‘Too much filler’ – Babylon by Camilla Ceder

bccSet in Gothenburg and Istanbul, Babylon is the story of lust, betrayal, sex, robbery, deceit, madness and killing. Inspector Christian Tell leads the investigation into an apparent double murder of Anne-Marie Karpov and her lover and student Henrik Samuelsson.

Samuelsson who lives with his girlfriend Rebecca, tells her that he is meeting a friend to carry out some late night study.  Through a process of deduction she learns that Henrik lied to her and is in fact having an affair with his tutor. In a fit of rage she intends to confront her boyfriend with his lover but at the last moment decides against any argument. Initially Rebecca, comes under suspicion. She’s an obsessive who has been known to exact revenge on unfaithful boyfriends in the past.

In the meantime Rebecca’s apartment is broken into and ransacked resulting in the murder investigation moving in a totally unexpected direction.

Intrigue and mystery are introduced when the reader is brought up to speed on the back story of the love affair between Henrik and Anne-Marie. The romance blossoms during a class trip to Istanbul where along with falling for his tutor Henrik gets the opportunity to purchase a statue which he later discovers was looted from the National Museum of Baghdad.

Like the best crime novels there are twists and turns along the way and Babylon maintains this tradition. There is the usual MacGuffin which succeeds in throwing the reader off before the main plot of the investigation ultimately becomes clear.

Where the novel fails is when Ceder relates ad nauseam the personal lives of the main characters. Much of this is superfluous and seems to be better suited to a Mills and Bloom novel rather than a hard hitting detective novel. The relationship between Tell and his girlfriend Seja Lundberg is totally unrelated to the investigation and only serves to detract from what otherwise is fine crime fiction writing.

Any Cop?: Too much filler but otherwise a finely crafted story.

Joe Phelan


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