Detective Inspector Malin Fors, the heroine of Mons Kallentoft's series of acclaimed thrillers, is an angry woman.
She's angry with her daughter, her dad and she hates her mother. She's a recovering alcoholic, a condition exacerbated before the events of Savage Spring when her daughter was kidnapped, and now she has a bomb blast to deal with in the town square of quiet backwater Linkoping, in which six-year-old twin girls are killed.
She also has a 'sixth sense for the truth'. This manifests itself in her hearing the voices of the dead and having a strong intuition about which leads and suspects to pursue.
We encounter her in Savage Spring at the cremation of her mother, a cold and emotionless woman. The passing of the elderly woman leaves Malin cold, but it is the trigger that finally exposes a family secret, compromising Malin's father and piling more angst on the workaholic detective.
As she fights her hunger for Tequila, Malin works flat out with the small local team of detectives to find the bomber, with initial lines of inquiry taking in the local Mosque and the Hell's Angels, and a search for members of the Economic Liberation Front, who are angry with the country's banks. Eventually, the narrative twists in new, more personal directions as we discover more about the victims.
Scandinavian writers such as Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Arnaldur Indridason have alerted English readers to the wealth of Nordic noir, and while this novel isn't in quite that league, it is a punchy thriller with a dark denouement. Less satisfactory are the disembodied voices of the dead girls, and also of identified children who seem to be trapped somewhere, story strands that are distracting and slow the pace. And six-year-old ghosts coming out with lines such as, 'Maybe this was an attack aimed at the SEB bank, the avaricious heart of the capitalist swine,' jolt you out of the story. An interesting subplot about the Security Police hampering the investigation of Malin and her colleagues is also abruptly dropped half way through the book.
It is the character of Malin Fors that is the best thing in the novel. Constantly on the verge of battering some suspect, sexually frustrated, struggling to reconnect with her teenage daughter, she is a compelling protagonist. Kallentoft has written six books about her so far, and 10 are planned.