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Unseen: A Mystery Hardcover – September 5, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Swedish journalist Jungstedt's first mystery, set on the island of Gotland, a popular tourist destination, opens with some promise. After a gathering of friends dissolves amid jealous accusations, the source of the conflict, Helena Hillerström, vanishes from her home, only to turn up the victim of a savage ax murder. This violent act shocks the residents of the normally sleepy resort island. Despite the dedicated efforts of Insp. Anders Knutas, the killer strikes twice again. The killer's clichéd motive for these crimes and the police's failure to connect some obvious dots will disappoint those expecting another Henning Mankell. Still, the unusual setting is nicely described, and hopefully, later entries in the series will focus on issues that are particular to Sweden as this debut effort does not. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The Scandinavian invasion continues with the arrival in the U.S. of another talented crime writer from Sweden. Jungstedt's first novel takes place in Gotland, where a serial killer has tourists (in the area during the region's midsummer tourist season) running scared. The sleuth here is Gotland inspector Anders Knutas, who is out of the intuitive-provincial school of crime solving. He is thoroughly engaging in that Maigret way--reminiscent, too, of fellow Swede Van Veeteren (in Hakan Nesser's Borkmann's Point, 2006) and French police commissaire Adamsberg (in Fred Vargas' Have Mercy on Us All, 2005). Knutas has the help of an enterprising Stockholm journalist, Johan Berg, who becomes involved with one of the victim's friends. Like Ake Edwardson in Never End (2006), Jungstedt shows that Scandinavian summers can provide just as effective a backdrop for crime drama as the region's icy winters. If this strong combination of pacing, suspense, and character study is any indication of what is to come from Jungstedt, we have another fine import on our hands. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
The Gotland setting puts the contrast between fictional Swedish crime and actual Swedish crime into sharp focus. When I visited Gotland a few years ago, our hotel had a rack of Ms. Jungstedt's novels in the lobby, mostly in Swedish. I told the innkeeper that I wished more had been translated: he laughed and said that her books were very popular, but perhaps a little exaggerated. He told me that there had been just one real murder on Gotland in the last 35 years, despite the extraordinariy high fictional crime rate. For Sweden as a whole, there were 93 deaths in 2009 due to manslaughter, assault or murder, in a population of 9.4 million. Fictionally, of course, the place is awash in blood. One is reminded of 1930's Britain, when fictional murder ran rampant, but the country in fact was very law abiding. Ah, well, that's what makes fiction fun.
The story takes place on Gotland, an island off the east coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, in the town of Visby.. It is the Midsummer holiday when thousands of people travel to Gotland to spend the summer or vacation for a few weeks, and this year a serial killer is on the loose. The police are under pressure to make an arrest before fear of the killer hurts the tourism business on the island.
Helena and Per were having a party to celebrate the holiday with a group of Helena's friends. Helena's longtime beau, Per, was an exceptionally jealous man who got extremely angry when she danced with a handsome man named Kristian that night. It led to a fight that drew blood and ruined the party that had been going so well. The next morning Helena and her dog were found dead, killed with an axe and Helena's panties stuffed in her mouth. Per becomes the suspect because of the fight the night before, not only with Kristian but with Helena after the guests had left.
Two more people will die before the perpetrator of these crimes is caught. The present day story is interspersed with a first person narrative by an unknown and unseen person. The pace of the story is very steady and it is suspenseful. For the few criticisms I have about the book, I can take into account that this is a debut novel and overall I liked it very much. The reader has to pay attention to the characters in the beginning of the book because there are a lot of them and they are introduced fairly fast. I plan on reading the next book in the series.
Early on I started reading the first sentence of every paragraph, then started skipping pages. I finally gave up and read the last 10 pages. It was full of the most superfluous information. I do like to hear about the lives of people in different countries, but not every nonessential detail. Needed editing. Awful character development.
No, I won't read any of her other books.
Women who appear not to have any connection are found murdered with their underwear stuffed in their mouths. The police have no clues with which to follow and with no witnesses, their frustration rises with the summer heat.
Adding to Inspector Knutas's irritations is a journalist who appears to have a source inside the police providing him with information about the murders the homicide team had not given out during the press conferences.
The mind of the serial killer is gradually exposed ...but will the homicide team find him before he kills again?
There were some rather obvious links, I thought, that I was surprised the homicide team didn't pick up, and the writing at times appeared rather stilted. Still, it's not bad for the first in the series and I hope the author will develop her main characters more fully in subsequent works.
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