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The Inner Circle (Anders Knutas Series #3)

The Inner Circle (Anders Knutas Series #3)

4.7 4
by Mari Jungstedt, Tiina Nunnally (Translator)

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The Inner Circle opens with an international group of young archeology students sweating on a dig on the island of Gotland, uncovering a Viking fortification dating back over a millennium. They are a fun-loving lot, partying together every night, but the good vibe turns to horror when one of them, twenty-one-year-old Martina Flochten, disappears. Her body is


The Inner Circle opens with an international group of young archeology students sweating on a dig on the island of Gotland, uncovering a Viking fortification dating back over a millennium. They are a fun-loving lot, partying together every night, but the good vibe turns to horror when one of them, twenty-one-year-old Martina Flochten, disappears. Her body is found a short while later, naked, bled out, and hanging from a tree. Her injuries indicate that she is the victim of a ritual killing.

Inspector Anders Knutas investigates Martina’s acquaintances. Who was the mysterious lover she was supposed to have been meeting in secret and whom none of her fellow archaeologists have actually seen? What do the marks on Martina’s body signify? Is there possibly a connection between Martina’s death and the recent and unsolved brutal beheading of a Gotland pony? The pony was also bled out, and its head was missing—-until it appears mounted on a stick outside the next victim’s house.

Inspector Knutas and his team work feverishly to catch the killer, but before long there are more victims, all of whom have been killed and mutilated the same way.

Mari Jungstedt integrates a healthy dose of Scandinavian mythology in this installment of her critically acclaimed series, and also addresses current issues on Gotland, while keeping up a fast-paced and intricate plot as Knutas closes in on the killer and the secret that connects the victims. This is Swedish crime fiction at its best: dark, atmospheric, and character-driven.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Mari Jungstedt

The Inner Circle

“Jungstedt . . . is unusually skilled at constructing her intrigues. . . . Much like her female crime-writer colleagues abroad—-for example, the Scottish author Val McDermid—-she succeeds in combining a fascination with macabre acts of violent crime with a focus on relationship drama, and this is done without the boring politicization that has ruined so many other good ideas within Swedish crime literature. This novel supports the reputation of Mari Jungstedt as one of the most convincing authors of her generation.”—-Svenska Dagbladet

"Murder, blood, perverse sects, confounded cops, and a passionate, complicated love affair—-the author gives it all she’s got, and the result is both an entertaining and suspenseful fast-paced crime novel.”—-Aftonbladet


“An engaging and twisty narrative that will fool even the most attentive reader.” —-Publishers Weekly

“Chilling. Jungstedt serves up crisp prose, steady suspense, and a roster of flesh-and-blood characters by turns conflicted and content.”—-Booklist


“Jungstedt fashions a solid, compellingly readable police procedural with a nicely rounded protagonist.”—-Library Journal

"Jungstedt writes with skill and aplomb from multiple characters’ points of view.”—-The Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A fine Scandinavian mystery debut . . . carefully constructed, atmospheric . . . with a compelling cast of characters . . . Perfect for fans of Henning Mankell.”—-Mysterylovers.com

Unseen has everything we have come to expect from a great Swedish crime novel—-graceful prose, deft characterization, and a setting that is somehow both familiar and strange, like a kind of dream-world. But what makes this first novel unique is its author’s ability to write with a bird’s-eye view about horrible events while at the same time maintaining a poet’s sense of intimacy about what her characters think and feel. Possessing such gifts as these—-scope and heart, a desire to get to the truth—-makes Mari Jungstedt the new writer to watch.”—-Daniel Judson, Shamus Award winner and author of The Darkest Place

Publishers Weekly

In summer the Baltic island of Gotland, Beowulf's old stomping ground, offers stunning scenery for tourists and white nights for love and lust, all of which shape the backdrop of Det. Supt. Anders Knutas's investigation into one horrifying crime after another in Swedish author Jungstedt's absorbing third police procedural (after 2007's Unspoken). The decapitation of a harmless pony is followed by the "threefold" Viking ritual murder of a female archeology student, who's been carrying on a torrid affair with a secret lover, then two more grisly executions, all punctuated by chilling glimpses into a psychopathic mind. The fluid translation evokes the stark economy of the ancient sagas, where all that mattered was how one fought and died. A little of that old warrior spirit still inhabits Jungstedt's tired, frustrated Swedish policemen and journalists, facing monsters within and without and, like Beowulf, never giving in. (Dec.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

When the body of a decapitated pony is found in a field, residents of the town of Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland are shocked. Police Supt. Anders Knutas and his team soon have their hands full when a young archaeology student disappears after a party and is then found dead. Just as the pony's blood has been drained, so has the student's at the scene of the crime. Is her killing connected? Jungstedt's third police procedural to be released here (after Unseen and Unspoken) features shockingly brutal murders and a tightly plotted story with an unexpected ending. This is one of the best reads of the year. [See Prepub Mystery, LJ8/08; library marketing.]

—Jo Ann Vicarel

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Anders Knutas Series , #3
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt



Below Fröjel Church the fields of rapeseed and other crops spread out like yellow and green carpets all the way down to the sea. In one corner of the fields a motley bunch of people was digging. Occasionally a head would stick up above the tall grass whenever someone straightened up to stretch out an aching back or change position: a white cap, a straw hat, a pirate's bandanna, long hair that a woman twisted into a coil and held on top of her head for a moment in an attempt to find some relief before she let the tresses fall back over her shoulders. Beyond the bowed backs the shimmering waters of the Baltic were visible as an auspicious blue backdrop. Bumblebees and wasps buzzed among the bright red poppies; the oats rippled gently back and forth as a light breeze drifted past. Otherwise the air was practically motionless. A high-pressure system from Russia had moved in over Gotland and had remained parked there for a week.

Twenty or so archaeology students were methodically excavating what had once been a Viking Age harbor a thousand years in the past. It was hard work that required patience.

Martina Flochten from the Netherlands was squatting down in a pit, scraping at stones and earth with a trowel. She was using the small tool eagerly but cautiously so as not to damage any potential finds. Now and then she would pluck out a stone and toss it into the black plastic bucket beside her.

Now the fun part had started. After a couple of weeks of fruitless digging, she had finally been rewarded for all her efforts a few days ago. She had found several silver coins and some glass beads. The feeling she got from holding objects that no human being had touched since the ninth or tenth century was just as strong for her every time. It started her imagination going, thinking about how the people inthis place had once lived. What woman had worn these beads? Who was she, and what thoughts had passed through her mind?

Martina was one of the foreign participants in the course. Almost half the students came from other countries. There were two Americans, a British woman, a Frenchman, a Canadian whose family had originally come from India, a couple of Germans, and an Australian named Steven. This was part of his around-the-world journey; Steven was traveling to sites of archaeological interest all over the globe. His father was apparently quite wealthy, so Steven could do whatever he pleased. Martina was studying archaeology at the university in Rotterdam, and that's where she had heard about the courses in archaeological fieldwork that were offered by the college in Visby. The course was worth ten college credits, which would be accepted toward her Dutch degree. Martina was also half Swedish: Her mother was from Gotland. Although the family had lived in the Netherlands for Martina's whole life, they often came to the island on vacation, even after her mother died in a car accident three years ago. Having the chance to stay on Gotland for a longer period of time and devote herself to the most interesting work she could imagine was an opportunity she hadn't wanted to miss.

So far the training had been beyond her expectations. The participants got along well together. Most of them were her own age, about twenty, although some were older. Bruce, one of the Americans, was in his fifties and kept mostly to himself. He had told them that he worked as a computer technician, but archaeology was what interested him most. And Martina guessed that the British woman was about forty; she seemed rather odd.

Martina enjoyed this mixture of the Swedish and the international. The mood of the group was raucous but cordial. Laughter often echoed over the area as the team members joked about each other's digging techniques and varying degrees of success in making finds. So far poor Katja from Göteborg hadn't dug up anything but animal bones, which were plentiful. Her pit seemed to hold nothing else; even so, the job had to be done. So there she sat, day after day, sweating hard without finding anything of interest. Martina hoped that Katja would soon be allowed to try another pit.

The excavation course had started off with a couple of weeks devoted to theory in classrooms at the college in Visby. After that cameeight weeks on a dig in Fröjel on Gotland's west coast. Since Martina was so interested in the Viking Age, nothing could have suited her better. This entire area had probably been inhabited during that period. Various digs had produced finds from the early Viking Age of the ninth century all the way up to the end of the era around 1100. The section of the excavation site where the students were now working included a harbor, a settlement, and several burial grounds. It had also most likely been an important trading center, considering all the weights and silver coins that had been dug up.

Suddenly Steven gave a shout from where he was crouching down in the next pit. Everyone went rushing over to him. He was in the process of uncovering the skeleton of a man, and he had found part of what he suspected was a circular brooch made of bronze lying near the man's throat. Staffan Mellgren, the excavation leader, cautiously climbed down into the pit and reached for a small brush that was in a bucket along with other tools. Carefully he began brushing away the dirt, and after several minutes he had uncovered the entire brooch. All the students stood gathered around the pit, watching with fascination as bit by bit the well-preserved brooch came into view. The leader's enthusiasm was infectious.

"Amazing!" he shouted. "It's all in one piece. The pin is intact, and take a look at the ornamentation."

Mellgren switched to using an even smaller brush, and with light strokes he swept away the rest of the dirt. He used the handle of the brush to point at the upper portion of the circular brooch.

"What you see here was used to hold the inner shift in place—the thinner garment that he wore next to his skin. If we're in luck, he'll also have a larger circular brooch at his shoulder. It's just a matter of continuing to work."

He gave a nod of encouragement to Steven, who looked both happy and proud.

"Proceed with caution, and don't stand too close to the skeleton. There might be more."

The others returned to their work with renewed zeal. The thought that they, too, might find something noteworthy had energized them. Martina kept on digging. After a while it was time to empty the bucket. She went over to one of the big wooden sieves that were lined up alongthe edge of the excavation site. Carefully she poured the contents of her bucket into the sieve, which consisted of a rectangular wooden box with a fine-meshed steel screen in the bottom. It was sitting on top of an iron bar, which made it possible to roll the box back and forth. She grabbed hold of the wooden handles on either side and began shaking the box vigorously to sift out the dirt and sand. It was hard work, and after a few minutes, she was soaked with sweat. After she had strained out the worst of the dirt, she meticulously studied what was left in the sieve so as not to miss anything of value. First she found an animal bone and then another. There was also a tiny metal object, probably a nail.

Nothing could be thrown out; everything had to be carefully preserved and documented since no one would be allowed to dig there after them. Once a site had been excavated, it was considered "disturbed" forever after; that was why archaeologists had such a big responsibility to preserve everything that might reveal how human beings had lived in that particular area.

Martina had to take a break for a few minutes. She was thirsty and went to get her knapsack with her water bottle. She sat down on an upended wooden box, massaging her shoulders as best she could and watching the others as she caught her breath. Her teammates were focused on their work, kneeling, squatting, or lying on their stomachs alongside pits, tenaciously searching through the dark soil.

She felt Mark's eyes on her but pretended not to notice. Her feelings were engaged elsewhere, and she didn't want to encourage him. They were good friends, which was enough as far as she was concerned.

Jonas, a likable guy from Skåne who wore an earring and a pirate's bandanna on his head, saw that she was giving herself a massage.

"Are your shoulders sore? Do you want me to rub them?"

"Sure, thanks," said Martina in clumsy Swedish. She knew a little of her late mother's peculiar language, and she wanted to get some practice, even though she and everyone around her spoke fluent English.

Jonas was one of her best friends in the group; they got on well together. She appreciated his offer, even though she sensed that it wasn't purely out of concern for her well-being. The attention that certain men in the group paid to her was nice, but not something she especially encouraged.

THE INNER CIRCLE. Copyright © 2005 by Mari Jungstedt.

Meet the Author

MARI JUNGSTEDT has worked as a radio and television journalist for fourteen years. This is her third mystery in a series set on the island of Gotland off the coast of Sweden, where the author spends her summers. The rest of the year Mari lives in Stockholm with her family. She is currently at work on her sixth book.

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Inner Circle 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Dgil More than 1 year ago
The book is the best of it's genre; it's witty, interesting and Chilling all in one. If Hollywood is looking to make an excellent movie, this book is hot and could quite possibly be the next summer blockbuster. This book is definitely for older teens because of my personal favorite characteristic of the book, the description of every spine chilling detail.
Kathlingram More than 1 year ago
I am reading this genre for both plot, place and atmosphere.The Swedish island setting sets the scene for the characters. It is the best of it's type.