Ceder, Camilla - 'Babylon' (translated by Marlaine Delargy)
She could hear footsteps from the apartment on the other side of the landing; she pulled up her hood over her red hair and slowly pushed the letterbox inwards. The hallway was dark and silent. She could smell food: curry, cumin and something else, something sweet...
Camilla Ceder's second crime novel BABYLON continues the story of Police Inspector Christian Tell and Seja Lundberg, a young journalist who is now Tell's girlfriend, from her first novel FROZEN MOMENT. In BABYLON Tell is presented with a murdered couple, an archaeology professor and her student lover, together with a jealous girlfriend, Rebecca Nykvist. It doesn't take long for the police to uncover Rebecca's record of assault and harassment against two previous boyfriends. However, whilst Rebecca is being questioned by the police, the home she shared with her murdered partner is burgled and ransacked and the plot begins to spread wider than the jealousies of a young Gothenburg couple and starts to point towards events that began with a student field trip in Istanbul and the darker side of archaeological treasure.
A native of Gothenburg herself, Ceder has worked and studied in social sciences and psychology and her characters are firmly drawn and established; they have a true effect upon each other, painting a picture of independent lives intersecting, rather than cardboard signs guiding us to "whodunnit". Given the safe hands of the book's English translator (Marlaine Delargy has worked with Johan Theorin, Asa Larssen and Lars Kepler amongst others) who believes that first and foremost the "translated book must read well in English", BABYLON not only tells its characters' stories well, it expresses it to English-speaking readers smoothly and naturally – sadly something not always achieved in translations.
This is a well-plotted, subtle, psychological thriller that nevertheless had me turning its pages with increasing speed as it drove on to its exciting final race against time. For a classic, socio-psychological, Scandi-crime read with a good final punch of suspense, I recommend BABYLON and look forward to more from Camilla Ceder.
Read another review of BABYLON.
Lynn Harvey, England