Saturday, September 3, 2011

Nordic Reading Challenge - Book Review of Unspoken by Marie Jungstedt

Unspoken by Mari Jungstedt opens with the expectation of a crime about to be committed and when the deceased body is finally found, it is obvious it is a particularly vicious crime. Outwardly it appears to be an open and shut case of an alcoholic ex- press photographer, who is robbed and murdered for his recent winnings, but is this just what it is supposed to look like.  Set in the picturesque and historic villages of Gotland, an island off the coast of Sweden, this novel is the first one I read by this author yet the second in the series ( the first one being Unseen from 2006). I do wonder why she is not more widely known as her writing is pretty good, the level of intrigue  average to above average and there is no way one would suspect the killer until the closing chapters. However, some Crime readers May find this unappealing, particularly those who sometimes get "shat off" with a lack of clues to work who the identity of the killer.

Intertwined in the crime is Jungstedt's tragic story of a teenage girl, the child of a single alcoholic mother, and her personal and lonely story.  One can empathize with the plight of this girl and how her vulnerability allows her to become a victim. When she too is found dead, Detective Knutas is convinced that the murders are linked. But are the readers?

To me, This was a bit of a leap of faith and if I could level a criticism at this book it would be that I would like some more clues in order to make the leap myself, rather than have Knutas autocratically directing the audience.

I loved the descriptive element of the wintry landscape and the visuals the characters give you of their world. I do wish that I had read this series in order so that the main character's personal stories would have held more meaning. The journalist who uncovers important clues, is having an affair with a married woman, and although their story and part in the book is believable, it did become somewhat melodramatic, howeverit could be said that this is a true comment and completely indicative of modern society and the all too often failure of marriages.
To sum up:
The good:  Descriptive elements of scene and empathy I felt for Fanny's tragic story
The Bad:   Sudden and late appearance of any clues to determine the killer
The Ugly:  Leap of Faith that the murders were connected

Add to this the sad fact that there are many more Fanny's out there who thank goodness don't met a foul end, but are left to live out their miserable lonely and desparately unhappy lives. And that unfortunately is Something dark to ponder about....

If you are interested in signing up, go to Nordic challenge 2011 post sign up  at the Notes for the North blog.

Books I have read so far this year:

Stieg Larsson trilogy - parts 2 and 3
Karin Fossum - Black Seconds

Camilla Lackberg - The Preacher
Camilla Lackberg - The Stonecutter
Camilla Lackberg - The Gallows Bird
Jo Nesbø - The Redbreast
Arnaldur Indridason - Hypothermia
Andrea Heiberg - Next Stop: Sejer Island
Mari Jungstedt - Unspoken

Currently reading: Jo Nesbø  - Nemesis


Karin Altvegen - Shame
Camilla Lackberg - The Hidden Child
Jo Nesbø - The Redeemer


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