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The Demon of Dakar    by Kjell Eriksson order for
Demon of Dakar
by Kjell Eriksson
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Tim Davis

In The Demon of Dakar, Kjell Eriksson's highly recommended third novel - which follows The Princess of Burundi and The Cruel Stars of the Night - indefatigable homicide investigator Ann Lindell once again must contend with a baffling case overflowing with red herrings, dead ends, perplexing clues, and difficult personalities.

Translated into English from the Swedish by Ebbe Segerberg, The Demon of Dakar is one of those exemplary Scandinavian mysteries that lends itself to hyperbolic praise, which would be more than justifiable in this review. As a change of pace, however, and to avoid giving too much of the play away, let me entice you as a prospective reader with something different: rather than inundating you with hyperboles, this review is instead dominated by litotes, understatements in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary.

Among the various characters in The Demon of Dakar, there are more than a few who are not uncomplicated:

Manuel Alavez, a Latin American coffee grower who travels to Uppsala, Sweden, in hopes of finding out what really happened to his brothers, Patricio (in a Swedish prison on drug charges) and Angel (dead because of his involvement in drug trafficking), is not without considerable resourcefulness in settling scores on behalf of his family.

Slobodan Anderson, ostensibly a restaurateur and owner of Dakar, a tacky little bistro in Uppsala, is not without plentiful sources of supplemental income, and is certainly not reluctant to engage in loads of illegal activities and surround himself with unsavory personalities (some of whom are perhaps even more disagreeable than Slobodan himself could even imagine or accept).

Konrad Rosenberg, a suddenly solvent criminal with a long prison record and a short inventory of scruples, is not without good reason more than a little concerned about his latest financial opportunities and business connections.

Eva Williams, a newly hired waitress at Dakar and a divorced mother of two boys, is not unjustified in worrying about her one son's involvement in problematic activities; moreover, when she becomes personally involved in an unlikely friendship, Eva's not inconsiderable passions and compassion will be sorely tested.

As the lives of these and more than a few other colorful characters intersect in The Demon of Dakar, and as intrepid homicide investigator Ann Lindell and her not very normal crew of police department colleagues keep busy (investigating homicides with few clues, of course!), more than a few people - on both sides of the law - will ultimately learn important lessons about the ineffable limits of crimes and punishments, not the least of which is 'the dead return, the dead return,' an enigmatic warning which is brought to bear rather stunningly in the more than a little surprising ending of Kjell Eriksson's highly recommended mystery.

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