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Midwinter Sacrifice Paperback – Apr 3 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder (April 3 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1444721526
  • ISBN-13: 978-1444721522
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #769,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


A cleverly crafted . . . dark multilayered murder mystery―Courier Mail (Australia)

[Kallentoft] is rightly praised for his skill at plotting, as well as his ability to create strongly-realised female protagonists . . . The author's sequence featuring his wonderfully rounded female protagonist Malin Fors is rapidly acquiring a devoted following.―Good Book Guide

This is a dark novel, full of awful people and desperate loneliness. Kallentoft is ruthless in his descriptions, but there is a great story here with solid police work leading Fors to the tale of the dead man in the tree. A must for the fans of Swedish crime novels.―Globe and Mail

The prose is spare and the dead man whispers to the detective which she seems to hear and transform into an unerring instinct for the truth.―South Coast Register

The highest suspense―Camilla Lackberg, international bestselling author of The Stonecutter

Sharp writing and original insights add spice―Literary Review

One of the best-realised female heroines I've read by a male writer―Guardian

My current favourite among the Scandinavian crime writers is another Swede, Mons Kallentoft. So far, three of his Malin Fors books have been translated into English: Midwinter Sacrifice, Summertime Death and Autumn Killing. I loved them all, particularly for the way Kallentoft gives a voice to his victims.―Alex Gray, author of Sleep Like the Dead

Most successful as an in-depth exploration of small-town life in a country which is theoretically democratic and egalitarian, but only on the surface.―Canberra Times

More very impressive input from another Scandinavian writer with something refreshingly different to say and with a different way of saying it . . . the background of Sweden in the grip of a cruel and punishing winter is brought vividly to the page. His illustration of the complex character of his heroine is also impressive . . . An impressive book.―Tangled Web

Meditative. Dark. Really, really cold . . . This is a worthy successor to Larsson's Millennium trilogy . . . This first installment in Kallentoft's crime series is a splendid representative of the Swedish crime novel, in all its elegance and eeriness.―Booklist Starred Review

Malin Fors is an intriguing and complex heroine . . . MIDWINTER SACRIFICE shows the hidden life under the picturesque surface . . . Kallentoft is an outstanding writer―Nordic Bookblog

Kallentoft is gifted . . . He has a knack for characterisation and describing the slow burn of police work.―The Age (Australia)

He has a completely unique style, an exquisite narrative that you drink in with pleasure . . . I'm convinced: a crime novel doesn't get much more beautiful than this―Kristianstadsbladet

Gripping―New Books Magazine

Engaging―Manly Daily (Australia)

Don't bother with Stieg Larsson, Kallentoft is better―Magnus Utvik, Sweden's leading critic

Delivers in spades―Sunday Herald Sun (Australia)

Delivers in spades―Hobart Mercury

An all-round chilling read, and an interesting beginning to what will be a fascinating five-part series of crime fiction page turners featuring the policewoman.―Sunshine Coast Daily (Australia)

A gripping opening gambit . . . Investigating inspector Malin Fors is a feisty single mother, whose flaws are intriguing and endearing . . . The chillingly suspense-filled story works up to a truly stunning finale.―Easy Living

About the Author

Mons Kallentoft grew up in a working-class household in the provincial town of Linkoping, Sweden, where the Malin Fors series is set. Before becoming a writer, he worked in journalism and is also a keen food critic. His first novel, Pesetas, was awarded the Swedish equivalent of the Whitbread Award. He has been married to Karolina for over 20 years, and they live in Stockholm with their daughter and son.

His novels are translated into English by Neil Smith.

Visit Mons' website at and his Facebook page at and follow him on Twitter @Kallentoft

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It would be easy to blame the translator for the slow, plodding read of this first novel in a series of what purports to be police procedurals, but it would not be true. It appears to this reader to be the result of the author’s writing, and an editor who did not live up to the task. This Swedish novel reminds me of the stories told on how Thomas Wolfe created his work: He wrote and wrote, endlessly, delivering reams and reams of paper to his publisher. It was only Maxwell Perkins, a brilliant editor, who made sense out of it all. Well, whoever edited this Swedish book was no Maxwell Perkins. And it is difficult to judge if the author’s attempt to write this book is on Wolfe’s level.

One has to approach the novel on two levels. First, as a whodunit, then as the author’s loftier endeavor to write it as a higher form of literature. To begin with, a rather obese man is found hanging nude from an oak tree, severely cut up. It falls to Malin Fors, a single mother of a 13-year-old girl, and her partner, Zeke, to lead the crime unit’s efforts to solve the murder. The case becomes more complicated as the investigation progresses, with a lot of past history. If the book kept it that simple, it might have made more sense. But then the author’s more esoteric writing introduces observations and asides that really add little to the narrative, especially italicized statements from the victim who hovers over the proceedings as a spirit.

As far as characters are concerned, there is little in the way of real development. Malin is a frustrated woman, possibly alcohol-dependent, yet a determined, driven detective. There is much about her inter-action with her daughter, but it is hardly enough to define either person. And there is little more to define the rest of the cast as well. Maybe the author chose to add this information in the future novels in the series. But the question is: Will I want to find out?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Another suspenseful case for Inspector Malin Fors that provides clues to events in other books in the series. One has to keep reading!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars 58 reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars Aug. 9 2016
By Jose Cardozo - Published on
Verified Purchase
Excellent, as expected
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I hoped for June 7 2012
By Shelleyrae - Published on
I have to admit I slogged my way through three quarters of this book and considered abandoning it several times. I didn't for several reasons, one being that this was a Netgalley request, the second because two reviewers I respect gave it a 4 star rating and thirdly because I admired several elements of the novel.
Midwinter Blood is a part crime/part police procedural in the style of what has been labeled 'Scandinavian Crime', not only for the author's origin and the setting but also distinguished by the cold weather, gruesome murder and reserved literary tone(think Stieg Larsson, Camilla Läckberg, Jo Nesbø). It begins in the depths of winter in a small Swedish town where an obese man is found hanging from a tree in the middle of a paddock, badly beaten, cut and half frozen. Inspector Malin Fors and her colleagues of the Violent Crime Squad at Linköping Police Department are tasked with discovering the man's identity, and the identity of the killer. The crime scene suggests that the man could have been a sacrifice in the reenactment of an ancient Viking rite but as the victim's life is unraveled the detectives discover a shocking family secret.

"An investigation consists of a mass of voices, the sort you can hear, and the sort you can't."

It may be that the translation is partly at fault but it was the abrupt shifting between voices, sometimes within a paragraph, that I found the most distracting. The author uses multiple viewpoints to narrate Midwinter Blood, the dead victim speaks of observing the police clustering at his swinging feet, a third person narrative provides glimpses into the lives of Malin's colleagues but it is primarily Malin's first person voice that tells the story.
Inspector Malin Fors is a single mother of a teenage daughter who has a complicated relationship with her ex-husband, her parents, and a tendency to drink too much. She is a dogged investigator, not afraid to push the boundaries and determined to find the answers she needs to solve the crimes she is assigned. The characters of Midwinter Blood, from Malin to the truly disturbing Murvall family are fascinating and I admired the way in which Kallentoft crafted such complex persona's. Even the victim is well developed, and though I disliked the corpses philosophical musings, I appreciated that the author honoured the man with a depth of characterisation rarely afforded to the victim.
The investigation itself was interesting as the detectives followed up leads, evidence and hunches but he pace of the story was a source of frustration for me. I imagine a real police investigation would have a similar rate of progress but the glacially slow beginning simply made me impatient and it barely improved for me until the last few chapters. How much the fact that Midwinter Blood is written in the present tense had to do with that, I'm not sure.

Judging by other reviews of this title if you have a fondness for Scandinavian crime then my review of Midwinter Blood you should not let my review put you off. However for me, while there were individual elements of Midwinter Blood I admired, the novel failed to coalesce into a satisfying read.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Linköping, Östergötland, Sweden in a freezing February June 21 2012
By Mikey - Published on
Picking up Midwinter Blood certainly was a wise move. The book was fantastic!
Malin Fors is a 33 year old police detective who, from her previous relationship with fireman Janne, has a 13 year old daughter Tove. Linköping in central Sweden is the setting for the novel during one of the coldest ever winters. Having been to Linköping several times and loved it, this book really brought back some memories of times spent there. Swedish Elite League ice hockey is played at the Cloetta Center as mentioned in the book and I found the fact that ice hockey player Martin, son of Malin's colleague Zeke, would indeed be playing for the local team at the Cloetta Center. Other descriptions of the town seem extremely accurate too.
Mons Kallentoft has a different style of writing. It does take some time getting used to it, but I must admit I liked it. I also loved learning more about the fantastic characters that Kallentoft has created in this first in the series. The plot does move slowly along but only as there are heaps more details about the characters and their thoughts, particularly Malin.
I've already bought the next in the series and started already. Looking forward to the next in the series too.
This is one character that I would love to see adapted for TV. If the Wallander books can be done, then so can Fors.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Blood Chilling Sept. 17 2012
By Ronald T. Roseborough - Published on
A chilling tale of murder set in the deep freeze of a Swedish winter. A naked body is discovered hanging from an oak tree in the bleak, wind chilled, snow covered countryside. The trail is as cold as the victim's frozen blood. The badly beaten and tortured body yields few clues. The team of investigators, led by Detective Inspector Malin Fors, has to reach out to the public in hopes a photo, based on the victim's reconstructed face, will turn something up. There will be no rest for Detective Fors or the victim's spirit as the long investigation leads to a possible connection with another old case. This one involved the brutal rape and torture of a young woman who was found naked and traumatized on the edge of some dense woods a few years ago. Will this trail run cold also or will things finally heat up? An enjoyable mystery with some interesting characters. The author leads us through the plot without giving too much away, until the right moment. I didn't care for the use of the spirit voice of the victim throughout the book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, Eerie, Chilling, Mesmerizing Thriller June 12 2016
By reteach - Published on
My first experience reading this author was as a GoodReads winner of the third of his five books in the Malin Fors series. That was way back in 2013! Upon finishing Autumn I ordered the first and second book in the series, as at that time there were only the three. It has taken until now for me to unearth this, the first in the series.

Although the Autumn Killing had hooked me on Malin and her life and work as a detective in Sweden, I noted in my review at the time that there were aspects of her approach to her work and her relationships at work as well as parts of her life which probably would have been clearer if I'd started at the beginning. Having done that now, I think that is true though not essential, since the writing and action soon grab you in both books.

The author uses so many different ways to put the reader in the place of the crime--from his almost painter like descriptions of the various types of housing found in this city, to the colors of the roofs, sidings, and shutters upon them. His descriptive language of the curtains, furnishings, carpets in the various homes to the bone chilling cold of a lengthy stretch of sub zero weather on a frozen wind blown plain place the reader squarely in the scenes. One feels the sudden warmth of the inside of the car or the entrance into a building as surely as being there. The crunch of the grit thrown on pathways to prevent falling on the icy pavement and the danger of driving across an icy lake or down a dark narrow road, alternately accelerating and slowing to prevent going off into a rut alongside are very real. The scenes are eerie and atmospheric even before the sight of an obese, horribly slashed and mutilated naked body hanging from an isolated oak tree is introduced.

Once seen, however, the solution of the crime becomes all consuming. Malin, a divorced, lonely, confused 30 something mother of a 13 year old is as competent and confident an investigator as she is an insecure divorcee, unsure of how and why her marriage failed, and an at sea mother, aren't we all, of a teenaged daughter with her first serious boyfriend. Her coworkers are also major characters in the tale and throughout the writing the author develops their characterizations so that they are as well known as Malin.

If that group of characters in the police headquarters are the white hats, Kallentoft continues to people the story with a number of equally well developed gray hats and a number of black hats, too. There is the brute, Cornerhouse-Kalle, long dead but whose prior existence permeates the lives no only of his murdered son but also many of the other of the less affluent section of the city. The daughter who has managed to pull together a life for herself and her son that is fairly normal and whole. A woman, widowed and living with her three sons and their families, in an isolated mini-town they've drawn around themselves. Two teenaged boys who have bonded in a sort of brotherhood and who have become a handful for the mothers who have tried to raise them single-handedly and the school, whose principal has tried to guide and discipline them. Despite the best attempts they have become 15 year old bullies who tormented the murdered man and may have gone too far.

As Malin and her team weave through and around these characters the voice of the dead man is heard at various times speaking to Malin though she cannot hear, speaking to others of the dead that surround him and speaking to some of the living who are being investigated. But soon the reader becomes attuned to the fact that there is more than one silent speakers and that this new voice is NOT of the murdered man but rather of the murderer!

Still with all the investigation and the silent speakers it is not until the last 50 pages that it becomes clear who has done this unspeakable thing and the fact that there is more than one maniacal beast in this menagerie.

Having closed the book on this case with Malin, I have already opened the next one, Summertime Death. Which brings me to a final note--these are Swedish novels translated into the English. I believe there are only five books to the series but I've found varying English titles for them. I suspect there may be titles in England that have different names here in the States. That confusion makes it a bit difficult to buy the books. For example, I have found this book titled Midwinter Sacrifice and Savage Spring has appeared as Spring Remains. Summertime Death is alternatively titled Water Angels. I'm not sure how to find which are two titles for the same book, since even Amazon has several English language titles that I believe are actually only one book.