The arrival of a strange male pigeon to the dovecote of Gotland islander Ruben Nilsson begins a horrific chain reaction. The bird is apparently the carrier of a virulent strain of avian flu that quickly claims Nilsson’s life and spreads rapidly, causing widespread panic. The responsible government officials are unable to come up with a good plan to remedy the inadequate stocks of medications to prevent and treat infection. Among those affected is Wern, whose preteen son, Emil, is quarantined after some of his fellow campers become ill. As she struggles with her personal situation, the inspector also has to solve the murder of an unidentified man stabbed in the throat. The ending of this suspenseful blend of scientific thriller and whodunit packs a real wallop."
Publishers Weekly, starred review
This is the first of eight books in a popular Swedish mystery series to be translated into English. Maria Wren, a detective inspector on Gotland Island, is a single parent with two young children. When a pigeon keeper suddenly dies from flulike symptoms and two people who recently saw him also die, it is feared that an avian flu epidemic has hit the island. Then the disease breaks out at a children's soccer camp, panic ensues, and the island is effectively cut off from the outside world. Add to this the murder of a nurse from a private health clinic and the disappearance of a journalist, and Wren has all she can handle. When the bird flu strikes close to home, she must deal with her own anxiety and still concentrate on the search for a killer. VERDICT Jansson is a welcome addition to the Swedish mystery writers now available in English. The author's knowledge of the medical field is evident in her detailed, fast-paced plot and the moral and ethical decisions facing the characters. Recommended for readers of Scandinavian mysteries, especially for fans of Mari Jungstedt, Camilla Läckberg, and Håkan Nesser.—Jean King, West Hempstead P.L., NY