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Causa Mortis Elias Palm, Causa Mortis

Ordfront,  2011. ISBN: 9789170375736

Reviewed by Boel Unnerstad in SBR 2012:1

Elias Palm, young Swedish physician and detective-story writer, concentrates in Causa Mortis on an area he knows very well: the everyday work of a pathologist specialising in crime victims. Here are gory details in abundance! I feel quite confident that all information relating to autopsies, examinations of entrails, brains, stomach contents and skin with mysterious marks is absolutely correct, which is more than one can say about detective stories in general.

Elias Palm has written a real pageturner, a story which finds its origin in the crimes perpetrated by Nazi Germany against Jews, Gypsies and also homosexuals (as is perhaps less well known) before and during the Second World War. Ella Andersson, a skilled forensic pathologist, but also the unhappy daughter of a lost father, is a pivotal character. She sets out on a trip to Paris and New York to examine two corpses (how did these men die?) and, she hopes, to find this father. Dangerous things soon start happening!

Elias Palm is irritatingly fond of frequently changing narrative focus and suddenly introducing new characters, who may or may not (who knows?) be important to the plot. The poor reader is soon lost in this throng and in the maze of parallel actions. But Palm constructs his complex story with great skill, so you have to read on in the hope that explanations will turn up – if only you were able to remember what happened earlier on.

I would be interested to read more by Elias Palm, especially if he could control his urge to change focus time and again. Pathologist Ella Andersson is, despite her unconvincing tendency to venture into unknown dark houses, quite an interesting woman and I would like to get to know her better. Perhaps next time, Palm could spend more time and effort developing her persona?

Other reviews in SBR 2012:1

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