A thirty-two-year-old woman seems to be waiting for someone at the Grand Hotel French dining-room in Stockholm, although all she is really looking for is a free dinner and a room in which to spend the night. A middle-aged man, Jorgen Grundberg, falls easily into her trap but she manages to leave him out of her room with a nice excuse. The next morning she wakes up when someone knocks her door. The police just want to ask her some questions but she is able to run away. Sibylla Forenstrom is her name and she is homeless since she fled from a psychiatric institution when she was only eighteen. Now the police are behind her as the prime suspect for Jorgen Grundberg’s murder and then a second murder makes her situation even worse if possible. But with the help of an unusual ally Sibylla is determined to find out who is the real killer to prove her innocence.
I was immediately hooked to this suspenseful story. I could not put it down and I had to read it in one go. Sibylla is an enchanting character which keeps some similitude with Lizbeth Salander. They both have had a very difficult childhood, to say the least, which has marked them profoundly. Now they live at the margin of what it’s considered socially acceptable, but they are determined to stay afloat with the help of their uncommon abilities in a very unfriendly environment. I very much enjoyed reading this thought-provoking book. It makes us think about the value of the things that we take for granted. Despite what may sound as some flaws in the plot the writer’s ability is such that they seem absolutely credible. A highly recommended read. I certainly don’t want to miss the rest of her books.
Karin Alvtegen was born in Jönköping, Sweden, in 1965 and had a varied career, including work in set design for film and stage, before she started to write. She is the great-niece of Astrid Lindgren (author of the Pippi Longstocking stories), and lives in Stockholm.
Her second novel, Missing, won the Glass Key Award in 2001 and it was her first book translated into English. Missing was released in 2003 (UK) and in 2009 (US). In 2006 it was adapted into a television series directed by Ian Madden and with Joanne Frogatt and Gregor Fisher. Missing was nominated for the 2009 Edgar Award for best novel by the Mystery Writers of America.
This book was one of my choices for the 2010 Scandinavian Reading Challenge but I finally read Johan Theorin’s The Darkest Room instead. But I’m glad to have read it now and I can claim to have finish The Scandinavian Reading Challenge ‘stricto sensu’.
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ENGLISH Title: Missing
ORIGINAL TITLE: Saknad (2000)
Author: Karin Alvtegen
Translated from the Swedish by Anna Paterson
First published in Great Britain in 2003
Canongate Books (paperback), 2007
Number of pages: 348