Closed Circles by Viveca Sten

Closed Circles by Viveca Sten
(Sandhamn Murders Book 2)
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

It’s a beautiful day for a regatta—until one of Sandhamn Island’s most prestigious residents is killed aboard his sailing yacht.

Oscar Juliander was a rich lawyer and deputy chairman of the prestigious Royal Swedish Yacht Club. While at first his death seems like a tragic accident, there is evidence of foul play. Police detective Thomas Andreasson teams up with local lawyer Nora Linde to investigate. As they work to uncover clues, they face resistance from an elite world where nothing but appearance matters.

When the rich and powerful inhabitants of Sweden’s idyllic island getaway come under scrutiny, Thomas and Nora must work closely and secretively to seek justice.

When the Vice Chairman of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club is shot on his boat in time with the starting gun of one of the biggest regattas in the height of summer, Police detective Thomas Andreasson and his colleagues have their work cut out for them. An important man and seriously well-connected the victim is also a lawyer and so the list of people who could have born a grudge is daunting. Added in the many rich and powerful inhabitants of Sandhamn Island and the RSYC and even though there are smiles and offers to help abounding it seems as if everyone has secrets to hide. Can Thomas and Nora once again work together and bring justice to bear?

I was eager to read this second book in Viveca Sten’s mystery series. I greatly enjoyed the first (Still Waters) and was pleased to find this story stood excellently alone but retained many of the strong aspects that had me enjoying the first. This is a slower-paced mystery but has a large and very well written set of characters which really had me able to enjoy and picture everything going on. While I admit this large cast of characters slows the pace of the plot and murder investigation – and therefore slows the pace of the book as well – I truly can’t fault the author for this, mainly because it’s the different perspectives and interweaving of the plot and characters that made this book in large part so enjoyable for me.

A lot of the book is split well, I feel, between Nora and Thomas. Nora is unhappily married with two children and Thomas is healing emotionally from his divorce and the devastation resulting from his infant daughter dying from SIDS some time ago. Nora and Thomas are friends, but work well together and have a strong, platonic relationship that I thoroughly enjoy. These two characters are both relatable and believable and I feel are both strong enough to steer the book very well.

What I enjoyed about this book is that while Nora and Thomas’ relationship is mostly straightforward, all the other secondary characters are a nest of interweaving messy emotions which was delightfully complicated. There’s illicit affairs, jostling for position and power – both political and no – within the Royal Yacht Club and assorted business dealings. Keeping all the various connections, friendships, affairs and relations in mind was complicated in an intriguing way and trying to sort out motive verses normal human emotions and reactions kept my attention riveted on the pages as I worked my way through the book.

In some respects this book is deceptively simple – a very believable and realistic mess of human interactions pushed to the limit and so resulting in murder. But as so often in real life, the simple emotions are layered and woven in with others and so it’s a mess trying to sort everything out which is why it’s so interesting to see Thomas and Nora, along with the rest of the police team, try to untangle everything.

Readers looking for a thriller type of story or a fast-paced, action driven mystery probably won’t enjoy this as much as I did, but readers who enjoy complicated and very realistic, emotional and tangled stories should find this delightful Swedish story a great read. I’m eagerly looking forward to more in this series.

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