The opening of a new conference centre in Visby is designed to be one of the social highlights of the year in the Swedish island of Gotland. Although it is a controversial project - either visionary or unnecessary depending on the point of view - the glamorous, the great and the good of the island turn out for the occasion, to party and to be photographed by the local press and the few Stockholm paparazzi who have made the trip. Viktor Algård, the organiser of the event is delighted with the success of the evening but it is a discovery made the following day and not this glittering event that grabs all the headlines.
Two of the guests from the previous night, Inspector Anders Knutas and TV journalist Johan Berg find themselves back at the conference centre rather earlier than they could have expected. For Knutas it seems a routine investigation, for Berg it gives him something to get to the national news and perhaps a chance to link another story he has been working on. Sixteen year old Alexander Almlöv is lying in a coma as the result of an attack outside a club for teenagers - the club is owned by Viktor Algård. Berg has been trying to publicise the problems of teenage violence, often fuelled by alcohol, a problem not unique to Gotland or even Sweden but he is struggling to get the issue aired nationally.
Knutas has more than the investigation on his mind - he is worried by how far he has grown apart from his teenage twins, especially his son. He is also aware that not all is well with his friend and deputy, Karin Jacobson, however, when Karin shares the reasons for her unhappiness he is faced with a dilemma that he would have preferred not to have had.
The emphasis on relationships, and their fragility, especially those between parent and child, is prominent throughout the book. The devastating effects of an emotionally cruel and obsessive parent can last a life time.
The style of developing the tale through multiple characters occasionally gives the book a slightly disjointed feel but it is well plotted and once accustomed to the different voices it flows smoothly, with some beautiful writing, at times sparse and at others haunting.
Although this is the sixth in the Knutas series, it is the first that I have read, and I look forward to reading the previous five.