After successfully - but bloodily - dismantling a complicated hostage situation at a bank in the suburbs of Stockholm, Detective Paul Hjelm is faced with the requisite investigation by Internal Affairs. It is a potentially career-ending inquiry, but he is plucked out of it by the National Criminal Police commissioner, who drops him into an elite task force of officers assembled from across the country to find an elusive killer with a sophisticated modus operandi and even more sophisticated tastes.
Targeting Sweden’s high-profile business leaders, the killer breaks into their homes at night, waits for his victims, places two bullets in their heads with deadly precision, and removes the bullets from the walls - a ritual enacted to a rare bootleg recording of Thelonious Monk’s jazz classic “Misterioso”.
As Hjelm, his young, doggedly energetic partner, Jorge Chavez, and the rest of the team follow one lead after another in their pursuit - navigating the murky underworlds of the Russian Mafia and the secretive members-only society of Sweden’s wealthiest denizens - they must also delve into one of the country’s most persistent ills: a deep-rooted xenophobia that affects both the police and the perpetrator in a small nation that is becoming rapidly internationalized.
The first novel in Arne Dahl’s gripping Intercrime series - widely considered to be one of Sweden’s best - Misterioso is a penetrating, dark, and absorbing introduction to this acclaimed author’s world.
©2011 Arne Dahl, Tiina Nunnally (Translation) (P)2011 Random House Audio
“This is, without a doubt, one of the best Swedish crime novels of the year; well-written... and a chilling blow to the ways of contemporary society.” (Götesborgs-Posten, Sweden)
“A masterly crime novel.” (Kristelig Dagblad, Denmark)
“It seems as though Sweden has once again produced a brilliant and socially engaged crime novelist.” (Fyens Stiftstidende, Denmark)
I totally enjoyed this book and hope they hurry up with the rest of the series, I'll be getting them all. It is very well written, kept my interest and you start to get a real feel for the cast of characters. The narration is terrific. I've never heard John Lee before but I'll be looking out for him in future. If you like Scandinavian crime fiction, this won't disappoint.
pros and cons
This one squeaked through the cracks of attempts to find the next Steig Larsson. It's written (or translated) in a fairly disjointed style. It's plot and climax are overburdened with coincidence. The author seems to acknowledge this by throwing in lines like "it seemed an unbelievable chain of coincidences." That really doesn't make up for the poorly constructed plot. I'd give this one a pass.
This is a great story: a special group of experienced cops come together to solve a series of high profile murders in Sweden. Many characters, hard to follow, especially because of the proliferation of Swedish names. This is written for Swedes, who have no problem with numerous place names. John Lee does, as usual, a great job of narrating, although he can be a bit pompous.
A suspenseful and well written mystery. The investigation's progress seemed realistic and was believable. The narrator was excellent. Very enjoyable listening experience.
This thing is just plain ugly. I know that human beings are often hypocritical, maybe even more often than not, but I really, really hope that the Swedish police are not the unethical thugs that some of them are portrayed in Misterioso. I hope that they are, instead, much closer to the portrayal by Henning Mankel in the Kurt Wallander series. There are several bloopers that indicate sloppy editing, but that's not the reason I'll never purchase another book by Arne Dahl, who is oddly preachy on a variety of controversial political issues, given the illegal and cruel activities that some of his police get up to, after which they are rehabilitated and welcomed back to their group of fellow officers as if their transgressions were all in the spirit of the "ends justifies the means" excuse, which I personally find repulsive, especially in "police procedurals."
The narrator isnt bad and does make the ordeal of listening to Misterioso (a romantic name for a dirty back alley experience) barely bearable. Still, the verbal constructs recorded for our listening displeasure are, as I said before, just plain ugly. I hesitate advising anyone to avoid this one like the plague and warning against wasting your credits. I can only say that I wish I had never wasted a credit on such an unpleasant experience and personally plan to avoid this author like the plague in the future. His world view is offensive and the opposite of entertaining. I truly appreciate Henning Mankel just that much more now and will read more of his episodes about the basic, underlying Swedish integrity that guides his main character, Wallander, instead.
I was excited when I started listening to this book but it just seemed to fall apart after the first few chapters. I got very bored listening and had a tough time finishing. I am not sure why it affected me this way... I wasn't impressed.
"PERSEVERE - IT'S WORTH IT !"
The impact of Scandinavian crime writing on the English-speaking world, whether in novels or television series such as the incomparable 'Forbrydelsen', means that any newly translated author is going to be judged against fearsomely high standards. Certainly Arne Dahl suffers in comparison with Henkell, Fossum or Lackberg;' Misterioso' combines a rambling plot with passages of such irritatingly obsessive detail that I came near to giving up at the end of the first part. Fortunately weaknesses in the story-telling are offset by the strength of the characters, both major (a disparate group of police officers brought together to track down a serial killer) and minor (including a down-and-out bankrupt body-builder and vodka connoisseur, the hilariously frank, disillusioned wife of a Swedish magnate, a small town police inspector whose hopes of impressing his big city colleagues evaporate when he realises he has overlooked a vital clue, and a physically-wrecked retired soldier with an uncanny understanding of jazz [jazz plays a central part in the book]).
In the end, I was glad I persevered. The plot strands come together in a satisfyingly tense climax that neatly mirrors an earlier, life-changing experience of the leading detective, and as in Henning Mankell's books, we learn much about the stresses placed on Swedish society by an increasingly diverse ethnic population and the country's proximity to the mafia-ravaged satellite states of the old USSR.
And, by the way, the elite club of mystery-reading darts players can safely add 'Misterioso' to the (very) short list of books not to be missed (the other is Ngaio Marsh's 'Death at the Bar' - happily also available from Audible!).
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