Until Thy Wrath be Past, by Asa Larsson

by Peter

Until Thy Wrath be Past, Asa LarssonThis is the fourth book in Swedish author Asa Larsson’s series about Rebecka Martinsson and Inspector Anna-Maria Mella. Following the terrible events in the previous book, The Black Path, where she killed three men in self-defense, Rebecka Martinsson has now moved to the town of Kiruna in the Northern part of Sweden, where she works as public prosecutor.

Until Thy Wrath be Past starts with a bang. The 17-year-old Wilma Persson, who together with her boyfriend is diving beneath the ice of Lake Vittangijärvi, looking for the wreck of a Nazi transport airplane that crashed there during the War, tells the story of how she and her boyfriend is murdered. They have dived from a whole they have sawed in the ice, and someone has closed the hole, thus preventing them for surfacing. Wilma fights desperately to survive, but knows that soon there will be no more air. And then the air runs out, and there is only the ice cold water of Lake Vittangijärvi.

That’s the setup of the mystery in Until Thy Wrath be Past. As readers we know two young people have been murdered in the lake. We don’t know why and we don’t know who did it. But the police do not know they have been murdered at all. All the police know is that they are missing.

Sometime later, in the Spring, Wilma’s body is found. Not in the lake, but in a river some distance away from the lake. She has clearly drowned. It seems very much like an accident, but there are some details that are strange. Under her fingernails there are traces of green paint. Both Anna-Maria Mella and Rebecka Martinsson, who takes charge of the investigation, feel there is more to the case then meets the eye. The facts don’t add up the way they should.

When they start to dig deeper into the case and talk with family and people who knew the dead girl, they soon come face to face with people trying to prevent the truth about certain incidents during World War II from surfacing. In the strange rural villages of Northern Sweden they encounter odd, twisted love and people who will go to any length to protect their secrets. Some of the wounds and conflict from the War are still not healed. As the investigation progresses, more people are brutally murdered to prevent the investigators from learning more. Somewhere in the cold lurks a murderer who will continue to kill as many as it takes to keep the past firmly buried.

This is a remarkable and interesting book, very well written, about repression, violence, devotion and ruthlessness. The epigraph from the Book of Job – Until Thy Wrath be Past – with reference to the pain of human existence, is very appropriate as a title. While I did not particularly like the literary device Asa Larsson uses in this book – letting the dead Wilma talk from the grave, so to speak – I really liked the book, it is perhaps the best Asa Larsson has written so far!

Until Thy Wrath be Past is a great crime fiction novel, and I am already looking forward to the next Rebecka Martinsson novel!

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