05 April 2011

Swedish crime novel

And here's another view of Sweden to fracture your stereotypes (well, at least the stereotypes of the descendants of Swedish immigrants in Minnesota). Leif GW Persson’s novel also jostled the images of reviewer Katherine Powers, writing in The Boston Post. Persson's description of Sweden's police and intelligence organizations give credence to the cabals in Stieg Larsson's series of "The Girl Who..." stories. Powers also adds a reference to Arnaldur's Arctic Chill, something I read and wrote about just over a year ago.

From Nordic climes, come chilling thrillers
[H]ere before me is Leif GW Persson’s Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End: The Story of a Crime, unquestionably the best Swedish crime novel I’ve read so far.

In it, Persson takes up the 1986 assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme, a crime that has never been solved. Aside from that event, the specific goings-on, as well as the characters, motives, involvements, and actions are fictional, but they are also completely believable. The novel consists of two chronologies and a fraught history. Sweden’s geo-political predicament is the backdrop, especially the years that spanned the end of World War II as it segued into the Cold War up to the mid-1950s. In Sweden this was the time during which “wherever you turned you only saw the Russian bear with his mighty paws, ready to deliver the final embrace.’’...

But be warned: This is a novel to read with your cerebral capacity at its highest setting and with, perhaps, a little notebook at your side. Most of the book’s characters are members of the Stockholm police force or of the country’s security organizations. They are numerous, and their names and official titles are nothing but trouble...

The Swedish security organization in place here is made up of a number of bodies: a central organization... a smaller “external group,’’ camouflaged as a management consulting firm established for the purpose of pursuing the most secret operations; a special “threat group,’’... and a further group, whose task is to spy on everyone else in the organization....

As I'll explain at a later date, my dance card for reading is pretty full right now, but I'm going to keep Persson's book on my waiting list.

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