SUN AND SHADOW BY AKE EDWARDSON
Sun and Shadow is the first in an excellent Swedish mystery series. Many of us had been reading the Kurt Wallander series by Henning Mankell over the past several years, but it was the series of three mystery novels by Stieg Larsson that really brought Swedish mystery writers to the attention of North American readers.
Written in 1999 the novel Sun and Shadow by Ake Edwardson begins just before Christmas of that year, as the turn of the last century approaches - with all of our needless concern about how the world would cope. The personal life of Erik Winter is going to change as well – he is about to turn 40 years of age, his romantic partner has just moved into his apartment, and he is soon to be a father for the first time.
Ake Edwardson has created a young detective inspector – stylish, intelligent – and almost ready to take on the role of faithful spouse and responsible father. His girlfriend, Angela, a doctor, is still working a demanding schedule at the local hospital. Erik’s must adjust when Angela moves into his apartment, inserting herself into space that was once his alone, and they begin to prepare for the birth of their first child. Erik loves her but it takes the length of the pregnancy for him to completely come to terms with his new role, and to embrace it wholeheartedly.
Meanwhile, of course, there is a murder case to be solved by Erik Winter and his colleagues. A very brutal murder, with a very strange presentation. I will say that I do not read murder mysteries that are too graphic or gruesome – and this one pushed that edge just a bit – but not enough to make me stop reading. I was caught by this novel right from the start and only slowed down toward the end because I was afraid of how it might resolve. There is some suspicion that this murderer might strike again and that it might affect a character the reader has come to care about.
Since this is the first in a series, we are introduced to Erik Winter’s family, including his parents who live in the South of Spain – near Marbella and Torremolinos. Erik Winter and his father have a somewhat strained relationship, but Erik takes a quick trip to visit his father when he becomes seriously ill. This time away gives Winter, and the reader, a break in the sun, and time to reflect on what is happening back in Sweden. Preparations are being made for Christmas, with some police officers eagerly anticipating time with their families while others are quite happy to be scheduled to work over Christmas and New Year’s.
We meet a cast of characters I hope to met again as I read the rest of this series. If I’d had the second in the series with me when I finished the first I’d have read on without a break – I expect to be spending some quality time with Erik Winter.