Monday, 13 July 2009

Missing


I’ve just finished Karin Alvtegen’s novel Missing, and I enjoyed it immensely. The cover of the book compares her to the great Ruth Rendell, and before I read the book, I thought this must be over-praise. But I discovered that Alvtegen is a very good writer, and on this evidence, the tribute is well-deserved.

Sibylla is a woman in her early thirties. She is estranged from her wealthy family, and living on the street. As a means of getting a night in a posh hotel room, she flirts with strange man and then claims to have had all her money stolen. He pays for her room, but she doesn’t sleep with him. Then, in the morning, he is found to have been murdered. Sibylla is the prime suspect.

More deaths follow – and Sibylla remains in the frame. The police start to close in on her. What is going on – why are the murders being committed, and who is targeting Sibylla. Bit by bit, we learn her tragic backstory, and gain some insight into life on the street.

This is a tense, atmospheric and extremely readable novel, with a clever and (to the best of my knowledge) original motive. Recommended.

8 comments:

Bernadette in Australia said...

Alvtegen is (yet another) of the many authors that I'd never heard of until a few months ago and now find being talked about everywhere in the blogosphere. I do have this book in my TBR pile...sounds like I should drag it to the top.

Martin Edwards said...

Yes, Bernadette, to be honest, it exceeded my expectations. But let us know how you rate it!

Maxine said...

I think this is a fantastic book - a perfect mix of exciting thriller and harrowing story/character study. It has quite a lot of elements in common with Stieg Larsson's books, particularly The Girl Who Played with Fire - abused girl turning into a young woman living "off the grid", being pursued by police for a crime she (possibly) did not commit, etc.
I loved it and, together with Shadow and Betrayal by the same author, rate it as one of the best crime novels I've read. (I also liked Shame, the fourth novel translated into English by KA, but not quite as much. She's written another which was translated but has been allowed to go out of print- unavailable, so far as I can see. Maybe Canongate will reissue it now in light of the author's recent appearance on several prestigious shortlists).

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Maxine. I haven't read the second Larsson book yet, but it's on the list, along with more Alvtegen.

crimeficreader said...

Although I enjoyed and much appreciated Shadow, it was very heavy and I didn't feel like diving into more from this author in the near future.

But, having read what you said about Shadow, I feel a mind change coming on.

By the way Martin, are you at Harrogate this year for the full weekend?

Martin Edwards said...

Hello Rhian. Yes, I shall be at Harrogate for the whole weekend. I am doing a session on Thursday and I'm also involved with the Readers' dinner on Saturday.

Bernadette in Australia said...

Read it last night in a single sitting. Loved it to bits. Thanks for making me drag it out of the TBR pile.

Tim said...

Yes, I enjoyed Missing too. I've just finished Shame which has increased my respect for the author. It is in some respects "heavier" in that it deals with the psychological issues in two characters pasts. However, there are also moments of quiet humour that remind me of Hakan Nesser.