Midwinter Blood (USA)

Published in USA in June 2012


When the ice melts, what remains?

Thirty-four years old, blond, single, divorced with a teenage daughter, Fors is the most driven superintendent who has ever worked on the police force in her small, isolated town. And the most talented. In her job, she is constantly moving through the borderland between life and death. Her path in life is violent and hazardous.

Linköping, Sweden, is surrounded by a landscape of plains and forests—a fault line on the edges of society where time seems to have stood still and where some people live entirely according to their own rules. In the early hours of a frigid night, during the coldest February anyone can remember, the bloody body of an obese man, stripped bare and horribly mutilated, is found hanging from a lone oak tree in the middle of a frozen, snow-covered, and windswept plain not far from town.

The young superintendent Malin Fors is assigned to the case. Together with her colleagues from the Investigation Section of Linköping’s Crime Unit, she must track down the identity of the man in the tree and the reason why he ended up there. And at the same time they must follow in the frigid wake of a killer who has just begun his work. It is a manhunt that will take Malin into the darkest corners of the human heart where the sins of the past— hidden away—all too often wreak havoc from one generation to the next.


Reviews

"MIDWINTER BLOOD is one of those books that will keep you up throughout the night. It is not necessarily a work that can be digested in one sitting; it is arguably too grim and dark for that, though the prose is beautiful. "Poetic” would not be an inappropriate word to describe it. What stays with the reader, however, are the situations and characters to be found within the story, from the haunting (in many senses of the word) voice of Andersson to the complex, driven and dangerously flawed Fors. Make room on your shelf --- and calendar --- for this one."

Joe Hartlaub, 20Somethings Reads


"Meditative. Dark. Really, really cold. Not quite as strange as Stieg Larsson. This is a worthy successor to Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, probably owing its American publication (it was first published in Sweden in 2007) to Larsson’s success. It’s February in the small Swedish city of Linkoping, a time when even Swedes stay indoors. Heroine Malin Fors, an investigator in Linkoping’s crime unit, forces herself out of bed and into her unresponsive car in a scene that is the print equivalent of the below-zero opening of Fargo. Malin is 34, divorced and still confused, the mother of a teen daughter, going through the inevitable balancing act. What sets Malin and her coworker Zeke Martinsson apart from most people getting up on this cold morning is that they both meditate (Kallentoft gives multiple points of view throughout) on the necessity of holding evil at bay in their own lives. And evil does appear, as both Malin and Zeke knew it would, at the crime scene to which they’ve been summoned. A naked man, badly bruised, is hanging from the branches of an oak tree (the dead man’s point of view is given, as well). There are no clues to the man’s identity, which leads to wonderfully spare meditations on identity itself. This first installment in Kallentoft’s crime series is a splendid representative of the Swedish crime novel, in all its elegance and eeriness."
— Connie Fletcher, Booklist


"Mons Kallentoft’s novel is one of the latest to cross the ocean and Midwinter Blood shows what precise, insightful storytelling US readers have been missing. ... They can’t be published quickly enough in the US."

Mystery Scene Magazine


"MIDWINTER BLOOD immediately drew me in with its grit, darkness, and strong police procedural angle—it's no surprise that I was intrigued by this Nordic Noir read based on its plot alone. But beyond the immediate appeal of its plot, I stayed with this book for Kallentoft's voice as an author. Kallentoft has worked as both a writer and journalist prior to trying his hand at crime fiction, and this influence can be felt in MIDWINTER BLOOD. Kallentoft has written a crime novel that is truly quite contemplative, with both the living and the dead expounding on what it means to live, and what it means to live well. How connected can we ever really be to another person? And what if the thing we share with one another is our loneliness? Kallentoft subtly and effectively weaves these themes throughout his gritty crime novel. 

...

   Once the story hooked me, I couldn't put it down. I loved this book for its dark and enveloping atmosphere, its intriguing and complex protagonist, and its dark and propulsive central crime."

— Crime by the book


"Kallentoft manages to penetrate deep enough into its origins and into some pretty cold hearts to make the plot plausible. The investigation is very interesting and the ending quite satisfactory and very suspenseful. Moreover, Kallentoft is an outstanding writer, and the translation is excellent too. Also, the character descriptions are very good, and his descriptions of the settings and the wintery Swedish landscape very evocative. So, as you understand, I enjoyed Midwinter Blood and I also very much enjoyed reading about Malin Fors. She is an interesting character that I look forward to meeting again!"

— Scandinavian books