The second in the series featuring Rebecka Martinsson, The Blood Spilt is perhaps not as chilling or spine-tingling as one would expect from a novel that has won a best Crime Novel award (albeit a Swedish one).
First and foremost, the plot revolves around the particular distressed and unbalanced laywer, Rebecka, who is still trying to come to terms with her part in the killing of three people in Larsson’s previous novel The Savage Altar. But I find Larsson’s handling and depiction of Rebecka’s mental undoing confusing and difficult to sympathise with – in fact, I don’t sympathise with this character at all. Despite apparently falling to pieces, she has both the actively involved and understanding colleagues and love-interest Mans at her beck and call, the means and opportunity to escape from her daily life and disappear back to her home town and dissolve into the background, and irrespective of her bizarre behaviour, she still manages to cultivate respect and friendship from practical strangers.
The murder of the local female priest seems almost superfluous to the storyline. It is an event that occurs early on and then is left to fester away in the background, trying to gnaw its way back into the limelight from time to time. This, it achieves when Larsson allows the story to swing back to Anna-Maria, the local policewoman back from maternity leave and responsible for solving the case. In fact, Anna-Maria is a well-drawn, realistic characterisation of a female police officer - all those self-doubts, worries about her husband and children, having the humility to understand her own weaknesses and limits – she is the best character in the book by far.
The Blood Spilt is an intriguing insight into Swedish thrillers, but there are better thrillers out there – both British and international.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012