Author: Mons Kallentoft
Why did I read it? I have been enjoying Scandinavian and Nordic fiction of late; something about it resonates with me, and this came up in recommendations somewhere, and as the reviews weren’t bad I decided to delve in.
What’s it about? A man is found hanging, seemingly sacrificed, in the woods outside Linköping, Sweden, during a bitterly cold, winter’s night. Malin Fors, a police detective and single mother, investigates, trying to find the victim, the perpetrator and her own way in life.
“An investigation consists of a mass of voices, the sort you can hear, and the sort you can’t. You have to listen to the soundless voices, Malin. That’s where the truth is hidden.“
What did I like? The approach to the story is unique as the voice of the victim is heard throughout, following Malin Fors as she attempts to identify him, his killer and the motive. Although Malin is the main character, there are insights into the thoughts and lives of all the characters. It’s a strange experience listening to an audio edition of a book that focusses on the voices in an investigation; if the narrator has been better, this book could really have been something special. Perhaps I ought to have read it, rather than listen to it?
There is also an unresolved element to the book, but, rather than leaving me disappointed, it left me wanting more, so I am glad to learn “Midwinter Sacrifice” is part of a series surrounding Malin Fors. Mons Kallentoft excels in writing descriptions and the tale itself is very intriguing. Not really the usual thing. The way the investigation unfolds is also different from others in this genre I’ve read.
I truly enjoyed “Midwinter Sacrifice” because I was unable to identify the killer as soon as they were introduced, or know the answer to the unresolved mystery. This is highly unusual, as I am very good at discerning who did it very early on in stories, films, etc. I find Mons Kallentoft an inventive writer.
This audio edition was clear, and there were no errors. I am not sure who supplied the male voice of the victim, but it was pitched perfectly: ethereal, sad and reflective of the spirit of the character. I also liked the sound effects used for telephone calls, it enlivened the tone of the narration (see below).
What didn’t I like? Lisa Coleman as narrator was like a drone. I nearly gave up on this audio edition several times, because I was so tired of hearing Ms Coleman’s monotonous vocal. I shall avoid any future audio offerings involving Lisa Coleman. This book could have been more dramatic had it been voiced correctly. A tale based on voices really needs a good reader to make it special, as a few sound effects and a singular male voice just aren’t enough to lift the listener from the doldrums.
To my mind, Mons Kallentoft misjudges the internal dialogue of Malin Fors at times. I’m not sure I know of any woman who would think some of the things she does, but this is a minor distraction, which does not necessarily detract from the overall narrative.
Would I recommend it? Yes, but read it. Don’t listen to the audio edition voiced by Lisa Coleman.
Rating: 3½/5. I should state that had I read, rather than listened to this book I might have rated it 4½ stars.