Having finished Mankell’s Wallender series, I was in search of a new Swedish mystery series when Mankell himself – or at least his Facebook persona – recommended Arne Dahl’s Misterioso. So I found the book on CD at the library and was instantly hooked. Once again, we have a Swedish writer interested in more than just plot. From the very beginning, the plot raises issues that are familiar from Mankell’s work, but take on more urgency here – immigration, for example. Much turns on the banking policies of the 80s as well. Like Mankell, Dahl seems to suggest that Sweden’s increased crime rate is kind of an overdue payment for choices made in previous decades. We are, Dahl implies, possibly our own worst enemies. As Dahl (and credit goes to the translator as well) writes, “The abyss lurks inside of us.” More than a few characters come face-to-face with it in this novel.
Dahl’s work is incredibly suspenseful – a dangerous choice for something to listen to in the car. More than once, I sat in parking lots before turning off the car in order to finish a section. Anyone who can write the line above about the abyss and describe someone’s nose as a “capacious schnoz” gets applause from me.
The title of the novel comes from a Thelonious Monk composition, and though Dahl describes it quite well, I ended up buying it for myself.
Even though there may be a few too many meaningful glances exchanged between and among characters, and I wasn’t always sure what Dahl was doing with point of view, it didn’t take long for me to know that this was going to be my next series. I made plans to devour Dahl’s complete output only to learn that this is the only one available in English for now.
So which mystery series am I going to read while I wait?!?!?!