No More Murders by Maria Lang (1951) Published as Inte Flera Mord! [Sweden] translated by Joan Tate (1966)

Einar and Puck Bure, along with Puck’s father Professor Ekstedt, are determined to have a quiet holiday. Where better to go than Skoga to stay at Einar’s family home, in an area known as the Valley. But, the very first morning they awake to find a corpse in their garden. The victim is the son of their neighbor, Colonel Holt. Tommy Holt had a notorious reputation, and after being thrown out by his father, had left Skoga three years previously. Witnesses claim to have seen him on the day of his return, headed towards the Valley, but all of the neighbors deny having seen him—so they say. The Bure’s quiet vacation plans are disrupted as they become involved in helping to unravel a tangle of secrets, lies, love, hate, jealousy, and murder.

I discovered Maria Lang’s books earlier this year. She was quite prolific, publishing 40 mysteries featuring Puck Ekstedt and Inspector Christer Wijk, but unfortunately, only three of her books have been translated into English. Along with No More Murders, they include Death Awaits Thee (1955) and A Wreath for the Bride (1957), the latter of which I read and reviewed some months ago. Finding physical copies has not panned out, but at least all three are available as ebooks.

With its amateur sleuth and closed circle of suspects Lang’s story is definitely rooted in the English traditional mystery. What’s different here that Lang is quite comfortable employing the passions and sexual relations of her characters as motivation for murder, as well as the dark undercurrents that can exist in a small village. While this is by no means dark, or filled with psychological suspense, Lang’s story which begins with sunshine and nestled cottages, soon reveals a village that is in no way idyllic, and residents are far from innocent.

“The people of Skoga happily ventilate other people’s affairs, but usually behind their backs. If they meet them eye to eye, they smile engagingly and make polite conversation.”

The mystery is very well crafted. Lang is continually shifting the readers view of the victim. Is he a disreputable wastrel, or a misunderstood boy who, even though quite innocent, received the blame for everything? The pool of suspects, all of whom either have knowledge which they are withholding or a definite motive for murder, allows Lang to lay out a number of red herrings. And four confessions, all with a grain of truth, confound the issue even further.

Another very good read from Lang, and one that I definitely recommend. Now, could someone please translate more of her work? It’s either that, or once I read Death Awaits Thee I have to learn Swedish!

My Rating – 4/5

Prior Judgments – Kate @ Cross Examining Crime

Vintage Mystery Extravaganza—2014 Bingo—Read one translated work

4 thoughts on “No More Murders by Maria Lang (1951) Published as Inte Flera Mord! [Sweden] translated by Joan Tate (1966)

  1. Christian Henriksson

    Sorry, although I work as a translator for personal pleasure, I’m only comfortable translating the other way ’round. 🙂

    Glad to hear that you’ve found Lang’s mysteries to your liking. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little translated by the big names of Swedish mystery writing – in fact, Lang seems to be the only one who’s been translated into English. There are a few German translations (of her as well as some other authors), but that’s generally no help to an English person…

    At least you have those ScandiNoirs to satisfy you. No, that was too cruel a joke, sorry.

    1. Gruesome crime scenes and detectives with tortured souls—I think I’ll stick with Inspector French and Dr. Fell😉.

      And maybe if I worked on my French or Spanish I’d be able to read all of Lang’s books. Nah—as long as I can order my coffee and beer, and ask directions without sounding too stupid I’m good🤣.

      It’s strange that more early Swedish mystery writers haven’t been translated. I’d love to try Stig Trenter (nothing of his has been translated into English 😒).

    2. pebo

      One of the big names who has been translatet is Jan Ekstrøm. His novel “Ættestupan” from 1975 was published by Macmillan in Great Britain in 1983 as “The Ancestral Precipice”. Translated by Joan Tate!
      It’s not great, but it is good. Don’t take my word for it. On the back of the dustjacket is the following citations:

      “A beautifully twisted, many-coloured skein, which is was a pleasure to try to unravel.”
      Christianna Brand

      “The locked room solution is both inventive and believable, and in the revelation of his murderer, Ekstrøm executes a neat and satisfactory bluff”
      John L. Breen

      “A classic mystery of the sort that made Christie, Queen and Carr famous.”
      Edward D. Hoch

      “Money, a tyrannical matriarch, and a family of naked enmities; Ekstrøm weaves his tale of lust and murder with a sure hand and bravura detection.”
      Dorothy Salisbury Davis

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