Malin Foss, a young superintendent with the Linkoping, Sweden police force, is called to a murder scene. An obese man had been tortured and murdered, then left hanging from a tree.
Linkoping is a small town surrounded by plains and forests and the story takes place in one of the coldest Februaries in memory. Cars refuse to start and people are bundled in layers of clothing to stay warm.
The victim, Bengt Andeerson was a man who was ignored by most people and teased by others due to his weight. He lived in an area that Malin described that included "...scared kids, teased kids, never go to school kids. Alcoholic's kids."
Bengt's father was cruel and ended up in jail leaving his mother to care for him by taking in sewing. When Bengt's father was released from jail, he seemed to resent Bengt and was abusive to Bengt's mother.
The police procedural follows the search for a killer and motive. One hypothesis was that it was a ritual killing in Midwinter's Blood where people were sacrificed to the gods.
The sadness of the unfortunate victim's life leaps from the pages. Unloved, with a cruel father, in and out of mental homes and he was killed for a reason the police have difficulty in understanding.
The writing is excellent. The author also gives us a deeper understanding of characters by permitting us to hear some of their thoughts.
This is a very entertaining story that had me glued to the pages. Malin Fors is the kind of protagonist that the reader can feel sympathy for in her dealing with murderers, and making it such a personal struggle to find the killer while dealing with her teenage daughter.