It's midsummer in Sweden--when the light lingers through dawn and a long, isolating winter finally comes to an end. In this magical time, a brutal killer has chosen to strike. A female priest--who made enemies and acolytes in equal number--has been found hanging in her church. And a big-city lawyer quite acquainted with death enters the scene as police and parishioners try to pick up the pieces....
Not long ago, attorney Rebecka Martinsson had to kill three men in order to stop an eerily similar murder spree--one that also involved a priest. Now she is back in Kiruna, the region of her birth, while a determined policewoman gnaws on the case and people who loved or loathed the victim mourn or revel in her demise. The further Rebecka is drawn into the mystery--a mystery that will soon take another victim--the more the dead woman's world clutches her: a world of hurt and healing, sin and sexuality, and, above all, of sacrifice.
In prose that is both lyrical and visceral, Asa Larsson has crafted a novel of pure entertainment, a taut, atmospheric mystery that will hold you in thrall until the last, unforgettable page is turned
Larsson's second novel (after 2006's Sun Storm) takes a riveting look at religious mania, the practice of law in Sweden and crimes as dark and bloody as those in supposedly less progressive countries. Rebecka Martinsson, a tax attorney (as Larsson was before she turned to full-time writing) in Stockholm, had to perform some seriously bloody deeds in the town of Kiruna (Larsson's own birthplace) at the end of Sun Storm. Now she's back at work after some time to recover, and her large law firm is even using her hard-won notoriety for its own publicity. But when a female priest is savagely murdered in Kiruna, Rebecka interrupts her rehab to return there, to help solve a crime much like the one that caused her so much damage. Luckily, she also gets to work again with a sharp and sympathetic local female police inspector, who proves that not every Scandinavian cop or crime solver is a depressive. Fans of Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum and Arnaldur Indridason will be rewarded. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 31, 2007
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Excerpt from The Blood Spilt by Asa Larsson
Friday June 21
I am lying on my side on the kitchen sofa. Impossible to sleep. At this time of year, in the middle of summer, the nights are so light they allow you no rest. The clock on the wall above me will soon strike one. The ticking of the pendulum grows louder in the silence. Smashes every sentence to pieces. Every attempt at rational thought. On the table lies the letter from that woman.
Lie still, I say to myself. Lie still and sleep.
My thoughts turn to Traja, a pointer bitch we had when I was little. She could never settle, walked round and round the kitchen like a restless soul, her claws clicking on the lacquered wooden floor. For the first few months we kept her in a cage indoors to force her to relax. The house was constantly filled with the sound of "sit" and "stay" and "lie down."
Now it's just the same. There's a dog in my breast who wants to jump up every time the clock ticks. Every time I take a breath. But it isn't Traja who's inside me ready to pounce. Traja just wanted to trot around. Get rid of the restlessness in her body. This dog turns her head away from me when I try to look at her. She is filled with evil intent.
I shall try to go to sleep. Somebody should lock me in. I ought to have a cage in the kitchen.
I get up and look out of the window. It's quarter past one. It's as light as day. The long shadows from the ancient pine trees along the edge of the yard extend toward the house. I think they look like arms. Hands stretching up out of their restless graves and reaching for me. The letter is lying there on the kitchen table.
I'm in the cellar. It's twenty-five to two. The dog who isn't Traja is on her feet. She's running around the edges of my mind. I try to call to her. Don't want to follow her into this untrodden territory. My head is empty on the inside. My hand takes things off the wall. Different objects. What do I want with them? The sledgehammer. The crowbar. The chain. The hammer.
My hands place everything in the trunk of the car. It's like a puzzle. I can't see what it's meant to represent. I get into the car and wait. I think about the woman and the letter. It's her fault. She's the one who's driven me out of my mind.
I'm driving the car. There's a clock on the instrument panel. Straight lines with no meaning. The road is carrying me out of time. My hands are clutching the wheel so tightly that my fingers are hurting. If I kill myself now they'll have to cut the steering wheel out of the car and bury it with me. But I'm not going to kill myself.
I stop the car a hundred meters from the shore where she keeps her boat. I walk down to the river. It's shining and quiet, waiting. There's the faint sound of lapping water beneath the boat. The sun is dancing on the ripples caused by a salmon trout coming to the surface to eat flies. The mosquitoes are swarming around me. Whirring around my ears. Landing round my eyes and on the back of my neck and sucking blood. I don't take any notice of them. A sound makes me turn around. It's her. She is standing no more than ten meters from me.
Her mouth opens and forms itself around words. But I hear nothing. My ears are sealed up. Her eyes narrow. Irritation springs to life in them. I take two tentative steps forward. I still don't know what I want. I am in the territory beyond all sense and reason.
She catches sight of the crowbar in my hand. Her mouth stops moving. The narrow eyes widen once again. A second of surprise. Then fear.
I catch sight of the crowbar myself. My hand whitens around the steel. And suddenly the dog is back. Enormous. Paws like hooves. The hair is standing up from the back of its neck all the way down to its tail. Teeth bared. It's going to swallow me whole. And then it's going to swallow the woman.