Strange Bird-Anna Jansson; translated by Paul Norlén

Strange Bird
Anna Jansson; translated by Paul Norlén
Stockholm Text, Sep 17 2013, $14.95
ISBN 9789187173950

On Gotland Island, the pigeon lands at Ruben Nilsson’s dovecote. Soon afterward Nilsson dies from avian flu. Others become ill and die causing a panic as the epidemic spreads; a shortfall of medication makes it worse as Tamiflu fails to stop the contagion while the sick are quarantined. When young campers catch the disease, they are isolated adding to the anxieties. Detective Inspector Marian Wern fears for her tweener son Emil who is among those held in isolation.

Meanwhile at the Vigoris Health Center, Nurse Sandra Hägg discovers a shocking revelation. Only someone wants her finding buried so Sandra is murdered in her apartment. Worried about her child, Wern struggles to concentrate on her homicide investigation.

This is a strong Swedish thriller that looks deeply into how first responders, medical personnel and the general population deal with an out of control lethal contagion in which money buys health even in a highly socialized system. As the death count grows, panic exponentially rises faster because those depended upon to end the epidemic not only are failing but are dying too. The murder mystery is clever, but it is the community’s reaction to the deadly disease that makes this a profound tale.

Harriet Klausner

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