Strange Bird is an ARC sent by Meryl Zegarek. The book is the first in Jansson's series featuring detective Maria Wern to be translated to English. (Translation by Paul Norlen.)
I'm already a great fan of Scandinavian crime novels, and more than happy to add a new author to my list.
"Ruben Nilsson stepped into the summer twilight to tap his pipe out against the railing of the porch. If he had known how few hours he had left to live, perhaps his priorities would have been different."
Gotland, Sweden's largest island, is about to feel the effects of a pandemic. Ruben Nilsson raises homing pigeons and has been preparing for an upcoming race, but when he discovers a strange pigeon, Ruben includes it in his flock.
Bird flu has found its way onto the island and the deaths will begin to mount. Ruben's neighbor is a cook at a soccer camp, soon the children and their coach will be at risk. A friend of Ruben's is a taxi driver--and a busy one. The threat expands.
In addition to the panic inspired by the flu, Maria has a murder case to pursue. Both the effects of bird flu on the island and the murder investigation are riveting. The book is certainly a suspenseful page turner.
The characters are well-rounded and believable. The plot has implications for both national and local governments concerning the possibility of a flu pandemic of any kind. The Spanish flu of 1918 infected 500 million people world wide and killed 50-100 million of them; it is considered one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. In a world where travel is so easy and so frequent, a flu virus would have easy access to world populations. And flu viruses mutate so vaccines present a problem.
I found this quote one a crime website:
"It is well written, well thought out and unpleasantly believable. One of my favorite Swedish crime novels." Dagens Nyheter
That pretty much sums up my feelings. Highly recommended!
Scandinavian Crime. Sept. 10, 2013. 334 pages.