Hunting Game
by Tursten, Helene; Norlen, Paul (TRN)

"The first installment in Helene Tursten's brand new series featuring the strong, smart Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom. From a young age, 28-year-old Embla Nystrom has been plagued by chronic nightmares and racing thoughts. Though she still develops unhealthy fixations and makes rash decisions from time to time, she has learned to channel most of her anxious energy into her position as Detective Inspector in the mobile unit in Gothenburg, Sweden, and into sports. A talented hunter and prize-winning Nordic welterweight, she is glad to be taking a vacation from her high-stress job to attend the annual moose hunt with her family and friends. But when Embla arrives at her uncle's cabin in rural Dalsland, she sees an unfamiliar face has joined the group:Peter, an enigmatic young divorce. And she isn't the only one to take notice. One longtime member of the hunt doesn't welcome the presence of an outsider and is quick to point out that with Peter, the group's number reaches thirteen, a bad omen for the week. Sure enough, a string of unsettling incidents follow, culminating in the disappearance of two men from a neighboring group of hunters. Embla takes charge of the search, and they soon find one of the missing men floating facedown in the nearby lake, his arm tightly wedged between two rocks. Just what she needs on her vacation. With the help of local reinforcements, Embla delves into the dark pasts of her fellow hunters in search of a killer"-

Helene Tursten was a nurse and a dentist before she turned to writing. She is the author of the Irene Huss series, including Detective Inspector Huss, Night Rounds, Who Watcheth, and Protected by the Shadows, as well as the short story collection An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good. Her books have been translated into 21 languages and made into a television series. She was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, where she now lives with her husband.

*Starred Review* After 10 books featuring Inspector Irene Huss, Tursten launches a new series revolving around Detective Inspector Embla Nyström of the mobile police unit in Gothenburg, Sweden. At 28, Embla, a champion welterweight boxer, is on vacation for an annual moose hunt when things start to go wrong: a dog is poisoned, a viper in the outhouse bites the other female hunter, and a dangerous trap is found on a path. Then two of the hunters disappear, with one found dead in a nearby lake. Suspicions of foul play arise since the two were part of a close-knit trio, the third of whom had died recently in a car crash. Embla's vacation ends as she works the case and pursues her curiosity about and attraction to the newcomer to the hunt group, technocrat loner Peter Hansson, who seems to read her thoughts. Only Embla's superb physical condition saves her life in a riveting climax. Embla, still plagued by nightmares about losing her teenage best friend, is a sharp, willful, though emotionally vulnerable detective. Fans of the Huss novels in particular and Nordic noir in general will want to follow this series from its start. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

The gravel sprayed around the tires of the Volvo 245 as Embla did a donut on the farmyard before coming to a stop, as she always did when she pulled into Nisse’s place. It was her way of signaling she had arrived. The move always made her uncle chuckle with delight, saying, “Here comes hot-rod girl” as she barged into his otherwise peaceful existence. The first time he had said that, Embla had been fifteen and had “borrowed” her brother’s moped and driven all the way from Gothenburg. En route she had spent the night with a cousin and his family outside Vänersborg. She never would have made it otherwise. The soreness in her rear padding had persisted for several days. When she was going home again, her uncle had lowered the back seat in his Volvo 245, loaded the moped into the cargo space, and driven her home to Gothenburg.
     Three years later he had given Embla that car when she got her driver’s license.
     She’d had the car for ten years, and at this point it had almost three hundred thousand kilometers on it. Even though the car was starting to show a few signs of old age, Embla loved it. The most serious complaints were that the speedometer was unreliable and the fuel gauge didn’t work. After running out of gas a few times in the middle of nowhere, she always had a full can of gas with her when she drove long distances.
     As Embla got out of the car she heard Seppo’s loud barking coming from the back of the house. Because he didn’t come rushing around the corner she figured the Swedish elkhound must be in the dog run.
     The front door opened wide and Nisse came out on the steps with a broad smile and outstretched arms.
     “Hey there, hot-rod girl!”
     He gave her a bear hug. She drilled her nose into his blue checked flannel shirt and took in the scent of barn and sweat. The smell of Nisse, her beloved uncle who was made of the same robust stuff as her mother, Sonja, and herself. Like his sister, he’d had a red, curly mop of hair in his youth. Nowadays only Embla and the youngest of her three brothers retained the family’s striking hair color. Sonja’s and Nisse’s hair had turned gray, and as far as her uncle was concerned, there was almost nothing left on the top of his head. It hardly bothered him because he kept it cut short with his electric razor. It suited him and gave him a tough look.
     “And the Veteran keeps on chugging,” he said, giving the car a tender pat on the hood.
     “You bet. Runs like a clock!”
     That wasn’t quite true but Embla knew that was what her uncle wanted to hear. The Volvo was the apple of his eye. He was also the one who had christened the car. At first she thought it sounded silly, but now she referred to it as the Veteran, too.
     “Settle in while I take a shower and tidy up. As usual we’re going to see Karin and Björn,” he said.
     Karin was the only one of her cousins who was still living in the village. She is Nisse and Sonja’s older sister’s daughter. Her aunt and uncle had lived in Uddevalla for almost twenty years now. There they had worked in their one son’s retail nursery, but now they were both retired. They felt at home on the coast and intended to stay there.
     Even though Karin was five years older than Embla, the two cousins had spent quite a bit of time together on summer vacations. Karin also had older brothers—though only two—so over the years, they each became the sister the other had always wished for.
     Nisse had been a widower for three years. He and Ann-Sofie had been happily married, but they never
had any children, which had been a source of grief. During summer vacations Embla and her three brothers compensated for that properly. The boys got tired of rural life in their teens but she loved it. Maybe to some degree it was because she got to escape her brothers, but mostly it was because she felt at home with life in the countryside and on the farm.
     For a while she had seriously considered becoming a farmer but hesitated because she knew what drudgery the job entailed. The farm could not even support Nisse and Ann-Sofie; he worked at the sawmill and she delivered newspapers.
     It was Nisse who suggested that Embla start boxing. He himself had been district champion in his weight class before he got married and took over the farm. Perhaps he had seen that she needed an outlet for all the anxiety she harbored as a teenager, though she hadn’t brought it up or told him where the racing thoughts came from.
     She had never told anyone about Lollo.
     It was also her uncle who had sparked her interest in hunting the summer she turned fifteen. He had asked her if she wanted to go still-hunting; a group planned to shoot some of the mangy foxes that had been seen in the area. Of course Embla thought that sounded really exciting and said yes at once. But it wasn’t nearly as thrilling as she had hoped. Sometimes they all stood motionless before someone would suddenly start sneaking carefully in a direction where he thought he saw a movement or heard some rustling. They never saw a trace of any fox, with or without mange.
     Despite that uneventful introduction, Embla had become interested, and for the next three years she took part in the drive during the moose hunt. When she turned eighteen she took the hunting test. Since then she and Nisse had hunted together several times a year. Mostly they hunted in the fall, starting in early August when deer and wild boar were in season.
     Embla unpacked and hung up her clothes in the minimal wardrobe. There was a shower enclosure in the guest bathroom, but she had showered before she left Gothenburg. A few dabs of deodorant, a couple sprays of perfume, and a nice-looking sweater would have to do. Mascara and lip gloss was more than enough makeup; she would only be meeting with the hunting party.
     Nisse was waiting down the hall. Dressed in a fresh white shirt, light-blue knit sweater, light gray chinos, and new light-gray leather shoes, he looked like he could be on the cover of GQ. Around him was a light air of the aftershave she had given him as a Christmas present the year before.
     “How stylish you are! What’s her name?” Embla asked happily.
     His weathered face took on a shade of polished copper. “Uh . . . or . . . Ingela,” he stammered.
     “How nice! Ingela Franzén?”
     “The pastor’s widow! Are you crazy? No, Ingela Gustavsson at the Ica store. You know who she is, don’t you?”
     It took a moment for Embla to place her. “Light, rather short, a bit younger than you . . .”
     “Yes. She is. Although we . . . People talk. You know how it is . . .”
     Here stood her retired uncle, hemming and hawing like a shy teenager trying to talk about his first serious infatuation. It was a bit moving but not that strange, considering that he and Ann-Sofie had been together since they were confirmed.
     She gave him a big hug. “That’s so great!” Smiling, she handed him one of the wine boxes she had brought with her. “Now let’s go to the party and charge up before the hunt! Yee-haw!”
     They put on their jackets and went out to the stable. There were Nisse’s and Ann-Sofie’s old bicycles, shining clean and ready to ride. Nisse always got the bicycles in order before the dinner that kicked off the year’s moose hunt. He didn’t want to have anything to do with drunk driving—not in a car, anyway. But the equivalent on something with handlebars he could overlook.
Because Karin and Björn Bergström had the biggest kitchen, they had been unanimously chosen to host
the annual potluck dinner, which they were more than happy to do.
     The eight members of the hunting party were gathered around the table, along with the three Bergström children and Einar’s and Tobias’s wives. Embla knew everyone around the table but one, Peter Hansson. He had recently moved to the area—or perhaps moved back was the way to put it—and was the hunting party’s newest member.
     Embla observed him in secret. She knew that he was thirty-eight years old, but he looked younger. Given his athletic build, it was clear that he worked out. And he was tall and good-looking with blue eyes and rather long, thick blond hair. The thin linen shirt he wore was just casual enough. The collar was unbuttoned and she could see a little gold cross at his throat. When he introduced himself a row of white teeth was exposed in a pleasant smile. Bleached? she thought automatically. She also noted the appreciative look she got from him.
     She was immediately grateful that she had changed into her nicer sweater. It was cobalt blue with a wide neckline that left one shoulder bare; she was often told the color matched her eyes. Under it she wore a black camisole with thin straps. High up on her right shoulder, her new tattoo was visible: a furious grizzly bear standing on its hind legs, ready to attack. The tattoo was not large, but it was masterfully executed. She’d had it done during a training camp in Miami, and the tattoo artist was one of the best in Florida.
     It was Sixten Svensson who pointed out that there were thirteen at the table. “Not a good omen,” he muttered, glancing toward Peter Hansson.

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