A cosy read for dark autumn evenings

In the Shadow of Power is the seventh installment in the crime fiction series The Sandhamn Murders by Viveca Sten. The venture capitalist Carsten Jonsson has built a new summer house on Sandhamn Island, a house that is an architectural dream for its owner, but a nightmare for the locals. The wealthy and arrogant man has completely flouted local traditions, property lines, and the natural beauty of the coastline. Things get serious when his guest lodge is burned to the ground and an unidentifiable corpse is found in the ruins. Police Inspector Thomas Andreasson isn’t sure if it’s murder or a tragic accident, but when his friend Nora Linde is drawn into the investigation, it becomes clear that the Jonssons are hiding more than anyone can imagine.

The Sandhamn murders are all set in the Stockholm archipelago, on the enchanting island of Sandhamn, known since the 17th century as the centre for the royal naval pilots. The island only has a tiny population of 120 islanders, but it is invaded by thousands of summer guests and hordes of tourists as well as sailing enthusiasts each summer. Like all neighbourhoods with vacation homes, there’s long-standing conflict between the “summer people” and the year-rounders, noticeable in many of the novels in the series.

Viveca Sten´s family has had a house on Sandhamn for over hundred years and she has spent every summer there since she was a child. Thus she has very strong ties with the island, just like her two protagonists. Detective inspector Thomas Andreasson and his childhood friend Nora Linde, who is a a bank lawyer, are the sympathetic and interesting main characters that develop throughout the series. Viveca Sten´s novels are often describes as “cosy”, but she is a good plot maker and knows how to make the reader turn page after page. She writes perfect suspenseful mixtures of holiday idyll, relational problems, hidden secrets and tragedies. The Sandhamn murder series is planned to comprice ten parts, so there are still some to look forward to. Some of the novels have already been adapted into a popular TV-series.