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The Dangerous Game by Mari Jungstedt translated by Tina Nunnally (Knutas/Jacobsson 8)

January 16, 2015

This is the 8th book in Mari Jungstedt’s series about Detective Superintendent Anders Knutas and Assistant Superintendent Karin Jacobsson of the Visby police force on the Swedish island of Gotland. Also involved in this case is Johan Berg, television reporter in the local Visby office of the Regional News Division, his partner Emma and their four children. Emma is friendly with Jenny’s mother, Tina.

The book deals with the fashion industry and the pressures that models are put under to conform to fashion and society’s idea of beauty – and in particular how young and how thin some of the models really are.

When controversial fashion photographer Markus Sandberg sets out on a photo shoot with his crew of stylists and new darling of the fashion industry, model Jenny Levin to work at the chic but remote Hotel Fabriken on the Gotland peninsula, no-one could have predicted that he would be the victim of a savage attack.

Knutas and Jacobsson investigate, though both have their personal issues to deal with. Knutas and his wife, Lina are having relationship problems and Karin Jacobsson has finally decided to make contact with her daughter, Hanna whom she gave up for adoption.

Sandberg is left hospitalised unable to aid the police in their investigation throughout its duration. All are agreed that even if he survives it is unlikely he will ever work again.

Agnes is also in hospital – The Anorexia Hospital – and Jungstedt’s description of anorexia and its effects are realistic and chilling. She has a routine that helps her to mitigate the impact of the food that she is faced with every day. Agnes lost her mother and brother in a car accident some years ago and now her only family is her father, Rickard, whose visits she looks forward to, though she always makes his new girlfriend, Katrina wait in the day room when he comes to visit her.

Robert Ek is the Director of the Fashion for Life modelling agency. It’s the agency that Jenny belongs to, and where she first met the promiscuous Markus. When Ek is brutally murdered, having been lured to his office on New Year’s Eve, the murder has the same hallmarks as the attack on Sandberg, but the police are making little headway.

The chapters are in the book quite short, but easy to read, and although the description is very good, at times it feels as if it is there for padding rather than impact. It does take a while for the book to get going.

The police procedural element of the book is surprisingly small; it is luck more than judgement that helps to establish who killed whom, and the tension in the scenes comes from encounters that Jenny has. Jonas Berg is pretty tangential to the story; he does not add much to the narrative.

It was fairly easy to work out who had committed the attack and murder, though there is a neat twist at the end, which I did enjoy.

All round, a fair read, but not necessarily one that has me reaching for more.

The Dangerous Game is published on February 12th 2015 by Random House UK.

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