The Blinded Man – Arne Dahl

This is a Swedish crime novel dealing with the investigation into the killing of several businessmen. Is this, as it appears, the work of a serial killer? And what is it that connects the victims?

The lead character for us is another defective detective, Paul Hjelm. He does a Rambo impersonation at a hostage scene, and although that puts him in the target sights of the internal affairs type investigators, he is rescued by being plucked from there and dropped into a brand new team tasked with sorting out those multiple killings.

Hjelm is moderately defective. Some of his colleagues are more quirky, and even less suitable as candidates to be stuck in an elevator with. However, that’s what the forces of law and order have, so off they go in their merry little way, hunting through the forest and swamp like mess of clues, red herrings, lies, deception, corruption, and evil. It’s a dirty job, and they do it as best they can.

One of the quirks here is the apparent importance of some obscure jazz music. That comes to be a crucial clue.

The plot is OK, and serves as a decent platform for some of the sharp observations the author makes about society. However, I wasn’t impressed with one detail where the ease of access to the victims’ homes is explained in a throwaway line that does not convince. It’s almost as if the author didn’t have a solution he had faith in, and so tried to skip past it. That annoyance apart, it’s certainly a page turner, freshened up with some interludes of fine writing that seem to go off on loose tangents, but end up joining the main story.

There are moments of great pathos and humor, and some darkness as well. I found it, on the whole, an enjoyable and engrossing read, with just enough raw edges to keep it from the top rank of crime fiction. But it’s about 90% of the way there. I will be following the series to see if the author can build on this solid start.