In his opulent ocean-view home near Goteborg, Sweden, wealthy restaurant magnate Kjell B:son Ceder is discovered dead by his wife Sanna. When Detective Inspector Irene Huss and her partner Tommy Persson start investigating, their suspicions keep turning to Sanna. After news of a double homicide in a nearby town, in which both victims died in the same way as Kjell- two shots to the head- what once looked like an isolated domestic crime now looks like deliberate execution. Not only that, one of the victims was once business partners with Sanna in a high-stakes investment scheme worth millions. Tensions rise when Irene and Tommy realize the third founder of the company has been missing for three years, presumed dead. Is Sanna the centre of a web of murders or the last target of a shadowy killer?
Despite my passion for Scandinavian crime fiction I am ashamed to admit that Helene Tursten is an author I have not read before, and on reading this, the fifth in the series, I will certainly be catching up on the other four! With all the essential ingredients of a compelling Scandi crime thriller, but with an altogether lighter feel than some of the other established authors, Tursten weaves a finely crafted police procedural with the incredibly likeable DI Huss at the centre. Huss has a great balance of intelligence and dogged determination suffused with a ready wit and a natural empathy with those she encounters in her professional life. The rapport with herself and her police partner Tommy adds a nice touch to the book, as this investigation proves to be a thorny and emotional one with more than one damaged victim along the way. The characterisation throughout is good and I particularly liked that the central suspect, Sanna, was so completely infuriating and annoying, that I relished every harsh interrogation of her at the hands of Irene and Tommy. I found the storyline involving Annika Hermansson, interviewed by Irene in conjunction with the investigation, particularly heartfelt arousing my sympathy for her and the tragic nature of her life. The plot is quite convulated with the overlapping murder investigations, and for me, a more than necessary amount of the workings and dark shennanigans of the business world which does become a little tedious in its factual detail as Huss herself struggles with the intricacies of the financial world. However, in the overall scheme of the book this is just a minor irritation as the plot moves along at a steady pace with the story pivoting between Europe and America. As I said at the beginning despite the violence of the central murders, there is a natural humour to the book, lightening the mood and I found this to be refreshingly different from other authors within the Scandinavian crime genre and definitely an author to catch up on…
‘The Golden Calf’ is published by Soho Crime
The Irene Huss series:
(With thanks to Soho Crime for the ARC)