On the day before her wedding Anneli Hammar meets her friend Dina Richardsson, then steps into the florist to inspect her bridal bouquet. An impatient Dina enters and finds no Anneli, and according to owner Fanny Falkman, she never set foot in the shop. Days later her body is found, lying serenely by the lake, clasping a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley—the same flowers her fiancé, Joakim Kruse, picked for the bridal bouquet.
I’m currently taking part in the the Vintage Mystery Extravaganza over at Bev’s My Reader’s Block and one of the books to read is for the category “Killed in Translation”, books that originally appeared in language other than English. So, off I went on a hunt across the internet to find something GADish that fit the bill and found A Wreath for the Bride.
The author, Maria Lang (pseudonym of Dagmar Maria Lange) was a Swedish author of more than 40 crime fiction novels. One of the original 13 members of the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy, she is often considered Sweden’s first Agatha Christie-style crime fiction writer. Her first novel, Mördaren ljuger inte ensam (The Murderer is Not the Only Liar), was published in 1949.
Now, I’m not really a fan of noir, Nordic or otherwise, so I was leery at first.
But as I read, I found myself being pulled into a story that was essentially in the form of a traditional whodunit, but with a bit of a dark twist. Lang has created a well-crafted mystery quite similar to a classic British village murder mystery. In the small village of Skoga everyone knows everyone else, gossip spreads like fire, and many have something to hide. Hmmm…is Skoda Swedish for St. Mary Mead?
Lang’s detective is Chief Inspector Christer Wijk, is a skilled investigator and charming individual. While based with the State Police in Stockholm, Wijk is from Skoga, and therefore familiar with the village. Lang provides a number of interesting potential suspects including Anneli’s rich, handsome, slightly cold fiancé; her childhood friend Leonard, secretive about his relationship with Anneli and prone to temperamental outbursts; Fanny Falkman, who is not telling the police all she knows, and her best friend Dina whose attitude towards Anneli could be admiration—or jealousy
The strength of the story is the slightly brooding atmosphere that Lang creates with her details of this small Swedish village and its residents.
Green pot plants climbed with serpent-like arms up the walls, the few flowers left over from Saturday were drooping, and everything smelt fusty and enclosed.”
“As the hours of the morning advanced, the otherwise relatively sober and peaceful Skoga became more and more like a boiling witch’s cauldron…People huddled at street corners, women arrived from their Saturday shopping with thin purses but plenty of news, and the telephones sizzled.”
The biggest issue I had was with the translation from Swedish to English, which sometimes made the narrative clumsy and stilted, but in no way detracted from my enjoyment.
This was an enjoyable read which I really recommend. I would love to be able to have access to all of Lang’s books but unfortunately, only three of them have been translated into English. These include, in addition to A Wreath for the Bride, No More Murders! (1951), and Death Awaits Thee (1955). Who do I have to bribe to get more!!!
My Judgment – 4/5
Prior Rulings – Moira @ Clothes in Books
Vintage Mystery Extravaganza – 2013 – Scattergories: #31 Killed in Translation
Calendar of Crime: March #2 Author’s birth month (March 31, 1914)