Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Book Review: 'The Lion's Tail (The Fruängen Bureau Book 1)' by Luna Miller

The Lion's Tail by Luna Miller
‘The type that thinks he owns the world, Gunvor thinks.’

Swedish author Luna Miller has published three books and they are available in Swedish, English, Portuguese, Spanish and German, specializing in Scandi noir. She self-publishes contemporary fiction and the Gunvor Ström detective series. She lives in Stockholm

Luna has created a unique and memorable character in Gunvor Strom and we get the flavor of this strange detective on page one – ‘It started on Monday, although it had presumably been going on longer than that. But it was on Monday that Gunvor happened to be on the same tube as the girl who later introduced herself as Elin. Gunvor had been sitting towards the back of the train, so when she got off in Fruängen most of the other passengers had already left the station, apart from Elin and the young man blocking her route through the barriers. He didn’t say anything, he just stood in front of her and grinned. When she tried to go past him to one side he blocked her way and when she tried the other side, he moved and blocked her again. Gunvor noticed that he had two friends sitting on the bench nearby who seemed to find it all highly amusing. “What are you two laughing about? You’re a bit old for this sort of nonsense, aren’t you?” Gunvor snapped at the boys on the bench before going forward to help the girl get past her tormentor. Elin had thanked her and said it wasn’t the first time it had happened. She tried to brush it off. She told Gunvor that the boys weren’t doing any real harm.’ 

The flowing style in which Luna gradually unwinds her series not only captures our imagination but it also entertains and invites us into the strange world of Detective Strom. The plot is complex and the summary helps launching the tale – ‘You’re never too old to become a private detective. Gunvor Strom may be in her sixties, her hands might be too shaky to perform operations and her body complains every time she works out. But her mind is as sharp as her scalpel. And she embraces change. After the divorce, she moved from a well-heeled Stockholm satellite to the far-from idyllic, inner suburb of Fruängen. It gets a little lively, but she likes being in the middle of things. She’s smart, experienced and innocent-looking – all qualities appreciated by a detective agency. As the agency’s rookie, she gets a surveillance job. A straightforward case, they say. Typical domestic. A wife suspects infidelity. Just track the husband. But when the husband is attacked and viciously beaten, his wife calls off the assignment. Too late. Gunvor is on the trail. The agency aren’t paying her, but her free time is her own business. After intervening in an incident of bullying, Gunvor finds herself with two unlikely allies. David is a young, jobless waster who hangs about Fruängen tube station. 19-year-old Elin is shy and introverted, after spending too long in her bedroom hiding from her parents’ fights. Out of curiosity, the pair join forces with Gunvor. Who’s going to notice two young people and an elderly lady slinking around the Stockholm streets? Only someone who’s watching their every move, biding his time, waiting to pounce. Curiosity can be deadly. A story of violence, madness, passion and bravery. A cat-and-mouse game of life and death. Never play with the lion’s tail.’

This is bound to become a very popular series – just the right amount of humor, sarcasm and funky characters to make it fly. Recommended for a large spectrum of audience. 

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. 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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