Benjamin Eskola

Review: Torquil MacLeod, Meet Me in Malmö (2013)

reviewstorquil macleod, fiction

Torquil Macleod, Meet me in Malmö, 2013. 299pp.

Two stars for most of the book; reduced for one star for the ending, which fails on every level.

The writing is nothing special at best, and in particular seems to be trying too hard to emphasise the Swedish setting (although the author is not Swedish and judging by the acknowledgements most of his knowledge of Malmö and Sweden is second-hand). There’s also an undertone of sexism particularly in how he describes the female characters (and it’s a little ironic that he tries to be critical of the sexist attitudes of the male police officers while he’s perpetuating it himself as an author).

The plot twist at the end feels pointless at best. Why reveal the ‘real’ killer in the final couple of lines and end the book there? Are we supposed to assume she ended the date right there and then and took him in for questioning? Why would he admit it anyway, after getting away with it in one case for twenty years, when the only other suspect is now dead and unable to contradict him?

Not only that, but it seems to undermine the rest of the book (and is undermined by it in turn). The killer’s motive had already been investigated and dismissed: why would he hold a grudge for 20 years? And why would the husband attack him if he was innocent?

It’s made worse by the fact that the killer has been a viewpoint character. It’s not impossible to make that work (unreliable narrator, etc.), but Torquil Macleod is not Agatha Christie; there’s just no indication to the reader that the character has had anything to hide, and so no real reason to suspect the killer beforehand.

If the rest of the book had been better, I might have recommended it despite that (and just ignore the final chapter) but it’s really nothing special even to begin with. Don’t bother.