Source- Review copy
Publisher- Pan Macmillan
Publication date- 1st June 2012
Synopsis- A woman’s body is found on a frozen lake, bearing the marks of grisly torture. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella knows she needs help with the case – the woman was a key player in a mining company whose tentacles reach across the globe. Lawyer Rebecka Martinsson is desperate to get back to work, to feel alive again after a case that almost destroyed her both physically and emotionally. Soon she is delving into the affairs of the victim’s boss, the founder of Kallis Mining, whose relationship with the dead woman was complex and obsessive. Martinsson and Mella are about to uncover a dark and tangled drama of family secrets, twisted sexuality, and corruption on a massive scale.
Review- Swedish crime thrillers are on the rise in popularity in Australia, though they’ve been around for a long time. I think the first I heard of them was Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, which admittedly I am yet to read. I really enjoyed the movies and my fiancé really wants me to read the books.
I know this isn’t a review for Stieg Larsson, but I suppose that was the reason I thought I’d give Åsa Larsson a try, she’s a well-established Swedish author in the crime genre as well as a lawyer. When I requested The Black Path to review, I didn’t realise it was the third book in the Rebecka Martinsson series. When we are introduced to Martinsson in the story we are eluded to the emotional instability she is recovering from since a traumatic incident that presumably occurred in the second book. Though, this didn’t make it too difficult for me as a reader to catch on- the author expresses Martinsson’s vulnerability exceptionally well and The Black Path could easily be read as a standalone novel.
It wasn’t quite the typical crime book I was expecting when I started to read The Black Path, though it did begin that way with the dead body of a woman that instigated the gathering of prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson and detective Maria Mella at a snow-ridden, wintry town in Sweden. But it’s not necessarily the investigators that lead the story to its ultimate conclusion; it’s actually the stories of the victim and the suspects that seize the plot. Inna Wattrang, the attractive woman who has been tortured to death, worked for Mauri Kallis along with her brother Diddi Wattrang in a successful mining company that spans across war-torn countries. So, the unravelling of the ultimate death of Inna is retold through accounts of Mauri, Diddi and Inna’s relationships from their first meetings until things began to turn sour.
At first, when the story started to detour off the usual crime plot and into the lives of Mauri, Inna and Diddi pre-murder, I thought I would start to get bogged down in all the information. But surprisingly, I became immersed in their stories and began to ask myself, what does the author want me to see? I felt like I was the one solving the murder, while Martinsson and Mella were alongside solving it with me. Quite an interesting structure that I unexpectedly enjoyed.
In terms of Martinsson as the main protagonist and Mella taking a strong secondary lead, neither of them was particularly likeable or relatable, but they both seemed real and I was intrigued by them to want to read on and find out more.
I think I’ll have to get the first two books in the series and start at the beginning so I can get to know Martinsson and Mella a little better. I recommend The Black Path to crime thriller fans; you’ll enjoy the icy cold, Swedish backdrop which will send shivers up your spine as you read it!
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