Black Lies, Red Blood by Kjell Eriksson is the latest instalment in the series featuring Ann Lindell. Set is Sweden, the book starts with Lindell glowing in the light of new found love (according to her). But, no sooner had she really started feeling happy, than the “perfect man” Anders Brant, disappears from her life and apparently from Sweden without any hint as to his whereabouts or his motive. Before Lindell can figure what’s happening, a dead body with a bashed up head is found. Quickly identified as a homeless man, the police find a phone number in his pockets. And, giving credibility to the term “co-incidence” the number turns out to be Brant’s. Lindell is distressed and tries to solve another crime relating to the disappearance of a teenage girl, as she tries to find out “Where the hell, Brant is and what had he done to get his phone number in the pockets of a murdered man?”
Now, points to reckon while reading a book that has been written in a Scandinavian country.
1. Extremely brutal and twisted crime. Like one bullet used to kill three men standing haphazardly.
3. An equally twisted logic to solve and explain the crime.
4. Extremely bad translation (in most cases).
5. Extremely dark detectives.
a. They don’t know how to laugh.
b. Their lives are always down in the dumps.
c. They, always somehow in some way make the crime personal.
6. An African connection. (not frequent, but neither rare)
7. A book, despite all the above points, which is deliciously fast, and hugely entertaining to read.
Now, this particular book had none of the points mentioned from 1 to 6, except maybe the brooding detective and bad translation. Yet, it came out as a “WHY DID I PICK THIS BOOK” kind of book. The crime was pretty simple, the motive when explained to the reader was also simple, in fact it was so simple that wasting 320 pages on such a crime, and bringing it out with a name as mysterious and having no connection to the plot is a bit over the top. And the detection. This took all the cakes away. For 80% of the book everyone was speculating as to who can be the murderer, digging up names and taking with them, comparing fingerprints with no success. And then suddenly the murderer stars behaving oddly, he starts to show to the reader that he just might be the criminal, and in the penultimate chapter he is branded as the culprit. The police could have as well sat on their backs and waited for the 80% of the book to go by and wait for the man to reveal himself. This is not something I like in a detective novel. If this is a kind of thriller you are writing, I would rather read a case report. And coming to case report, the translation actually felt like that. Wooden and official.
Then what was this fuss about this book being an Ann Lindell mystery??? I mean the crime written on the blurb gets solved by everyone else but this lady. The only connection she had with the crime was that her supposed beau’s number was in the victim’s pocket, and that he did a vanishing trick. Lindell was busy trying to solve the missing kid case. And what did that case had to do with the main plot, except increase the number of pages?? And, even that case didnt get a proper ending. Or for that matter what did Anders Brant’s vacation in Brazil, his escapades with a Brazilian lady had to do with the main plot?? Except increasing the number of pages.
This book will remain as one, which had a thin plot fit for a short story, but which came out as a novel just because the author decided to stuff the whole plot with words and paras not remotely connected with the main plot. Or maybe this was that other kind of crime novel, the one with a “BROADER ISSUE” as it base. Whatever that might be!!