Winter Grave

Soho Crime. (Embla Nyström, Bk. 2). Dec. 2019. 336p. ISBN 9781641290760. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781641290777. M
In this second thriller featuring DI Embla Nyström (following Hunting Game), Swedish author Tursten deepens the characterization of her 28-year-old series lead, the reigning Nordic light welterweight champion, who is called in to solve a series of seemingly unrelated crimes. First, a nine-year-old girl disappears two weeks before Christmas and police suspect the teenage boy in whose car she was last seen. Then a second child vanishes, followed by the murder of a police officer and the fire at the teenage suspect’s home that kills his father. The novel’s first half often struggles with pacing, as the crimes mount and the focus bounces around various Strömstad authorities who try to determine how these crimes are linked. Once Embla asserts herself as the primary investigator, the story finds its rhythm, and Tursten guides it through a series of satisfying twists and turns.
VERDICT A solid purchase for collections in which Nordic noir circulates regularly, though Tursten’s novels aren’t nearly as bleak or as humorless as others in the genre. [See Prepub Alert, 6/3/19.]
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