Never End, by Ake Edwardson

Swedish author Ake Edwardson's Erik Winter novels are best-sellers in Europe, but this is only the second of the series to be published in the U.S., following last year's Never End, by Ake EdwardsonSun and Shadow. In Europe, Åke Edwardson is known as a master of the stylish and gritty crime novel.

Ake Edwardson is a three-time winner of the Swedish Academy of Crime Writers’ Award and it’s easy to see why. Edwardson weaves rich, psychologically satisfying tales. His writing is nuanced and literary, and his characters are deep and fascinating.

In Never End, a heat wave hits the Swedish coastal city of Gothenburg. School is out, and parks and beaches are teeming with people. A rape of a young girl is reported. Erik Winter feels certain there is a serial rapist at large. Then the corpse of a young woman is found in a hollowed out area within a thicket of trees in a local park, the same location where to rape took place. Pathology reports show that she had been sexually violated and strangled. Chief Inspector Erik Winter, in charge of the investigation, is stunned as the crime is eerily similar to an unsolved rape and murder committed 5 years ago in the exact same location.

In Never End, Winter mobilizes his team to pore over the evidence and interview the young victim who was raped but survived. Her fragile psychological state provides few clues for Winter.

Chief Inspector Erik Winter, now forty-one and a father, assembles the scant but grisly details of the crimes, and begins to see similarities and perhanps an eerie connection to the five-year-old unsolved rape/murder, a case he, in typically obsessive fashion, has refused to let go cold.

Has the same rapist re-emerged to taunt the police and flaunt his stolen freedom, or are these copycat crimes? In the absence of any hard leads, and haunted by the case he could not solve, Winter hunts for a link bridging the victims, convinced that each crime holds the key to the others.

Never End is a top police procedural, with a very likable main character and deep, excellent characterizations. A great read!

The Shadow Woman, by Ake Edwardson

The Shadow Woman is actually the second book in the Erik Winter series by Ake Edwardson, even though it is the fifth book to be translated into English.

When we meet up with Erik Winter The Shadow Woman, by Ake Edwardsonthis time, it is summer and very hot in Gothenburg; the annual Gothenburg Party is in full swing, and this year the bacchanalian blowout is simmering with ethnic discord spurred by nationalist gangs. Winter is vacationing, but when a colleague of his is brutally attacked on the streets and ends up in hospital with a broken jaw, and the body of a murdered woman is found close to a lake in the outskirts of the city, the vacation ends.

The police find very little evidence on the site where the body was found - the only clue is a red symbol on a tree above her - and nothing that can tell them about the identity of the victim. There are no witnesses. Marks on the body indicate that she has been murdered elsewhere and then moved to this location.

Winter and his colleagues know this will be a hard case to solve. They start with the obvious steps: to establish the identity of the victim and try to locate witnesses – people who might have seen something usual, people who have seen a car nearby, or something else of interest. The autopsy of the body shows that the victim has been strangled and that she has had at least one child.

But that’s it. The police are unable to learn the identity of the murdered woman – she is not on the list of missing people, and reports her missing from work or home. It is as if she didn’t exist or has lived her life in the shadows. Even so, Winter has to solve this murder and also find the unidentified victim’s child before it is too late.

Even when Winter and his team establish the identity of the victim, it soon becomes clear that it is difficult to find out more about her. As they start to uncover facts about her, they find evidence that leads to organized crime gangs in Sweden and Denmark and back to a brutal bank robbery a long time ago. What is it that ties the murdered woman to that awful crime that took place so long ago in a different country when she must have been just a child? And why did the past come alive in this fashion now – why was she killed?

The investigation in this excellent police procedural is very difficult. The book is, in my opinion, very good; actually very fascinating because of the great descriptions of the challenging police work and the tedious process of connecting the dots. The character descriptions are good and contribute strongly to the realism of the story. The Shadow Woman is a high quality crime fiction novel and very interesting to read, especially if you like police procedurals.

Sail of Stone, by Ake Edwardson

Sail of stone, Ake EdwardsonThe sixth and most recent novel in Swedish writer Ake Edwardson’s terrific series about the fashion conscious, high brow Chief Inspector Erik Winter of the Gothenburg police is here! Sail of stone (Segel av sten) is a wonderful police procedural, which follows in the footsteps of successes like Frozen Tracks, Death Angels and The Shadow Women. In focus in this novel are Erik Winter and African-Swedish detective Aneta Djanali, both smart, introspective and very thoughtful detectives.

As we follow the two detectives while they work on two separate cases, Ake Edwardson takes us deep into their minds and lays bare their psychological make-ups in a highly intriguing fashion. Fascinating as the cases are, this dive into the psyches of these two very-well drawn characters, is masterfully executed by Edwardson, and is in some ways perhaps even more spell-binding than the very professional and intelligent police work they do in working their respective cases. It is interesting to see how Edwardson lets Winter and Djanali be guided and assisted by intuition.

Ake EdwardsonErik Winter’s case concerns the missing father of a lady that he once had an intense love affair with, Johanna Osvald. Her father, Axel Osvald, has – strangely - traveled to Scotland to search for his own father. It is a very peculiar and odd tale. Why travel to Scotland to look for a man who died there during World War II? And – is Axel really missing? Winter allows himself to get drawn into this strange mystery and unravel the secrets buried in the past of the family of his former lover. To solve this mystery he will have to enlist the aid of an old friend in the Scotland Yard and visit hidden places deep in the Scottish fjords.

Aneta, on the other hand, pursues a reluctant victim of domestic abuse – Annette Lindsten - that she has a very hard time finding. She meets the alleged abuser – the quite frightening lover Hans Forsblad, as well as the victim’s father and mother. But where is the victim? Why isn’t anyone talking to her or helping her – not even the parents? The case has hard to pinpoint aspects that somehow are very frightening to Aneta – resonating with old, deeply buried fears in a very unpleasant manner.

Sail of Stone is an outstanding character study, very perceptive and excellently written. The plot is rich and deep, and the pacing is on the spot throughout. A pearl!

Most recent Scandinavian movies on DVD reviewed:

King of Devil's Island - Stellan Skarsgård

A Somewhat Gentle Man - Stellan Skarsgård at his very best

The Killing - an excellent Danish crime fiction TV series

Arn: Templar Knight - based on the Crusades trilogy by Jan Guillou

Jar City, excellent Icelandic crime movie based on a book by Arnaldur Indridason

Troubled Water - an extraordinary Norwegian movie

Pusher Trilogy. Hard, violent Danish movies about gangsters.

As it is in Heaven. Charming Swedish movie, romantic, funny, warm.

Max Manus - about a hero in the Norwegian resistance during WWII

Flame and Citron - about the Danish resistance during WWII

Antichrist and other movies by Danish Lars von Trier

The Van Veeteren collection (Hakan Nesser)

Kurt Wallander series (Henning Mankell)

Irene Huss movies (Boxed set) Helene Tursten