by Torquil MacLeod
Imagine a dissipated version of travel personality Rick Steves and you’ll be close to Ewan Strachan, an arts and lifestyles reporter for a failing north England newspaper.
This scenic tale has almost cosy moments bumping against the thrilling pursuit of a socipathic killer by a woman investigator who is an outsider on her own team. MacLeod’s varied strands — travelog, feminist cop and a self-deprecating small town reporter — don’t always come together well.
Meet Me in Malmo is the first of a series featuring Anita Sundstrom, a police inspector trying to solve crimes with sexually harassing colleagues and a bombastic, politically sensitized boss. Divorced, soured on men, suffering the departure of her son to college, Sundstrom’s personal life is always second place to her work.
The stage in this book is divided between Sundstrom and Strachan, who is lazy, burned out and a yawn away from a layoff. He’s pressured by his boss to come up a blockbuster story to convince upper management paper is viable.
Strachan spots an opportunity when he realizes a nearby screening features a film directed by a former college buddy of his, Mick Roslyn. It gets even better when Roslyn extends an off-the-cuff invitation to Strachan to come to Malmö to do an interview about his latest project.
When Strachen shows up for the interview, however, the door is ajar and Roslyn’s sexy actress wife is lying dead on the floor. Roslyn comes in with a photographer for the interview finding Strachen cradling Rosyln’s dead wife on the floor.
Trying to bring this high profile, celebrity murder to a quick conclusion, the police investigate possibilities ranging from revenge for Roslyn’s plans to do a film about the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, an attempt by Roslyn to get rid of his wife in favor of his mistress or payback by the mistress’s lover who is Roslyn’s business partner.
As more information comes in to Sundstrom, suspense builds. You’ll never guess the killer until you turn the last page.
The Author: Torquil MacLeod
Born in Edinburgh and raised in England’s northeast, MacLeod has a superficial resemblance to Strachan: he worked as a teacher, then failed at life insurance sales before becoming a copywriter at ad agencies in Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle and then in 2000 freelancing.
His eldest son lives in Malmö, which inspired the series.
Other books in the series are:
- Murder in Malmö (2013). In this book, Sundstrom is first kept off of and then brought into the investigation of a series of murders targeting immigrants.
- Missing in Malmö (2013). Sundstrom finds herself entangled in two missing person cases. One missing person is a British citizen who hunts heirs and failed to return home. The second is the girl-friend of her ex-husband.
- Midnight in Malmö (2015). While Sundstrom is enjoying her annual holiday, a woman is stabbed to death in Malmö’s central park. But it’s the death of a respected retired diplomat that leads Sundstrom to be recalled to unofficially work on the case that appears to have its roots in the chance meeting of a waiter and a revolutionary.
Additionally, he wrote Sweet Smell of Murder: A tale of Slayings, Snuff, Sex and Spies.