SUN STORM - Asa Larsson

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

When she discovers the mutilated body of the revivalist preacher and her brother, Viktor, laid out in ritualistic style, on the floor of The Source of All Our Strength church, Sanna turns to her old friend Rebecka Martinsson for support. Despite her demanding work schedule as a Tax lawyer in a large law practice in Stockholm, and her reservations about her own past in connection with the church, Rebecka heads back to the small town and community to help.

The chief prosecutor on the case seems to have already decided that Sanna is guilty and she is charged after vital evidence is found hidden in her home. Rebecka reluctantly finds herself trying to provide legal and emotional support to the emotionally fragile Sanna as well as care for her friend's two daughters and keep everyone safe. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella shares Rebecka's doubts over Sanna's guilt and despite her own very advanced pregnancy, stays working on the case right up to the birth of her own baby.

There's a very dark, subdued aura hanging over SUN STORM. The setting is freezing, snowed-in small-town Sweden. The atmosphere around the church is equally dark and foreboding. The relationship between Rebecka and Sanna is difficult, each has some past baggage of joint and separate experience of the church, Sanna's family and personal events which tore them apart and turned Rebecka into an outcast from the community years ago.

The interesting thing about SUN STORM is the strength of the writing and the story being told. The two central characters, Sanna and Rebecka are equally unsympathetic, almost unlikeable. Despite that, they are engaging and you are kept reading to find out the truth of what is really going on. The atmosphere is oppressive, sad, everyone seems to be damaged, troubled, unhappy or questioning, and yet the reader is pulled through the story. As a card carrying member of the "dead people: fine, harmed animals: bad" sector of crime fiction fans, even the albeit brief and off-camera fate of an engaging pet dog, whilst shocking, is probably more distressing because of the reactions of the central characters.

An intriguing and ambiguous ending is the perfect finish for a story in which characters are living lives that are real, complicated, challenging and raw. Highly recommended for readers who like their fiction to challenge them, make them think and don't mind the story staying with them way after the book itself has gone.

Year of Publication
Book Number (in series)

On the floor of a church in northern Sweden, the body of a man lies mutilated and defiled–and in the night sky, the aurora borealis dances as the snow begins to fall....So begins Åsa Larsson’s spellbinding thriller, winner of Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel Award and an international literary sensation.

Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she’d left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess....

Review SUN STORM - Asa Larsson
Karen Chisholm
Monday, October 1, 2007

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