Asa (Åsa) Larsson was born in in 1966 and grew up in Kiruna, Sweden. Åsa Larsson now lives in Mariefred. She studied in Uppsala and lived for some years in Stockholm, but now prefers the rural life with her husband, two children and several chickens.
A former tax lawyer, Asa Larsson now writes full time. She made her debut in 2003 with Sun Storm (see review, also known as The Savage Altar), which was awarded the Swedish Crime Writers’ Association Prize for best debut novel. The sequel, The Blood Spilt, was chosen as Best Swedish Crime Novel of 2004.
The books were an immediate success; they have been sold to ten countries, and are being launched in the United States; the film rights have been sold to Sandrew Metronome.
Since writing these books, Larsson has published three more recent books in Swedish: Systrarna Hietala (2007), Till dess din vrede upphör (2008) (English: Until Thy Wrath be Past - 2011), Guds starka arm (2009), and Till offer åt Molok (2011).
The Black Path is the third book in Swedish author Asa (Åsa) Larsson's crime book series from Kiruna in Sweden, featuring the lawyer Rebecka Martinsson and police detectives Svein-Erik Stalnacke and Anne-Maria Mella. The Black Path is a police procedural, or perhaps a legal thriller.
The action in The Black Path takes place during winter in the North of Sweden. A dead woman is found on a frozen lake, and her body shows evidence of torture. The dead woman, dressed in workout clothes with lacy underwear beneath them, was a key player in an international mining company.
Attorney Rebecka Martinsson is desperate to get back to work, to feel alive again after a case that almost destroyed her. She says yes, not knowing how convoluted and complex the motive for the homicide is and how dangerous trying to prove it will be.
Soon Rebecka is prying into the affairs of the dead woman’s boss, the founder of Kallis Mining, whose relationship with his star employee was both complex and ominous. Rebecka and Anna-Maria are about to uncover what amounts to a tangled drama of secrets, perversion, and criminality. he story in The Black Path is shocking, as well as sad, and cynical as well. Larsson describes a man’s obsession, a woman’s lonely death, and the very cold heart of a killer.
The Black Path is a very dark drama, with twisted sexuality, menace, hope, longing, and darkness beyond imagining. It is also a smart, well written, masterfully crafted book where we observe how the investigation proceeds step by step, at the same time as we learn how the characters involved think and live.
What sets The Black Path apart a little from other crime books is that it really is not the suspense that drove me on from page to page, but rather it was, I think, more curiosity. The story, in a sense, is not action driven. Asa Larsson builds up curiosity - a feeling of a need to understand. A great book, which I strongly recommend!
Until Thy Wrath be Past, by Asa Larsson
This is the fourth book in Swedish author Asa Larsson’s series about Rebecka Martinsson and Inspector Anna-Maria Mella. Following the terrible events in the previous book, The Black Path, where she killed three men in self-defense, Rebecka Martinsson has now moved to the town of Kiruna in the Northern part of Sweden, where she works as public prosecutor.
Until Thy Wrath be Past starts with a bang. The 17-year-old Wilma Persson, who together with her boyfriend is diving beneath the ice of Lake Vittangijärvi, looking for the wreck of a Nazi transport airplane that crashed there during the War, tells the story of how she and her boyfriend is murdered. They have dived from a whole they have sawed in the ice, and someone has closed the hole, thus preventing them for surfacing. Wilma fights desperately to survive, but knows that soon there will be no more air. And then the air runs out, and there is only the ice cold water of Lake Vittangijärvi.
That’s the setup of the mystery in Until Thy Wrath be Past. As readers we know two young people have been murdered in the lake. We don’t know why and we don’t know who did it. But the police do not know they have been murdered at all. All the police know is that they are missing.
Sometime later, in the Spring, Wilma’s body is found. Not in the lake, but in a river some distance away from the lake. She has clearly drowned. It seems very much like an accident, but there are some details that are strange. Under her fingernails there are traces of green paint. Both Anna-Maria Mella and Rebecca Martinsson, who takes charge of the investigation, feel there is more to the case then meets the eye. The facts don’t add up the way they should.
When they start to dig deeper into the case and talk with family and people who knew the dead girl, they soon come face to face with people trying to prevent the truth about certain incidents during World War II from surfacing. In the strange rural villages of Northern Sweden they encounter odd, twisted love and people who will go to any length to protect their secrets. Some of the wounds and conflict from the War are still not healed. As the investigation progresses, more people are brutally murdered to prevent the investigators from learning more. Somewhere in the cold lurks a murderer who will continue to kill as many as it takes to keep the past firmly buried.
This is a remarkable and interesting book, very well written, about repression, violence, devotion and ruthlessness. The epigraph from the Book of Job – Until Thy Wrath be Past - with reference to the pain of human existence, is very appropriate as a title. While I did not particularly like the literary device Asa Larsson uses in this book – letting the dead Wilma talk from the grave, so to speak – I really liked the book, it is perhaps the best Asa Larsson has written so far! Until Thy Wrath be Past is a great crime fiction novel, and I am already looking forward to the next Rebecca Martinsson novel!
The Blood Spilt, by Asa Larsson
In The Blood Spilt we meet again Stockholm tax attorney Rebecka Martinsson, the main character in Asa Larsson’s first novel, Sun Storm. She is still recovering from having to kill three men who tried to attack her. Rebecka has formally returned to her law office, but is not really able to work. Also, she finds that her law firm uses her newfound celebrity status to drum up new clients. Life is tough for Rebecka now.
Rebecka welcomes an opportunity to go back to her native Kiruna for her firm to do participate in a meeting. However, while there she stumbles into a murder case. A female priest, Mildred Nilsson, has been found murdered in her church. And Mildred, a staunch feminist, had caused a large number of people in the community to dislike her for a number of different reasons.
Thus there are a large number of people with possible motives in The Blood Spilt. And finding out who could have killed her and why is difficult. In this book, that responsibility rests with Anna-Maria Mella, now a part time inspector. And she works hard an works a lot of angles to finally untangle the mystery.
Åsa Larsson has crafted a good novel.The mystery in The Blood Spilt is interesting, but the action is not plot driven, and sometimes the storytelling is a little too distanced. Some parts of the book, like the side story about the lone wolf, did not work all that well by me.
However, The Blood Spilt is a good and very readable book that I recommend, although it is not, to me, quite up there with the best of the Scandinavian crime writers, like Nesbo, Mankell, Stieg Larsson, and Karin Fossum.