Mons Kallentoft is not making any bones about using the weather conditions as a feature in his books - MIDWINTER SACRIFICE, and now SUMMERTIME DEATH. Given that temperatures of 45º+ aren't exactly record breaking in these parts, it's a real testament to the way that this book is written that makes the reader almost physically experience the effects of that heat in such an overwhelming manner. But there's also an ongoing device which is fascinating - the lead detective, Malin Fors, was told many years ago by a mentor to listen to all the voices in an investigation. Kallentoft uses that device - the voices of so many of the characters - to great effect.
Having now read both of these books, it's difficult not to be struck by how strongly character driven they are - obviously with the emphasis on the leading detective Malin Fors. Even allowing for the predictability of a separation from her husband, and the problems with raising a teenage daughter, she's an interesting character with flaws and foibles that make her very human. There's also something very subtle going on in the use of the voices of the investigation - at points it's somehow the voices of minor characters that make them real. It's also the voice of the victim - giving the character often incidental in crime fiction a personality, a life, a reality. It doesn't hurt that there are points at which the writing of these voices, in particular, is simply beautiful, often poignant and definitely moving.
The emphasis on the characters, and the use of the voices, does create a more measured, careful, studied exploration of the plot in SUMMERTIME DEATH though, so fans of quick fire, high tension thriller style books are probably going to find the journey a little too slow. For this reader, however, the use of those voices is engaging, thoughtful and almost haunting at points.
This is more of an immersion reading book than a roller-coaster ride to a conclusion. Whilst there is definitely a plot building in SUMMERTIME DEATH, and there is an imperative to solve these dreadful crimes, it's not until very late in the book that the pace really does ramp up, and to be honest, the threat at the end didn't really come as that big a surprise. But by then I was completely hooked by the voices, and looking forward to more of this series.