Bad Blood – Arne Dahl

The Swedish National Criminal Police’s Special Unit For Violent Crimes of An International Character, or A-Unit, are alerted by the FBI that a murderer who kills in a manner remarkably similar to that of a serial killer thought to be dead (the Kentucky Killer), is travelling to Sweden. He must be intercepted and caught. (You may be able to guess how that part turns out.)

The original Kentucky Killer (K) tortured his victims terribly, while keeping their screams of agony silent with a device that squeezed shut the vocal cords shut. These killings stopped, but started again after a long break. Has K returned? Or is there a copy cat? What is the Swedish connection?

Generally, when I read the background to a crime novel, and get into the initial chapters, I have a broad idea about the direction it’s going to go, and what the range of possibilities are. Bad Blood completely outwitted me. That made it that much more pleasurable.

The police characters are interesting, though they get less coverage than the first book in the series. Pretty normal people. In the main. The action is very bloody and graphic at times. And the plot is wonderfully crafted, and expertly unwrapped. The twists are terrific.

If anything, it’s the setting that gets the short straw. This could have been set anywhere in the civilized world. There’s nothing much that is particularly Swedish.

The novel occasionally takes a break from the adrenalin rush it is inducing with observations about the world at large, and some geo-political opinions. That is where the writing is at its weakest. It’s not material enough to have a major impact, but it does jar.

I enjoyed this book enormously. The last half picked up the pace and I just had to keep reading. And, as always, the universal mark of a good book was there at the end: I was sorry it was finished.

In short, if you like crime books, this is highly recommended.