The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator

The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator - Joakim Palmkvist, Agnes Broomé

This is an okay true crime book that was probably better in the author’s native language, but a less-than-perfect translation can’t be blamed for some of the problems I had with it.


The beginning is a disorganized mess. It ping-pongs from subject to subject, covering everything from how the victim’s grandfather made the family fortune to the life story of the volunteer who helped crack the case, and a lot of the details the reader is bombarded with don’t feel even a little bit relevant. When the city of Zurich is mentioned, the author even pauses to note the year it was founded. And ye gods, the repetition! This book did not need to be over 300 pages long.


Speaking of the author, his intrusions in the beginning are frequent and sometimes condescending (unless he was trying for humor, maybe?). A man is missing. His daughter Sara doesn’t report it for several days. Those she discussed the matter with told her to wait and see if he showed up. She’s behaving oddly, not like a missing person’s relative usually behaves, like she doesn’t think her father’s coming back. The missing man didn’t get along with the daughter’s boyfriend, Martin, and they’d recently had a fight over money and property. A month later, the missing man’s other daughter call the police because she thinks something’s fishy and the police aren’t doing enough. The author lays all this out (in bullet points), and then says:

In a crime novel, this would have been enough to secure the convictions of both Martin Törnblad and Sara Lundblad.

No. No it wouldn’t. What terrible crime novels are you reading? That’s barely enough to pique an amateur sleuth’s interest in the laziest of cozies. A little later on, the author says:

Anyone who thinks the police can throw together an investigation team comprising interviewers, technicians, detectives, and administrators in an afternoon and launch a murder investigation based on a missing-person report, just to be on the safe side, has spent too much time watching TV.

Again, what terrible crime dramas are you watching?


The organization gets better (and the author intrusions decrease) toward the middle of the book, but it could have been half the length if it had refrained from detouring and covering the same ground multiple times.


(Read for Halloween Bingo Truly Terrifying Square)