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Missing by Karin Alvtegen

Missing (original 2000; edition 2003)

by Karin Alvtegen, Anna Paterson (Translator)

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4822621,353 (3.62)30
Authors:Karin Alvtegen
Other authors:Anna Paterson (Translator)
Info:Canongate International (2003), Hardcover, 249 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Crime, Thriller, Translation, 12 in 12

Work details

Missing by Karin Alvtegen (2000)


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English (20)  Dutch (5)  German (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 20 (next | show all)
An exciting read in which we get to see the world through the eyes of a homeless woman. Not too sure about the last part of the book as it all gets a bit far fetched. However, still worth reading & look forward to more by Alvtegen ( )
  sianpr | Nov 13, 2013 |

Sybilla Forsenstrom doesn't exist. For fifteen years she has been excluded from society and, as one of the homeless in Stockholm, she takes each day as it comes, keeping all her possessions in her rucksack - apart from a knife and salami which she stores in a smart briefcase. She is always well-dressed and displays impeccable manners. One night, in The Grand Hotel, she charms a susceptible businessman into paying for her dinner and room. His dead body is discovered the following morning and Sybilla becomes the prime suspect. When a second person is killed in similar circumstances, she becomes the most wanted person in Sweden.

A couple of my reading challenges that I set for myself is to read a Scandinavian book monthly and also an Award winning crime fiction book. I managed to kill two birds with the one stone here, reading Swedish author, Karin Altvegen’s debut Glass Key Award winning novel Missing. I believe she won the award in 2001 and the English translation first appeared in 2003.

Well how did I get on?

I was fascinated by the author’s portrayal of Sybilla’s existence on the fringes of society. We see with flashbacks and frequent references to her past; her difficulties with her mother and as a result at school; her struggle to form friendships. This dysfunctional environment and a lack of support cast Sybilla as an outsider, even before her mental disintegration, subsequent hospitalisation and escape. She was an outsider when living within the structures of normal society and now believing she is still pursued, 14 years after the event she flies under the radar.
Until now; with the discovery of a dead businessman with whom she was seen dining with in a smart hotel. Sybilla Forsenstrom - her natural instinct being to evade the authorities – is soon headline news and the prime murder suspect. Life suddenly becomes a lot more difficulty for Sybilla and it’s harder to retain her invisibility.

Further murders follow, along with more revelations from her past; until a chance encounter with a schoolboy, similar in some respects to herself when a teenager, marks a turning point in her life. Slowly learning to trust someone, she starts to fight back to get out from under the shadow of being framed for the murders.

Overall, I was interested and entertained, though I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second. I preferred the portrayal of Sybilla’s life as a victim, in the margins than as a semi-sleuth trying to find the real murderer. A little stretching of the bounds of credibility, in my opinion, but not so much that I was annoyed and I was still engaged enough to care about the outcome.

Decent characters, a sympathetic protagonist and an interesting setting all contributed greatly to my enjoyment.

3 from 5

The author has written another 4 books in the intervening period, but with the library shelves already creaking under the strain of the unread tomes, I will take a rain check.

I picked up a copy of this second hand earlier this year on e-bay. ( )
  col2910 | Oct 1, 2013 |
I enjoyed this murder mystery. Homeless woman accused of serial killings. Goes on the run and with the help of a teenage boy solves the case. Alvtegen gives the homeless woman a personality and a history of her life to date. Exccellent.. ( )
  reader68 | Jul 10, 2013 |
Sibylla Forsenström is 32 years old and has been homeless since she was 18. One of the tricks she uses when she wants a night’s sleep in a proper bed is to trick a businessman into paying for a hotel room for her. One night when she does this the man who paid for her room is murdered and the Police want to question Sibylla. When another body is found and the murder is also attributed to her she becomes a wanted woman all across Sweden and her usual haunts for keeping safe become unsuitable. Eventually she finds an unlikely friend and confidant who helps her to try and uncover who the real murderer might be.

I intended to read a few pages of this before going to sleep last night. I quite literally could not put it down and finished the whole thing in one sitting (thankfully it was a Friday night and I don’t work on Saturdays). Here is story telling at its absolute finest: I was hooked from page one of this simple and moving tale. It takes place over a short period of time which combined with the nature of the story and the fact that Sybilla features in all of the action depicted it has a very intense feel to it and I see from other reviews that I’m not the only one who read it in one sitting.

One of the things that struck me was that, unlike so many books these days, it didn’t delve deeply into every minute detail of Sybilla’s life and in fact left quite a few things up to the reader’s imagination. This is such a contrast from some of the detail-laden books the size of house bricks that I’ve read lately that I had almost forgotten that great stories can be told in less than 600 pages and that blood and gore aren’t necessary to create atmosphere.

Sibylla is a great character. She reminded me a little of Lisbeth in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy although given the vagaries of translation schedules I can’t work out which one would have been created first. The whole book is told from her point of view but alternates between present day events and the details of her childhood which explain how a girl born in a well to do family ends up homeless. It’s a rare character that can carry an entire book but Sibylla is interesting enough to do it and I was completely enthralled by both her present day troubles and the vignettes from her childhood. There aren’t really any other major characters but a couple of the minor players, including Sibylla’s hideous mother and the friend that helps her are both well drawn and quite memorable in their own right.

Missing is wonderfully sparse, genuinely exciting (I don’t stay up into the wee hours for just any old yarn) and quite thought provoking at the same time in the way it dealt with the issue of life’s outsiders. ( )
  bsquaredinoz | Mar 31, 2013 |
What do you do when you're accused of murder and all the evidence points to you as the sole suspect and you don't fit within the confines of what most people believe is normal societal behaviour? When you're Sibylla Forsenstrom you go on the run of course. Living on the streets of Stockholm, Sibylla occasional runs a scam to get a free night in a hotel from a lonely traveller as she does enjoy the luxury of a a good meal and a hot bath every now and then. When she wakes up with the police knocking on her hotel room door wanting to ask her some serious questions she decides it's time for a sharp exit. Managing to elude the police she finds out that the man who paid for her meal and room had been brutally murdered and his body mutilated and as she was the last person seen with him and her fingerprints were on his hotel keycard she is suspect no.1 in a list that has just one name on it.

As time passes and Sibylla manages to evade capture we get to learn of her transformation from upper-class Swedish teenager to a homeless woman that has been living on the streets for the last fifteen years and the possibility of guilt doesn't hang too far away as the body count rises and she still stays out of police clutches. While hiding out, Sibylla encounters an unlikely ally in the shape of 15 year-old Patrick who believes her pleas of innocence and then convinces her that they should try and find the real killer so she can be free from society's expectations once again.

The suspense mounts with every turn of a page and Sibylla is an engaging character. The book is only really let down with the rather abrupt ending which feels a little forced. Still a decent read though. ( )
1 vote AHS-Wolfy | Nov 25, 2012 |
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Voor mamma en pappa. En voor Elisabeth. Omdat jullie er altijd voor mij zijn.
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Als dienaar van Christus en als rentmeester van Gods geheimnissen, zo moet men ons beschouwen.
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Kriminalroman. Da den hjemløse Sibylla Forsenström en nat overværer det brutale mord på en mand, peger sporene på hende selv. To dage senere findes endnu en mand dræbt, og pludselig er Sibylla Sveriges mest eftersøgte person
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Born into privilege, Sibylla lives by choice on the chilly streets of Stockholm. When she spend a night with a businessman, and his body is found the next morning, she becomes a wanted woman.

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Average: (3.62)
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Canongate Books

2 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1841959383, 0857860224

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