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Book 138: Summertime Death by Mons Kallentoft

Book 138: Summertime Death (Malin Fors #2).
Author: Mons Kallentoft, 2008. Translated from Swedish by Neil Smith, 2012.
Genre: Police Procedural. Nordic Noir. Slight Magical Realism.
Other Details: Paperback. 486 pages.

Winter was chilling. Summer will be brutal. Every season is perfect for murder. As the temperature in Sweden reaches a record-breaking 45°, forest fires break out. All those who have failed to escape Linköping for the summer take shelter indoors, shocked and paralysed by the heat. However, when a teenage girl is discovered naked and bleeding in the local park, it is clear that the raging heat is not the only plague affecting the town.

Then a second girl is found dead. Alarmed by the fact that the victims are the same age as her daughter, Tove, detective Malin Fors will work round-the-clock to capture the perpetrator. But as every lead comes to nothing, it is as though the oppressive heat is clogging up the wheels of her investigation. And time is not on Malin's side . . .
- synopsis from UK publisher's website.

In contrast to the bleakness of Midwinter Sacrifice, here the summer heatwave inspires a shift to a more lyrical style of writing that evoked a sense of summer. Indeed, the weather is a practically a character in its own right in this quartet of seasonally inspired crime novels. 'Midwinter Sacrifice' highlighted the winter cold and here it is a freak summer heatwave that has the characters' bodies and brains wilting as they struggle to solve the case.

The UK's weather has been very hot this past few weeks and while it is cooler at present there were still times when I was empathizing with the characters as they sweltered and recalling my own recent heat exhaustion. It's the mark of a good writer for me when they can create such a vivid experience of their setting and Kallentoft brings all the senses into play.

Sometimes the pacing felt a little off but this didn't really detract from my enjoyment and I managed to read it in a couple of days. Again there was a touch of magical realism as the 'voice' of the murdered girl does give her perspective on the unfolding events and seeks to reach out to Malin Fors. I quite like this though I get the impression from some reviews that people feel uncomfortable with afterlife commentary.
Tags: crime fiction, police drama, translation
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