A Wreath for the Bride by Maria Lang (1957) Published as Kung liljekonvalje av dungen [Sweden] (translated by Joan Tate, 1966)

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)

7 thoughts on “A Wreath for the Bride by Maria Lang (1957) Published as Kung liljekonvalje av dungen [Sweden] (translated by Joan Tate, 1966)

  1. Christophe

    Thanks for bringing this author to your readers’ attention. I had never heard of her. Too bad about the translation being a bit stilted or clumsy. That would normally be turn-off for me, but since I speak a Germanic language, I hope it may bother me less than it did you. Worth trying to get as a library loan, it seems to me.

    1. Always happy to help! I was pleasantly surprised. Part of the issue with translation may have been that this was an ebook version of a book translated in 1966. The editing may have been off—who knows. But I’ll definitely be reading her again!

  2. I have not come across this author but you make her sound very tempting. One quick ebay search later and I have a very reasonably priced copy on of No More Murder, on its way. The synopsis on google books sounds intriguing.

    1. I have that one in my elibrary for a future read. I’m very interested to see what you think of it. From what I’ve read about her (which isn’t a great deal…or in Swedish!) at various sites, she was very popular in her day.

  3. Christian Henriksson

    I read most of Lang’s novels some twenty years ago when I read almost everything I could get my hands on in the genre. Her early works are generally best, as I remember it, and later on in her career she became more of a cozy writer. She generally had two series with different main characters (Christer Wikj and the couple Einar & Puck Bure), though she did write a couple of crossovers between them.

    Lang was considered one of the big 4 of Swedish fair play mystery writers. The other three were Stieg Trenter, H. K. Rönblom and Vic Suneson. I don’t know whether they are available in English, but since you liked this one you might want to check their works out as well.

    1. I actually tried to find Trenter and Suneson, but haven’t been able to find any translated into English. I’ll keep trying because their books sound very good! I’d buy them in Swedish, but have no way of translating them…except for computer apps that do a very poor job🤨.

  4. Pingback: Sweden’s Agatha Christie? No More Murders (1951) by Maria Lang (trans. By Joan Tate) – crossexaminingcrime

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