The Hummingbird by Kati Hiekkapelto tr. David Hackston (Arcadia Books; Finland)
Anna Fekete, who fled the Yugoslavian wars as a child, has a past. Just beginning her career as a criminal investigator in a northern Finnish coastal town, she is thrust into a high-profile, seemingly unsolvable case that has riveted the nation. It doesn’t help that her middle-aged new partner, Esko, doesn’t bother hiding his racist prejudices, and Anna becomes the target of a systematic campaign to unsettle her. A young woman has been killed on a running trail, and a pendant depicting an Aztec god has been found in her possession. Another murder soon follows. All signs point to a serial killer, but can Anna catch the Hummingbird before he – or she – strikes again? And at what personal cost?
The Human Flies by Hans Olav Lahlum tr. Kari Dickson (Mantle; Norway)
Oslo, 1968. Ambitious young detective Inspector Kolbjørn Kristiansen is called to an apartment block, where a man has been found murdered. The victim, Harald Olesen, was a legendary hero of the Resistance during the Nazi occupation and at first it is difficult to imagine who could have wanted him dead. But as Detective Inspector Kolbjørn Kristiansen (known as K2) begins to investigate, it seems clear that the murderer could only be one of Olesen’s fellow tenants in the building. Soon, with the help of Patricia – a brilliant young woman confined to a wheelchair following a terrible accident – K2 will begin to untangle the web of lies surrounding Olesen’s neighbours; each of whom, it seems, had their own reasons for wanting Olesen dead. Their interviews, together with new and perplexing clues, will lead K2 and Patricia to dark events that took place during the Second World War . . .
Falling Freely, As If In A Dream by Leif G W Persson tr. Paul Norlen (Doubleday; Sweden)
It’s August 2007, and Lars Martin Johansson, chief of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Sweden has opened the files on the unsolved murder of Prime Minister Olof Palme. With his retirement quickly closing in, Johansson forms a new group comprised of a few trustworthy detectives who doggedly wade through mountains of paperwork and pursue new leads in a case that has all but gone cold despite the open wound the assassination has left on the consciousness of Swedish society. Yet the closer the group gets to the truth, the more Johansson compromises the greater good for personal gain, becoming a pawn for the private vendetta of a shady political spin doctor. Sharply detailed and boldly plotted, Persson’s work lifts the veil on one of history’s greatest unsolved crimes in a novel that goes toe-to-toe with the best of true crime books.
My intention is to read all the books in The 2015 Petrona Award shortlist before the announcement of the winner.