A gunman is loose in Malmö and he’s targeting immigrants. The charismatic head of an advertising agency is found dead in his shower. Inspector Anita Sundström wants to be involved in the murder investigations, but she is being sidelined by her antagonistic boss. She is assigned to find a stolen painting by a once-fashionable artist, as well as being lumbered with a new trainee assistant. She also has to do to restore her professional reputation after a deadly mix-up in a previous high-profile case. Then another prominent Malmö businessman is found murdered and Sundström finds herself back in the action and facing new dangers in the second Anita Sundström Malmö mystery.
Apologies all for the slightly late posting of this review – this was due to Mr C having a horrendous tummy bug last night, which, through his moaning and groaning, I told him was likely a 24-hour bug. It didn’t of course stop him screaming about ambulances and dying (and I must admit at a couple of points I did find the histrionics amusing, they were so OTT. Does that make me a dreadful person??! And yes, don’t worry, he’s fine now. “Mother” knows best, and all men are useless when ill, is what we have learned from the event.) So all plans for finishing the book and writing the review last night went to hell in a handcart.
So here we are – first admission: I didn’t have time to read Meet Me In Malmö, the first in the Anita Sundström series. Cleverly, MacLeod dripfeeds just enough into the storyline to make you feel that you must read the first in the series, even if, like me, you have to go back to it. Although the story’s repercussions are continued into Murder In Malmo, which sees Anita visiting a killer in prison and admitting to her therapist she is in love with him. I felt that the author, very cleverly, tempted me with just enough information to intrigue me into reading the first book very soon. I’m impressed.
In this book, Anita Sundström, our main character, is just returning to work after the events that ended the first book. She’s irritated when Moberg, her boss, sidelines her into an investigation of stolen art – a Munk. She has also an unarmed trainee officer to show the ropes, Hakim, despite it being not her turn to do so. She had hoped to inveigle her way into a murder investigation into the death of Tommy Ekmann, through gas in his shower. Then another prominent businessman is murdered in an obviously staged suicide, also made to look as though it involved being gassed, but by carbon monoxide. When a third man’s throat is slashed, and his Munk also stolen, Anita’s stalled art investigation, which had led to her doing some work on the murder cases, looks like it’s gained new life. But given that this is another prominent Malmö businessman found dead, are there links between the art robberies and the murders? And what motive exists, for any of these crimes? Fortuitously Anita’s schoolgirl friendship with Karin Munk, the artist’s daughter, gives her an opportunity to ask her and her father’s opinion on the thefts, and the paintings’ owners.
Also, in this same period, another murder squad are desperately searching for the “Malmö Marksman”, a black, hooded figure who has committed several shootings of those he believes not to be true Swedes. The city is on high alert. And when the voice which instructs him points him in the direction of the Swedish detective, Anita Sundström, and her new partner, Hakim, who came to Sweden from Iraq while still a child, we can be assured of some action before the three cases are wrapped up. This isn’t your typical police/action/thriller – there is some action, but it’s more the kind of book I enjoy for the requirement to be, like Anita Sundström and (some of!) her team, ultra vigilant, if you want to solve the crimes. All the conclusions seem perfectly feasible to me, and although on a couple of occasions I figured out what was going to happen, the final result I would never have arrived at. So if you have an enjoyment of intelligent police procedurals, Murder In Malmö should hit the spot. Or why not do the sensible thing – unlike me! – and start at the beginning and read Meet Me In Malmö first. I’ll wager you won’t be disappointed. And, please, roll on Missing In Malmö, the third in the series!
For fans of: intelligent Nordic Noir – Henning Mankell did occur to me, although this is considerably shorter than most of his novels, and is slightly faster with less character development. Anyone who enjoys an intelligent, well-plotted police procedural, like a Mark Billingham, or if you prefer female protagonists, try Jane Casey or Angela Marsons. High praise, I know, but this book deserves it.
With thanks to Linda at McNidder & Grace for supplying bloggers with review copies and organising this blog tour, in return for an unbiased review. Many thanks.