Book Review: Åsa Larsson’s Blood Spilt

Posted August 26, 2014 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Åsa Larsson’s Blood Spilt

Blood Spilt

in eBook edition on January 30, 2007 and has 339 pages.

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Second in the Rebecka Martinsson mystery series set in Sweden in and around Kiruna.

My Take

Larsson has put a definite twist on the mystery, creating both a cozy story and an in-depth look at everyday Swedish culture with The Blood Spilt similar to Sun Storm, 1, in that again, priests are dying around Kiruna. It did take a bit before I realized that the first chapter was the murder happening. There was a surreal quality to it and yet it played to the basics of the people in this area.

Business is really different in Sweden. Rebecka is unable to work, and her office keeps insisting she take time off. Can you see that happening in the States? Hah! Of course it does help that her aid in Sun Storm has brought the firm a lot of good publicity — and clients.

Between the first story, Sun Storm, and the fifth, The Second Deadly Sin, I know that Rebecka keeps returning to Kiruna, but she also had a relationship with Måns, which still hasn’t developed. If anything it’s still adversarial. So, on to the Kiruna side and how Larsson brings Rebecka, who’s based in Stockholm, back to Kiruna and make it believable. And she does. Make it believable.

Speaking of which, you get the sense of the Swedish being very modern as well as being old-fashioned with their interest in traditions, their obsession with berry picking, hunting, and fishing. Basic, back-to-earth interests that must still be concerned with tax laws, employment rulings, and how the police work.

One difference — and it provides a reason for returning — is that the Swedish church has only recently separated from the government, and this has offered all sorts of opportunities for tax lawyers as well as problems of which they won’t be aware.

As much as I enjoy the wolf sequence, I’m not sure what the point is. Sure it’s a laudable effort on Mildred’s part to want to preserve the wolves, but why is it here? What is the connection that I’m missing?

We learn a tiny bit more about Rebecka’s mother. As for Lisa’s actions, it takes too long for me to understand, and I had no idea that she missed Mildred that much. It’ just heartbreaking.

Something horrible must have happened in Mildred’s past that she’s so vehement about protecting women. Her murder certainly does provide opportunities for her fellow priests to look back and consider their stances anew. Their reactions are certainly interesting, honest.

The real controversy here are the issues revolving around Mildred: the unfairness of the very cheap hunting lease, the embezzlement of the wolf fund, Mildred’s affair, Wikström’s personal and moral problems, Bertil’s sudden regrets, Kristin’s escalation of attack, and another’s perception of the “attacks” Mildred was making against them.

It’s a look at how marginalized women still are and male attitudes even in such a liberated country as Sweden. Forward thinking versus traditionalism. It’s psychological in examining the people involved from Rebecka’s PTSD to Lisa to Lars-Gunnar to Mildred to Micke to the “Christianity” of the priests to the blessing of Nalle. How Mildred made me take a second look at him, to appreciate him. It’s another look at Anna-Maria and how her family grounds her. You won’t regret reading this. It’s very definitely a buy series if you like good writing, a cozy quality, and a chance to live in another culture.

The Story

It’s Pia who finds Mildred, a restless sleep with a sudden inspiration that takes her to Jukkasjärvi church. Meanwhile, Rebecka is hesitant about this office picnic. She’s not ready to be around people. Luckily Måns is abrasive enough that his dare spurs Rebecka into accompanying Torsten on a pitch to a church group that will include Jukkasjärvi, Vittangi, and Karesuando.

Rebecka is sliding into the community. Taking Nalle about with her. Working as a waitress at Micke’s Café. There when another priest disappears.

The Characters

A tax lawyer off on disability, Rebecka Martinsson is a mess since Sun Storm. I think she mostly grew up with her grandmother in Kurravarra. Now Rebecka owns a share in the house along with her Uncle Affe and Aunt Inga-Lill. Sivving is still a neighbor there; Bella is his pointer bitch who’s had puppies which gives Nalle a thrill. Lena is Sivving’s daughter.

The law office is Meijer & Ditzinger in Stockholm
Måns Wenngren is Rebecka’s boss; Madelene is his ex-wife. Maria Taube is a fellow lawyer and Rebecka’s friend. Tthe partners include Erik Rydén, Ulla Carle is one of the firm’s two female partners, and Torsten Karlsson who suggests Rebecka stay in his cottage. Petra Wilhelmsson is a new hire along with Johan Grill, gawkers. Krister Ahlberg is a criminal lawyer. Meijer & Ditzinger is working on a new project with the Jansson Group Auditors.

Kiruna PD
Inspector Sven-Erik Stålnacke still doesn’t have Anna-Maria back from maternity leave, and he’s missing her. Divorced, he lives alone except for his cat, Manne who’s missing. Inspector Anna-Maria Mella is the team leader; she’s had a little boy, Gustav. Robert is her husband. Her other children include Jenny, Petter, and Marcus. Hanna is Marcus’ girlfriend. Sonja still works the exchange.

Other members of the team include Fred Olsson who is good at research and Tommy Rantakyrö. Alf Björnfot is the chief prosecutor. Christer Elsner is a professor of the history of religion. Ah-ha, this is the story when the unsociable Inspector Krister Eriksson makes his appearance. He’s a tracker and Tintin is his dog these days. Zack was the dog he had five years ago. Anna Granlund is an autopsy technician; Lars Pohjanen is the senior police surgeon. He had lung cancer a few years ago.

Mildred Nilsson is their priest, a very active and controversial one helping the women and children in the parish. Erik Nilsson is Mildred’s husband, a house husband who takes care of the cleaning and cooking. He loves her, and I’m not sure about her. The church wants him out of the house in Poikkijärvi. Mikael Berg is the rural dean and responsible for personnel issues.

Stefan Wikström is a priest as well. His wife, Kristin, is not satisfactory. Benjamin is their oldest and angry son. Bertil Stensson is the parish priest, the one in charge. Pia Svonni is a churchwarden. Mankan Kyrö is also a churchwarden more interested in an easier life. Torbjörn Ylitalo is the church’s forest warden and chairman of the hunting club.

Lisa Stöckel chairs the Magdalena, a women’s group organized by Mildred that does practical things to help women. She’s not really the person for this position, although her day job as a debt counselor and budgeting advisor come in handy. Mimmi is Lisa’s daughter. Tommy was her husband until she divorced him. And Lisa prefers her dogs: Majken, Bruno, Karelin, and Sicky-Morris. Magnus Lindmark hated Mildred and the Magdalena for enticing his wife, Anki, away from him along with his children. And from the sound of him, I suspect she’ll live a lot longer.

Majvor Kangas is one of the women in the Magdalena. Annette is the vet.

The café
Mimmi is waitress and cook and Micke’s lover. Micke Kiviniemi owns the bar and café, and he is careful of her, worried she’ll up and leave. Malte Alajärvi is one of the regulars. Nalle is slow-witted due to an inflammation of the brain as a toddler; his father is Lars-Gunnar Vinsa, a retired policeman who leads the hunt on the church land. His wife, Eva, left him, and he brought her back when she was ill with cancer. Lisa is his cousin. Lars-Gunnar’s father, Isak, was terribly abusive.

The wolf pack
I think Yellow Legs is the one Mildred is interested in. Her half-sister is the alpha female.

Catching up…
Seems the whole Strandgård family (Olof, Kristina, and Sanna) moved, took the girls, Sara and Lova, away.

The Cover

The cover is a black-and-white image of a snowscape before a narrow waterway with trees gathered on both sides and one in the front. A footpath leads to the lake, a snow fence creates a barrier along it and separates the grasses around the lake with a hint of pink to it all. A suggestion of the aurora borealis, perhaps?

The title finds The Blood Spilt everywhere, physically and metaphorically.