Midwinter Sacrifice by Mons Kallentoft

Published by Hodder & Stoughton

Earlier this year, thanks to Hodder & Stoughton, I had the pleasure of meeting Swedish crime writer Mons Kallentoft at the aptly named Bleeding Heart restaurant in London – a perfect setting to eat drink and discuss all things dark and murderous.

I was a little disappointed to find that, once again, here was a crime writer who, whilst able to put some very nasty imagery on the page, was a genuinely really nice guy and dedicated family man.  He told me that he does sometimes have to shut himself away in his writing room, but that his children are very accommodating and leave him be when he closes the door or puts his headphones on to set to writing his ice cold dark fiction.

The cover artwork for the novel is, in my humble opinion, one of the most startling and horrific images seen on a crime book jacket this year.  The frozen lower legs and feet with the trees in the background instantly telling a story and putting me in mind of the vampire movie ‘Let the Right One In’.  It’s probably the only book jacket I’ve held this year that I’ve wanted to hide away from my children as it was bound to raise questions as to what the story was about.  In truth, this is one I’ll certainly recommend they read when old enough to do so.

Whilst it might be argued that we’ve certainly had a fair share of new Scandinavian Crime authors in the last couple of years, once again here we have another very welcome and worthy addition to the ranks.  The central character of investigator Malin Fors is a very involved and involving character, with her baggage of distant husband, wayward daughter and being first on the scene to find the body of a man hanging in the woods.  Rumours abound that the killing may relate to a cult, to some local animal killings and an event known as the Midwinter Sacrifice and sends Fors on an investigation into a family who may shelter some very dark secrets and may unlock the puzzle.

Comparisons to the character of Sarah Lund in the runaway success tv series ‘The Killing’ would be very fairly placed and, for me, Fors is also not dissimilar in her life/work balance and situation to Mankell’s Wallander.

Kallentoft writes his female lead very well, and he writes this gripping tale extremely well.

More please and soon.

Winter’s coming and I need another of these to settle down to read whilst the snow falls outside my window.


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