Dark Angel is the sixth installment of Mari Jungstedt‘s series featuring Inspector Anders Knutas and news reporter Johan Berg on the Swedish island of Gotland. Chronologically, the action in this book follows the events in the previous novel The Dead of Summer.
The action in Dark Angel starts immediately. At a large public event with over 500 guests – the opening of a new and expensive conference center where seemingly every person of note on the island is present, among them Inspector Knutas and his lovely wife – the host, event organizer Viktor Algard is killed by cyanide! Viktor Algard is a married man, but it turns out that he has asked his wife for a divorce, and that he was at the party with his new flame. What is more – the investigation soon reveals that Algard was given the deadly poison in a cocktail, and that the person that gave him the cocktail was no other than his new love.
Knutas and his team from the Gotland Police Force are soon able to identify several possible motives for the murder, as well as several suspects. However, as it turns out, things are not at all straightforward in this case. And, as the investigation moves forward, the police increasingly start to doubt their initial and more or less taken-for-granted assumption that the victim was the intended victim of the crime. If he wasn’t, then it is quite obvious who was, but the implication is that the police are essentially back to square one, and need to reassess their list of motives and suspects anew. Meanwhile, a murderer is on the loose on the island …
The plot in Dark Angel is interesting and clever, and the multiple side stories are excellently integrated with the main plot of the novel. This is especially the case with the story that TV journalist Johan Berg and his assistant Pia are working on – a story of a boy who was attacked two weeks ago outside one of Algard’s clubs for teenagers. As it turns out, it’s a case that involves people very close to Inspector Knutas that will prove very challenging for this sympathetic and intriguing policeman. Dark Angel is a well plotted mystery.
I liked this evocative police procedural. Apart from the plot, it is very good in describing relationships among the characters in a dynamic and fascinating fashion. At the core is a penetrating analysis of the effects of love expressed in obsession. Also, I like the way Mari Jungstedt (see image) has created a kind of continuity between this book and the story of Karen Jacobsen, one of the police officers working with Knutas, in the previous installment of the series. The only weakness is perhaps that the solution becomes a little to obvious after a while, but even so Dark Angel is a great Swedish crime fiction, and quite suspenseful.
‘Mari Jungstedt creates the special atmosphere of Nordic crime – that land of snow and ice that fires our imagination.’ Jane Jakeman, Independent