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Jungstedt, Mari - 'Unspoken' (translated by Tiina Nunnally)
Paperback: 368 pages (Feb. 2009) Publisher: Corgi Books ISBN: 0552156132

It is winter on Gotland, and fourteen-year-old Fanny is missing. She has no friends, and seems to be an unhappy teenager, the daughter of an alcoholic mother who does not seem to notice where she is. Explicit photographs of the girl with an unidentified man are discovered, hidden in the darkroom of murdered photographer Henry Dahlstrom; a known alcoholic and struggling dropout, who had won a large sum of money at the racetrack right before his death. Is her disappearance somehow connected to his recent brutal murder?

Inspector Anders Knutas and his team investigate both cases under pressure from the media and without many clues. One case, a 'down and out' who apparently had no enemies, other than his own family, and the other a child who seems to have no friends.

Fanny's disappearance is finally resolved and the suspect is one of Fanny's only acquaintances at the stable, an American who has left the country. Knutas and his team wait for his return to make the arrest whilst still puzzling over the photographer's death and his connection to Fanny.

Johan Berg, the TV journalist sent from Stockholm to cover the deaths, helps the investigation whist pursuing his relationship with Emma, a married mother living in Gotland who is fighting her attraction to him to try and keep her children, and her husband, in the dark.

This is a very sinister and complex book which touches on elements of paedophilia and neglected children, so is not an easy read. The dark backdrop of the Swedish island seems to be reflected in the dark demeanour of the main characters. The relationship between Johan and Emma is complicated and reflects a very modern view of marriage, families and attraction. Johan, Emma, Knutas and his team are characters which can provide a welcome levity to the main narrative, but this is not a book to be taken lightly. Not a cheery holiday read, but well written and begs to be read again to get all the nuances from the plot and characters.

Read another review of UNSPOKEN.

Amanda Brown, England
July 2009

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 26/07/2009 10:37