Still Waters by Viveca Sten

Still Waters by Viveca Sten
Publisher: Amazon Crossing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense /Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.

As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is readying himself to start his summer holidays at his small summer house in the Sandhamn islands off the Swedish coastline where he grew up. What at first looks like a drowning accident – or possible suicide, though there’s no evidence to support that – quickly drags Thomas deeper when the victim’s only living relative, a cousin he was particularly close to, also is found dead shortly afterwards under mysterious circumstances. Thomas seeks help from his childhood friend and local lawyer Nora Linde and together the two of them try to uncover what turns into a convoluted and difficult mystery.

I often enjoy Scandinavian based crime stories and this one in particular really appealed to me. While much of the Scandi-crime I have previously read is slightly darker in tone and setting than other British or American based crime fiction, this book was delightfully more verbally colourful and lighter. Set at the height of summer I found it a refreshing and totally different landscape even though the murder mystery was a stark contrast to the lighter tone of the beach-going summer holiday makers.

I found the mystery in particular a little slow to begin moving. Readers who prefer a faster paced – or action-driven – style of novel might find this a little slow or plodding for their tastes, but personally I really appreciated the time to get to know Thomas and Nora’s characters a bit better and really enjoy the local island/beach going setting which was completely different from what I was expecting. I found being eased into this and also having a slower introduction to Thomas and Nora, their childhood connections and friendship as well as the different twists and turns each of their lives had taken as they had grown up and both married and started their own families – a slightly slower pace for the mystery plotline really appealed to me and made a lot more sense, rather than some bang-bang-bang hard driving murder mystery action pace.

I was also really impressed that the author didn’t hint or indicate in any manner that Nora and Thomas were anything other than long-standing and completely platonic friends. This is the first book in a series though and I completely accept this might change down the track, but for now I found it really refreshing and quite wonderful that Nora and Thomas are simply friends who share a long-standing history and they’re each perfectly content to keep it like that. I found this lovely and noteworthy.

The murder mystery, once it gets cracking, was really well written and I feel those who like police-procedural style of crime novels should find this fits the bill really well. I am really glad I gave this Swedish crime novel a chance and am eager to read the next in the series. Recommended.

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