The Killer's Art, by Mari Jungstedt
Bibliography, Mari Jungstedt
Mari Jungstedt keeps getting better and better. This is her fourth book translated into English, after Unseen, Unspoken and Unknown (The Killer's Art is, as of now, only available in the UK). It has been excellently translated by Tiina Nunnally.
Jungsted's books are all set on the scenic tourist island of Gotland in Sweden, and the all feature the sleuthing duo Inspector Anders Knutas and Swedish news reporter Johan Berg. They are all quite good, but to my mind this book is better than the previous ones.
The action in A Killer's Art starts with the murder of a very well-known local art-gallery owner, Egon Wallin. Egon was a prominent and visible man in the local community, and well respected locally as well as in the art world. And now he is found brutally murdered and hanging from the medieval town gate in the beautiful and quiet little town of Visby.
As Knutas and his colleagues start digging into the case dark secrets and unknown facts start to surface. The gallery owner, who has just opened a new, very interesting exhibition featuring a young Lithuanian artist, had sold his gallery without anyone knowing it, not even his wife. Both he and his wife secretly had lovers, each without the other knowing about it. Also, his wife, going through the house after her husband’s death, found a number of extremely valuable paintings hidden there. Further investigation showed that they had all been stolen from various Swedish owners over the last few years.
Then, while Knutas and his colleagues are still more or less completely in the dark, struggling to make sense of the case and not finding anything that seems to lead them in the direction of the killer, a new killing takes place. A man is reported missing from the local hotel and the police feel certain that he has been or will be killed. When he is finally found, his is lying half-naked on the snowy grave of the first victim, badly mutilated and seemingly tortured. Time is running out for the police.
We touch base, of course, with the private lives of both Knutas and Johan Berg as well. And especially with the somewhat complicated relationship between Berg and his beloved Emma, which at least for a while in this book seems to change for the better. However, that changes when their little daughter becomes a target and is kidnapped - Emma hurls his engagement ring across the room.
This is a very enjoyable book, excellently written, very clear and at times elegant. Also, it is a book that will perhaps be of particular interest to art lovers, as it moves in the world of art in Sweden, and features a number of interesting paintings and artists such as “The Dying Dandy” by the Swedish impressionist Nils Dardel along with several paintings by Zorn.
I loved this book. The main characters are well-drawn and well-known at this point in the series and seemed very alive to me. Some of the scenes and elements of the plot are wonderful, for instance a James Bond-like art theft in Stockholm that was brilliantly executed and very memorable. I read A Killer’s Art very fast, as I found it hard to put down. It is very suspenseful and intriguing, andI highly recommend it.
Unspoken: A Mystery, by Mari Jungstedt
Unspoken is the second in Mari Jungstedt's series of crime and detective novels set in Gotland, Sweden. The first is Unseen (see review) The main characters, in this book too, are Inspector Anders Knutas and investigative journalist Johan Berg.
Swedish Police Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas is heading the investigation into the homicide of alcoholic former news photographer Henry Dahlstrum. Henry had been celebrating winning 80,000 Swedish kroner at the races, and then he disappeared. His body was discovered by one of his drinking buddies. Henry was drenched in blood, and had a hole the size of a fist in the back of his head.
Then, well into the investigation of the first murder, 14-year old Fanny Jansson, a volunteer at the local stables, vanishes. Initially Knutas and Jacobsson view them as separate cases. One is a violent murder, the other the disappearance of child.
Painstakingly, they work the clues, assisted by ambitious Stockholm TV reporter Johan Berg, who tries to keep his bosses interested in Dahlström's murder so he can take trips to Gotland to visit his married lover, Emma Winarve. And eventually they uncover a tenuous link between Henry and the missing fourteen year old Fanny Jansson. Before his murder Henry won a lot of money at the racetrack while Fanny cared for the horses at a local stable.However, matters become further complicated when sexually explicit photos of murdered 14-year-old Fanny Jansson are found in Dahlstrom's darkroom.
The official investigation in Unspoken is cleverly designed by Mari Jungstedt to keep the audience's attention. It is a great police procedural. And the cast is fully developed and interesting - in this book we also learn more about Knutas' family and the very complicated love affair between Johan Berg and Emma Winarve..
Unspoken is a book with crisp prose, steady suspense, and flesh-and-blood characters, as well as powerful descriptions of the dark Swedish winter. The narrative is engaging and twisty, and will fool even the most attentive reader.
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