Bess wakes up one morning to find her partner, Halland gone. There’s a knock at the door and the police are arresting her for his murder. A witness declared his last words were “my wife has shot me” but Bess and Halland never married.
The sentences are short and the language sparse, creating the illusion of a woman in shock. She gradually goes through the stages of grief as she learns little things about Halland’s life. It’s a very believable little crime story in that Bess doesn’t get involved in the investigation other than on her own personal level. It’s much more about her feelings and trying to work out what was going on in Halland’s mind.
The introduction, unmissable in large font, urges you not to skip the quotes. Each one is carefully selected for each chapter and I thought they added a little extra something. I am even tempted to look up some of the books they are taken from (and there is a handy bibliography at the end).
Originally written in Danish by Pia Juul, The Murder of Halland has been translated by Martin Aitken for Peirene Press. Peirene’s mission is to publish the literary equivalent of films, top quality translations that can be read in an evening. Each year they publish three books under one theme, this year’s being Small Epic and you can purchase a subscription to have the books sent to you as they are released. Thanks go to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
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