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by Mari Jungstedt and Tiina Nunnally, trans
Stockholm Text, October 2013
325 pages
ISBN: 918717345X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There are plenty of surprises surrounding the confounding mystery of the death of Egon Wallin, a popular art gallery owner on the Swedish island of Gotland, who is found hanging from the city gate in the medieval town of Vilby one morning. One of the most intriguing is the connection to "The Dying Dandy," a Swedish painting by Nils Dardel.

As with any murder mystery, there is a bevy of secrets surrounding not only the actions of Wallin prior to his death, but those of his colleagues and family members as well. It takes some active police work by Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas and his intrepid team to uncover them all, and as with other mysteries on the Swedish island, many of the most valuable clues are revealed by the sleuthing reporter Johan Berg of Swedish Television.

Berg is a familiar face around Gotland, having fallen in love with a local woman, with whom he now has a child. He uses every opportunity to spend time on the island, and he is drawn well into the Wallin case, so much so that his own family becomes endangered.

Although the book's opening can be a bit confusing, eventually all the pieces begin to fall into place. The theft of "The Dying Dandy" becomes integral to the storyline, and for anyone with the slightest interest in art, it is well worth looking up both the artwork and its creator, Swedish Post-Impressionist Nils Dardel.

There are many parallels between the real Dardel and the fictional character of Egon Wallin. There's also Wallin's sinister hidden life that eventually becomes known to the police and others that helps to explain just how and why the crime came about. This stands in sharp contrast to the familiar (and recurring) faces one sees around police headquarters.

In sum, Mari Jungstedt aptly continues her cogent crime series, while making a convincing case for both the landscape in which she sets her tales and the characters with which she populates it.

Christine Zibas is a freelance writer and former director of publications for a Chicago nonprofit.

Reviewed by Christine Zibas, October 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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