THE FALLING DETECTIVE is the second Leo Junker book written by Swedish author Christoffer Carlsson. Not having read the first was a minor irritation (with myself) in reading this because Junker is complicated, challenging, slightly off-beat and utterly charismatic. In an odd, shadowy, slightly blurry sort of way. Hence the irritation with not having read the first book as there's obviously more to this portrayal than is declared in this outing.
Perhaps because of that slightly off-camera feeling, THE FALLING DETECTIVE was also a book that felt like it took a while to get going. It's easily understood that Junker is back in the homicide unit, or snake pit, after a murder case that went wrong. It's also obvious that he's got a bad prescription drug addiction, and some big personal problems, but the details of why he has, and why he's behaving like he is, take a while to become clear. Whilst all that's going on, there's a confusing and complicated case underway when a sociologist is found murdered, with the only potential lead some decidedly cryptic research findings hinting somebody else is likely to die. Whilst that little snippet might contribute to the confusion, it certainly helped increase the tension.
What starts to play out, and once it hits its straps, quickly becomes very addictive, is the interconnections between politics and crime, complex plot and characters that are often explored in Scandinavian thrillers of this type. Whilst it does feel like there's the potential for a heap of stereotypes here - lone wolf, damaged central detective; baffling motivations for murder; and the requisite external interference THE FALLING DETECTIVE uses those elements well. In Junker Carlsson has created a really good form of the stereotypical lone wolf. Bitter and twisted, often wryly funny about his situation, he's an appealing mixture of unrepentant and disappointed in himself. The external interference makes sense, the confusion over motivation is really the only scenario that works in this instance, and the dogged manner in which the investigation proceeds is exactly what you'd expect with all of the surrounding elements.
Extremely engaging, requiring the reader to really pay attention, one of the best things about THE FALLING DETECTIVE was the way it made this reader really regret missing the first book in the series. Anything that makes you want to catch up with a series this badly is a very good thing.