Closed Circles by Viveca Sten

imageIt’s a beautiful day for a regatta—until one of Sandhamn Island’s most prestigious residents is killed aboard his sailing yacht.

Oscar Juliander was a rich lawyer and deputy chairman of the prestigious Royal Swedish Yacht Club. While at first his death seems like a tragic accident, there is evidence of foul play. Police detective Thomas Andreasson teams up with local lawyer Nora Linde to investigate. As they work to uncover clues, they face resistance from an elite world where nothing but appearance matters.

When the rich and powerful inhabitants of Sweden’s idyllic island getaway come under scrutiny, Thomas and Nora must work closely and secretively to seek justice.

After reading Still Waters last year, I was really looking forward to picking up Closed Circles, the second in the series set on Sandhamn island, the summer retreat of Sweden’s wealthier residents.  The setting sounds idyllic with beautiful views and blue waters – just the type of place I would like a holiday home…that is if I could afford it – and people didn’t keep getting murdered.

The murders destroy the island’s calm and make the resident’s anxious.  Last’s summers murder were, they were sure, an anomaly.  Now there are more.  And worse, they are targeting the have’s vs. the have nots, respected members of the community.  It is also a closed community, one with plenty of secrets that they don’t want to share with the detective in charge, Thomas.

Thankfully, he’s dedicated and dogged and unlikely to give up.  He’s also really likeable and pretty well balanced, avoiding the many stereotypes of dysfunctional police officers with family issues and drinking problems.  Whilst not everything in his life is perfect, he handles it like a grown up – and manages to set it aside when working on the case.  His best friend Nora is equally as likeable and became much more of a “real” person to me in this book.

A lawyer at a bank, she spends her summers on Sandhamn so it makes perfect sense for Thomas to ask for her help on the case.  They don’t, however, like the blurb suggests, team up.  Instead, she is on the periphery of the investigation – though does help it come to it’s conclusion. I could have felt cheated by this if I hadn’t been so caught up in Nora’s own story, which runs parallel to the investigation and isn’t crime related at all but very personal.

This might have been a distraction but wasn’t at all, a testament I think to how well both characters were developed and how well written (and translated) the book was.  It had a good pace and a good plot – simple but with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until close to the end and, as a result, I liked it a lot.

The only downside to it is that it might not make much sense if you haven’t read the first book, the events of which very much drive Nora in this one.  I am not sure it can stand on it’s own without being confusing.  So, my overall recommendation? Well worth a read (after you’ve read Still Waters!).





Blood Sisters by Graham Masterton

image“In a nursing home on the outskirts of Cork, an elderly nun lies dead. She has been suffocated. It looks like a mercy-killing – until another sister from the same convent is found viciously murdered, floating in the Glashaboy river.

The nuns were good women, doing God’s work. Why would anyone want to kill them? But then a child’s skull is unearthed in the garden of the nuns’ convent, and DS Katie Maguire discovers a fifty year old secret that just might lead her to the killer… if the killer doesn’t find her first.”

The fifth in the Katie Maguire series (and the fifth I’ve read), I was looking forward to reading Blood Sisters. As with the other books, I was drawn straight into the action with a murder (the nun) and a mystery (the skull). There was less gore this time round, which I think I’ve mentioned before is becoming my preference with the books I read, and I’ve noticed this has been the case in the last few novels. 

I think it’s because Katie is a more rounded character now and her world more solid so there is less need. I have come to like her a lot as a person, though she doesn’t always seem to have the best judgement, and I find the descriptions of what it is like for her to be a woman in the Irish Garda interesting – I can’t believe it is as sexist in real life as Masterton makes out but if it is it’s shocking that this is the case in this day and age!

I would like to see other characters filled out more and was a bit disappointed with Katie’s boyfriend John’s development. He has been in most books since the first one and I can’t get a bead on him – though I can’t say I like him as much as I do Katie and can’t necessarily see what she sees in him (which is where I think her judgement is most questionable).

I was also slightly disappointed in the ending. It involved very little detecting on Katie’s part and I did feel a little bit like Masterton had run out of steam and didn’t know where to go. A shame really as otherwise a good story and good book. Liked (didn’t love) it.