Monday, 18 June 2012

'The Black Path' - Åsa Larsson

Åsa Larsson is back with a new Rebecka Martinsson crime thriller, The Black Path. Actually, this is part three in the series and Until thy Wrath be Past was part four. For some reason, which I should look into, Quercus has decided to publish them in reverse chronological order. Anyway, as I enjoyed the part four I'm in debted to Quercus Books for providing me with a review copy of The Black Path as well. Not indebted enough to be lenient, obviously.

Let's start with some info dumping on ice fishing in north of Sweden. It can get pretty damn cold out there, and even though being fond of mother nature is almost a requirement for living in north of Sweden, Swedes do like their comfort. Imagine a normal garden shed, put a pair of huge skis, or skates, under the shed. Bring forth the power tools to make a hole in the floor with a nice lid. Push shed out on ice, open lid, drill hole in ice. Turn on heater, fetch beer from fridge, fish.

This is exactly what one of the locals is doing, but a gust of wind robs him of his shed when nature calls. With only minutes to survive in the cold he finds his neighbouring shed and smashes a window. What he did not expect to find is the dead body of a woman.

Martinsson, is recovering in a mental hospital from whatever horrors she endured in part two, The Blood Spilt. When she has to leave the hospital, she realises she can no longer stay in the busy capital, but needs the tranquility which can only be find in the north where she grew up.

When she is giving a opportunity to bury herself in work by the local prosecutor she takes it. This is how she starts doing research favours for Anna-Maria Mella, the cop investigating the murder. The dead woman is a successful businesswoman working for a mining corporation, and the two woman quickly realises something is not right.

What makes The Black Path such a refreshing read is Åsa Larsson's characters. Although the series is called The Rebecka Martinsson Investigations, the book is as much about almost everyone involved. Åsa Larsson not only tells what the characters are doing now, but also what they did in their past to end up in their current situation. This often goes as far back as their childhood. It's effective, makes you feel you know the characters quite intimately. All these flashbacks to the past does slow down the story, but Åsa Larsson does get the balance right, maintaining the momentum of the plot. Having said that, I'm glad not every writer shares so much of the past of every character.

Speaking of the plot, in Until thy Wrath be Past the actual murder plot was a little too easy to solve, with a very small pool of suspects. In The Black Path, things are more complicated, with a international conspiracy, and a far more interesting motive. Again, Åsa Larsson introduces a character with an unusual ability, a young woman who can see the future, adding another layer of complexity, and mystery, to the plot.

Once again I find myself enjoying an Åsa Larsson book, not only because it's a good book, but also because it is set so close to home. Luckily, I will be going home to Sweden in a couple of days.

The Black Path weighs in at 400 pages, and is published by Quercus Books.

1 comment:

  1. I'm actually already back from my holiday in Sweden. Wrote this review just before leaving :)