Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Review: Sun and Shadow by Åke Edwardson

First Sentence: It had started raining.

Sun and Shadow by Åke Edwardson
Translated by Laurie Thompson
Penguin, 2005 (Originally published in 1995)
Crime Fiction (MYS); 392 pgs

With the new millennium approaching and preparations being made to ensure the year 2000 rolls in without too many hitches, the Gothenburg police have their hands full. For many, it is business as usual, but for others, the weight of the job has become burdensome. A gruesome double homicide will take all of their attention as they try and track down the elusive killer. The investigation takes the police into the underground world of black metal and unconventional sex, eventually leading them in a direction none of them want to go.

Erik Winter, the youngest Detective Chief Inspector at the age of 39, is at the helm of the investigation. He is conscientious and intelligent, doing his best not to miss anything that might lead them to the murderer. As the investigation unfolds and paints a dark picture of a struggle between good and evil, Erik's personal life also demands his attention. His girlfriend has just moved in, they are expecting a child, and those prank calls that once he so easily dismissed are becoming more troublesome.

The novel jumps from character to character, offering a broad perspective of the lives of the characters and the ongoing investigation. This includes a look into the mind of the killer. There are several minor stories at play amongst the bigger plot line. The main story takes a while to build as the foundation is laid and readers are introduced to a host of characters, many of whom will prove to be an integral part in the events that unfold. The slow set up is perhaps the novel's weakest feature, and yet it works just the same.

Sun and Shadow is a character driven crime fiction novel. Author Åke Edwardson gets into the psyche of his characters offering a close look at each of them and their motivations. What readers see at first glance is not necessarily the same impression that will be held by the end of the book. For many of the law enforcement officers, the job has taken a toll on their lives. What they see and experience touches them, sometimes haunts them. That extends beyond just the authorities. It holds true for other characters in the novel as well: the vicar and her daughter, the abused boy, and the doctor who feels like she doesn't have enough time to offer her patients. The killer could be just about anyone, and the author keeps the reader guessing for most of the book.

The streets of Sweden have a personality all their own as do the streets of Marbella, Spain, where Erik Winter spends a short time, visiting his ailing father. People go about their business, moving in and out of the shadows, carrying their burdens with them. The grayish skies, rain and white snow are fitting backdrops to such a dark tale.

Sun and Shadow is the third book in the Erik Winter Series, but the first translated into English for American publication. The Swedish setting could not be more appropriate; the characters are well developed and the story itself is compelling. Åke Edwardson is an author to watch for. Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Wendy Runyon, 2008.

Rating: * (Very Good)


  1. Boy, does that sound good.

  2. This looks like a good one, thanks for the review!

  3. Very cool! I've never heard of this series, but since I come from Gothenburg (and am placing an "order" of Swedish books from my mum), the first one in the series will be included. Thanks for the heads up!!!

  4. Your blog always makes me want to read more mysteries! This sounds like something I'd definitely enjoy.

    PS: I really like the blog's new colour scheme :)

  5. Oh, this sounds like something I'd like to read! Thanks for the great review, Wendy! :)

    Merry Christmas and Happy holidays!

  6. Kathy - It took a while to get off the ground, but it turned out to be really good.

    Amy - I enjoyed it quite a bit. :-)

    Bookaholic - How neat! I enjoy reading about places I've visited or lived. I wonder if you or your mom would recognize some of the areas mentioned in the novel. :-)

    Nymeth - I feel the same way about your blog--you inspire me to want to read more fantasy. :-)

    Thanks! I like the blue. :-)

    Melody - I am looking forward to reading more by the author. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  7. I wonder if it lost anything in its translation? It sure doesn't sound like it!

  8. Jen - There is always that possibility with translated books. I do wish I could read in other languages to know for sure sometimes. :-)


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