Dahl, Arne - 'Bad Blood' (translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles)
Almost simultaneously they fished their pieces of paper out of their pockets and, with effort, unfolded them.
Newark, New Jersey.
BAD BLOOD, first published in Sweden in 1998, is the second in crime-writer Arne Dahl's "Intercrime" series. Some were filmed for Swedish TV and broadcast in the UK earlier this year. Once I accepted that some personnel/chronology changes had been introduced by the TV version, I found the familiar characters of Hjelm, Holm, Nyborg, Soderstedt, Chavez and Norlander making up the Swedish "Intercrime" police team, a squad set up to track new forms of criminal behaviour and "violent crime of an international character". In BAD BLOOD they hunt an American serial killer. They must identify his reason for coming to Sweden and his targets before they can finally trace the man himself. Their search is further complicated by the mysterious fifteen year dormancy in the American killer's pattern. He had been seen to "die" in a horrific road accident by the FBI agent who had come closest to hunting him down but eventually the killings, with all their sadistic trademarks, began again. Is there a copycat? Or did the killer fake his own death? The search takes two members of the Swedish team to the U.S. where they liaise with the original FBI team that tracked the killer. The rest of the squad must uncover the trail of the first Swedish victim – and of the victims that follow.
Reading BAD BLOOD, in a translation by U.S.-based Rachel Willson-Broyles, I found its characters more complex and rewarding than those given to us by the televised version. And, although the story's content is unflinchingly dark, there is a strong vein of dry humour in the writing; incidents such as author Dahl, who is also a literary critic, casting his first Swedish murder victim as an unpleasant "literary critic"; the resignation with which Hjelm and Holm accept the FBI's stereotyped version of their names as "Yalm & Halm"; wry touches pepper the team members' relationship with each other throughout. So it's a richer, more thoughtful read than my enjoyment of the television series had led me to expect and although I already knew "who did it" I became as absorbed in the story as if it were new to me. Dahl's writing has a pay-off as rewarding as the book's dark and exciting plot. I'd go so far as to say that this is a book that could stand re-reading and that's not true of many crime stories, no matter how terrific. Even if you have watched the TV crime series I recommend BAD BLOOD. And if this is anything to go by, then the rest of his series is worth checking too.
Read another review of Bad Blood.
Lynn Harvey, England