Cover Image: Looking for Alice

Looking for Alice

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Member Reviews

Gunvor Strom’s life has changed completely when illness causes her to change career in her 60’s. She starts a new career as a private detective and has 2 helpers in David and Elin who want excitement in their lives. What starts as a standard case of an affair will turn more violent and seedy and murder naturally follows. Is Gunvor out of her depth and will David and Elin get too personally involved. This story keeps you on your toes from the first page with twists thrown in. Gunvor is a likeable character who feels responsible for her young helpers but her curiosity may get them all killed. You will want to look for more stories with Gunvor in the future.
I was given an arc of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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4 1/2 ★s

After noticing bullies tormenting a shy young girl in her late teens on an almost daily basis, Gunvor Strom takes action and delivers payback in a deliciously novel way. In her mid-sixties, Gunvor is a retired surgeon who gave up her medical profession when she almost killed a patient because her hands tremored during a delicate operation. Knowing she had a sharp mind and actively worked to stay in good physical condition, a friend offered her a position in his Private Investigation agency. Because she wanted something challenging to do and had kept herself healthy and fit by studying Aikido for decades, she thought, "Why not. I can do this!"

Gunvor's first case assignment was what everyone thought was a routine suspicious-wife-suspects-husband-of-adultery case. Soon after accepting the case, she realized the husband was visiting public places where, if she followed him, she would expose herself by standing out in the crowd. So, she cleverly enlisted the young man and woman she had interacted with earlier in the bullying incident to help her in the case. This teamwork worked well until they realized the husband wasn't what the wife had suspected, and things turned deadly. 

After witnessing a gruesome murder, Gunvor and her two assistants become entangled in a life-and-death race against the clock, where she finds herself having to bring to life her marshall arts skills to save her life and those she had grown to love.

I thoroughly enjoyed Luna Millers's debut novel in the Gunvor Strom series. I was given the publisher's option to read "Looking for Alice" for an honest review. The notion of an older modern-day female PI intrigued me as I had enjoyed reading Agatha Christie novels of Miss Marple, the amateur detective/investigator. Having also enjoyed reading other Nordic noir novels over the past few years, I gave the book a try. I am glad to say it did not disappoint me. The storyline was well crafted, and I enjoyed the unexpected bit of action and type of intrigue not seen in the Miss Marple books. Besides the twists and turns of the story, not having been to Sweden before, I also enjoyed the Stockholm tour of unique places in my mind. I enjoyed Googling intriguing locations and places of interest in the story more than I do with typical novels. 

Overall, I say, "Bravo, Luna Miller. When is your Gunvor Strom's book #2 coming out?"
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4.5★s
“’You nicked his phone? But you’re just a sweet little old lady. Sorry that’s a bit rude— but it’s true!’ Looking like a boring old woman may well be an advantage in her line of work, but it hurt to have it confirmed so emphatically. Especially when she so actively loathed the whole idea of growing old.”

Looking For Alice is the first book in the Gunvor Ström series by Swedish author, Luna Milller. It is translated from Swedish by Aidan Isherwood. Banker Mikael Franzén has been acting completely out of character: staying out late, coming home drunk. His wife Nadja suspects he is cheating on her, so she engages The Private Eyes. Gunvor Ström is recalled from an island vacation to take the case.

After following Mikael once, it is clear she will need to work with someone who can enter the cool bars Mikael is frequenting without drawing undue attention to themselves. Coming to private investigation work in her mid-sixties after a successful career as a surgeon, Gunvor’s little old lady persona is fine for some jobs, but not this one.

College drop-out, David is surprised to find that the nosy old woman who’d stolen his phone and played a dirty trick on him is offering him a job. What’s more, he will be teaming up with the young woman he and his friends have been harassing daily at the tube station. But 1000 kroner is 1000 kroner, and the idea of going undercover kind of appeals.

Elin Svensson is ready to take on something a bit more exciting than her usual routine of study and classes, but she hasn’t bargained on an encounter with two rough types beating up the target of their surveillance. With that, Nadja Franzén mysteriously withdraws her request, and it looks as though they aren’t going to discover the truth.

But the whole situation is intriguing enough for Guvnor’s boss to sanction continuing the investigation. David and Elin are eager to continue, and Guvnor’s neighbour, Aidan joins in, happy to partake of something more exciting than teaching English. But before long, murder, drugging and kidnapping have Guvnor second-guessing her decision to involve these relatively innocent youngsters in this (now-) dangerous case.

In Gunvor Ström, Miller gives the reader a rather different PI: she’s fit, intelligent, trained in Aikido, with a dose of street smart to back that up, and manages to quickly garner the loyalty of her helpers, the makeshift team who decide to call themselves The Fruängen Bureau. David and Elin prove to have courage and initiative, even if some of what Elin does seems hopelessly naïve.

The plot is fairly credible, taking a few turns as it builds up to a heart-thumping climax, in which Gunvor gets to demonstrate her Aikido skills (of course). This is a promising dose of Swedish noir and more of Gunvor Ström and her Fruängen Bureau will definitely be welcome.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Publish Authority.
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This one didn't seem to know what it wanted to be... The blurb makes a big deal out of the older female retiree detective angle, which is what drew me to the story - much in the way of the Hulda series by Ragnar Jonasson. I read a lot of mysteries and they tend to run together after a while, so a protagonist who doesn't follow the typical form of a disaffected alcoholic male or abused woman who takes back her life tends to catch my eye. Unfortunately I should have taken a clue from the cover on this one - it features a young blond, which should have clued me in that this was not entirely going to be about said older retiree Detective. 

So instead of what I was looking for - a sort of contemporary Scandinavian Mrs. Pollifax - turned into a lot of banality fit somewhat oddly around rather a lot of sex and violence.  I did not expect it and it didn't seem to mesh with the other parts of the story. The book started off interesting. I thought it was going to be a quirky detective story based on the beginning, but then it got graphic and aggressive very quickly and started to lose me. 

The characters didn't feel very well developed, nor the plot - there was a lot of suspended disbelief and it overwhelmed the story. I wasn't able to finish, even though it's a short book. This one just wasn't for me...
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This sounded like an interesting premise--a retired female surgeon turned private eye in Sweden.  After all, we know from Miss Marple that people never pay attention to old ladies.  I was unable to get into this story and did not finish the book.  Gunvor Ström is introduced in the opening chapters as coming to the aid of a young woman being harassed by a young man in the subway, an act that puts her in a favorable light.  Then Gunvor proceeds to engage in what I felt was a mean-hearted prank in order to get back at the young man, and I rapidly found myself disliking her.  I really wanted to like the book and was looking forward an engaging new entry in Nordic noir, but ended up disappointed.
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Gunvor is a retired surgeon who has taken on a second career as a part time private investigator. Her new client is Nadja, a woman who believes her husband is cheating on her.  When Gunvor and her assistants, David and Elin, start to investigate, they find that there is much more involved, including rape, blackmail, and rough sex. Although well written and excellently translated, this intense Nordic Noir novel, with its psycho villain and grisly scenes, would probably have been better suited to another reader. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
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I was attracted to the premise of this book:  former surgeon, reinventing herself as a private detective.  Unfortunately, I found the plot implausible and the characters unsympathetic.  The character development is done mostly through exposition instead of illustration.  I'm uncertain of the market niche.  There is too much explicit/violent sex for a cozy, but the senior sleuth/found family approach seems like an odd choice for a thriller.  

Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you NetGalley, IBPA and Luna Miller for the eARC.
This mystery features 65-year old P.I. Gunvor Strom from Stockholm, a former surgeon who could no longer perform surgeries because of tremors.  She's in pretty good shape, but drinks too much.
A client wants her husband to be followed, because she thinks he's having an affair.  Things turn out to be a lot more serious than that.  Gunvor hires 2 teenagers to help observe the man.
I couldn't get into the book, I didn't really like any of the characters, it felt formulaic and there was too much sex, which I'm not condemning because of prudishness, but because it bored me.
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Gunvor Ström is the character that Luna Miller uses as her mentor in her book Looking for Alice: A Gunvor Ström Novel. Gunvor was a surgeon until she almost killed a patient at the hospital. She left the hospital and started working as a detective for an agency. While waiting for the train she saw a bully picking on a young girl, Elin. The bully, David would do this every day so Gunvor decided to help Elin get past this lad every day possible. What she then does is recruit both Elin and David to solve a case that she can't seem to be in because of her age. What happened was that she found out her client's husband would frequent bars that she would stand out in. Her recruits would not have this problem but many things happened to them and it all revolved around to this woman Alice, her brother and several men that were money hungry. I've basically given you the plot now you will want to read the story.
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I received this from Netgalley.com for a review.

"An aging private investigator and her young team take on a seemingly simple adultery case that proves to be complex, indeed."

An okay mystery and a quick read, but I was less than captivated by the story. I sometimes struggle with translated stories, the flow of the story felt jagged.

2.5☆
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