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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Hand that Trembles by Kjell Eriksson

The Hand that Trembles is translated by Ebba Segerberg and features Swedish Inspector Ann Lindell.  I've read one other novel by Eriksson that features Lindell, The Princess of Burundi and didn't have any strong feelings one way or the other about it  (I read it in 2006).  I liked this one better.

The Hand that Trembles begins in 1956 with the relationship between the boy Sven-Arne Persson and his Uncle Ante who fought the fascists in Spain.  The relationship is unusually strong, but not always easy.

 As a middle-aged adult, Sven-Arne has become a county commissioner with the reputation of a man to watch for further political achievement.  Then one day, he walks out of a meeting and disappears.  The case remains unsolved, but no reason for suicide, kidnapping, or just abandoning his wife is uncovered.  Twelve years later, the son of a neighbor recognizes Sven-Arne in Bangladore, India.

Back in Sweden, Ann Lindell is disturbed that her mentor in the police department has become old and discouraged after surgery for a brain tumor.  She tries to interest him in the Sven-Arne case when the reports of his sighting in India become known.  Berglund remembers the case, but isn't terribly interested.  He decides to delve into one his own unsolved cases involving the murder of an old man in a wheel chair, a cold case that has continued to haunt him.

In the meantime, Lindell is assigned to an investigation involving the discovery of a severed foot in a lonely rural area where the few inhabitants know each other well, yet remain somewhat isolated from each other.  Her investigation meets a lack of response from the inhabitants, who deny knowing of any missing woman in the area.  The foot definitely belonged to a small woman, but how did it end up in this small rural community, who was she, and who killed her?

In the midst of the different investigations, Ann Lindell attempts to come to grips with her own life as a single mother, with her sense of abandonment by her mentor who is not recovering emotionally as quickly as she would like, and with some differences in views among her colleagues.

The various strands and investigations are eventually tied together or resolved separately according to the situation.  There are a quite a few threads to this novel, many involving the sense of separation and aloneness that the characters are experiencing.  Whether or not they are physically isolated, many of the characters are emotionally isolated in some way.

Fiction.  Mystery/Police Procedural/Crime.  2011.  310 pages.

I have one more Scandinavian author to review (Hakan Nesser's Mind's Eye), a mystery set in Iceland by an English author (Where the Shadows Lie by Michael Ridpath),  a historical English mystery (The Cuckoo's Child by Marjorie Eccles), and an ARC that I'm not sure how to classify (Me Before You by JoJo Moyes).  Then I'll be finished with this year's reviews!

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