Death Angels, by Ake Edwardson
Åke EdwardsonEdwardson (born 1953 in Småland) is a Swedish author of detective fiction. He was previously a lecturer in journalism at Gothenburg University. He has written a large number of books, and so far four of them have been translated into English.
Edwardson's crime novels have made him a three-time winner of the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy Award for best crime novel; twice for best novel, once for best debut novel.
His first novel to be translated into English, in 2005, was Sun and Shadow (Sol och skugga, 1999). The second,Never End(Låt det aldrig ta slut, 2000), followed in 2006. The third, Frozen Tracks (Himlen är en plats på jorden) was published in 2007. Death Angels, one of the earlier books in the series in Sweden, was published in 2009. The Shadow Woman (Rop från långt avstånd), a new crime fiction in the Chief Inspector Erik Winter series, was published in England in September 2010. And in March 2012, Sail of Stone (Segel av sten), the sixth book in the Winter series, was published.
In Swedish the Erik Winter series now consists of ten books, and the author says he will not be writing any more books in this series.
It is unfortunately often the case that translated crime fiction series are published in England and the United States out of sequence. This is the case with Death Angels (Original title: Dans med en angel, published in 1997) too – it is the fourth novel in the Chief Inspector Erik Winter series published in English, but it is actually the first book in the series (and Åke Edwardson’s third novel). The series takes place in Gothenburg.
In Death Angels readers familiar with the series meet a younger, unmarried Erik Winter. However, he is still Chief Inspector. Winter was the youngest detective ever to be promoted to such an elevated position. And he is pretty much the Erik Winter we have come to know in the later books: A bit remote and contemplative, a loner, quite a bit of a snob, likes expensive brands and jazz, slightly philosophically oriented.
In this book the youngish Chief Inspector teams up with Scotland Yard to solve a mysterious case of parallel killings of young British and Swedish tourists. It involves young men murdered in extremely horrible ways, with blood on walls. Strangely Englishmen are killed in Sweden, and Swedes in London. The killer, dubbed Hitchcock, appears to have filmed the butchery, as evidenced by traces of a tripod stand in the victims' blood. Possibly the plan is to distribute the recordings as snuff films.
A female stripper named "Angel", whom one of Winter's detectives investigating strip clubs gets in touch with, seems to be a person that knows more than she tells. And a thief who breaks into a house finds a sack full of clothes that have lots of blood on them.
Death Angels is well constructed police procedural. The story is a little slow in taking off. It is not quite as good as Edwardson’s later novels in the series, but we have to remember that it is the debut book in the series. And as such Death Angels is very good opening to a series that has improved over time. The novel is also smoothly translated. And the ending is very interesting, with some very neat twists in the tale.
Frozen Tracks is another wonderful psychological police procedural from Ake Edwardson. Here Detective Chief Inspector Erik Winter and his team is engaged in a tough case where four college-aged men are brutally attacked from behind, leaving them with severe head trauma. The victims seem totally unconnected in their day-to-day lives and acquaintances, but the attacks continue in spite of a careful investigation into the incidents. The men are only linked by the distinctive mark left by the attacker's mysterious weapon.
At the same time, nursery school children report being lured to the car of a strange "mister", who gives them candy. However, the children appear unharmed, and the police brush off these incidents until one boy is found badly beaten in the woods. Winter in particular is alarmed by the danger as his daughter Elsa attends one of the hopelessly understaffed schools hit by this predator. And soon Erik Winter is thrown into a race to save a kidnapped boy from the clutches of a monster.
Thus the approaching Christmas is not very festive for Detective Chief Inspector Erik Winter. Instead of preparing for Christmas in Frozen Tracks – he had a plan for a holiday in the Costa del Sol with his partner Angela and daughter - he is haunted by two very puzzling and seemingly unrelated sets of crimes.
Leads followed by Winter and his colleagues and interviews with a farm raised victim, lead Winter and his team to the bleak and desolate prairies of rural Sweden when a branding iron is considered as being the assault weapon. Something sinister has happened out there, Winter can feel it in his bones.
Erik Winter is an interesting addition to the famous policemen we know and love – Martin Beck, Kurt Wallander, Inspector Konrad Sejer, Kurt Wallander, Inspector Morse, and others. He is very smart, his actions are well grounded in intelligence and common sense, and he is a little bit of snob with a well developed taste for fine suits and expensive brands. Also, he is socially conscious without being depressed or borderline depressed. And the author, Ake Edwardson writes very well. Especially he is strong in characterization; his characters are well developed and feel very real.
Frozen Tracks is a good, enjoyable, exciting and very readable book!
Sun and Shadow, by Ake Edwardson
Sun and Shadow is the first book that was translated into English in Ake Edwardson’s crime fiction book series about Chief Inspector Erik Winter. It is yet another of those suspenseful, crafty and excellent Swedish crime fiction novels!
The main character of the series, Erik Winter, is a very interesting character. He is a bit of a snob who loves Italian clothes and excellent food, a jazz fan and fond of cooking. He comes across as quite arrogant, especially to people who do not know him. But he is also considerate and philosophical, and the youngest policeman ever to have achieved his elevated rank in Sweden.
In Sun and Shadow we are introduced to swingers in the city of Gothenburg in Sweden. A couple entertain a stranger in their Gothenburg flat, a man who plays death metal music and doesn’t behave quite as expected. Instead of having steamy sex with the couple, he kills them and leaves their apartment with the death metal music still playing.
The dead couple is found by a young newspaper delivery boy. For more than a week he has watched his deliveries piling up behind the front door. Also, the loud music playing inside the flat seems odd and the boy contacts the police.
What greets Chief Inspector Erik Winter and his team when they arrive at the scene of the murder, appears as a grotesque stage setting. There are some clues, but they are hard to follow. Erik Winter feels that the murderer is providing them with a riddle of nightmares, of good versus evil, of sun and shadow.
Then the murderer hits again. Another couple is killed. The murder has taken place very close to Erik Winter’s home, and his pregnant girlfriend is nervous. And she is also scared by mysterious phone calls. As the investigation proceeds, it unearths a possible link between the murderer and the police force. So now even friendly faces are not to be trusted and, when the killer strikes again, Winter is in a race against time.
Sun and Shadow is excellently written and a great crime fiction novel. The translation by Laurie Thompson seems a little stilted at times. In my opinion it is a little too slow in the beginning, but many readers will probably appreciate the time and space devoted to character development and descriptions of the setting of the book. And Ake Edwardson is very good at getting into the psyche of his characters. The plot is rich and full of interesting twists. Edwardson leaves a number of clues to his readers, but even so the solution is somewhat surprising. Overall, Sun and Shadow is a well-rounded, compelling and very entertaining crime-novel.