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The Dying Detective by Leif GW Persson

The Dying Detective (2010)

by Leif GW Persson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Johansson and Jarnebring (8)

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English (8)  Swedish (3)  Norwegian (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (13)
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Lars Martin Johansson is a sixty-seven year old former Swedish police officer who held important supervisory positions, including head of the National Crime Unit, before he retired. Unfortunately, his poor health habits have caught up with him. One day, he collapses and is rushed to the hospital. After he regains consciousness, he undergoes a battery of tests. The news is not good. His doctors warn Johansson that he must lower his blood pressure, lose a considerable amount of weight, keep his cholesterol in check, avoid stress, drink alcoholic beverages sparingly, and engage in an exercise program. He is less than thrilled with this unwelcome advice.

"The Dying Detective," by Leif GW Persson, adeptly translated by Neil Smith, is a top-notch work of psychological suspense. The author vividly depicts his intriguing cast of characters; his prose is imaginative, evocative, and enriched by whimsical dialogue and biting wit. Readers who can tolerate the novel's leisurely pace will be drawn into Johansson's unsettled world. We observe Lars as a bewildered, exhausted, and frustrated patient in the Karolinska Hospital. Later, he recuperates at home, but chafes under the restrictions that his physicians have imposed on him. However, when someone presents Lars with an unsolved murderÛÓan unidentified perpetrator assaulted and smothered nine-year-old Yasmine Ermegan in July of 1985‰ÛÓhe becomes obsessed with identifying the girl's killer.

Twenty-five years have passed since Yasmine's death, and law enforcement officials have made no progress in solving the crime. With the help of a large and accommodating support system, Johansson looks at the files related to the case and conducts interviews with anyone who has relevant information to share. Ignoring the fact that he is supposed to be convalescing, Lars relentlessly pursues every lead and uncovers fresh evidence that, he hopes, will lead to a breakthrough.

Johansson is a mess. Because of his illness, he says whatever pops into his head, no matter how inappropriate. He shouts at his beloved wife and utters profanities. He suffers from frequent headaches, tightness in his chest, and extreme mood swings. Nevertheless, he persists in his quest with the help of his best friend, Bo Jarnebring, and others. Finally, with a bit of luck and a great deal of insight, he cuts through layers of deceit that have obscured the truth for decades. Persson concludes his tale with a stunning finale that leaves us wondering: "Was justice served?" ( )
  booklover915 | Oct 9, 2018 |
This was very good, so a huge thanks to Charlotte for recommending it. It's actually the (Susan look away, please) eighth book in a series featuring Lars Martin Johansson and Bo Jarnebring, Swedish CSI detectives. Both detectives are now retired, but Johansson was famous in his day for being able to "see around corners", so he is now a living legend. Unfortunately, in this book he has a stroke right at the very beginning, and he has been told that he must mend his ways - eat right, exercise, take things easy. He has lost his feeling in his right hand and he cannot properly control that arm. He is in the hospital recovering when he is given something he cannot resist - the opportunity to solve a cold case.

This particular case was the rape and murder of a nine year old girl almost three decades earlier, and the deeper mystery lies in what to do with the murderer when he is discovered because the statute of limitations has passed on this case. It missed the new legislation that abolished the statute of limitations for these types of crimes, and it missed it by only a few precious weeks. So now, even if they catch him, they cannot prosecute him.

This is really well done. The writing is excellent, the characters are fully developed, and the real mystery lies in determining what is just - how can someone who has worked his entire life to uphold the law now turn a blind eye to what the law says is right? And yet how can it possibly be right to let the rapist and murderer of a nine year old girl go free?

The story unfolds slowly and pulls the reader right into its pages. My only complaint is that it is perhaps a bit longer that it needs to be - it twice runs slightly astray to tell us what we already know - children are precious and should not be harmed. Still, those are minor transgressions in an otherwise perfect mystery. Highly recommended.

*Just a side note for those of you who, like me, have issues with reading about child abuse - the crime here is an old one, so we are quickly told the basic facts and the story moves forward. It is not graphic and it does not linger on them or flashback to the crime. ( )
  Crazymamie | Feb 4, 2018 |
While in the hospital recovering from a stroke, the retired legendary policeman Lars Martin Johansson, is questioned by his doctor, Ulrika Stenholm, about the 25 year old unsolved rape and murder of a nine year old. Stenholm’s father, a priest, mentioned to her shortly before his death that he was told the murderer’s identity during confession, but took it to his grave. Johansson suggests Stenholm look through her father’s papers for clues. Simultaneously, he enlists retired policeman Bo Jarnebring and other contacts to unofficially reopen the case. Home from the hospital, Johansson lies on his couch ruminating about the case, visits several witnesses and uncovers new evidence, all the while complaining about the original investigators’ incompetence and bemoaning the negative impact of the stroke on his life.

Johansson and Jarnebring are featured in several of Persson’s series, most prominently The Story of a Crime trilogy. Johansson is self-absorbed and conceited. His many cohorts in action are an interesting group. However, the narrative is mostly Johansson thinking on his couch, the translation from Swedish is repetitive, and the ending is pulled from a hat. Not what we have come to expect from Swedish mysteries, it is an interesting but unessential read. ( )
  EdGoldberg | Nov 28, 2017 |
I have not read any of the previous novels in this series, but actually hadn't even realized it was a series until I sat down to write this review. Retired chief of police Johansson suffers a stroke and, while in hospital, his doctor interests him in a cold case: the rape and murder of a nine year old girl, Yasmine, a little over 25 years ago.

Sweden has just changed the law so that murders committed more than 25 years ago are "prescribed", i.e. can no longer be prosecuted, so once Johansson has worked out who did it (which he does effortlessly), the focus of the story shifts to what he should do with that information. Johansson (and everyone else he ropes into helping him) feels pretty revengeful, but Johansson at least is concerned that vigilante justice does not prevail. This second section, which I assume was because the author feels strongly about the new law, destroyed the momentum of the book for me - I like my mysteries to end with a stunning revelation of guilt.

Despite this being a longish book and in translation, it was in fact a quick read. The translation was mostly good, although I never quite forgot it was a translation and discrete/discreet leapt out at me in one place. The short chapters and the miraculous progress Johansson made mean that the plot moved on quickly. The violence done to Yasmine was described clearly but in a way which was not too upsetting to read and I skipped the part about what happened to Max (sent to help Johansson get about) and his friend in the children's home - I'm not sure what it really added to the story anyway. My least favourite parts were those dealing with Johansson's health.


Maybe this isn't a spoiler, given the title, but I don't understand why he was so determined not to get better. He was told to take exercise and lose weight and was even allowed two glasses of wine a day; his response to this was that life was not worth living on such terms. What? What about his wife, whom he professed to love? It was just odd. ( )
  pgchuis | Jul 24, 2017 |
Oh my aching heart. The title is the tell, though this reader maintained ridiculous hope throughout, just to avoid the absence of Lars Martin Johansson from the world. I have semi-believed through all the Persson books I've read that Lars is a real man. The dual threads of tragedy and humor are so wrapped together that it's tough to figure out who's more sympathetic, the nine year old girl who is raped and murdered, or the 67 year old detective who knows that this cold case will be both his salvation and his ending. His unspoken thoughts about everything are truly a hardly secondary character. This series had eight books but you can begin anywhere. Just start. One of the top 5 mystery series ever. ( )
  froxgirl | Jul 5, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leif GW Perssonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Puleo, GiorgioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Auge um Auge..."
Das zweite Buch Mose, 21,24
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På Karlsbergsvägen 66 i Stockholm ligger Günters, Sveriges bästa korvkiosk.
Karlsbergsvägen 66 in Stockholm is the location of Günter’s, the best hotdog kiosk in Sweden.
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"A galvanizing new thriller from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling author--a stand-alone novel that finds legendary Swedish homicide detective Lars Martin Johansson racing against time to solve one final murder. In the National Criminal Investigation Department he was known as "the man who sees around corners." Now Johansson is retired, living in the country, his police days behind him. Or so he thinks. When he finds himself in the hospital having suffered a stroke, tests revealing heart problems as well, the only thing that saves him from despair is his doctor's interest in an unsolved murder case from years before. The victim was a nine-year-old girl, raped and strangled to death, and now Johansson determines to solve the crime despite his condition. He launches an informal investigation from his hospital bed--with the help of Matilda, a wannabe Lisbeth Salander, and Max, an orphan personally invested in child-abuse cases--and begins to draw a web of connections between sex tourism, a deceased opera singer, and a self-made millionaire. And as he draws closer to solving the crime, he finds that he is confronting not just a case, but his own mortality."… (more)

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