To the Top of the Mountain – Arne Dahl

This is the third book in the author’s Intercrime series, being the continuing adventures, trials, and tribulations of a top level Swedish police unit. [Spoiler alert!] The unit was broken up at the end of book 2, after their last case ended badly. But when two bombings occur, it’s time for the authorities to get the boss of the unit, Jan-Olov Hultin, and his team, back together again.

One of the many differences that make this series stand out is the wealth of characters. Although there is a lead, the supporting cast are so much more than that. They are given time and space to develop as characters, with each successive book adding to their portrayal. But that should not suggest the plot is lacking; far from it. Dahl is as good as there is at taking several apparently different strands, and weaving them into a coherent, believable, engrossing tale.

So the unit investigates, and the action ramps up. It hurtles along, with many an interesting snapshot of Swedish society – not all of it complimentary – sneaked in to the narrative, but not detracting from the action. In that regard, Dahl is no shrinking violet, and the explicit violence can often shock. I don’t think he overdoes it, but I am not convinced it’s all necessary. What do I know?

In any event, the author manages to keep everything (apart from the violence!) well balanced, maintaining the tension to the end, but still finding time to skilfully craft the development of his characters.

Looking back, it does appear that the writing has sharpened over the course, and many of the rough edges from books one and two have been suitably sorted.

In short, what is on offer here is fine writing, great entertainment, and highly recommended. For the avoidance of doubt, it is well worth reading the first two in the series. Any minor issues notwithstanding, you will get a much better sense of the characters and their relationships.

[My reviews of the other books are here and here.]