Viveca Sten starts a new mystery series in Still Waters. Sten is Swedish and thus her story is too. First published there in 2008 and then translated to English in 2015, the Sandhamm Murders series is a sensation. Nine books are available in English, and there’s even a Swedish TV series based on it. So, that gives you an idea of the quality of work. And the popularity.
Stockholm police officer Thomas Andreasson spent many childhood summers in the archipelago of islands just off the coast. This network of islands is a popular spot for vacation homes and serves as a unique setting. It’s the kind of place where an island’s year-round residents and vacation homeowners all know each other. At the same time, the islands are completely dependent on tourists who come to enjoy boating, the beaches and breezes off the Baltic Sea.
When his body washes ashore as the summer vacation season begins, the police assume Krister Berggren took his own life. But soon enough other suspicious bodies turn up. And Andreasson must find out the whole story and make the islands safe again. Since he’s a long-time visitor and summer resident of Sandhamm and its neighboring islands, there’s no one better to get to the bottom of things. Except maybe his childhood friend Nora Linde, a lawyer with a mind for investigation.
Sten knows how to build a good mystery novel. She incorporates strong characters, creepy events, and plenty of red herrings that made it hard to guess the culprit. As the first in a series, she works hard to introduce her main characters, Thomas and Nora. Building some conflict into their lives gives us a break from the mystery thread. But Sten keeps it from being distracting.
I also want to give a shout out to the English translators, Marlaine Delargy and Laura A. Wideburg. The translation felt seamless, while still including the flavor of Sweden and the archipelago.
I’m definitely intending to read more books from this series. After spending most of the last year in my house and yard, I love traveling through reading. And mysteries are a good complement to the many historical fiction books I’ve read recently.
I recommend this if you’re ready for a new series with an island location that’s not commonly used for mysteries.