Unseen is another debut novel, this time from Mari Jungstedt, a rising star of Scandanavian crime fiction. The book cover proclaims her as ‘a thrilling new voice in Swedish crime’. I think I would be tempted to call her ‘a promising new voice’.
Jungstedt uses her experience in broadcasting to provide some of the background to this novel, set on the holiday island of Gotland and centering around a serial killer, systematically murdering thrity-something women. The detective characters of Chief Inspector Knutas and Detective Jacobsson are interesting creations and Jungstedt is conficent in establishing the relationship between the two. However, the novel bears all the hallmarks of a debut novel. Sometimes the exposition is clumsy, the descriptions of the geographical landscape reading something like a tourist guide book. This may be the result of an overeager translator or editor wanting to explain things to a non-Swedish readership, but I found these sections a little awkward. Also, the plot is rather predictable. It is another story about a psychologically unstable killer, who has been traumatised in childhood and set on taking revenge on those he believes to be his tormentors. It is almost derivative in this respect and, although I think Jungstedt is trying to write a ‘keep-them-guessing-til-the-end’ whodunnit, I had worked it all out about half way through.
This may all sound rather harsh and I don’t really mean it to be. It is a very readable novel and Jungstedt is one to watch. Another of her novels, Unspoken was published at the same time in paperback as Unseen and also features Knutas and Jacobsson. It will be worth the read, no doubt.