UNSEEN - Mari Jungstedt
I got confused which is nothing, absolutely nothing, new. But one night, for some reason, I plucked THE INNER CIRCLE by Mari Jungstedt from the stacks, and started reading. Then I got quite convinced I'd already read the book. So I went to check and found UNSEEN, which I then re-read, ending up very struck by the similarities between the two plots. Which got me wondering if there were similarities in all of them, and as I had a number of the books to hand, I thought I'd read them in order and see what was going on.
Still managed to screw up the order completely. Sigh. Oh, and THE INNER CIRCLE was also published as UNKNOWN just to add to the confusion.
So, anyway, I read UNSEEN, then THE INNER CIRCLE / UNKNOWN, then THE KILLER'S ART and finally UNSPOKEN which got me to the end of the books that were here, waiting to be read. Having spread this little exercise out over a couple of months, I was still struck by the similarities - sometimes in plot elements, always in the ongoing personal elements, and overwhelmingly in the way that the journalistic aspects take precedence over the police investigation, although the last part does seem to moderate a little in the final book - UNSPOKEN.
It comes as absolutely no surprise that the author of these books has worked as a journalist as that viewpoint is undoubtedly the strongest in all of these books. Whilst that aspect is obviously written with authority, it does rather skew the investigative aspects of the various cases. The personal complications of this particular journalist's personal life, absolutely did not help this reader as the whole thing lurched too much into melodrama for my liking. Add to that a rather journalistic, rather than storytelling author style and I will admit I was struggling.
A struggle obviously not helped by the idea of reading all of the books in rapid succession. I could really see the similarities after the second book, and the increasing predictability, and to be frank, tediousness of the personal life was increasingly boring and vaguely irritating. I definitely remember reading UNSEEN the first time round (of course I do, the similarities between it and UNKNOWN were what sent me off on this quest after all), and whilst I was not overly impressed at the time, I wasn't put off completely either. By the end of all four books though I have to confess I was increasingly underwhelmed with the series. Not one that I'd avoid, but not one that I'd shunt to the top of the pile by default.
The island of Gotland is in the middle of a busy tourist season and getting ready for Midsummer, the 4th of July of Swedish holidays, when a young woman and her dog are found brutally murdered. The dog has been beheaded and is missing a paw; the woman is naked, covered in gruesome axe wounds, and her panties have been stuffed in her mouth.
What looks like a crime committed by the victim's jealous husband keeps the local police force on their toes. Then a second victim is found. A serial killer terrorizes tourists and locals alike, and Inspector Anders Knutas has to face additional pressure from the media and local politicians who are worried about bad PR for the island.
In his quest for the murderer, he is aided by Johan Berg, an intrepid young journalist from Stockholm who has been sent to cover the incidents and who gets involved with Emma, one of the first victim’s close friends. Three women die before Knutas and Berg, each approaching the case in their own way, finally close in on the killer, who has always, until now, been the one unseen by everybody.