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Sun Storm    by Asa Larsson order for
Sun Storm
by Asa Larsson
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Viktor Strandgard - a charismatic preacher and the founder of a new revivalist (Source of All Our Strength) church in Kiruna, Sweden - is found murdered (stabbed repeatedly and horribly mutilated) in the middle of his church. His needy sister Sanna calls the police and leaves the scene, then phones an old friend for help. Cynical Stockholm lawyer Rebecka Martinsson left Kiruna under a cloud, but feels obliged to return to help Sanna cope with her small daughters (Sara and Lova) and with the cops.

Though diminutive Inspector Anna-Maria Mella has been assigned to desk duty (she's very pregnant), fellow investigator Sven-Erik drags her into the case, where she becomes a voice of reason and humanity. Assistant Chief Prosecutor Carl von Post storms through the evidence, looking for a quick solution and personal credit. When the murder weapon is found in Sanna's home, he quickly arrests her, leaving Rebecka juggling child care with legal duties and a search for the killer. As she does so, familiar scenes bring flashbacks of prior unhappy events.

Mans Wenngren is a partner at Rebecka's firm and her boss. Though they have a prickly relationship and he drinks too much, he's there for her at the end of the phone line, protecting her interests. The victim's three fellow pastors carry on business as usual at the church, but are reticent with the police and avoid Rebecka. What are they hiding? Why did the victim fast for days before his death, why is fragile Sanna so intimidated by her parents, who has been killing her family pets, and who left a threatening note for her lawyer?

The northern lights swirl through crisp, clear skies as Rebecka slowly makes sense of the horror of Viktor's death, of her own past, and of present interests that don't want her coming close to the truth. It all comes to a violent conclusion in an isolated cabin while a storm rages outside. Sun Storm is a gripping thriller involving flawed people (including the indomitable heroine) and with an odd, rather touching romance running through the story. I look forward to more from Asa Larsson.

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