Davidsstjärnorna by Kristina Ohlsson, Sweden, 2013

Davidsstjärnorna or The Chosen (English translation) covers almost 500 pages. Belonging to the thriller/detective genre, the story is intriguing: a teacher is shot right at the beginning of the book, and then three children disappear. The teacher and the children all belong to the Jewish congregation in Stockholm; the story itself spreads across Stockholm, London and Israel.

The last few pages of the Swedish version is filled with accolades from the Swedish press – if one is to believe what they have written, there has never been a smarter, more exciting novel within the genre.

It is, therefore, with some trepidation that I beg to disagree. I feel that the novel is engaging, and the author has done a fantastic job, holding together the many, many threads that unwind from the central theme – it cannot have been easy – but the reader is obliged to accept many twists and turns that, quite often, defy many of the laws of logic – political, social and physical. There is also, especially in the first part of the book, too many references to events that have most probably occurred in earlier books (I believe that Davidsstjärnorna is Kristina Ohlsson's sixth book). Although this kind of filling-in is common in books that are part of a series, it can be irritating, especially if the reader has not read any of the earlier books. Yet, in spite of the fact that the main characters have now lived through several books, they are flat and, for me at least, completely unsympathetic. The writing is definitely overweight, and the book could probably have gained by being at least 100 pages thinner.

If you are prepared to overlook the negatives, the book is possibly an interesting interlude between more intellectually challenging books.

Photo of Kristina Ohlsson from www.aftonbladet.se