At first I thought I might be reading a Swedish version of The Lovely Bones, because the first chapter of the book is narrated by a young woman, Wilma, who has been murdered. Set in northern Sweden Wilma and her boyfriend go to a lake, cut a hole in the ice and go diving. Someone prohibits them from resurfacing and they drown.
Months later her body is found in a river. It looks like a diving accident, however, a few oddities suggest that this was not an accident: green paint under her fingernails, one glove removed from her hand, and the water in her lungs is not the same as the river water. In comes Rebecka Martinsson, a prosecutor in a nearby town, recently of Stockholm. She works with police inspector Anna-Maria Mella, whose confidence has been shaken by a recent incident in which she and her partner were put in life threatening danger due to her actions. Anna-Maria struggles with the colleague, being the mother of four kids and with Martinsson who exerts more control than her prior boss.
The murder is tied to a cover-up of actions that took place during World War II. Someone collaborated with the Germans to such an extent that 60 years later they are still anxious to keep the story under wraps. The book captures the cold and desolation of northern Sweden very well. The residents of Kurravaara are old and tough, some gentle and kind, others are mean as snakes. Martinsson is a strong character, and although she does have issues with her lover who is in Stockholm, Larsson keeps her focused on the action to the north. Wilma narrates numerous chapters, but not all. Her spirit is present throughout the story until the mystery is solved. Her presence works pretty well, alongside Rebecka and the others.