Room No. 10 by Åke Edwardson, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles
Simon & Schuster, March 2013
Originally published as Rum nummer 10, 2005
Erik Winter book 7
This is the first Edwardson book I’ve read though it’s number seven out of ten books in the Erik Winter series. Jumping into the series at this point wasn’t difficult in terms of the development of the series and the characters because the novel jumps between one of Winter’s first cases and a contemporary case, both of which are linked to the hotel room in the title. At the beginning of the story, Winter is on the brink of a six month sabbatical (a winter in southern Spain) as he takes on the murder investigation of Paula Ney, the young woman found murdered in room no. 10. He also reflects on his early days in CID as he was investigating a missing persons case involving a woman who stayed in the same hotel room before she was reported missing. The two timelines allow Edwardson to give lots of backstory about Winter and his colleagues.
The book is a slow read in part because there are plenty of discussions of how Winter thinks, how he interrogates suspects, and how he obsesses about the minds of criminals.Or maybe the book just feels slow because the investigation itself takes months: Paula Ney, the young woman found murdered at the beginning of the book, is a loner with few friends and very reticent family members, which makes the investigation drag on. While the pace does pick up towards the end of the book, it felt like a slow read for me. I prefer a bit more action in the police procedurals I read, and I’m willing to try earlier books in the series to see if they have a bit more action than this particular book.
Åke Edwardson has won the Best Swedish Crime Novel Award from the Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy for Frozen Tracks and Death Angels, and his novel Till allt som varit dött won an award for best debut novel.
The Devil’s Star by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett
This edition: Harper Perennial, 2011
Though I recently declared on this blog that I was through with serial killer novels, I quickly made an exception for The Devil’s Star, which is the third book in the Harry Hole series that I’ve read. Thankfully, the serial killer plot is not the only one in this book: it also involves the end of Harry’s investigation into the murder of his colleague Ellen Gjelten.
Harry and his corrupt colleague Tom Waaler investigate a serial killer who strikes during the heat of summer when the police are very understaffed. His victims are women who are found with a devil’s star (pentagram) drawn at the crime scene and with red devil’s star diamonds on their bodies. I think my dislike for the plotline colored my view of the rest of the book, but I will say that Nesbø has an interesting twist on the serial killer story: he’s a more developed character than in lots of other crime novels I’ve read.
I also appreciate that Nesbø makes Harry’s love interest, Rakel, a more interesting and conflicted character than lot of crime writers do. Character wise, Nesbø offers lots of interesting tidbits about the police characters and the people Harry meets during the course of the investigation. It makes the book longer than others, but the pacing felt pretty good to me.
The murder-of-Ellen-Gjelten plot was more interesting than the serial killer plot, but I don’t think it was the strongest out of the three books. Nesbø does leave some unresolved threads to the story that I expect to see in other books in the series regarding corruption in the police department. All in all, I’m glad I finished this set of books in the series, but this is not my favorite in the series. That spot lies with Nemesis.
Other reviews of The Devil’s Star can be found by Jose Ignacio at The Game’s Afoot, Rob at The View from the Blue House and Norman at Eurocrime
I have also reviewed two previous books in the Harry Hole series
The Return by Håkan Nesser, translated by Laurie Thompson
Pantheon Books, 2007
Originally published as Återkomsten in 1995
Source: library e-book
I am a huge Håkan Nesser fan, and I know I’m just catching up with the rest of the world since his books weren’t translated into English until 2006– and U.S. publication dates lag behind the U.K. ones. Why? Each book feels a little different, which is quite a feat for a series. It’s obvious that Nesser loves his characters because they are well-rounded people too.
The Return feels different than Mind’s Eye and Borkmann’s Point because of the set-up: in The Return, Van Veeteren is in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery for the bulk of the investigation, a premise he borrowed from Josephine Tey’s The Daughter of Time. (I keep coming across Tey’s name in the last week or so, which I’m taking as a sign that I should pick up one of her books soon). The murder victim is Leopold Verhaven, a disgraced middle distance runner who dies just after being released from prison after serving his second twelve-year murder sentence, those murders being nearly twenty years apart. Nesser gets to play with time in this book because the investigation encompasses all three murders over a significant period of time. The non-linear story is definitely different than the earlier books in the series.
The Return is also a reflective book because Van Veeteren is grappling with mortality as he faces cancer surgery. The murder victim being his age also gets him thinking about his life. It’s not an entirely dour book about murder and mortality though: Van Veeteren is still an eccentric investigator, and there are jokes sprinkled throughout the story. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series in the coming months.
Other reviews of The Return can be found at Eurocrime and Mystery Mile.
I have also reviewed the two previous books in the Inspector Van Veeteren series:
This year I’m going to try two reading challenges: one that I expect to be easy, and one I expect to be a stretch.
First, I’m joining the 2013 Translation Challenge where the goal is to read 12 translated books during the year. This one I plan to meet quite easily. I hope not to just read Swedish crime fiction to meet this challenge, but that may very well happen.
Second, and more challengingly, I’m joining the 2013 Global Reading Challenge at the expert level. I plan on reading three books from each continent (and for Antarctica I plan on reading some historical fiction). My weak spots in my reading last year were fiction set in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.