The Dead of Summer is the fifth crime fiction novel in Mari Jungstedt’s series that takes place on the idyllic island of Gotland. As with the previous books, it features detective Anders Knutas – a relatively quiet and thoughtful man living in a great marriage – and TV-reporter Johan Berg, a man with a love life that is rather complicated and that moves in very mysterious ways indeed. The side stories about the main protagonists in this series are great, and in some ways more interesting in this book than some of the previous ones.
This time, Knutas and Berg are faced with a real mystery. An early morning jogger is killed on the beach in the wee hours of the morning. The victim, Peter Bovide, is a carpenter who runs his own business with a friend. He is seemingly quite successful. Also, he is happily married and generally well-liked. But now he is dead. Very dead. Shot down, first with a bullet fired from close range in the head, after which the murderer has fired seven bullets into his stomach. What a strange way to kill somebody! And, even stranger, analyses of the bullets show that the Peter Bovide was shot with a very unusual weapon – a pistol with a very unusual caliber produced in Russia during the 1920’s.
Anders Knutas and his colleagues are forced to cast a wide net in their investigation – to keep all possibilities open. And gradually their hard work seems to start paying off – they find some irregularities in Bovide’s business involving illegal workers from the Baltic countries. Money could have been a motive. They also uncover dealings with smuggled liqueur. Is there a connection to organized crime? In addition, Bovide’s wife is lying to the police – what is she hiding?
However, as the investigation progresses, Anders Knutas increasingly feels that something is not right –the way Peter Bovide was killed and the gun used makes him feel that they have overlooked something important. And when a second man is murdered in the same fashion – killed by a shot to the head, then several more shots fired into his stomach – Anders Knutas is certain that what they have uncovered so far is of little if any value at all to the murder investigation.
Then, a new angle to the case, introduced by Karin Jacobsson, Knutas’ deputy, seems opens up a whole new set of possibilities. However, as it turns out, this new path will lead Karin Jacobsen into a situation where she will be forced to face some very old and extremely painful memories and to make perhaps the most difficult decision she has ever made – one that may well change her life forever.
The Dead of Summer is well written Swedish crime fiction novel and has an interesting plot with some very intriguing twists. It’s a well crafted crime fiction novel, and I greatly enjoyed reading it. The side stories and Jungstedt’s excellent characterizations contribute significantly to making the series interesting to follow. The ending is quite surprising and superb. Mari Jungstedt has once more written an excellent crime fiction and a book that you will greatly enjoy if you like a good, solid read with a smart, well thought-out plot!