My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is apparently the third book in Ake Edwardson's Erik Winter series, but it was the first one to be translated into English from the original Swedish and so was the first one I was able to read. This put me a bit at sea as a reader because there were frequent references throughout the book to events that had happened earlier and that were, I suppose, covered in the other books. I had to guess at their significance.
Another problem that I had with the book was its formatting in Kindle. Edwardson switches back and forth with the voice in which the story is told, almost from paragraph to paragraph at times. We'll get a few paragraphs of things from Erik Winter's perspective. Then we may hear from his girlfriend, Angela, or from one of the policemen with whom he works. That's not a problem except that there is almost always no break to show the change in voice. So I'm reading along thinking that I'm still hearing Erik Winter's thoughts and suddenly I realize that the perspective has changed and this is someone else's mind that I'm in. Really, would it have killed them to put a double space between paragraphs that represent a change in perspective? It certainly would have lessened my confusion.
And, as long as I'm putting my quibbles with the book up front, Edwardson's narrative style seems passive in the extreme. I'm not one who glories in reading the minute blood and guts details of horrible murders, but it does help the reader, I think, to at least be told in the most matter of fact way possible just what has happened to the victim(s). Here, we have a couple, murdered in their home, who apparently had their heads cut off and stuck on the top of each others' bodies, but this comes out ever so slowly and haltingly in the narrative. When the police arrive on the scene, it is merely hinted at but never stated. Later, another couple is attacked in their home and the man is killed, but, for some unknown reason, the murderer doesn't finish the job on the woman. She is grievously injured - apparently - but we are never told what her injuries are.
And in the ending of the story, we have the hero's pregnant girlfriend kidnapped and held captive for days and (Spoiler alert!)
finally rescued unharmed, but we get no details of that kidnapping or the rescue. We are simply told that it happened. Very frustrating for the reader. At least for this reader.
In addition, the story goes a bit off track early on with a subplot concerning Erik Winter's parents who have retired to Costa del Sol in Spain. His father suffers a health emergency and Erik goes there to be with them and the story just seems to meander along without any real purpose. I assume this was intended to more fully flesh out the character of Erik in the reader's mind. But the digression goes on too long for my taste and didn't add much to the story.
When Erik returns to Sweden, he has the further personal complications of his doctor girlfriend, who is pregnant with their first child, getting ready to move in with him, even though she obviously has reservations. And then almost immediately he is plunged into the investigation of the gruesome murders.
This is certainly very different from every other Swedish or Scandinavian murder mystery/thriller that I've read in that it is told in such a passive voice. While that isn't necessarily a bad thing, Edwardson's iteration of it didn't catch my imagination. The book was okay, but just that.
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