Sunday, September 10, 2017

Book Review: 'Spring Remains' by Mons Kallentoft

Thirty-six year old Detective Inspector Malin Fors is an intuitive sleuth who "listens to the voices of the investigation." Unfortunately, she is also a loose cannon who has been uncomfortable in her own skin for some time. She had a stint in rehab after nearly drinking herself to death. The siren call of alcohol still beckons, but a relapse would jeopardize her job as well as her relationship with her sixteen-year-old daughter. Can Malin find a way to control her chaotic emotions, enter into a loving relationship, and get her life back on track?

The year is 2010 in Mons Kallentoft's "Spring Remains," translated from the Swedish by Neil Smith. Still teetering on the edge, Malin throws herself headlong into a difficult case involving an unnamed person who detonated an explosive device outside a bank. The author gives voice to the dead, who express their fears, loneliness, and longings. The recently departed frequently speak to Malin and even try to assist her with her inquiries. Those who demand realism, even in works of fiction, may find this device too fanciful for their taste. However, hearing from innocent victims who have a vested interested in meting out justice adds an element of poignancy to the novel.

Kallentoft is a skilled descriptive writer who contrasts the arrival of spring, a lush season of growth and vitality, with the death and destruction that appalls the citizens of the small Swedish town of Linköping. In addition, he sheds light on his characters' feelings, helping us understand who these men, women, and children are and what motivates them. "Spring Remains" is bursting with subplots and red herrings. Malin and her fellow officers exhaust themselves tracking down suspects, conducting interviews, combing the Internet for information, and trying to fit together the pieces of a bewildering puzzle. As if all this were not enough to keep our heroine awake at night, she faces new and daunting personal challenges. Although the book is flawed by Kallentoft's repetitiousness and heavy-handed exposition, "Spring Remains" has strengths that, to some extent, outweigh its weaknesses. It is a gripping and heartrending tale of sadism, fury, and despair that will intrigue fans of multifaceted psychological thrillers.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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