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BAD BLOOD: A Crime Novel

by Arne Dahl


Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard; Reprint edition, May 2014    ($15.95)

Format: Trade paperback

ISBN-10:  0307388042

ISBN-13: 978-0307388049


Publisher: Pantheon Books, August 2013 ($25.95  US)

Format:  Hardback

ISBN-10: 0375425365

ISBN-13: 978-0375425363

Kindle edition: $9.99


Review by Larry Jung

(June 2014)

After the torture and killing of a Swedish national waiting to board a flight at Newark International Airport, the FBI sends a hasty alert to the Swedish National Police that an American Serial Killer is heading their way.  It is the infamous Kentucky Killer.  A folk legend and hero among devotees of serial killers, the Kentucky Killer has not killed for almost two decades and has eluded the FBI for twenty years.  All of a sudden, he kills again with his signature tool of torture.  An elite crime taskforce headed by Detective Superintendent Jan-Olov Hultin scrambles to Sweden’s international airport at Arlanda to intercept the Kentucky Killer as he deplanes.  The team consists of veterans of the Power Murders.  The lead is Inspector Paul Hjelm, the hero in the hunt for the Power Murderer.  His former lover and colleague is the cool and capable Kerstin Holm.  Paul’s nominal partner is Inspector Jorge Chavez.  Chavez stands out as being the son of Chilean refugees, a computer whiz, and first-rate jazz bassist.  He is the sharpest and most energetic of the team.  To round out the roster:  Viggo Norlander, a rough and tough character who once tackled an accelerating car and later took a bullet in the throat; Gunnar Nyberg, a former Mr. Sweden who sings in the same choir as Kerstin; and Arto Sὅderstedt, a former top lawyer turned cop who works alone. 

Despite having the customs stations, rest rooms, shops on the concourse, and exits under surveillance, the Kentucky Killer vanishes from the airport.  Unfortunately Sweden has its first imported serial killer.  Was there any connection with the Kentucky Killer’s latest victim being a Swedish national and a famous literary book critic and the Killer being in Sweden?  The massive dossier on the Killer kept by the FBI has no mention of any Swedish connections.  As Hultin and his team study the FBI material and brain storm motives why an American serial killer is in their country, they can only wait for the Kentucky Killer to kill again and hope for more clues. 

Dahl has written a fast paced police procedural with an engaging cast of characters.  There are plenty of plot twists and red herrings.  But Dahl always plays fair.  At the end of the book, I didn’t feel cheated or that the author took the easy way out.  If you like books that follow the cops in how they go about an investigation — planning, tasking, interviews, forensics, brain storming — you will enjoy BAD BLOOD.  

BAD BLOOD is the second Intercrime book by Arne Dahl.  The first is MISTERIOSO.

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