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Det blod som spillts
(The Blood That Was Shed)
Albert Bonniers förlag, 2004. ISBN: 9100103039
Reviewed by Irene Scobbie in SBR 2004:2
At the end of her first novel, Solstorm (2003, reviewed in SBR 2003:2) Åsa Larsson promised that her heroine Rebecka Martinsson would return, and here she is. She is still suffering from the trauma of having killed, albeit in self-defence, and has been on sick leave for over a year, unable to regain mental equilibrium. When a Stockholm colleague has business in Kiruna, near to where her ordeal took place, she agrees to go with him. Once there she ceases in a way to be the central figure, as the story develops into a kind of collective novel.
Mildred Nilsson, a woman priest, has been brutally murdered three months previously, and the story, using flash-backs, centres round her character, her relationship with her parish, why she was murdered and by whom. A dynamic, charismatic feminist, she has espoused several controversial causes. She formed the “Magdalenas”, a group of hitherto suppressed women now encouraged to stand up for themselves. Her home was a refuge for battered wives on occasion. She also wanted to protect wolves in the region. All this brought her into conflict with conservative husbands, several conservative women, a clergyman opposed to the ordination of women, and the local hunting fraternity. Although married, she also had a relationship with a passionate, jealous woman. There are plenty of murder suspects, and the sympathetic Detective Inspector Mella, very pregnant in Solstorm but now the mother of a robust son, has her work cut out.
Ever since her previous visit to the region Rebecka has existed in an unnatural cocoon of indifference, barely able to remember the awful events she has experienced. Towards the end of this novel she cleans and moves into her grandparents’ abandoned cottage, perhaps the beginning of regained peace of mind. In a build-up to an exciting finish, however, her life is again endangered. This time she screams hysterically, unable to stop. However drastic, perhaps she is psychologically cured?
As in her other novel, Åsa Larsson’s strength lies in her ability to portray nature and the people in this isolated part of Northern Sweden. Here it is mostly September around Torneträsk that is lyrically projected. She has gone one step further, with the introduction of a pack of wolves, their life cycle, their method of attacking elks, etc. The description of “Yellow Legs”, an outcast from the pack surviving on her own, even reminds me of Kerstin Ekman’s Hunden (The Dog). A number of domestic dogs are also described - perhaps too much so for the overall balance of the novel. Second novels are notoriously difficult, but Åsa Larsson has succeeded and given us another good read.
Also by Åsa Larsson
- Svart stig (The Black Path). Reviewed by Irene Scobbie in SBR 2007:1.
- Solstorm (Sunstorm). Reviewed by Irene Scobbie in SBR 2003:2.
Other reviews by Irene Scobbie
- Elisabeth Åsbrink, Orden som formade Sverige (The Words that Formed Sweden). Reviewed in SBR 2019:12.
- Carola Hansson, Masja (Masha). Reviewed in SBR 2016:1.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Om skrivandets sinne (The Sensibility of Writing). Reviewed in SBR 2015:2.
- Peter Sandström, Till dig som saknas (To You Who are Missed). Reviewed in SBR 2013:S.
- Maria Lang, Farligt att förtära (Harmful if Eaten). Reviewed in SBR 2013:2.
- Maria Lang, Inte flera mord! (No More Murders!). Reviewed in SBR 2013:2.
- Maria Lang, Mördaren ljuger inte ensam (The Murderer Doesn't Lie Alone). Reviewed in SBR 2013:2.
- Ann-Marie Åsheden, Förbannelsen. Hans Holmérs öde (The Curse. Hans Holmér’s Fate). Reviewed in SBR 2013:1.
- Torsten Pettersson, Göm mig i ditt hjärta (Conceal Me in Your Heart). Reviewed in SBR 2011:1.
- Torsten Pettersson, Ge mig dina ögon (Give Me Your Eyes). Reviewed in SBR 2011:1.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Hitta hem (Finding the Way Home). Reviewed in SBR 2010:1.
- Åke Edwardson, Den sista vintern (The Final Winter). Reviewed in SBR 2009:1.
- P.C. Jersild, Medicinska memoarer (Medical Memories). Reviewed in SBR 2007:2.
- Åsa Larsson, Svart stig (The Black Path). Reviewed in SBR 2007:1.
- Sara Stridsberg, Drömfakulteten (The Dream Faculty). Reviewed in SBR 2006:2.
- Per Svensson, Han som aldrig fick bli kung. Berättelsen om Carl XVI Gustafs pappa (He Who Could Never Be King. The Story of Carl XVI's Father). Reviewed in SBR 2006:2.
- Carola Hansson, Mästarens Dröm (The Master's Dream). Reviewed in SBR 2006:1.
- Åke Edwardson, Rum nummer 10 (Room No. 10). Reviewed in SBR 2006:1.
- Kjell Eriksson, Nattens grymma stjärnor (Night's Cruel Stars). Reviewed in SBR 2005:1.
- Maria Gustafsson, Den vidunderliga utsikten (The Amazing View). Reviewed in SBR 2004:2.
- Åsa Larsson, Solstorm (Sunstorm). Reviewed in SBR 2003:2.
- Elin Wägner, Stockholm Stories. Reviewed in SBR 2003:2.
- Åke Edwardson, Segel av sten (Sails of Stone). Reviewed in SBR 2003:1.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Till Mervas (To Mervas). Reviewed in SBR 2003:1.
- Eva Mattson, Tala efter pipet (Speak after the Tone). Reviewed in SBR 2002:2.
- Jan Guillou, Arvet efter Arn (Arns Heritage). Reviewed in SBR 2002:1.
- Maja Lundgren, Pompeji (Pompeii). Reviewed in SBR 2001:2.
- Carola Hansson, Den älskvärde (A Complaisant Man). Reviewed in SBR 2001:1.
- Jan Guillou, Riket vid vägens slut (The Kingdom at the End of the Road). Reviewed in SBR 2000:2.
- Stewe Claeson, Stämma i havet (Voice in the Sea). Reviewed in SBR 2000:1.
- George C Schoolfield, A History of Finland's Literature. Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Anders Sundelin, Fallet Wennerström (The Wennerström Case). Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Kerstin Ekman, Häxringarna (Witches' Rings). Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Inger Frimansson, Mannen med oxhjärtet (The Man with the Enlarged Heart). Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Jan Guillou, Tempelriddaren (The Knight Templar). Reviewed in SBR 1999:2.
- Elisabet Larsson, Intrång (Intrusion). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Jan Guillou, Vägen till Jerusalem (The Path to Jerusalem). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Malin Lindroth, Vaka natt (Nightwatch). Reviewed in SBR 1999:1.
- Åke Edwardson, Rop från långt avstånd (Far Distant Cries). Reviewed in SBR 1998:2.
- Elisabeth Rynell, Hohaj. Reviewed in SBR 1998:1.
- Kjell Johansson, Huset vid Flon (The House beside Flon). Reviewed in SBR 1998:1.
- Åke Edwardson, Dans med en ängel (Dancing with an Angel). Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Carl-Henning Wijkmark, Du som ej finns (You Who Do Not Exist). Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Stefan Andhé, En vind genom gräset (A Breeze through the Grass). Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Magnus Florin, Marianne Steinsaphir and Margareta Sörenson, Literature in Sweden. Reviewed in SBR 1997:2.
- Ingmar Bergman, Enskilda samtal (Private Conversations). Reviewed in SBR 1997:1.
- Göran Tunström, Juloratoriet (The Christmas Oratory). Reviewed in SBR 1997:1.
- G Anderman and C Banér (eds), Proceedings of the Tenth Biennial Conference of the British Association of Scandinavian Studies. Reviewed in SBR 1997:1.
- Helena Forsås-Scott, Swedish Women's Writing 1850-1995. Reviewed in SBR 1997:1.
- Wilhelm Wachtmeister, Som jag såg det. Händelser och människor på världscenen (As I Saw It. People and Events on the World Stage). Reviewed in SBR 1996:2.
- Sten Andersson, Aktörerna (The Actors). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Hans Holmér, Blindträff (Blind Date or Blind Hit). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Leif Silbersky and Olov Svedelid, Den stora tystnaden (The Great Silence). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- N Bodell, L Kasvi & B Lidén, Estonia. Berättelsen om en tragedi (The "Estonia". The Story of a Tragedy). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Frederika Bremer, Familjen H*** (The Colonel's Family). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Jean Bolinder, Fjärilseffekten (The Butterfly Effect). Reviewed in SBR 1996:1.
- Pernilla Glaser, Robson. Reviewed in SBR 1995:2.
Other reviews in SBR 2004:2
- Judith Black and Jim Potts (eds.), Swedish Reflections. From Beowulf to Bergman.. Reviewed by Karin Petherick.
- Ulf Danielsson, Stjärnor och äppelen som faller: en bok om upptäcker och märkvärdigheter i universum (Stars and Falling Apples: a book of discoveries and remarkable facts about the Universe). Reviewed by Peter Hogg.
- Alexander Deriev (ed.), Ars-Interpres. An Internation Annual Journal of Poetry, Translation & Art, No.1. Reviewed by Ardis Grosjean Dreisbach.
- Inger Edelfeldt, Efter angelus (After Angelus). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Peter Englund, Tystnadens historia och andra essäer (A History of Silence and Other Essays). Reviewed by Henning Koch.
- Lars Magnar Enoksen, Vikingarnas stridskonst (The Fighting Art of the Vikings). Reviewed by Henning Koch.
- Maria Gustafsson, Den vidunderliga utsikten (The Amazing View). Reviewed by Irene Scobbie.
- Ninni Holmqvist, Biroller (Supporting Roles). Reviewed by Martin Murrell.
- Katarina Mazetti, Tarzans tårar (Tarzan's Tears). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
- Lotta Olsson, Den mörka stigen (The Dismal Path). Reviewed by Anne Born.
- Anders Paulrud, Ett ögonblicks verk (In the Twinkling of an Eye). Reviewed by Tuva Tod.
- Gunilla Linn Persson, Vännen (The Friend). Reviewed by Marie Allen.
- Marie Peterson, Du tror du vet allting (You Think You Know It All). Reviewed by Sarah Death.
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