Wednesday, January 19

Killingly boring from David Lagercrantz

DOES NOT DELIVER: Swedish David Lagercrantz is out with his first crime – completely independent of Stieg Larsson and “Millennium” – but VG’s reviewer believes he is unable to deliver.
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David Lagercrantz is out with the first volume in a new crime series that is entirely his own. How are you? Not very good, unfortunately.

David Lagercrantz is the man behind the adventurous success “I am Zlatan”, which when it came out in Swedish in 2011 sold half a million hardcover copies already before Christmas.

Lagercrantz was also brave enough, perhaps crazy enough, to pick up the glove after the late Stieg Larsson – and write the fourth volume in the so-called Millennium series. And the fifth. And the sixth. Some strong criticism and sharp protests, both from Larsson’s family, readers and fellow writers.

Then you are tough.

Now he is out with “Obscuritas”, the first volume in a new crime series, and it starts so promising.

It is the summer of 2003. In Stockholm, a football referee is killed with a stone right after a match. The case seems obvious.

Giuseppe Costa, the father of one of Sweden’s new great talents, is arrested right at the scene. Drunk, dirty and quarrelsome. During the match, he has also been in a brawl with the referee, who has his background from Afghanistan. But in interrogation, Costa flatly refuses. The police do not get a hole in him.

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Lagercrantz submits its “special unit”, which in principle seems very promising:

The young policewoman Micaela Vargas from the slum town of Husby, knows Costa from growing up. She also has credit, with a brother who is a known criminal. And has an immigrant background like Costa himself.

With her is Professor Hans Rekke – a world-renowned interrogation expert, former concert pianist. It should turn out to be a mildly eccentric person.

And when the tracks lead in the direction of Kabul and the Taliban’s insane war against music, instruments and musicians, one would think it was covered for a proper fireworks display by a thriller.

But unfortunately. Lagercrantz simply does not light the fuse.

After a promising start to the collaboration, the ingenious professor goes to bed with a carrier bag of powder and pills of all kinds, and there he is left paralyzed and knocked out until around page 250, while Vargas takes on the role of a kind of mixture of psychiatric nurse, suburban and involuntary friend.

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Yes, it gets so bad with the piano-playing interrogation expert, that I as a reader become anxious that Vargas may have to change his nappy in the next chapter.

Luckily we get rid of that, but what we get is a thriller completely devoid of suspense of any kind.

I think it’s a shame. Lagercrantz aims for a serious project, but simply fails to deliver.

Volume two can not get worse than this. It must be a meager consolation.

Reviewed by: Ingvar Ambjørnsen

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