If you want a proper review of this book which will give you a few hints about the plot and some well constructed arguments about why you should read the book then check out Crimepieces, Euro Crime or Mrs Peabody Investigates. This is just me banging on about things unimportant.
I started reading MIDWINTER SACRIFICE seven days before my book club was due to discuss it. I finally got to the end eight days after book club came and went. Given that it ticks several of the boxes on my list of things to look for in my reading I expected to at least like it. My second choice would have been to hate it which would have meant quickly throwing it against a wall and moving on with my life.
Instead I felt kind of…trapped… by the thought there was a good book hidden amongst the many dreary pages in which people went about their mundane lives (or deaths in the case of the ghost who opens proceedings and then hangs around being fairly banal long after he should have shuffled off to wherever it is dead people go) and barely noticed the crimes being committed in their midst. Of course they were busy being maudlin and thinking and being cold and hating each other so I suppose there just wasn’t enough room for them to get on with the business of story.
But now that I’ve waded through to the end I know there really wasn’t a good book hiding in there after all. At least not for me.
I thought the book tried too hard. It almost ached to give off a kind of literary quality and I don’t think it really succeeded because there was just enough old-fashioned procedural in there to take away from that element. It felt like a book written by someone who sneers at genre fiction and the people who read it.
Being told in the present tense with rapid changes in point of view from first person to third and occasionally second (that’s mostly the pesky dead guy again) just made it seem disjointed and prevented me from connecting with any of the characters, several of whom I ought to have been weeping for due to the misery Kallentoft created for them. But they were too remote for me to feel for.
I kept reading long after a sane person would have stopped because it felt like a course of antibiotics that your doctor tells you to finish even though the infection is cleared up and because you’ve seen a documentary about how superbugs are developing incredible immunity in part because people never finish their prescriptions so you do what you’re told, grimacing all the while.
I’m going to leave the book on the bus tomorrow because I don’t want it lurking in the house any more. And I’m not going to hurry to pick up the second volume in the series which, sadly, I already own.