THE BLOOD SPILT by Asa Larsson

I must apologise for my lack of posting lately; my personal life has been fairly hectic and I have also been in the unfortunate situation of reading a book that didn’t really grab me. This rarely happens to me, and I find it quite uncomfortable when it does happen, because who am I to judge someone’s writing? Yes we are all entitled to our opinions, but this author is a well regarded Scandinavian author, and that is far more than I can say for myself. So I persevered, as I will always do, because someone spent a great deal of time and effort writing this novel, and it’s the least I can do.

The Blood Spilt is the second novel by Asa Larsson, and the second in the Rebecka Martinsson series, and it follows on within a couple of months of the events of The Savage Altar. Rebecka is still reeling from the incident in Kiruna where she was kidnapped by and ultimately forced to kill three men, and she has been unable to return to work full time. The darkness surrounding the religious community in Kiruna has not subsided, when a controversial female priest, Mildred Nilsson, is brutally murdered and left hanging from the organ in the parish church. When Rebecka’s law firm is contacted by the parish about some legal matters, Rebecka (not aware of the murder) and a colleague venture back to Kiruna to assist the other priests.

What follows is an interesting and complex, albeit somewhat drawn out, look into the lives of a small, tight-knit community when a new and dynamic figure shakes up some long-standing order. Inevitably when this happens, the proverbial feathers are ruffled and some people don’t like seeing change in their comfort zone. To Larsson’s credit, she explores this area really well. In a town that is still quite dominated by male-centric ideology, the reader is given a deep insight into the effect an innovative person (who in this case happens to be a woman) can have when what is considered the norm is torn down. In a sort of “adapt or perish” atmosphere, those who cannot embrace change are left behind, and those who are under pressure to introduce change either comply or are branded as backward, sexist and elitist. In hindsight, the profound psychological themes make the long back story far more readable, but many readers may be put off by the lack of action. Compounded with this, we are also made aware of the personal war being waged inside Rebecka as she comes to terms with what happened to her, and tries to figure out how to piece her shattered life back together.

I would be lying if I said I loved it, but I would be lying again if I said I didn’t like it. The Blood Spilt is not what I was expecting, and will definitely appeal more to readers who prefer to know their characters in depth, rather than merely observe all the action.

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