I am not sure why I requested this book. The fact, that it is a new Kristina Ohlsson maybe was the main reason. The summary is another. The cover not so much. All I know now is, unfortunately, that the story couldn´t thrill me the way I would have liked it. This one wasn´t what I had expected, and I fear that that´s precisely the point why I rated it the way I did. There is no doubt that the author knows how to create psychological finesse. That she knows how to make intriguing figures and to set her plot in a setting that fascinates and delights you while reading. Kristina Ohlsson didn´t change that with Hovenäst. But the change in her way of creating a “new investigator” was, from my point of view, not very successful. Despite my liking August Strindberg very much. Sounds confusing? Believe me, I am confused too …

Die Tote Im Sturm*
by Kristina Ohlsson
August Strindberg Series #1
Translation Susanne Dahmann
Original Title Stormvakt
Publisher Limes on August 10, 2022
Genre Crime
Pages 537
Format Paperback
Source Limes

Towering cliffs, creaking docks, quaint red boathouses - and a killer! A storm is approaching the sleepy town of Hoenäset. Two things happen that night when the storm descends on the idyllic Swedish west coast: the teacher Agnes disappears without a trace and a new resident turns up in Hovenäset. August Strindberg from Stockholm bought the funeral home because he wants to open a second-hand shop there. As August paints the hearse belonging to the property yellow to make it more cheerful, he realizes that his house is central to Agnes' disappearance. He starts investigating on his own. (personal translation by ©Vi at Inkvotary).
August Strindberg wants a fresh start. After all the catastrophes of the last few months, a change is needed. He leaves Stockholm and starts a new life with an unusual second-hand shop on the small island of Hovenäst. Much to the displeasure of his best friend, who stayed in Stockholm. But peace and self-chosen solitude are anything but monotonous and boring for August, quite the opposite.

The writing style and tone are light, and the story is told in an entertaining way. I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading a detective story, not a plain novel. The wonderful landscape, the varied scenes, and the actions of the individual characters are simply beautiful. The psychological component is brilliantly portrayed, and it wasn't until the very end that I realized who the real bad guy was. What I didn't like at all, however, is the fact that the character of August Strindberg was advertised as something I really don't think he is. I also disliked more and more what I got to read between the lines from the author in relation to Maria Martinsson.

The interpersonal tones were just beginning to warm me to the detective side of this somewhat unusual detective novel when the author suddenly punched out such a violent scene with hard-hitting dialogue that I wondered where all this was actually going to lead. Well, it finally led to a conclusion that seemed a bit hasty and where it almost became too much with what August Strindberg was bringing to light.

Kristina Ohlsson shows characters here that are not only very contradictory but also created a lack of understanding in me.

Maria Martinsson is a smart and successful detective who loves working on small islands. For them, the big city is more of an overkill. In private, on the other hand, she experiences something that literally stopped me from enjoying reading. How can it be that a woman who must be able to defend herself every day in her job cannot make it at home? The more the author hinted at details, and it became increasingly clear as the plot progressed that something was wrong, the angrier I became as a reader. At a certain point, nothing fit together for me anymore.

I'm torn because this thriller didn't really knock me off my feet. But he doesn't leave me completely cold either. Things are presented there that first send the reader down the wrong track before a complete U-turn is presented by the author. Basically, it came too late for me in terms of plot. On the one hand, as already mentioned, the psychological side is brilliantly performed, but it doesn't really come into its own at the end due to the light tone of voice. Too bad, I expected a lot more from this.

Happy reading

*This book was kindly provided to me by Limes in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. Thank you. Therefore, the cover of the German edition is shown first in this review. The book was, at the time this review was published, only available in the German & Swedish languages.

Deutsche Rezension

Der Schreibstil und Tonfall sind leicht und die Geschichte auf unterhaltsame Weise erzählt. Ich musste mich immer wieder daran erinnern, dass ich einen Krimi lese, und keinen schlichten Roman. Die herrliche Landschaft, die abwechslungsreich dargestellten Szenen und das Agieren der einzelnen Figuren sind einfach schön. Die psychologische Komponente ist brillant dargestellt und mir kam erst ziemlich am Schluss der Gedanke, wer der eigentlich Böse hier ist. Was mir hingegen so gar nicht gefallen hat, ist der Fakt, dass die Figur des August Strindberg als etwas angekündigt wurde, was er meiner Ansicht nach so gar nicht ist. Zudem missfiel es mir mehr und mehr, was ich da zwischen den Zeilen von der Autorin im Bezug auf Maria Martinsson zu lesen bekam.

Die Zwischenmenschlichen Töne fingen gerade an, mich mit der kriminalistischen Seite dieses etwas ungewöhnlichen Kriminalromans warm werden zu lassen, da haut die Autorin plötzlich eine so heftige Szene mit einem knallharten Dialog raus, dass ich mich gefragt habe, wohin das alles eigentlich führen soll. Tja, es führte schließlich zu einem Schluss, der etwas überstürzt wirkte und wo es fast schon zu viel wurde mit dem, was August Strindberg da ans Licht brachte.

Kristina Ohlsson zeigt hier Figuren, die nicht nur sehr gegensätzlich sind, sondern in mir teilweise auch Unverständnis erzeugt haben.

Maria Martinsson ist eine kluge und erfolgreiche Kriminalkommissarin, die die Arbeit auf den kleinen Inseln regelrecht liebt. Die Großstadt ist für sie eher der Overkill. Im Privaten erlebt sie hingegen etwas, wo bei mir der Spaß am Lesen buchstäblich aufhörte. Wie kann es sein, dass eine Frau, die tagtäglich in ihrem Job in der Lage sein muss, sich selbst verteidigen zu können, das Daheim nicht schafft? Je mehr die Autorin hier Details andeutete und es im Handlungsverlauf immer klarer wurde, dass da was nicht stimmt, umso verärgerter wurde ich als Leserin. Da passte für mich ab einem gewissen Punkt nichts mehr zusammen.

Ich bin hin und hergerissen, denn wirklich vom Hocker gerissen hat mich dieser Krimi nicht. Er lässt mich aber auch nicht vollkommen kalt. Da werden Dinge präsentiert, die den Leser erst auf eine falsche Spur schicken, ehe ein kompletter U-Turn von der Autorin präsentiert wird. Nur kam der für mich im Grunde handlungsmäßig zu spät. Die psychologische Seite ist einerseits wie schon gesagt, brillant aufgeführt, kommt am Ende durch den leichten Tonfall aber nicht richtig zum Tragen. Schade, hiervon habe ich mir deutlich mehr erwartet.


*This book was originally published in the Swedish language by Bokförlaget on November 5, 2020 

Kristina Ohlsson
Kristina Ohlsson ©Anna-Lena Ahlstrom

Kristina Ohlsson, born in 1979, is one of Sweden´s most successful authors of crime fiction and children´s books. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked for the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe), the Swedish Security Service, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her crime fiction novels about Fredrika Bergman have repeatedly been shortlisted for the Swedish Academy of Crime Writer´s Award for ´Best Crime Novel of the Year´ and featured prominently on bestseller lists all over the world. She won the 2010 Stabilo Prize for ´Best Crime Writer of Southern Sweden´ and established herself as a highly popular author with a broad fan base of adults as well as children. The author lives in Stockholm.


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