UNSPOKEN - 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.
It is winter on Gotland, and fourteen-year-old Fanny is missing. She had no friends to speak of other than the horses she took care of at the local racing stable, and seems to have been an unhappy and isolated teenager, the daughter of an absent Jamaican musician and an instable Swedish mother. Is her disappearance somehow connected to the recent brutal murder of alcoholic photographer Henry Dahlström, who had won a large sum of money at the racetrack right before his death? Inspector Anders Knutas and his team investigate under pressure from the media.
Fanny is finally found, strangled to death and left on a lonely heath, covered by moss and branches. At the same time, grainy but explicit photographs of the girl with a stranger are discovered, hidden in Dahlström's darkroom. Intrepid TV journalist Johan Berg, sent from Stockholm to cover the two deaths, pushes the investigation one decisive step ahead while still trying to resolve his relationship with Emma, which has been simmering since they first met during the investigation into a series of murders on Gotland this past summer.