Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Mari Jungstedt, The Killer's Art

Maybe it was just that I was reading it under difficult (family) circumstances, but I thought Mari Jungstedt's 4th "Anders Knutas" book was the weakest of the series as so far translated from the original Swedish. Gotland, the island setting, is portrayed in vivid ways, but the story wavers back and forth among several strands without getting much of anywhere (in spite of the sensational elements of the story), and Inspector Knutas seems incapable of dealing with the investigation or even problems on his own staff (his favorite detective wants to leave). The running subplot of the series, concerning reporter Johan Berg and his true love Emma, puts them in threat (again) and builds up their relationship mainly to crash it down.

The story sounds interesting enough in summary: an art dealer is found hanged from a city gate, with no clues about his killer or a motive. Though secrets are discovered about the dealer and his wife, none get the police very far along in their investigation. The plot moves on to the theft of a famous Swedish painting, Dardel's Dying Dandy (which I think has featured in more than one Swedish crime novel), homosexual prostitution, obsessions revolving around family succession, and the summer homes of 19th century aristocrats and bohemians.

To me, the solution to the crime seems to come out of nowhere, and the concluding sentences reach for dramatic resolution not really justified by the story. Norm liked the book more than me (see here), and I'll bow to his judgement, considering the circumstances I mentioned above, which stretched my reading out over a longer-than-usual period and involved several airplane journeys and hospital bedsides. I'll read the next Knutas novel with hopes for a more positive experience. I have some catching up to do, blog-wise, and will try to post a few times in the upcoming days.


Uriah Robinson said...

Glenn, sorry to hear you were reading this in difficult circumstances.
Although the police work in this series is amateurish I rather like the characters, and enjoy the books influenced by the fact the translator Tiina Nunnally is a charming lady.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Hope things improve soon.