torsdag den 26. november 2009

Maria Lang, No More Murders (1967)


This Swedish crime novel (featuring a very special cat) was originally published in Sweden under the title "Inte Flera Mord" in 1951. Maria Lang, whose real name was Dagmar Lange, may be considered the Swedish queen of crime of her time with more than fifty crime novels written in the period from 1954 to 1991, most of which are of fairly high quality. Only three of these have been translated into English.

The first line of No More Murders, expressed by professor John Ensted:

“All right, I´ll come with you. But on one condition: No more murders. They´ve been more than enough already.”

When the newly-wed couple Edwin and Puck Bure and her professor father arrive at their idyllic cottage outside Skoga, Edwin´s childhood paradise, they practically stumble upon the body of young Tommy. Tommy is the prodigal son of their neighbour, judge Holt, and three years earlier he was thrown out of his home for some kind of unspecified misdemeanor. Everybody denies knowing the young man had come back, let alone what he is doing in the small community.

Like other books, a crime novel is a product of its time. An example can be found on page 31 when a policeman comments on the moral conduct of Tommy, who turns out to be adopted:

“If I may say so, sir, then it could have been just the same if he had had an extremely strict upbringing. Presumably you are less to blame in this case than the boy´s unknown parents.”

This combination of private detectives (Edwin and Puck) and police procedural (a local police inspector assisted by Edwin and Puck´s dear friend Christer Wick) is a fine, traditional murder mystery. The main characters are well-drawn, and we are soon introduced to a handful of suspects with plenty of skeletons in the cupboard.

Other stories in English: (source: EuroCrime)
Death Awaits Thee (1967)
A Wreath for the Bride (1968)

8 kommentarer:

Margot Kinberg sagde ...

Dorte - This sounds like a very interesting read with a tight plot. I'm drawn to novels where everyone's got secrets to hide.. I think you're right that novels are influenced by their times, and sometimes, I think that can make a book seem dated. Still, it sounds as though this one's a good read. Thanks for your well-done review.

Dorte H sagde ...

Margot: it is a fine example of a more traditional crime novel (much like British novels from the 60s), and I have always enjoyed her stories with Puck and Edwin Bure a lot. I think Puck must have been a novelty when the books were first published (a female academic and rather intelligent sleuth).

Louise sagde ...

Ohhh, some of my very first crime novels were the Maria Lang ones my school library carried :-) I loved her, but don't know if I would be interested in re-reading her today.

Dorte H sagde ...

Louise: my daughters just love them when they need something really light. I do revisit them once in a while, but I tend to favour the ones with Puck Bure :D

Martin Edwards sagde ...

Very interesting. I've never heard of the author, but that really is a great opening.

giaseabrook sagde ...

Beauty, unaccompanied by virtue, is as a flower without perfume..
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Beth F sagde ...

This is a new to me author. The cover is wonderful!

Dorte H sagde ...

Martin: she would fit in perfectly among Patti´s forgotten books, and I think she deserves to be remembered as one of the great Scandinavian mystery writers of her time.

Beth: in fact the blood on the cover looks almost too real so I think many readers would prefer the photo over the book :D