Linda, as in the Linda Murder by Leif GW Persson

linda murder

Linda, as in the Linda Murder by Leif GW Persson
Translated by Neil Smith
Doubleday, 2013
Originally published as Linda — som i Lindamordet, 2005
Evert Bäckström book 1

I borrowed this book from the library.

I’ve been mulling over this book for over a week now: in part that’s a sign that there’s much to delve into in this book, and in part it’s because my reaction is so mixed. Persson dedicated this book to Sjöwall and Wahlöö, and I feel like this book was part homage to the Martin Beck series and part a whole different animal: this is the most procedural-heavy writer I’ve come across. Though the book has a lot of pages, the story passed briskly in parts and felt slow in parts. There are some flourishes I liked a great deal, but overall I’m left feeling a little overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the book.

Linda, as in the Linda Murder focuses on the murder of a trainee police officer in Smaland. Evert Bäckström , a comedically horrible character from Stockholm somehow ends up leading the investigation in the summer months. I found Bäckström a bit easier to take in this book than in He Who Kills the Dragon, the next entry in the series. His attachment to his goldfish, was ridiculous to balance out his extreme sexism, etc. And his particular ending was satisfying.

The book goes into detail into the investigation with the national police team and the local team, much like the other Persson novels I’ve read. While this makes the book realistic to a certain degree, it makes it a slog for me. I could have done without the shenanigans in the police hierarchy, and the “voluntary” DNA collection from possible suspects went on a long time. I understand the point Persson was making about the sketchiness of the police’s actions, but he could have made differently. I think I prefer procedurals to be a bit less realistic than what Persson writes.

Finally, I will say that I was a fan of the ending, particularly the coda to the story. I needed more of the character of Lisa Mattei and other voices of reason in the story. The ridiculousness of Bäckström and several other characters could have been tempered a bit more.


Reading Persson has made it difficult for me to  watch hourlong crime dramas. I can spot the clues a mile away after being awash in information while reading this book.

5 thoughts on “Linda, as in the Linda Murder by Leif GW Persson

    • I agree! I knew what I was getting into when I started, but I was still surprised by just how much procedure there was. Time to try something a little different, and right now I’m enjoying the very quick prose of James M. Cain. Happy reading to you, Cathy.

      • Good to know. I was thinking about reading the first book in this series, but was turned off by two things: too much police procedure and the backward attitudes of Backstrom. My tolerance level of racism and sexism in a book being read for enjoyment is very low. I don’t want to be annoyed at the protagonists.

  1. Kathy: understood. I liked this Backstrom a bit more than He Who Kills the Dragon because there were so many other characters to balance him out. He’s supposed to be darkly comic, but comedy is such an individual taste.

  2. You make a good point about the depth of information supplied in a Police Procedural, real life police work is very admin heavy and not terribly interesting to read about – it sounds like this author treads a very fine line.

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