Book Review: The Second Deadly Sin by Åsa Larsson

Posted July 11, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Second Deadly Sin by Åsa LarssonThe Second Deadly Sin by Asa Larsson
Genres: Crime, Historical, Murder, Mystery, Police Procedural, Thriller
Published by MacLehose Press on August 12, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley

Dawn breaks in a forest in northern Sweden. Villagers gather to dispatch a rampaging bear. When the beast is brought to ground they are horrified to find the remains of a human hand inside its stomach. In nearby Kiruna, a woman is found murdered in her bed, her body a patchwork of vicious wounds, the word WHORE scrawled across the wall. Her grandson Marcus, already an orphan, is nowhere to be seen. Grasping for clues, Rebecka Martinsson begins to delve into the victim's tragic family history. But with doubts over her mental health still lingering, she is ousted from the case by an arrogant and ambitious young prosecutor. Before long a chance lead draws Martinsson back into the thick of the action and her legendary courage is put to the test once more.

Also by this author: Sun Storm, Until Thy Wrath Be Past

Fifth in the Rebecka Martinsson history + contemporary mystery series based in Kurravaara, Sweden.

I received this ARC from the publisher.

My Take
Once past the disconcerting start and Larsson’s introduction of her reason for this look back in time, Larsson keeps it evenly split between today and 1914 and on.

It takes awhile before it ties in to the rest of the story that follows. More tears will follow when Erikkson unexpectedly surprises Marcus, and how Erikkson copes with that. Of course, Marcus’ response to all this new trauma will crack you up. Wuff.

I love what we learn about Swedish culture in this, and it takes me back to a trip I made to Norway with its talk of cloudberries and reindeer. There’s a bit of back history on what caused Swedes to emigrate out, and I’m wondering how similar Swedish reasons for leaving are to Norwegians emigrating — I’ve always wondered what drove my maternal grands out of Norway. It’s also fascinating to read about education in the early part of the twentieth century, and how incredibly depressing it must have been for Elina. As for that priest…typical. Larsson’s depiction of the time’s mores, lifestyles, and housing rings depressingly true and makes me feel as though I’m there, especially when she writes of the living conditions.

We also learn that Swedes are the same as people elsewhere: quick to judge and to feel superior. Poor Elina is ahead of her times, by about fifty-plus years! And it’s those beliefs that find her in hot water.l

There is so much sadness in this, and I love what Sivving says about how he misses his wife:

”…he had ironed tablecloths and picked flowers to put in vases all around the house. Heather and wild rosemary and globeflowers. But the house had not seemed to be alive. It was as if it did not want to be alive.”

I do love how Erikkson rewards his working dog, by playing with her. Even if it does look bad to outsiders, lol. He’s also so very caring and thoughtful with the Wild Dog. I do love that text message Erikkson sends to Martinsson, lol, with Tintin’s thoughts on animal welfare.Then there’s the unplayful Vera. Well, unplayful with Martinsson anyway.

Oh, oh, oh, then there’s Maja Larsson’s spot-on analysis of von Post. If only Martinsson could’a been there! Unluckily for Mella and crew, they have to enjoy it in secret — lordy, von Post is the most amazingly dense idiot. Martinsson also learns more about her parents from Maja.

I don’t understand why Elina doesn’t complain about Fausth to her boyfriend. She has to know he behaves this way with anyone female.

Oh, the ending is so very sad and uplifting all at the same time. I must go back to the beginning, Sun Storm, 1, and read this series. I like Martinsson, and I want to indulge in the relationships that have evolved to this point.

Do read Larsson’s “The Author’s Thanks” as it can be quite poetic. I love the first two lines: “I stumbled and fell. The book came adrift and ran off into the trees.” Now, if that doesn’t sound like a writer . . .

The Story
A dog dies from a bear attack, and it sets off a chain of thoughts in Martinsson’s mind. Lucky for her — amd Marcus — that von Post stole her case from under her.

The Characters
District Prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson has a reputation for getting her man. Mikk and Virpi’s daughter, she’s currently living in her grandma’s house and trying to decide what to do about Måns Wenngren, her Stockholm lawyer boyfriend who is a partner with Meijer & Ditzinger. Madelene is Måns’ first wife who is now married to Ekstömer. Jasko, a.k.a., the Brat, is her sheepdog puppy gifted to her by Eriksson. Vera is a mongrel dog she inherited when his owner, a hermit, was murdered. Sivving is her retired neighbor with his German pointer, Bella. Maj-Lis had been his wife.

Krister Eriksson is a police dog handler with a major visual disability; he’s also in love with Martinsson. His two dogs are Tintin and Roy, working dogs. Brat is Tintin’s son. The three of them — Martinsson, Sivving, and Eriksson — make up a close trio, however much Martinsson wishes they didn’t, lol.

Sol-Britt Uusitalo lives out at Lehtiniemi and works at the Winter Palace with Ann-Helen Alajärvi. Her promising son, Matti, was killed three years ago by a hit-and-run driver, leaving his son, Marcus, an orphan. Marcus’ runaway mother wants nothing to do with him. And Marcus is the making of Sol-Britt. Her dad, Frans Uusitalo, was eaten by a bear last fall; Anna Jaako was his girlfriend with a different take on Frans’ death. His mother was Elina, and she was murdered. The beautiful and amazingly understanding Maja Larsson is Sol-Britt’s cousin and is in town to nurse her mother. Örjan Bäck is Maja’s boyfriend. Solveig Uusitalo is one of Lundbohm’s grandchildren.

The investigating team
Police Inspector Anna-Maria Mella has three kids including Petter, sixteen-year-old Jenny, and the too-chatty Gustav, her youngest. Robert is her husband whose sister, Ingela, is having a birthday party. The rest of Mella’s team includes the baby of the group, Tommy Rantakyrö ; Fred Olsson; and, Sven-Erik Stålnacke, who’s ready for retirement. Dr. Lars Pohjanen is a very well-respected pathologist dying of cancer; Anna Granlund is his assistant. District Prosecutor Carl von Post, a.k.a., the Pest, with his excuses is a stupid jerk more interested in his own self-aggrandizement than solving cases. Alf Björnfot is the chief prosecutor who messed up badly. Sonja is the switchboard operator.

Louise and Lelle Miemi support their bullying son, Willy, until forced down. Jocke Häggroth is a welder at Nybergs Mekaniska with a nasty wife, Jenny. Leif Silbersky is the lawyer she demands. Marianne Aspehult works at Be-We’s. Hannes Karlsson is an ice sculptor who works for the Ice Hotel. He found Matti’s body. Mange Utsi is a friend of Jocke’s and has his alibi. Ragnhild Lindmark worked for a home-help service in Lainio and Frans was one of the people for whom she cared.

It’s the attack on Samuel Johansson’s dog that brings out Patrik Mäkitalo, an expert hunter from Luelå.

Kiruna in 1914
Fröken Elina Pettersson is a schoolteacher looking forward to her new job in Kiruna. Klara “Lizzie” Andersson is Lundbohm’s housekeeper and Elina’s new roommate, and she has a wealth of ideas on how to make money. Her fiancé is the protective Johan-Albin. Heiki is his supportive friend.

Hjalmar Lundbohm is the managing director of L.K.A.B., a mining company in Kiruna — Rudyard Kipling calls him “the uncrowned king of Lapland”. He wants to create a family town for the miners, in spite of the challenges of revolutionary employees. Sixten is his brother. Lundbohm also has a hankering for beauty and celebrities whom he courts: Prince Eugen, Carl and Karin Larsson, Selam Lagerlöf, Anders Zorn and his Emma, Ferdinand Boberg and his wife, and Christian Eriksson.

District Police Superintendent Björnfot knows which side his bread is buttered on. Old Johan Tuuri represents the Laps. Manager-in-Chief Fasth is the worst type of man; his wife despises him. Johansson is the principal of the children’s home. Blenda Mänpää and Hillevi are a couple of Fasth’s maids. Oskar Venetpalo, a rock-blaster, is one example of Lundbohm’s dishonesty and is Johan Venetpalo’s great-grandfather.

The Cover & Title
I’m guessing it’s Elina with her head bowed and a hood covering her dark hair as she hovers over a cityscape, or perhaps it’s a mining camp? It’s difficult to tell if the combination represents the original and the contemporary. I much prefer the cover I found over at Amazon.

The title could well refer to the second commandment, The Second Deadly Sin, which certainly does find Lundbohm’s sins visited unto the third and fourth generations.

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