Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Missing by Karin Alvtegen

Missing by Karin Alvtegen
First published as Saknad in Swedish in Sweden by Natur och Kultur in 2000. English translation by Anna Paterson published by Canongate in 2003.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Stairs and WorldReads: Sweden

I registered my copy of this book at BookCrossing

How I got this book:
Swapped for at a campsite book exchange

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Can murder and mercy go hand in hand? In The Grand Hotel, a homeless woman charms a businessman into paying for dinner and a room. When his dead body is discovered the following morning she becomes the prime suspect. When a second person is killed in similar circumstances, Sybilla, having left her comfortable middle-class upbringing for the anonymity of the streets, becomes the most wanted person in Sweden . . . Missing is a gripping, multi-faceted thriller; more than a murder-hunt, it is also something more profound : an individual's journey to self-awareness and hope.

I liked the unusual angle of this Scandinavian crime novel which follows the main suspect after a murder is committed. This approach reminded me of The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan. Sybilla, in Missing, is homeless and a former inmate of a mental institution which makes her the perfect suspect for the police. She isn't destitute though and far from the populist drug-addled junkie image so this gives her the capacity to remain invisible - for a while at least. Alvtegen jumps between following Sybilla on the run after the murder and showing us aspects of her financially privileged upbringing. This adds great depth to her character and I thoroughly enjoyed the first three-quarters of this thriller.

Unfortunately, Alvtegen then swerves into far more run-of-the-mill territory and, I thought, squandered her great set-up with a not particularly believable and far too swift conclusion. I even wondered if the book initially finished differently and crime novel staples of 'amateur detective spots vital clue' and 'spurious hostage situation' were thrust into the storyline at a later date! It's a shame because up until that point I was looking forward to checking out more of her books after finishing this one. Now I am not so sure that I want to risk the potential disappointment again.

Etsy Find!
by Ren Sarasvati in
Utah, USA

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Books by Karin Alvtegen / Crime fiction / Books from Sweden

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