Sins of our Fathers
reviewed by Carolyn Scott
Ragnhild Pekkari, recently retired and depressed and lonely was seriously contemplating suicide when she got a call to say her brother, Henry Pekkari had not been making his regular trips to the village shop near the island where he lived in northern Sweden.
Although he had become a reclusive alcoholic and she hadn’t seen him for over 30 years, someone in the family needed to do a welfare check on him and his dog. After skiing over to the island, she found the elderly alcoholic lying dead on his couch and called the police. It was only later that the medical examiner would identify that he had been murdered and that police would find a body in his freezer.
The body in the freezer is that of Raimo Koskela the father of Olympic boxer Börje Ström. Raimo disappeared in 1962 while on vacation with 11 year old Björge. Although the case is too old for anyone to now be charged with the murder, Björje asks District Prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson if she could look into the case to learn what happened to Raimo all those years ago. Rebecka, has recently been assigned a huge backlog of minor cases to review by a spiteful acting Chief Prosecutor while her boss is on leave. She is begginging to wonder why she left her job as a lawyer at a prestigious law firm in Stockholm to move to Kiruna, so is more than happy to have a murder to investigate. Rebecka also has a connection to the Pekkari family as her mother was fostered by the family until she was a teenager so grew up with Henry and Rebecka.
This is dark and gritty Swedish noir. At 600+ pages, it is a very comprehensive novel with a lot of interesting personal detail about the cast of characters woven around the murder investigation. As the sixth book in the series, and the latest to be translated, Rebecka Martinsson will be well known to fans of the series. For me, the novel worked fine as a stand-alone novel but I am looking forward to going back and reading the earlier books. I especially loved the harsh Nordic setting which adds atmosphere (and a lot of snow, so much snow!) to everyday life in this arctic zone.
The setting of Kiruna in northern Sweden makes for an interesting backdrop, as it is a town gradually sinking into the iron ore mines tunnelling underneath it and buildings are in the process of being gradually moved or replaced in a new town a few kilometres away. Börje’s story and his history with his father and then his career as a boxer is interwoven with the current investigation into Henry’s and Raimo’s deaths and there are plenty of twists in the investigations before they are both resolved. Larsson is clearly a master storyteller and this dark and gritty Swedish noir is very much a character driven novel that delivers a lot more than a murder mystery.
With thanks to Quercus Books via Netgalley for a copy to read.
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