Title – In the Month of the Midnight Sun
Author – Cecilia Ekbäck
Published – June 2016
Genre – Historical crime fiction
I was so taken with Wolf Winter that I treated myself to In the Month of the Midnight Sun when it came out in June last year (which shows you how far behind I am!).
Similar to some of the books by Anita Shreve, using the same location for a story in different times, Ekbäck returns to Blackåsen Mountain. In this case we move from 1717 in Wolf Winter to 1856. On the mountain a Sami woman has left her tribe following the death of her husband, while the local settlers are puzzled by this but they have bigger worries as a Sami man has carried out a fatal attack in their rectory.
In Stockholm The State Minister of Justice instructs geologist Magnus to head to the area to investigate the attack. The Minster’s interest is purely bureaucratic, concerned that the sale of land in the area may be jeopardised. Magnus has some personal issues which he should deal with but perhaps prefers to avoid these by agreeing to the trip. The Minister is also Magnus’s adoptive father, so when at the last minute he is forced to have his sister-in-law, Lovisa, accompany him he is unable to argue against it. The two travellers set out for the long journey to Lulea with Lovisa withdrawn and uncommunicative and unprepared for what lies ahead.
The journey sees the relationship thaw a little and we find out more of the backstory of the two characters, and as the story switches between points of view (in the first person so you need to pay attention) we also learn more about those living in the shadow of the mountain. When eventually they reach Lulea and Magnus meets the man accused of the murders he doesn’t believe he is the killer and knows that the only answer is to travel onwards to the Blackåsen Mountain.
Despite the broad, sweeping landscapes and the midnight sun this has a very claustrophobic feel and a very varied cast of characters with some unique voices. There is a hint of the supernatural in the lives of the Sami and the same battle with the elements that those in Wolf Winter faced. But essentially the story is about the people.
If you appreciate beautifully written, atmospheric crime fiction with a literary style then you really should try these books.