime novelists, if any, can get the reader to rush through each page like Dahl.”  —Expressen (Sweden)
“With Misterioso, Arne Dahl, an acclaimed master of the crime genre, has delivered one of his most intensely intriguing thrillers.” —Corriere Della Sera (Italy)
“Dahl’s character studies of people in vulnerable situations are in the top class of the European detective novel genre.” —Die Zeit (Germany)

About the Author

Arne Dahl is an award-winning crime novelist and literary critic. He lives in Sweden.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375425357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375425356
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #667,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Lucky Clucker TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The first couple of pages of this book had me wondering what I had gotten into. It just seemed a bit jerky and clunky. Luckily, I persevered with the book and somewhere around page 40ish the book became difficult to put down.

While the story is similar to countless other serial killer novels it is the writing that makes this book rise above the rest. Unlike so many detective novels dealing with serial killers, this book doesn't focus on endless, gruesome details of torture and gore. The killer's exploits aren't recounted in nauseating and tedious detail. The author instead focuses on character development and describing the background that shaped the world-view of the serial killer.

The story takes place in 1990s Sweden in an atmosphere of racial tension and national self-loathing over the greedy banking fiasco of the 1980s (a period of self-introspection our own nation seems to have skipped) Dahl's protagonist, Paul Hjelm, is simultaneously undergoing his own period of self-introspection as career and family issues collide to make him question himself-- to make him look into himself and confront "the abyss."

I won't bother to describe the entire story in this review, what I would like to say is that Dahl's Hjelm is a lot of fun to read. He reminds me a bit of Martin Cruz-Smith's Arkady Renko, but without that character's martyr complex and self-destructive streak. Hjelm is human without being boring and cool without being a cartoon character.

I think the best part of this book is the complex view it gave me of Sweden, a country I know practically nothing about. Until reading this book I only though of blond, beautiful, happy Swedes, helping each other and being good citizens (okay, a I knew about a bit of angst a la Bergman, of course).
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Arne Dahl's first novel, written in 1999 and offered in translation to Americans beginning in July, 2011 is probably the best police procedural I have ever read. The plot and the action unwind in an insistent rhythm, in keeping with the jazz tune "Mysterioso" that gives the book its title and is a motif throughout the story. The pace never slackens and the author never lacks for invention as one phrase follows another and as action piles on action. The lead protagonist in the story is Paul Hjelm, a conscientious Swedish policeman whose common-sense and compassionate approach to a hostage situation threatens to lead to his dismissal from the force. In fact, the police force, as embodied by the members of the special squad set up to find a serial killer, is the hero of this novel. Each member is portrayed as diligent, self-sacrificing, honest and goal-centered. The same can not be said for many of the members of the society they are trying to bring to justice or to protect. Step by step, the author takes us through the days of a two-month investigation into the hunt for a serial killer. As with any police procedural, we ride along with the detectives as they work the case and some of the attraction of the genre comes from vicarious participation in their work. The description of this work seems altogether realistic and included the traditional round of finding and questioning witnesses and suspects, dealing with departmental politics and putting family life on hold.

All of this takes place in Sweden (since plots in the genre are often similar, it is the setting and the society that the reader also wants to experience.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a huge mystery fan and am easily disappointed. In this book, I found the root of all great mystery novels--a good plot, interesting characters and interesting places. For those of you who read the" Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" trilogy, you will find yourself back in Sweden, and if you're still unfamiliar with Sweden, get a map. Seriously, it helped a great deal. Mention of "Western Sweden" had me thinking, "Isn't that Norway?" So I dug up an online map of Sweden and vicinity and was able to follow the places in the story. (One of my great-grandfathers is from Lülea, Sweden up by the Arctic Circle, but I've not yet visited Sweden; so I really did need the map!) If you imagine Scandinavia made up on the north as three fingers pointing downwards towards Denmark, Norway is on the west, Sweden is in the middle and Finland is to the east. The southern tip of Finland is just north of Estonia, and its capital is just across the Gulf of Finland is Tallinn, Estonia. If you look at Stockholm, Helsinki, and Tallinn, you will see they are relatively close to one another separated by the Gulf of Bothnia. The "West Coast" of Sweden is near Denmark, and its major port, Goteborg is Sweden's gateway to the North Sea. (The burger ad featuring Whoknöwswhere is no help at all.)

Besides the map, download Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso (Live)." Having been introduced to Monk's music when it was on vinyl, I found that it lost nothing on my iTunes version. Now you're ready to have some great fun with this book.

On the investigative side of the ledger is detective Paul Hjelm. About to be fired (or demoted, or whatever they do in Sweden to discipline cops), he is snatched up into an elite investigative team to find a serial killer who is bumping off Swedish business leaders.
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