Still Waters – How Does A Swedish Mystery Differ From An American Novel?

Book Review : Still Waters
Sandhamn Murders


By Viveca Sten

Spoiler Alert!



On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.

As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth. (Courtesy of

Adult Point of View

I accepted a challenge to read some foreign authors for a change of pace. It’s been very interesting. In the case of Still Waters I felt I could be reading a detective novel from the United States just as easily as a foreign author- it just happened to be set in Sweden.

Contemporary mysteries aren’t my main course of genre, but I found I enjoyed Still Waters. One of the highlights of a mystery for me is if I can’t figure out the solution until the author has nearly laid out all the pieces. Sten did a fantastic job of setting up the situation, having the investigation progress at a good pace, and having a good solution – which I didn’t solve.

I was yelling at the police officer, in my head, that one of the guys he questioned was too squeaky clean. This is a minor spoiler…. He was innocent. I kind of hoped that either he would have chased after him more as a red herring or that he was guilty of a crime and only appeared innocent. Perhaps police officers in Sweden have such a good gut in being able to determine a person’s innocence or guilt after a few cursory questions. I thought it was fun to hear the investigators draw up different scenarios to solve the crime, searching for a motive and who else could be involved. Some of their theories shot wide of the mark, but eventually they collected enough details to make more concise guesses.

The side stories were just as compelling as the murder mysteries. Tom, the police officer, has been living through a personal tragedy and hasn’t really connected with other people, but has distanced himself from his colleagues, friends and family. His childhood friend, Nora is blind sided when her husband is less than enthusiastic over her job opportunities. It’s discovered in the investigation that Krister led the life of a lonely bachelor. Nearly all the characters have enough side story revealed to make them seem real, maintaining relationships and trying to balance the most important things in their lives. The characters were believable, and that seems critical in a murder mystery.

I would consider this to be a clean mystery because it is free of gregarious sex. There is a little bit of cursing, including a few f-bombs. Still Waters is the first in a series.

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Michelle

If you enjoyed this mystery try:

Black Flowers, White Lies by Yvonne Ventresca – a YA thriller


About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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