Originally published in Sweden in 1999, the first in Dahl's acclaimed Intercrime trilogy focuses on the A-Unit, a freshly formed elite team of six mavericks and misfits from various police units. Typical is Paul Hjelm, who was about to lose his job for the unorthodox handling of a hostage situation. The author artfully fills in the disparate backgrounds of the other four men and one woman, each of whom emerges as a substantial, nuanced character. Plot, though, is not Dahl's strong suit. A less than compelling story line, full of Stockholm street names, leaves the reader floundering in clueless murders for too long, burdened with extended lists of possibilities that don't pan out and a lot of talk about corporations and their board members, some of whom are thought to be possible targets of the media-dubbed "Power Murderer." Eventually, clues come pouring in and the pace picks up. (July)
This exciting debut in a three-book series follows Paul Hjelm, a Swedish detective considered a hero by the media and a loose cannon by Internal Affairs. After his mostly successful resolution of a hostage situation, Hjelm is told to clean out his office—but instead of losing his job, he is asked to join the A-Unit, a new, elite law enforcement group. Their first investigation is to solve the killings of Sweden's top business leaders. The clues are few but have the A-Unit questioning the Russian Mafia, booze smugglers, and their own xenophobic tendencies. VERDICT Nunnally has smoothly translated the novel from Swedish to English, although it is easy for a reader unfamiliar with Sweden and its capital, Stockholm, to get confused by city and business names. The intriguing plot can be complicated at times, but Dahl neatly ties up all of the loose ends in a symmetrical exposition. Fans of hard-boiled detective and Swedish crime novels will enjoy this. [See Prepub Alert, 1/21/11.]—Jennifer Funk, McKendree Univ. Lib., Lebanon, IL
An elite team of misfit police officers band together to stop a serial killer.
Detective Inspector Paul Hjelm never intends to be a hero when he diffuses a hostage situation in his local precinct, but the media can't help but latch on to the story. Hjelm thinks the situation ironic, given the fact that his wife Cilla and their children look at him as if they could see right through him. Hjelm is on the verge of being dismissed from his post for acting outside protocol when Detective Superintendent Jan-Olov Hultin taps him to join a special targeted group which Hultin, for lack of a better term, has called the A-Unit. As Hjelm is introduced to his new colleagues, he sees his own overworked, outsider perspective reflected in their tired faces. Hultin tasks the team with investigating a series of murders of local businessmen, seemingly unrelated but all bearing the mark of cool and calculated executions. Hjelm thinks he's developed a promising lead by investigating the Order of the Mimir, a local group echoing the secrecy of the Freemasons, but his astute cohort brings in equally likely leads that implicate everyone from a young male-prostitution ring to the Russian Mafia. The investigation slowly devolves into a study not only of the facts of the case but of the characters of the investigators themselves; the darkness they face within the mystery has them all questioning their own reasons to be.
Thoughtfully haunting and sometimes beautifully written, the first of Hjelm's cases to be translated into English is likely to resonate with readers of the Stieg Larsson trilogy.
“Absorbing. . . . A dark, tense thriller.”
“Terrific. . . . Full of twists and turns, blind alleys and sudden assaults, procedural hassles and stakeouts. ”
“Thoughtfully haunting and sometimes beautifully written, the first of Hjelm’s cases to be translated into English is likely to resonate with readers of the Stieg Larsson trilogy.”
“Mystery devotees who loved Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, and crime-fiction ‘lifers’ who still treasure Sjowall’s and Wahloo’s Martin Beck, will want to add Paul Hjelm to their short lists of international favorites.”
“A truly fine crime novel.”
—The Advocate (Baton Rouge)
“[A] superb police procedural. . . . Dahl has created a brilliant character and a terrific story, and should that not be enough, this is a classic cop-shop tale of the old school.”
—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Most of the fun of Misterioso comes from the follow-the-power, follow-the-money games played by Hjelm and his associates. And while Dahl clearly sees detective fiction as having the ability to tackle hard-hitting issues of the day, the mystery’s solution isn’t lacking in good old-fashioned puzzle intrigue, either.”
—The Portland Mercury
“A unique and wonderful book. It is part mystery, part police procedural, part existential philosophy, and part comedy. There is something so distinctive about this book that it resists categorization. . . . There is not a dull moment. It seems like the Scandinavians are having a true renaissance in crime writing and Arne Dahl is right at the top.”
“An exciting debut. . . . Fans of hard-boiled detective and Swedish novels will enjoy this.”