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Snowdrift: An Embla Nyström Investigation

Review

Snowdrift: An Embla Nyström Investigation

written by Helene Tursten, translated by Marlaine Delargy

In Helene Tursten’s latest novel, SNOWDRIFT, Detective Inspector Embla Nyström wakes up breathless from a haunting dream that has been disturbing her sleep for years. Fourteen years to be exact, which is when her best friend disappeared from a Gothenburg nightclub. Then the phone rings, and Embla immediately recognizes the voice on the other end as belonging to the missing Lollo. But before she can say anything, the connection is broken. Still, here is proof that her friend is still alive and must be found.

The last time Embla saw Lollo was on a cold night when she was surrounded by three brothers who were well-known gangsters. They warned Embla that if she told anyone what she saw, they would kill her. She has lived with the guilt of that evening ever since.

A second phone call from Uncle Nisse’s cousin, Harald Fäldt, reveals that a man renting one of his guest houses has been shot dead. Clearly this is a murder and not a suicide. Embla is shocked when she recognizes the body as that of Milo Stavic, one of the gangsters who kidnapped Lollo all those years ago. Soon Embla learns that his brother, Luca, was found dead that same night, and his family --- including his other brother --- disappeared in Croatia two weeks ago.

"A series of clues and red herrings leave readers on the edge of their seats as twists and turns in the narrative keep the suspense at a high level."

As if these incidents are not enough, word comes down that a young man named Robin Pettersson was stabbed outside a nightclub and died. Is this a coincidence or something more? Embla becomes involved in investigating all of these crimes. While standing in the cottage with Milo’s body, Olle Tillman arrives on the scene. He, too, is an investigator and at first is very suspicious of Embla. After all, he finds her in a rented guest house with a dead body and no identification. She manages to convince him that she is legit by calling her former boss, Göran Krantz, who vouches for her and soon makes his presence known at the scene.

As the narrative unfolds, Embla and Olle work well together, and Göran remains on the premises with them. The jurisdictions are not clear, but the trio manages to get the investigation going. Olle is in the process of training a “seek and find” dog who he eventually brings into the mix. When a wrecked car is found in the snow, it is Tore who gallops over the drift and stands at attention, showing that he “found” something. The air bags in the car had been deployed, and Embla finds blood on the front seats. Whose blood is it? Clearly people were injured when the accident occurred. Where and who are they?

When Embla and Olle try to question the owner of the vehicle and his wife, they are met with hostility. But the detectives have the evidence they need and will follow up with the family along with questioning everyone they can in all three killings. This entails finding the teenagers who were part of the group at the nightclub and unraveling the incidents that led up to the murders of the two Stavic brothers and the disappearance of the third.

A call comes into the police station about a house that has burned down. Investigators uncover a human skeleton in the rubble. Could this be the remains of the missing Stavic brother, or is it a new victim not yet identified?

The police gather evidence and slowly put together the information gleaned from suspects and witnesses. A series of clues and red herrings leave readers on the edge of their seats as twists and turns in the narrative keep the suspense at a high level. The characters are well limned and believable, while the excellent translation from Swedish to English by Marlaine Delargy makes for a solidly smooth read. This is Helene Tursten at her finest.

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on December 11, 2020

Snowdrift: An Embla Nyström Investigation
written by Helene Tursten, translated by Marlaine Delargy

  • Publication Date: December 8, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Crime
  • ISBN-10: 1641291605
  • ISBN-13: 9781641291606