SinC25: Åsa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past

One of the things I most love about blogging is linking to other crime fiction sites. There are a wealth of good blogs out there and when I get the chance I want to compile a list of my favourites. Something I came across recently is the Sisters in Crime Book Bloggers Challenge which aims to promote the contribution of women to crime fiction. Looking at my recent book purchases I notice that about 70% were by men and to redress the balance here is my stab at the ‘easy’ challenge – a review of Åsa Larsson’s new book Until thy Wrath be Past.

A girl’s body is found in the River Torne in the north of Sweden during the first spring thaw. Prosecutor Rebecka Martinsson, working in nearby Kiruna is drawn into the case after the dead girl visits her in the night. The investigation soon focuses on an isolated frozen lake where a plane carrying supplies for the Wehrmacht disappeared in 1943. It is a tale of memories which refuse to be buried and of violence which spills from inside a family into the wider community.

Larsson’s Savage Altar was a strong debut for the writer and I found her follow-up books to be of consistently good quality. This new book is an excellent although sometimes discomforting read. The main body of the murder investigation is interspersed with passages which take the point of view of the dead girl. This can be a difficult area for writers. They needs to be both convincing and yet open to the possibilities that this might not be everyone’s idea of being dead. I think Larsson deals with the issue very well and the final excerpt from the dead girl is very moving.

There is a lot of Scandinavian crime fiction out there at the moment and most of it of a high quality. What Larsson adds to the genre is a strong sense of place, setting her books in a rural Swedish community where the past strongly influences the present.  Her books also have convincing female characters and it is therefore a worth inclusion in the Sisters of Crime challenge.

As part of the challenge I need to recommend five more women crime writers. My only problem is keeping the list to five so I’ve decided to go for a geographical spread:

1. Mari Jungstedt (books set on the Swedish island of Gotland)

2. Fred Vargas (pseudonym of French historian and archaeologist Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau. Features the detective Adamsberg).

3. Jennifer Egan (US author, books often have an element of crime/thriller)

4. Ann Cleeves (UK writer author of Vera Stanhope series recently televised with Brenda Blethyn)

5. Yrsa Sigurdardottir  (author of well-written thrillers set in Iceland)

19 thoughts on “SinC25: Åsa Larsson – Until Thy Wrath be Past

  1. Asa Larsson is one of my favourite crime writers and I think she keeps getting better.

    Two new to me names on your list that I will have to try…well Mari Jungstedt is not new in that I have got books by her here to read but haven’t gotten around to them yet…Jennifer Egan is all new, will check her out


    1. Thanks Bernadette. Try The Keep by Jennifer Egan. It was longlisted for the Orange Prize and I enjoyed it – a gothic Eastern European tale. I’ve just read A Visit from the Goon Squad. Not a crime book but also enjoyable too.


  2. Margot Kinberg

    I’ve become quite a Larsson fan, and I’m so glad that you enjoyed Until Thy Wrath Be Past. You make some excellent recommendations of other crime writers, too. I really enjoy Ann Cleeves and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir in particular.


  3. Very nice to read your review, I loved this book and have enjoyed all her previous ones. I think she’s rather like Johan Theorin in some ways, eg their wonderful depictions of the older characters (Larsson’s Sivving and Theorin’s Gerlof, but other characters too in both authors’ books).
    I have enjoyed all the authors on your list apart from Jennifer Egan whom I haven’t read either. There have been some mixed reviews of the Goon Squad so maybe I’ll try the other one.
    By the way, I’ve set up your blog to post automatically into the Friend Feed site, I hope that’s OK, please let me know if not. It is great that you have joined us there.


    1. Hi Maxine – yes I’m a fan of Johan Theorin too. I loved Echoes from the Dead. One of those books that stay with you for a long time. And thanks for setting up the automatic post onto Friend Feed. I don’t think I could have worked out how to do this myself. I am still finding my way around WordPress and Friend Feed.


  4. thanks for comment on my blog and yrsa sigurdardottir ,will look her out ,as for Larsson love this book the two lead characters were very fleshed out ,I think Machlehose have all the books after this one by her signed up ,all the best stu


      1. The earlier books (3) were published in the UK by Penguin, but sadly were dropped after that. I believe you can still get these editions – they are wonderfully translated by Marlaine Delargy (who also translates Theorin). MacLehose picked up Larsson and are publishing the next books in the series after #3 (The Black Path), but not sure if they are repubilshing the first three, I have not heard that they are. (Unlike Liza Marklund, whose backlist is being published by her new publisher as well as the newly translated books. The publisher is also changing some of the titles. As she deliberately wrote the first four out of order, this is extremely convoluted! But I highly recommend Marklund if you have not read her, just avoid the one she co-wrote with Patterson. For the definitive reading order, you can check the listing on Euro Crime.)


        1. I haven’t read any Liza Marklund yet, Maxine. I will give her a go. Incidentally I’ve just picked up a book by Kjell Eriksson (the Princess of Burundi). He’s a new author for me as well. I’m looking forward to reading it.


  5. Keishon

    Another fan of Asa Larsson thanks to Maxine. Great post Sarah. I’ve only read one Fred Vargas book and plan to read more and have been curious about Jennifer Egan.


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  8. kathy d.

    I like Asa Larsson’s books, and although I was put off by the supernatural element in Until Thy Wrath Be Past, some good blogs convinced me to try anyway. It was my favorite of hers so far.
    I liked The Princess of Burundi, but even more Eriksson’s The Demon of Dakar. And I am an avid fan of Fred Vargas’ brilliant, quirky mind. I will go wherever Inspector Adamsberg goes, whatever the convoluted pathways, — and admire the intelligence behind it all.
    And Liza Marklund: What a dilemma. I’m still in the middle of Stef Penney’s excellently written The Invisible Ones, and Last Will became available at the library. i got it and had to hide it so I won’t pick it up until I finish Penney’s.


  9. I haven’t read any Liza Marklund yet but she is top of my list to try after Maxine’s review. I think I will go back to an earlier book as it will be easier to find and give her a go. Fred Vargas is my absolute favourite writer at the moment. My husband introduced me to her books and I think she is wonderful as are all her characters.


  10. kathy d.

    I love Fred Vargas, too, have read all of her Inspector Adamsbergs and the only one I could get with the three historians, The Three Evangelists. The others aren’t available in English, wish they were.
    Friends are divided on her writing, as is the mystery blogosphere. Interesting that readers either like or don’t like her writing. The last one, An Uncertain Place, I think, really created a bit of a stir, as there were fans of it and those who didn’t like it. It is really quirky, but still followed deductive reasoning to solve the crimes, while meeting Serbian vampire dynasties along the way. What a mind! No one else thinks like Vargas does, which is refreshing. She could never be trite or boring. I can’t figure out how her mind goes where it does, but am so glad to be a follower.


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