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The Falling Detective by Christoffer…

The Falling Detective

by Christoffer Carlsson

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The Falling Detective – A New Scandi Noir Hero

The Falling Detective is the second in a new series of Swedish crime from Christoffer Carlsson, who has introduced us to Detective Leo Junker. Rather than the usual fare of odd Swedish detective we are given a real defective detective, trying to wean himself off drugs, an associate in secure mental health facility and a relationship that is stuttering, in total a detective who really is not fit for duty, but do not tell anyone.

Leo Junker has returned to active duty in what it commonly referred to as the snake pit, or to the public as the homicide unit. Then a former political activist, now sociologist from Stockholm University, Thomas Heber, is murdered in an ally and their only witness is a young boy who can barely see out of the window,

The only clues that are left, are those by Heber, which are cryptic at best and dumbfounding in the main, what they do indicate is that someone’s life is in danger, and they do not know who. To make matters worse all the people who might have the required information are only identified as a number so there is no clue as to where to look. All his colleagues know is that Heber has been looking at the extreme left and right wing movements in Sweden.

Leo is put on the case with colleague and former nemesis Gabriel Black, but when the case is reassigned away from them to SEPO (Swedish Security Services) do they both realise that there is more to the murder than anybody is admitting or willing to talk about. He and Black soon find themselves entangled in a clash between a racist street gang and their rivals, who are playing out an all too real war on the streets, in the public eye as well as in the shadows.

If I were to have one complaint about this thriller is that it tends to jump around especially around two of the racist gang, while giving them a back story, jumping back and forwards can get confusing, especially if you are not used to Scandi Noir.

The Falling Detective is a good thriller that even if at some point, you may be able to predict how the story ends, there is still enough of a twist to say ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ Minus my gripes this is a well read and thought out crime thriller which examines, an area of Swedish politics that has always been around but tended to be ignored like the embarrassing uncle at a party. Still it is an enjoyable thriller well worth reading and getting to know Leo Junker better. ( )
  atticusfinch1048 | Jan 23, 2017 |
Christoffer Carlsson - The Falling Detective, (book 2 in the Junker series).

Leo Junker is back and I for one am glad of that. If anything I enjoyed this novel more than the first in the series, 'the Invisible Man from Salem' (Scribe Publications, 2015). It can take a while for a character to establish himself with readers but Junker felt right from the first page of this novel.

Leo Junker, supposedly recovered from the trauma of a previous brush with death, is back on duty in the 'snake pit' (homicide). His first case back is the stabbing of an academic sociologist researching radical left wing groups and apparently the only witness is a six year old boy, not much to start with. The investigation plunges Junker and his colleagues into the murky world of Sweden's extremist political factions, far left and right. Still, no sooner have the team started to make some headway in the case than SEPO (SAPO), state security, step in and take over. SEPO are keen to warn Junker off which is a big mistake because blackmail only makes him more determined to meddle in security matters, egged in by his colleague Birck. Junker wants to find out for himself what is really going on because eventually SEPO may need his help. It is a complicated plot but is easily understood and unfolds at a healthy pace, it a pleasure to spend time reading this novel. There are two strands to the tale that follow their separate paths inevitably towards that merging as the book reaches a strong climax. The ongoing background story from the first Junker novel is effortlessly embedded in this novel and overall this is a more polished read as there isn't the need for scene setting and characters building to the same extent.

Like a lot of Scandi-noir 'The Falling Detective' is concerned with more than the just a murder. This is a social critique of the changing face of Swedish politics and society and is a more intelligent thriller for that reason, (Christoffer Carlsson is also a criminologist). Post the murder of Olaf Palme (1986) politics in Sweden has changed, Sweden has become a much more divided society and darker forces have more of the centre stage. For thriller writers this is ripe for exploration and Carlsson taps into this rich vein for his source material. The Falling Detective is a noir tale that reflects the insecurities and uncertainties of Swedish political society as well as being a really decent murder mystery. So this is a dark novel but not unremittingly so it is also a clever witty novel with lighter moments. However, to be honest that juxtaposition between seriousness and lighter moments further point up the overall darkness of the story.

Carlsson has an original voice and Junker is a unique character despite being damaged/dis-functional which is de rigueur for Detective stories. Junker is out there on his own, a maverick, a bit selfish, single minded but he gets under your skin. There is a freshness to the style and tone of this novel. The Falling Detective is also a police procedural in the best traditions of Wahloo/Sjowall and Leif G. W. Persson but has it's own feel - sort of 'grime', up tempo and modern. The author has hit the mark here and we can look forward to more Junker in the future.

The translation feels right, the book has atmosphere and a coherence that must come from the original text . Both the humour and the darkness of the book have a common texture and the novel reads very smoothly.

I am not crazy about the cover art work but that is a small matter. I look forward to more Leo Junker. ( )
  paulobk | Oct 19, 2016 |
THE FALLING DETECTIVE is the second Leo Junker book written by Swedish author Christoffer Carlsson. Not having read the first was a minor irritation (with myself) in reading this because Junker is complicated, challenging, slightly off-beat and utterly charismatic. In an odd, shadowy, slightly blurry sort of way. Hence the irritation with not having read the first book as there's obviously more to this portrayal than is declared in this outing.

Perhaps because of that slightly off-camera feeling, THE FALLING DETECTIVE was also a book that felt like it took a while to get going. It's easily understood that Junker is back in the homicide unit, or snake pit, after a murder case that went wrong. It's also obvious that he's got a bad prescription drug addiction, and some big personal problems, but the details of why he has, and why he's behaving like he is, take a while to become clear. Whilst all that's going on, there's a confusing and complicated case underway when a sociologist is found murdered, with the only potential lead some decidedly cryptic research findings hinting somebody else is likely to die. Whilst that little snippet might contribute to the confusion, it certainly helped increase the tension.

What starts to play out, and once it hits its straps, quickly becomes very addictive, is the interconnections between politics and crime, complex plot and characters, that are often explored in Scandinavian thrillers of this type. Whilst it does feel like there's the potential for a heap of stereotypes here - lone wolf, damaged central detective; baffling motivations for murder; and the requisite external interference THE FALLING DETECTIVE uses those elements well. In Junker Carlsson has created a really good form of the stereotypical lone wolf. Bitter and twisted, often wryly funny about his situation, he's an appealing mixture of unrepentant and disappointed in himself. The external interference makes sense, the confusion over motivation is really the only scenario that works in this instance, and the dogged manner in which the investigation proceeds is exactly what you'd expect with all of the surrounding elements.

Extremely engaging, requiring the reader to really pay attention, one of the best things about THE FALLING DETECTIVE was the way it made this reader really regret missing the first book in the series. Anything that makes you want to catch up with a series this badly is a very good thing.

https://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-falling-detective-christoffer-carlsson ( )
  austcrimefiction | Jun 2, 2016 |
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