UNTIL THY WRATH BE PAST - Asa Larsson
One of the most appealing aspects of the Rebecka Martinsson series from Asa Larsson has always been the strong sense of place and culture that the books seem to have as part of their DNA. The fourth book, UNTIL THY WRATH BE PAST, is no slouch in this department at all.
The opening of the book is Wilma telling the story of the day that she and Simon died. Wilma's presence remains active within the book, encouraging Rebecka, slowly explaining her own story, drawing out the details. Her body, on the other hand isn't found for months after she dies. When it is, the question is whether or not their deaths are simply a diving trip that went wrong or is it, as Rebecka is sure, murder. It's partly the idea that the victim has a voice which is sensed by Rebecka, partly the setting and the location of the death that really give this particular book the ongoing strong sense of place and culture. But there's also something about the interactions of the characters within the book, and obviously, the weather and location that contribute strongly as well.
Given that all the books in this series intertwine a lot of the personal story of Rebecka, and increasingly so her colleague Anna-Maria Mella, there's a good balancing act going on. UNTIL THY WRATH BE PAST does have a lot of voices telling this story, and there are a lot of characters moving through the narrative. and to be frank, the strength of the plot for this one is probably not it's strongest point. The murder plot wasn't completely convincing, although the people involved and the ongoing glimpses the reader is given of small-town, remote Sweden do make up for any such deficiencies. I must admit that from the start of this series, it's Rebecka, and now increasingly Anna-Maria that hold my attention, as their presence builds, I'll happily return to this series to discover what's happening with them in particular.
And that's possibly the only downside to these books, of which UNTIL THY WRATH BE PAST is now the fourth in the series. It's a series that might be best read in order. Rebecka's backstory is intrinsic to who she is, and how you go about understanding her decisions, her choice to work out in this remote, isolated part of Sweden. Anna-Maria is slightly easier to come to grips with, although hers is a story that is slowly evolving and seems to be coming more to the fore. Whilst it could very well be possible to pick this book up as your starting point, personally, I fear you'd be missing out on a quite a bit. Which, if you've not read the three earlier Rebecka Martinsson books, just means you're in for a bit of a treat.
In the first thaw of spring the body of a young woman surfaces in the River Torne in the far north of Sweden. Rebecka Martinsson is working a a prosecutor in nearby Kiruna. Her sleep has been disturbed by haunting visions of a shadowy, accusing figure. Could the body belong to the ghost in her dreams?