A British journalist is invited to Malmö to interview an old university friend who is now one of Sweden's leading film directors. When he discovers the directors glamorous film star wife dead in her apartment, the Skåne County Police are called in to solve the high-profile case. Among the investigating team is Inspector Anita Sundström, who soon finds the list of suspects growing. As Anita battles to discover the answers amid the antagonism of some of her colleagues, she even begins to think that the person she is becoming attracted to could be the murderer.
I've not read any Scandinavian set crime fiction for well over a year and this one was slightly unusual insofar as the author, Torquil MacLeod is an English-based Scotsman.
We start with a seemingly unconnected incident 25 years ago, where a young student falls to her death from Durham Cathedral. Present day, we pick up with a journalist, Ewan Strachan. Strachan’s in a dead-end job, but a chance opportunity to interview former university friend and now successful Swedish film director, Mick Roslyn sees him flying off to Malmo. On the morning of his appointment with Mick, Strachan discovers Roslyn’s film star wife, Malin Lovgren dead in their flat – murdered.
This now introduces us to the other main foil in our story – Swedish detective, Anita Sundstrom. Sundstrom we soon discover is attractive, capable and slightly disorganised in her personal life as well as single. She’s a slightly under-valued member of the investigative team. Her boss, Erik Moberg is a bit of a chauvinist, with a sometimes bull-dozing and blinkered approach to investigations……locate suspect, decide likelihood of guilt, assemble facts to support hypothesis and discount other avenues of enquiry. Sundstrom offers a more considered, balanced approach to the investigation.
Strachan, also a person of interest as he discovered the victim, manages to upgrade his journalistic gig with his newspaper to that of temporary crime reporter as the story breaks back in his home town and his editor keeps him in Malmo. Strachan’s fascination and attraction to Anita makes his prolonged assignment an attractive one.
The investigation brings added pressure, given the high profile identity of the victim. Inquiries indicate that Roslyn’s wife was subject to the unwelcome attentions of a stalker. Further digging in the direction of her husband, opens up other possibilities – a project Mick was working threatened to throw an unwelcome spotlight on the still unsolved murder of Swedish prime minister, Olof Palme back in the mid-80’s and the possible involvement of extreme’s elements within the police service. Additionally Mick had been playing away from home with his business partner’s girlfriend. Was Mick’s affair serious enough to drive him to murder and was he setting up his old friend, Strachan into the bargain. Did his partner suspect Roslyn’s dalliances and exact a twisted revenge?
Plenty of possibilities for motive and murder. I must admit, I was undecided as to the perpetrator and MacLeod skilfully kept me guessing until the end and the reveal.
Great setting with an interesting mix of characters and a bit of police politics thrown in, with some bristly characters butting heads. Enough of Sundstrom’s personal life was offered to make her more than just a detective and someone this reader warmed to and liked. Our other main character, Strachan was interesting and sympathetic and the way they interacted with each other, especially as Ewan felt an attraction to Anita added another layer of intrigue to an extremely enjoyable mystery.
There’s more to come from Torquil MacLeod and his Swedish detective Sundstrom in the future with additional books appearing soon. I'm hoping to keep pace with this series going forward.
4 from 5
Torquil MacLeod has his website here.
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this from the publishers – McNidder and Grace. Their website is here. Meet Me in Malmo was originally self-published in 2010. The new edition is released tomorrow.