Arne Dahl has rightly gained a reputation for producing taut thrillers with a strong political slant. We’ve had two of them translated into English, The Blinded Man and Bad Blood and are, therefore, a long way behind the series in its original Swedish language. To the Top of the Mountain picks up the threads of the now disbanded Intercrime team following the tragic end to its last case. The detectives are spread around the city in different departments and the unit’s leader, Jan-Olov Hultin has retired to his country cottage.
An explosion in a high security prison is closely followed by an attack on a well-known drugs baron and a shocking massacre. The events may be connected but it needs the skills of the Intercrime to pull together the strands of what appear to be random attacks. But a complex child pornography case is occupying Gunnar Nyberg and he is given permission to continue with this investigation. A couple on the run with a suitcase containing the keys to a security box may hold the answers to the violence unfolding in the city.
Dahl’s skill as a writer is evident in how the narrative of To The Top of the Mountain is structured. He holds back from reassembling the team too early in the story and instead we get vignettes of how each former member of the elite unit is now functioning. This is as interesting as the main crime story for readers of this series. In fact, it isn’t until the middle of the book that Hultin finally makes his entrance.
Once the investigation is underway, the story cracks along briskly, a style we have come to associate with Dahl’s books. I found this one to be less violent than his previous ones, in particular Bad Blood. However, more than the crime story, it was the relationships portrayed that I most enjoyed. Chazez, the Swedish-Chilean policeman, finally meets his match in love and Kerstin Holm and Paul Hjelm’s relationship shifts once more. And, on a personal note, I love the fact that two of the central characters are choristers.
This is my favourite book so far from this solid series. It’s always gratifying to read an author who gets better with each book.
Thanks to Harvill Secker for my review copy. The translation was by Alice Menzies.