Sunday, October 24, 2010
Åke Edwardson, The Shadow Woman
The first of Åke Edwardson's Erik Winter crime novels to be translated into English, Sun and Shadow, was apparently the sixth in the order of the series's original publication in Sweden. That was followed by translations of the seventh and eighth books in the series, and then by the translation of Death Angels, which was actually the third in the order of first publication. Now the fourth in the series (right after Death Angels, whose Swedish title actually means Dance with an Angel) has now been published in English by Penguin, translated by Per Carlsson: The Shadow Woman, whose Swedish title, Rop från långt avstånd, actually means "cries from far away."
But all that confusion shouldn't put anyone off The Shadow Woman, which is a first-class police procedural. The investigation is a particularly frustrating one, which concerns the disccovery of a body near a lake. Winter and the police cannot discover who the woman was, and a parallel narrative about a young girl who is taken from her mother during some sort of getaway from a crime, gives the reader a sense of the anxiety that will befall Winter and his team later in the book (though not in quite the way that the reader may think).
There are several other plot lines int eh background, most of them concerning biker gangs, evidently a big factor in Southern Swedish crime (and even bigger in Denmark, where Winter eventually needs to go for answers).
My only quibble with the book is that one clue that unravels the final elements of the story is withheld from the reader in a way that other clues are not (Winter knows about that clue but we don't). Not a big deal, but in a story that is about the frustrations of a police investigation that has too few clues and too little information, withholding that one clue grates a bit.
Still, The Shadow Woman is a compelling story, and one of the best of the Erik Winter series. I was not a huge fan of Åke Edwardson after reading the first couple of books to appear in English, but I'm convinced now—he's in the first rank of Swedish crime writers. One question for dedicated readers of Scandinavian crime: I can think of a number of Swedish crime novels in which the detective travels to Denmark during the investigation, but I can't think of a single time when the detective travels to Norway (except for a chase scene in The White Lioness in which Wallander crosses the Norwegian border in pursuit of the killer). Are there trips to Norway that I'm not aware of?