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Sun Storm [Hardcover]

Asa Larsson
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 25 2006
On the floor of a church in northern Sweden, the body of a man lies mutilated and defiled–and in the night sky, the aurora borealis dances as the snow begins to fall....So begins Åsa Larsson’s spellbinding thriller, winner of Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel Award and an international literary sensation.

Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she’d left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess....

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From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Larsson's solid procedural debut, neurotic, troubled Sanna Strandgård discovers the brutally butchered body of her brother, Viktor, on the floor of the church he founded in Kiruna, a provincial town in the north of Sweden. Sanna turns to her childhood friend, Rebecka Martinsson, a tax attorney in Stockholm, for emotional support and legal assistance when Sanna is charged with her brother's murder. While the local police investigate, led by refreshingly down-to-earth Insp. Anna-Maria Mella, Martinsson starts digging into the case as well as her own past connection with the victim and his church. Potential motives for Strandgård's murder range from the church's business dealings to sexual intrigue, but the focus is on Martinsson's anger and frustration at being sucked back into her own past. The story builds to a thrillerlike ending, though Larsson introduces far more characters than she needs or can handle. The book won Sweden's Best First Crime Novel award. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The Swedish invasion continues with this sure-handed thriller from a talented first novelist. Rebecca Martinsson, an overworked junior member in a Stockholm law firm, comes from remote Kiruna in Sweden's far north, where she was involved with a fundamentalist church called The Strength of All Our Strength. Now a charismatic church leader has been brutally murdered. After receiving a call from the victim's sister, Sanna, Rebecca immediately returns to Kiruna and the craziness she thought she had escaped. It's a lot crazier now, she soon discovers, as Sanna is arrested for the murder, and Rebecca finds herself saddled with trying to prove her innocence and take care of her two young girls. Larsson builds suspense gradually but inexorably, and she is equally good at creating mood, using the frozen landscape and isolated location to evoke the icy inner lives of the church members and the building need for release. More like Ruth Rendell's psychological thrillers than the procedurals of Larsson's fellow Swedes (Mankell and Thursten, for example), this impressive debut nevertheless heralds yet another striking voice from Scandinavia. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last...A Scandinavian Writer I Enjoy! Feb. 14 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a wonderful novel from a Swedish writer, who prior to this, was not known to me. I loved the central character and the setting. The mystery here is secondary, while the characters & setting are the focal points. Traditional mystery fans may not enjoy this novel, but this book will definately resonate with people from or of Scandinavian culture. Extremely well written, I can't wait to read the second book in the series.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great June 22 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Really well written mystery that kept me wanting to know more
Will get the next one in the series
Very enjoyable
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3.0 out of 5 stars A bit too contrived Sept. 20 2013
By kiwira
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This felt forced and rather wooden. I much prefer other Swedish writers, though to be fair will give Larsson another try, since no one hits it bang on every time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  52 reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a debut novel not to be missed/overlooked May 4 2006
By tregatt - Published on
Unlike some of my other mystery loving friends, I haven't exactly jumped on the aren't-all-mysteries-from-the-Scandanavian-countries-wonderful bandwagon; my enjoyment of Asa Larsson's "Sun Storm," however has made me reconsider my position: perhaps I should check out other mystery novels from this region before making any snap decisions.

Tax attorney, Rebecka Martinsson, thought that she put her embarrassing and painful past behind her when she left the small and provincial town of Kiruna for the big city. But when an old friend, Sanna Strandgard, 'phones her begging her emotional support and legal advice, Rebecka finds herself dropping everything and returning to Kiruna once more. Sanna's younger brother, the charismatic Viktor, has been found ritualistically butchered in the very church that he helped found; and the chief prosecutor seems to have made up his mind that Sanna's committed the crime. Soon, Rebecka finds herself playing detective as well as facing down old ghosts. Trying to get Sanna to help her understand what happened is proving equally frustrating as Sanna's moods swing from apathy to paralyzing fear with alarming regularity. So, who wanted Viktor dead and why was he killed in such a brutal fashion? And what is Sanna hiding? Much to her chagrin, Rebecka finds herself getting more involved in Sanna's affairs than she would like to be...

I was absolutely riveted by "Sun Storm" -- once I started it I simply couldn't put it down. True, the storyline is a much used one and fans of Val McDermid will find few surprises here; what I enjoyed though was the author's engaging and sympathetic portrayal of the novel's chief protagonist, Rebecka, and the two diligent and intelligent police officers assigned to the case (Inspectors Anna-Maria Mella & Sven-Erik Stalnacke), as well as the wonderful manner in which the author layered the tension and kept the suspense going at a fairly high level. Asa Larsson's crisp prose style (or indeed the translator's, Marlaine Delgargy, efforts) also went a long way towards making "Sun Storm" a truly absorbing and engaging read. All in all, this is an author and series to be on the lookout for!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read! Feb. 13 2007
By Susan - Published on
This is my second go with a translation of a mystery--no disappointment here! Having discovered so many spoilers in many reviews (professional as well as us customers), let me just say this: if you're into the legal mystery genre, along with great descriptive writing, terrific personalities, and most importantly a significant plot line, pick up this book and you won't be disappointed.

I am so looking forward to her second novel--will be heading out to buy me a copy when the snow stops (and we're not in Kiruna)...
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An impressive debut May 5 2006
By Larry - Published on
Viktor Strandgard, a preacher of a church in northern Sweden called The Source of All Strength, is found in the chapel viciously slaughtered. His sister Sanna discovers the body and is emotionally at a breaking point. She contacts her friend Rebecka Martinson, a tax attorney in Stockholm, for her help. When Sanna is arrested for the murder, Rebecka seeks a solution to the crime in order to free her friend. Naturally, the killer does not want to be discovered and the closer Rebecka gets to the solution, the more danger she places herself in.

SUN STORM is a solid amateur detective novel that is very strong on characterization. Rebecka must cope with many personal issues including dealing with Sanna's daughter as well as her own job which is threatened by her involvement in this case. Rebecka is a sympathetic character and a strong heroine. The plot is carefully laid out and the author plays fair with the reader who wants to solve the crime along with Rebecka. The setting is well described as the Aurora Borealis (the sun storm) flickers above the frigid landscape of the small town. The plot could have moved a bit quicker for my taste, but that is a minor criticism and shouldn't bother most readers. SUN STORM won Sweden's best first crime novel award when it was first published in Sweden in 2003.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing early work Jan. 20 2012
By E. J. - Published on
It seems to be this book was one of the first ones for the author. Having read the recent "Until Thy Wrath Be Past" (which is excellent, by the way), this one is not nearly as good. The characters are just beginning to develop, and the author and the translator are trying to find the right approach. The descriptions of the people and of the locale are excellent. The story is interesting - a murder of a pastor under suspicious circumstances. What comes after that seems a bit haphazard. There are some social issues involved (Christianity, abortion, etc), their treatment may also turn off some readers. If you haven't read her books before, go for "Until Thy Wrath..." first.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sun Storm is a riveting read Dec 17 2011
By avidbookreader - Published on
I was riveted to my seat by the story (the first in the series) about a popular priest slain in his own church and by the people with their secrets held close to their sleeves. Some revelations were surprising. The star of the series is financial lawyer, Rebecka Martinsson, who struggles with being kicked out in disgrace by the community she grew up in in Kiruna. Funnily enough it's the same community where the priest was slain and Rebecka goes back there to help her friend who happens to be the victim's sister. She's not welcome back at all. The ending is conventional but the protagonist is not. These are police procedural(s) with the investigation into the crime intersecting with the close up examination of a church community rocked by the murder of their favorite priest. It is a tightly closed off community that the police find to be a challenge that is until they meet up with Rebecka who provides them with significant insight that helps them solve the case. Like most Scandinavian crime fiction, Larsson's writing is imbued with great atmosphere, human drama and often times the tone is rather bleak. The author uses flashbacks in her stories but they are not intrusive (and I hate flashbacks). The weather is almost always freezing cold in the northernest part of Sweden. This author will be huge. Watch out for her. B+ read.

I'd like to address the accusations of animal cruelty in Larsson's books. There are a few scenes that would fit that description but by no means would I extend the actions of her characters to the actions/views of the author herself.
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