Thomas Andreasson is a cop with strong ties to the Island. As seems to be the norm for fictional detectives today, he has faced tragedy - in his case the death of a child from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the subsequent break-up of his marriage. His childhood friend Nora is a lawyer married to a doctor with two young sons. While Thomas' life is a wreck, Nora's seem almost too good to be true and that proves to be the case. Sweden is frequently held up as a model country - a worker's paradise where there is no racism, sexism, or poverty and the government provides generously for all citizens.
In gentle, but inexorable fashion, this author makes it clear that Sweden is no different from any other place. The workers may be entitled to lengthy Family Leave and four weeks of vacation, but their supervisors still have an eye on the bottom line. There are irritating in-laws, disappointing children, and harsh parents.
Doctors are accustomed to being treated with deference at work and sometimes expect the same treatment from their families. Cops resent being thwarted by civilians and bossed around by bureaucrats with no knowledge of police proceedures. In the short summers, the weather is gorgeous, but there are mosquitoes. Swedish mosquitoes! Who knew? It's just a country with nice scenery and a preponderance of good-looking blondes and the same problems that all of us deal with.
The absence of wide-spread poverty doesn't mean that people are satisfied with what they have. Two of the disaffected are cousins Krister and Kicki Berggren - both middle-aged, bitter, and alone in the world. He works in the liquor industry; she's a croupier in a casino. Both think they've gotten a bum deal in life and are looking for an easy way to even the score. That's where the money is. While Thomas and his colleagues try to find a killer, Nora is facing a personal crisis of her own.
A happy wife and mother, she's miserable at work. When she has a chance to improve her situation, she runs into the brick wall of gender expectations. She's sacrificed for her husband, but he feels no obligation to rearrange his life to accommodate her needs. Does she stay or go? Nora's enviable life looks to be taking a turn for the worse, but Thomas' life has no way to go but up.
Immersing himself in his demanding job masks, but can't do away with the emptiness he feels. Still struggling with guilt over his child's death and his unresolved relationship with his former wife, he is none-the-less starting to long for companionship. Two attractive women enter his life. I figured he would end up with one of them, but toward the close of the book, he seems to be gravitating toward the to me less suitable one. She's also the more aggressive one, and Thomas is an unusually passive hero. Maybe that's his charm. I wasn't surprised to learn that this is the first book in a successful series.
The author has a talent for creating characters that the reader quickly comes to care about, but it reads like a first book. There's a little too much of everything - details, plot twists, and local history. It also has the feel of a book that's intended to initiate a series. While the murders are solved, some of the personal issues are left hanging. It appears that Ms. Sten was trying to get us sufficiently invested in Thomas and Nora that we would want to read more about them.
In my case, at least, she achieved her goal. It's leisurely until the last few chapters, but I was never tempted to give up. The characters of Thomas and Nora and their friends and colleagues and families are intriguing enough to keep me reading. I wanted to find out what happens to them. And I enjoyed learning about a country that seems at once exotic and very familiar. Human nature is the same all over the world and this author knows people and what makes them tick. Given the strength of the characters, I can see how this morphed into a popular television series.
This book was translated from Swedish and it's a good, readable translation, aside from the irritating use of the phrase "get ahold. I was amused to find myself imagining the characters speaking English with the charming, sing-song accent of Scandinavians. And I suspect that English-speaking Swedes use the British "biscuits" rather than the American "cookies.
Not earth-shaking, but entertaining.
I enjoyed them, but they were dark and creepy. For that reason I did glance at the first couple of reviews which implied this was otherwise. Wow, am I glad I chose it!
I loved the stunning imagery of Sweden, but even more so, the little bits of daily life that Sten inserted into the novel. It was personal and almost made me feel it was the story of an old friend, one I hadn't seen in years. There is really no gore to the murders, violence isn't in present tense but simply noted as the bodies are looked at later. I often have an idea of the way a crime is going in mysteries, but this was not obvious to me at all for the longest time. I loved the character of the detective, Thomas. He seems like such a good man and a good friend to Nora, but he has had a rough patch since his baby girl died of SIDS.
Again, she seems like that friend or neighbor whom everyone loves. I didn't want to put it down, and the sense of being in Sweden, on this small island, was ever present. What an amazing writer! See all 2, reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Set up a giveaway. What other items do customers buy after viewing this item? North of the Tension Line Kindle Edition.
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