Sun Storm Hardcover – Apr 25 2006
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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.
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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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!
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)...
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.
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.