Review - EUROPA BLUES, Arne Dahl
EUROPA BLUES is the first of Arne Dahl's books I've been fortunate enough to read and it definitely won't be the last. A combination of a slightly eccentric, dedicated and very determined investigation group full of strong individuals, who work as a team; and a confrontational and some very pointed crimes and their backgrounds, perpetrated for very believable reasons made this novel a stand-out read.
When an unknown Greek gangster is murdered and then disposed of in the wolverine enclosure of a local zoo, the likelihood of even identifying him, let alone resolving the questions of why or who killed him seems pretty remote. As does the likelihood of working out any possible connections between his death and the disappearance of a number of Eastern European women from a refugee centre outside Stockholm. When an elderly science professor is then murdered in extremely bizarre circumstances, in the centre of a Jewish cemetery, this really does seem like a series of disconnected and extremely odd occurrences.
The Intercrime unit (or A-Unit as they are known) is a special unit put together to investigate violent crimes with international aspects. Which is a wonderful creation as whilst the unit might feel feasible, there's much in it's management structures and membership that is most unexpected. And many of the members seem particularly comfortable in that sort of working environment. They are, however, a ruthlessly efficient bunch of cynical, analytical and experienced cops who are not at all afraid to follow a hunch.
Well balanced within the strong characterisation, there's an intricate plot that falls into place seamlessly, incorporating questions and observations about many societal questions along the way. The disappearance of refugee women, the increasing problem of women from struggling economies being lured into sex-trafficking, and the gangsters and organised crime behind it are part of the current day problems explored, as are aspects of more recent European history and connectivity that seem to be an ongoing discussion in many of the Scandinavian Crime Fiction books this reader has been fortunate enough to encounter.
There's a lot to catch up with if you're starting out with this series at EUROPA BLUES as this reader did. It doesn't create a problem in getting into the style and tone of the writing, nor in picking up on the personalities and working relationships of the A-Unit. It may, however, create a stacking problem as there are other books available in this series, with the very distinct possibility that they'll be creeping to the top of the reading pile very soon.
A Greek gangster arrives in Stockholm, only to be murdered in a macabre fashion at Skansen zoo, his body consumed by animals.
As the Intercrime Unit – a team dedicated to solving international violent crime – investigate what brought him to Sweden, eight Eastern European women vanish from a refugee centre outside of the city while an elderly professor, the tattooed numbers on his arm hinting at his terrible past, is executed at the Jewish cemetery.
Three cases, one team of detectives and an investigation that will take them across Europe and back through history as they desperately search for answers, and the identities of their killers.