Alphabet in crime fiction: Jungstedt

J  Mari_Jungstedt
Mari Jungstedt
 is a Swedish journalist and popular crime fiction author. Her first three novels have so far been translated into English by the superb Tiina Nunnally, and I hope the next three will follow soon. The books are set on the island of Gotland, which is near the Oland of Johan Theorin's novels, and feature Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas and journalist Johan Berg. I enjoy Mari Jungstedt's books for three reasons: they are well-plotted crime stories with the accent on police procedural; they provide insight into life on Gotland and the characters of people who live there; and the main characters have domestic lives and problems that develop throughout the series. Knutas is fairly unusual among many current policemen in that he has a good, longstanding marriage, whereas the cosmopolitan Stockholmite Berg is fatally attracted to a local married teacher, Emma, who has two small children, leading to many complications.

I have reviewed for Euro Crime all three of the novels that have been translated into English. Here's a taste of each.

Unseen opens with a description of a dinner party at the house of a young professional couple, Helena and Per, where things get a bit out of hand. The next morning, Helena goes for a walk on the misty beach and is later found murdered, together with her faithful dog. The subsequent police investigation is headed by Inspector Anders Knutas, a sensitive, middle-aged man who is irritated by the intrusion of the media into the case, who have discovered and want to reveal salacious details. Reminiscent of the Kurt Wallander series by Henning Mankell, Knutas and his close-knit team solidly look into all leads, investigating the dead woman's friends and family, in the process revealing much about the lifestyles and history of Gotlanders.

Unspoken is a great read, particularly strong in conveying the frailties of human emotion and in the juxtapositions of the police investigation with the media's reporting as well as the domestic lives of the characters.

Unknown (a.k.a. The Inner Circle). The author has a knack for conveying the apparently trivial yet all-important domestic problems of her characters, as well as a touching sympathy with the victims of the crimes she describes.

Even though I felt Unknown was not quite as good as the previous two novels in terms of the plot, I shall definitely return to these books when more are translated, partly because the police-procedural aspects, with the interplay between the detectives, is pretty much on a par (and similar to) Mankell's Wallendar books; and partly because of the excellent way in which TV media politics and the family upheavals of Emma and Johan are portrayed.

Publisher website.

Crime Fiction alphabet series at Petrona.

Mysteries in Paradise, home of the crime fiction alphabet. Visit this link if you would like to participate.