THE SHADOW WOMAN by Ake Edwardson

Book Quote:

“Crime is an army. He was a policeman but he wasn’t cynical. He believed in the power of good, and that was why he spoke about evil. It was impenetrable, like observing the enemy through bulletproof glass. Anyone who tried to comprehend it with reason went under. He was starting to realize this, but he still had the urge to get in close to defeat that monster. If you couldn’t use your goodness and intellect to confront evil close up, what were you supposed to use? The thought had flashed through his mind before – a thought that was like a black hole right in the middle of reality, terrifying: that evil could be fought only in kind.”

Book Review:

Review by Lynn Harnett  (NOV 27, 2010)

Sweden’s youngest ever chief inspector, at thirty-seven years old, cuts his vacation short when one of his team – a black, Swedish-born woman – has her jaw broken at the annual Gothenburg party, an outdoor late-summer festival at which nativist thugs get drunk and run amok, often in motorcycle gangs.

Gothenburg is sweltering in an August heat wave and Winter shows up for work in cut-offs, a rock band tee shirt and uncut hair – quite a contrast to his usual designer suits and perfect grooming. The attack on his officer has provoked an unaccustomed rage and he unleashes it on his ex-brother-in-law, a criminal with racist ties. “Winter opened his eyes again and looked at his hands. Were they his? It had felt good clenching his fingers around Vennerhag’s jaw.”

It doesn’t take long to round up the attackers, but a murdered woman found in a lakeside ditch effectively ends Winter’s vacation. She has no id or identifying marks; her fingerprints aren’t in any database and no one has reported her missing, though the autopsy shows she’s had a child.

Winter, who finds himself musing on the nature of evil and the urge to fight violence with violence, sets his team in motion, chasing down every lead they can think of, no matter how thin:

“An investigation is a great big vacuum cleaner that sucks in everything: witness statements and forensic evidence, sound ideas and crazy hunches, most of it completely irrelevant to the case. Eventually you find things that fit together. Then you can formulate a hypothesis.”

It takes almost half the book to trace the woman’s identity. Meanwhile the narrative breaks for interludes with a child held captive and missing her mother and a lonely old lady growing anxious about her missing neighbors.

A police procedural with a strong psychological bent, Edwardson’s series stays primarily on Winter, while branching out to include details of his team’s private lives and aspirations. Winter himself is on the brink of a life choice, spurred by his girlfriend Angela’s ultimatum.

The prose is Scandinavian spare with a vivid sense of place only occasionally confusing to an American audience. Fans of Scandinavian crime fiction will love Edwardson. (Translated by Per Carlsson)

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 21 readers
PUBLISHER: Penguin (Non-Classics); Reprint edition (September 28, 2010)
REVIEWER: Lynn Harnett
EXTRAS: An Interview with Ake Edwardson
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Other Swedish novels:

Partial Bibliography:

Chief Inspector Erik Winter Novels:

November 27, 2010 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Sleuths Series, Sweden, Swedish Crime Writer, Translated, World Lit, y Award Winning Author

One Response

  1. brody - November 28, 2010

    I ordered a copy of this book based on your review. I think my husband will love it. Bonnie

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