The acclaimed author of the Kurt Wallander mysteries, writing at the height of his powers, now gives us an electrifying stand-alone global thriller.
January 2006. In the Swedish hamlet of Hesjövallen, nineteen people have been massacred. The only clue is a red ribbon found at the scene.
Judge Birgitta Roslin has particular reason to be shocked: Her grandparents, the Andréns, are among the victims, and Birgitta soon learns that an Andrén family in Nevada has also been murdered. She then discovers the nineteenth-century diary of an Andrén ancestor—a gang master on the American transcontinental railway—that describes brutal treatment of Chinese slave workers. The police insist that only a lunatic could have committed the Hesjövallen murders, but Birgitta is determined to uncover what she now suspects is a more complicated truth.
The investigation leads to the highest echelons of power in present-day Beijing, and to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. But the narrative also takes us back 150 years into the depths of the slave trade between China and the United States—a history that will ensnare Birgitta as she draws ever closer to solving the Hesjövallen murders.
The reason I am bothering to write a review is to say that the reader, Rosalyn Landor, is amazing. Her ability to morph into different characters was uncanny. She never let her dialogue voice seep into her narrator voice for even the "she said" bits. By the end of the book, I was enjoying listening to her more than I was paying attention to the story.
Overall I enjoyed the book, but would have given it 3 stars if it weren't for Rosalyn. My biggest complaint is that I often felt as if the author were on a mission to educate me about certain political or historical topics, as opposed to just telling a story.
Great Trip - One Boring Detour
The mystery and the story are very compelling. I actually found that I could not listen to it during the last hour before trying to sleep. The reader does an amazing job switching language accents and gender. However, the author takes a very long detour into a fictional political science lecture (which in the text lasts five hours and feels about that long when listening to the narrative) that almost caused me to abandon the book. Being more than three-quarters of the way through, I stuck with it and am glad that I did. Very exciting and complete conclusion. I highly recommend it, just fast forward through the lecture and move on.
while this book started off very well, for me it lost steam. It wound up turning into more of an opinionated expose article. The middle of the book (or Act II) was painfully drawn out. The ending was rushed and predictable. Great premise, good start, mediocre middle and flat finish.
The narrator was incredibly talented though.