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Sun Storm by Asa Larsson
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Sun Storm (original 2003; edition 2006)

by Asa Larsson

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925429,453 (3.39)82
Member:bfister
Title:Sun Storm
Authors:Asa Larsson
Info:Delta (2006), Paperback, 336 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:Sweden, tax law, religion, fundamentalism, crime fiction

Work details

Sun Storm by Åsa Larsson (2003)

  1. 10
    The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Wellwritten crimestories set in Sweden with female protagonists.
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English (27)  Spanish (7)  Swedish (3)  Danish (2)  Dutch (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (42)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
There probably is a bit too much exposition. But if you can't remember when you last got more than about 5 hours sleep, that is, frankly, absolutely fine. You'd miss anything more subtle. Unless, possibly, you're the ghost of Maggie Thatcher.

Can't put my finger on why, but I found this a little more clumsy and infodumping than Anne Holt. This one, in fairness, is a first novel and I've only read Holt's later books.

The crime is a typically bizarre and fantastical event - the murder and dismemberment of a beautiful man who was the figurehead of a cultish evangelical-type church in the far north of Sweden. (The first chapter tells us that he was unconscious or dead before the really gory stuff happened, which makes it somewhat less horrible. There also isn't a huge amount of detail about the mutilation and we hear about how hideous it is more via living characters' reactions than through descriptions of the corpse.)
It's common for murder mysteries to have a female victim who's portrayed as alluring; this is the first time I can recall one featuring a man who's considered hot by one or more characters (also inaccessible and ethereal due to his religious asceticism). Making it even more of a role reversal, he was once romantically rejected by the central detective characters, Stockholm lawyer Rebecka Martinsson, when they were both small-town teenagers.

One of the main reasons I'm reading these things, aside from the armchair tourism, is for the normal-working-life aspect of the investigators and supporting characters, it's mostly about work rather than the endless cooking and ruminating scenes that populate the mundane side of litfic, and seem somehow less realistic in terms of what takes up the headspace of someone who actually has a job. Thrillers and crime fiction are mostly about people doing stuff, literary fiction about thinking. (Sometimes you want a break from all that second-hand thinking.)

Some aspects of the investigators' private lives may be a little soapy, but there is something normal about them - in massive contrast to the crimes. That aspect I'm less keen on - though at least their removal from reality must make them less threatening to many readers. Whilst physically possible, they seem not a great deal more realistic than wizards and ghosts - something I hadn't quite realised before this year, not having read much crime fiction in book form since my teens, and which I'm surprised isn't pointed out more often. The action-thriller denouement of The Savage Altar was great fun - however I have a lot of respect for the storylines featuring grubby regional news kind of crimes in the Danish series Unit One; I also like social realism in an easily readable form alongside vicarious travel.

It's understandable that some reviewers don't much like Rebecka: she snaps at people frequently, she's irritable about 70% of the time, spends another 10% strongarming situations her way by quoting legislation, and if someone wants to compliment her, they call her 'fierce'. But "nice cop" DI Anna-Maria Mella is also there as a balancing force in the narrative. (It's interesting to have two parallel investigations going on where the author doesn't favour one character over the other, this is no Holmes v LeStrade setup although Martinsson doesn't see it that way.) Like Sarah Lund, Martinsson reminds me of my mother as I saw her when I was a kid, not in a way that's weird or uncomfortable, but enough that on a deep level she strikes me as unusually realistic because of a primal sense that "that's what grownups are really like", especially as regards work and dealing with people in public. Though of course, a lot of them aren't.

Four stars because I enjoyed its cheesy B-movie imperfections and excellent showdown. Having ended up with three of this series unread - 2 & 3 on special offer, got 1 to start in the right place - I'm really looking forward to reading about Martinsson and Mella again (which is more than I could say for Anne Holt's Johanne Vik, whose series I started in the same way). I suspected that I'd find the sort of female characters I wanted to hear about in crime novels more than I did in litfic - where the emphasis is on what they're doing, not a set of ideas about Being A Woman that I'm expected to relate to but don't - and here I was right.

And four stars proudly because I don't want to modify based on 'perceived quality' in a nod to snobbery. Optional rant under spoiler tag. At the moment I'm sick of sustained posts about humourless and unapologetic snobbery and especially the promotion of it on Goodreads as something to grow into, not out of. (Me aged 18 would have fit in with it much better...) Yes, reading more can refine taste, and that's fine but what happened to all the other broadening of human understanding and wisdom that reading allegedly promotes? If a hobby runner said that anyone who couldn't run a 10k in under 40 mins was an embarrassing weakling, it would be perfectly obvious to people on here what that looked like. That they weren't actually diminished by others' slowness, and that they were unnecessarily dismissive, by applying one measure of worth that's irrelevant to many, of people who never had an ability they happened to have, of those who had it latently but preferred to or had to deploy their energies elsewhere, and those who no longer could, temporarily or permanently. However, I shall still roll my eyes at those who are so PC that they believe that the words 'idiot' or 'stupid' should be excised from one's vocabulary. ( )
  antonomasia | Sep 21, 2014 |
Attorney Rebecka Martinsson returns home to Kiruna to support an old friend when her brother is found murdered and mutilated in his own church. This is clearly a debut novel and has quite a few clunky plotlines and some of the characters seem to be caricatures more than anything else. I picked it up because a friend who is from this area of northern Sweden told me the voices are pitch-perfect and I'd agree with that, but the story is a little forced and it reads like the author needed to exorcise a few personal demons. Also, if you are of the evangelical church ilk, beware that there's not much good said about those in this one. I'm putting the next one in the series on my wishlist, though, because the main characters have a lot of potential to become really interesting. ( )
  -Eva- | Jul 10, 2014 |
I read an ARC of the fifth book in Asa Larsson's series about tax-attorney-turned-detective Rebeckah Martinsson a few weeks ago, and decided I needed to read the earlier books to catch up. This first installment introduces Rebeckah and explains how she ended up working in a high-powered law firm in Stockholm after a quiet, rural upbringing in Kiruna, the furthest-north city in Sweden.

Many of the characters from the later books are introduced here, including the Marge-Gundersen-like police officer, Anna-Maria Mella; arrogant, limelight-seeking prosecutor Carl Von Post; and Sivving Fjallborg, her late grandmother's kindly, eccentric old neighbor.

The plot is a bit predictable, and at times, the flashbacks to Rebeckah's earlier years in Kiruna are a little heavy-handed in their execution. But by the end, it's clear why Rebeckah is both drawn to and repulsed by Kiruna, and why she's haunted by her past. She is a complex, nuanced character, one whose naturak curiosity and sense of moral responsibility makes her a natural (if reluctant) detective figure. A compelling first entry that makes me want to read the other books in the series. ( )
  rvhatha | Jun 26, 2014 |
Synopsis/blurb.........
On the floor of a church in northern Sweden, the body of a man lies mutilated and defiled - and in the night sky, the aurora borealis dances as the snow begins to fall....So begins Ãsa Larsson's spellbinding thriller, winner of Sweden's Best First Crime Novel Award and an international literary sensation.

Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she'd left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess...
Well this was my first taste of another new female author and was my chosen Scandinavian read for the current month. I enjoyed it, though the first part of the book was a bit of a slog. If I’m truthful, I think this is more down to me rather than the author, particularly as the last 160-odd pages only took me a day to cover, as I became more absorbed in the story.
On a personal level, my reading mojo appears to have deserted me this month. I‘m less driven to read at the minute and more easily distracted, tiredness seems to have over-taken me and whilst I will try and keep at it and read more this month, at the minute is seems to be less of a pleasure and more of a chore. I’m not beating myself up over it and I think I will give myself this month off from all my series reads and choose a bit more randomly for the last half of the month, with the hope of recapturing the elusive feel good factor. I sometimes think that by structuring my reading so rigidly eg next Block, next Crais, next Collins, next Scandinavian, I’ve limited my options and removed too much spontaneity from my selections.
Anyway, back to Larsson’s book........I was interested in and liked the main character Rebecka, whose admirable loyalty towards Sanna was abused and taken advantage of. Intelligent and tenacious, she was brave enough to confront her past and face her demons in an effort to uncover the motive for Viktor’s death; believing her friend innocent of the crime.
Larsson’s other characters were engaging and believable; especially Rebecka’s friend Sivving and the two police officers involved in the case. There was the token officious jobs-worth in the form of the prosecutor, but on the whole the characters were convincing.
Overall, I found it fast-paced and enjoyable with a satisfying conclusion. I’m in two minds whether I will be back for further Martinsson books, mainly because I need to read some of the many already waiting for me. The others are:
2. The Blood Spilt (2007)
3. The Black Path (2008)
4. Until Thy Wrath be Past (2011)
It might be worth noting that this has been published elsewhere under the title Sun Storm.
4 stars from 5
I’m unsure where or when I acquired my copy.

( )
  col2910 | Apr 17, 2014 |
Synopsis/blurb.........
On the floor of a church in northern Sweden, the body of a man lies mutilated and defiled - and in the night sky, the aurora borealis dances as the snow begins to fall....So begins Ãsa Larsson's spellbinding thriller, winner of Sweden's Best First Crime Novel Award and an international literary sensation.

Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she'd left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess...
Well this was my first taste of another new female author and was my chosen Scandinavian read for the current month. I enjoyed it, though the first part of the book was a bit of a slog. If I’m truthful, I think this is more down to me rather than the author, particularly as the last 160-odd pages only took me a day to cover, as I became more absorbed in the story.
On a personal level, my reading mojo appears to have deserted me this month. I‘m less driven to read at the minute and more easily distracted, tiredness seems to have over-taken me and whilst I will try and keep at it and read more this month, at the minute is seems to be less of a pleasure and more of a chore. I’m not beating myself up over it and I think I will give myself this month off from all my series reads and choose a bit more randomly for the last half of the month, with the hope of recapturing the elusive feel good factor. I sometimes think that by structuring my reading so rigidly eg next Block, next Crais, next Collins, next Scandinavian, I’ve limited my options and removed too much spontaneity from my selections.
Anyway, back to Larsson’s book........I was interested in and liked the main character Rebecka, whose admirable loyalty towards Sanna was abused and taken advantage of. Intelligent and tenacious, she was brave enough to confront her past and face her demons in an effort to uncover the motive for Viktor’s death; believing her friend innocent of the crime.
Larsson’s other characters were engaging and believable; especially Rebecka’s friend Sivving and the two police officers involved in the case. There was the token officious jobs-worth in the form of the prosecutor, but on the whole the characters were convincing.
Overall, I found it fast-paced and enjoyable with a satisfying conclusion. I’m in two minds whether I will be back for further Martinsson books, mainly because I need to read some of the many already waiting for me. The others are:
2. The Blood Spilt (2007)
3. The Black Path (2008)
4. Until Thy Wrath be Past (2011)
It might be worth noting that this has been published elsewhere under the title Sun Storm.
4 stars from 5
I’m unsure where or when I acquired my copy. ( )
  col2910 | Jun 20, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Åsa Larssonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andrea, ErdődyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Østby, Andreas E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bouquet, PhilippeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
De Marco, KatiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Delargy, MarlaineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giménez, MayteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Haefs, GabrieleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Popma, JasperTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sánchez Giménez, PontusTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sachiko, MatsushitaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Savolainen, KatriinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sæther, AndrineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sørensen, Helene P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vives Colom, NúriaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walczak-Larsson, BeataTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
It grows like a tree of rage
behind my brow
with flashing red leaves, blue leaves, white!
A tree
still quivering in the wind

And I will crush
your house, and nothing
will be unfamiliar to me,
not even
what is human

Like a tree from the inside
forces its way out
and crushes
the skull

And glows
like a lantern deep in the forest
deep in the darkness

Göran Sonnevi
Dedication
First words
When Viktor Standgård dies it is not, in fact, for the first time.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Also published in English as The Savage Altar in the UK.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385340788, Paperback)

On the floor of a church in northern Sweden, the body of a man lies mutilated and defiled–and in the night sky, the aurora borealis dances as the snow begins to fall....So begins Åsa Larsson’s spellbinding thriller, winner of Sweden’s Best First Crime Novel Award and an international literary sensation.

Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she’d left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess....


From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:35 -0400)

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"Rebecka Martinsson is heading home to Kiruna, the town she'd left in disgrace years before. A Stockholm attorney, Rebecka has a good reason to return: her friend Sanna, whose brother has been horrifically murdered in the revivalist church his charisma helped create. Beautiful and fragile, Sanna needs someone like Rebecka to remove the shadow of guilt that is engulfing her, to forestall an ambitious prosecutor and a dogged policewoman. But to help her friend, and to find the real killer of a man she once adored and is now not sure she ever knew, Rebecka must relive the darkness she left behind in Kiruna, delve into a sordid conspiracy of deceit, and confront a killer whose motives are dark, wrenching, and impossible to guess."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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