It is spring in northern Sweden, when a body is found hidden in a fishing ark, on the frozen lake of Torneträsk. She’s dressed for running, not for fishing in icy conditions, yet she’s wearing make-up. Whilst inspectors Mella and Stålnacke think it’s probably another case of a husband killing his wife, the soon realise she has been tortured. When Mella discovers a link between the dead woman and Kallis Mining, she asks newly appointed special prosecutor, Rebecka Martinsson, to help find out more about one of Sweden’s seemingly most successful mining companies. Will they find corruption beneath the respectable façade?

It starts with Rebecka’s release from St. Göran’s psychiatric unit and her decision to leave her life in Stockholm for her rural home town of Kurravaara near Kiruna. This is the third book in the series of which I have only read the fourth, Until Thy Wrath Be Past, but as she is starting again after a traumatic experience, it’s a reasonable place to pick up the plot. I just had to remember that some things hadn’t happened yet!

There’s a large cast of characters and at times there doesn’t seem much point to all of them. Whilst they slow the pace down a bit, by the end, they all have their place in the plot. The family background of Kallis explains not only his rise from nowhere but his mother’s mental illness goes some of the way to explaining Ester’s behaviour at the end. The head of security is there to add some context to the situation in Uganda and Diddi’s wife has her worries about financial security. It does create a wide range of suspects but there’s not a lot of time for developing the on-going series characters.

Each character has their moment though and I really like the little moments that Åsa Larsson writes into their stories. Stålnacke and his lost cat, Ester’s painting and Rebecka’s worrying over the man she left behind. And the climax is one of the most gripping scenes I’ve read in a long time.

The Black Path has been translated into English by Marlaine Delargy and is published in the UK by MacLehose Press, an imprint of Quercus. It will be available in hardback and ebook formats from 7th June 2012. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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