Lutherans, Reindeer Steaks, and March Snow Showers Bring….: The Blood Spilt by Åsa Larsson

Dear Reader:

It is March 30th and looks like this:

I’m supposed to be in Mexico City where it is sunny and 77 F and my research team colleagues are enjoying themselves:

Source: Great Lakes EPA Office (Used with Permission)

But Ruby, my 14 year old retriever/collie mix, had a stroke Tuesday night so I needed to stay home and keep an eye on her while she recovered.  And she’s now looking like this and doing very well:

We were at home, Ruby starting having trouble standing – I thought she stepped on a dog toy and hurt her foot.  But she staggered over to a dog bed and collapsed into it, losing control of her bladder on the way down.  She laid there being nonresponsive – although concious.  I immediately thought “stroke.”

My vet was in his office and I was able to talk to him within five minutes – he confirmed that she’d had a stroke.  He had me immediately give her Prednisone left over from Gilbert – this steroidal decreases inflammation and reduced permanent brain damage.

After conferring with my vet and kennel owner, we agreed having her spend the next few days in a noisy, chaotic kennel during my impending Mexico trip would be stressful and risky.  So, I stayed home.  The first couple days, Ruby ate poorly and her back end was weakened.  It has just been a few days, but every day she gets stronger and now she’s almost back to normal.  Being lucky enough to be able to give her Prednisone almost immediately probably prevented her from being in much worse shape.

29) The Blood Spilt by Åsa Larsson, Trans. by Marlaine Delargy

Sun Storm (which I read before starting this blog) is the 1st in the Rebecka Martinsson series, The Blood Spilt is #2 (#3 The Black Path; #4 Until Thy Wrath Is Past) in the series – two more recent books: Guds Starka Arm (God’s Potent Arm – my translation) and Till offer åt Molok (To Sacrifice at Molok – my translation) appear not to have been translated into English.

Rebecka Martinsson is back from Larsson’s Sun Storm.  Like Åsa was, Rebecka is a tax lawyer with a prestigious Stockholm law firm.  Also like Larsson, she was born in northern Sweden in Kiruna – it seems to be on the Finnish border.
After withstanding the stressors she was subjected to in the last book (set in Kiruna), Rebecka is on extended sick leave – although she’s been sitting in on some trials and doing a bit of work here and there.

When a Lutheran Church in Jukkasjåvi, very near Kiruna, needs assistance managing its accounts Rebecka accompanies her colleague Torsten on a trip to meet with church officials.  Little does she know that one of their priests, Mildred Nilsson, a popular, feminist has just been found dead hanging in the church (this murder is evocative of the one that started Sun Storm).  Rebecka ends up deciding to stay in the area after Torsten leaves and she gets caught up in assisting the same local police with whom she worked in Sun Storm in solving this murder. She develops a strong connection to the owners and patrons of a rural restaurant at the heart of the community and specializing in serving local game (reindeer, trout) and forest berries and mushrooms.

I enjoyed this mystery very much.  Women figure prominently, including their conflicts with local men who are less than excited about women organizing to take more control over their lives.  As the product of a tiny village in rural upstate New York and having spent my childhood eating a lot of game and wild berries, I enjoyed Larsson’s descriptions of chunk of northern Sweden and its residents.  I kept thinking what a great place it would be to run my dogs (and dogs DO figure prominently in the story although, for some reason, Larsson puts the dogs in her stories through an awful lot). Again, mind you, I do live in an area that, while somewhat more populated, shares characteristics with Jukkasjåvi, including having lots of Finns and Swedes.

Rebecka is an interesting protagonist: strong, but human, with deep, but ambivalent, ties to the local landscape and people.  This will be hard to explain, but is worth noting that this edition of the book is rather large (relative to other trade pubs) and the feel of the pages are different – looser, easier to fold back – and the chapters start with a photo from the area upon which the words are superimposed.  This added a touch that helped me immerse myself in the book more deeply.  I would move Larsson up to Karin Fossom’s level in terms of being one of my favorites of the many excellent Scandinavian mystery writers.

March Snow Showers bring…

Happy reading, Ruby

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7 Comments

  1. Ruby is looking alert! That’s great 🙂

    This sounds like a book I will be adding to my list. I expect to be doing some more reading soon…hopefully nothing wreaks this plan.

    • Hi: Thanks! Tuesday night she woke me thrashing on the wood floor trying to get up. Wednesday night she couldn’t get up the stairs. Last night I barricaded her into the living room and she broke through the barricades. I came down and she insisted on going upstairs – a bit weak initially, but then she made it up just fine (and down in the morning). I don’t expect her to show long-term impacts.

      I think you’ll enjoy the book, but I would start with Sun Storm and I’ll remind you that some dogs are hurt in these stories…. Ruby

      • Oh, I don’t do well with hurt dogs in a story :/ I don’t have a problem with writers doing people in but I tend to end up disliking a writer who hurts dogs. I’ll try a book though and see….

      • Yes, give her a go… Ruby

  2. Mary

    Ruby, I am so glad that you were able to act quickly with the prednisone. It almost makes one think that any owner of an elderly dog should have some around, although obviously one would need to talk to the vet about that. I’m glad she is better.
    Mary

    • Hi Mary: Thanks and thanks for writing!

      Yes, that could be a great item for a dog emergency kit. I was a little surprised that my vet didn’t want to prescribe me a few emergency Prednisone pills (I used up all I had left with Ruby last week). But it is a heavy duty drug and causes severe stomach issues when combined with an anti-inflammatory, such as Metacam, that Ruby is on. So, it has to be administered with Sucraphate (which I also had and did administer with the Pred) if the Metacam has not had five days to wash out of a dog’s system.

      So, from my vet’s perspective, it is all a bit risky and I think he is being conservative. But it does worry me a little that I know we will have a much bigger lag between stroke and Pred if she has another…

      Ahhhhh, it is so hard taking great care of a super senior! It continues to remind me of the challenges of having an aging grandparent or parent – so many people go through a year or several years of slow decline with multiple medical emergencies in the last year or few of their lives. Just like my dogs… Ruby

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