I have reached page 353 of Leif G.W. Persson's Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End, the story of a crime, and it is growing on me, although I have found it an uneven read.
I wondered at first whether this could be because of the translation by Paul Norlen, or the sometimes convoluted writing style of Professor Persson, but then decided it was simply because I enjoyed reading one of the two threads of the story much more than the other. Persson has such a very dark sense of humour, that I did feel a trifle guilty at times finding some of his material amusing.
The plot concerns the apparent suicide of an American journalist John Krassner, who probably jumped out of the 16th floor window of student accommodation in Stockholm. The story follows the two separate investigations of his past activities and his subsequent death alternating between two different timelines and threads. One investigation is run by SePo, the Secret Swedish State Police, whose operation is lead by Berg, and carried out by Waltin, who is a particularly unpleasant character.
He had spent the last thirty-six hours with Jeanette Eriksson, and they hadn't even set foot outside the door. With the exception of a few brief meals and a few hours' sleep, he had for the most part screwing her the entire time, and everything had gone according to plan. Women were naturally submissive.
The other investigation is lead by Lars Martin Johansson, head of the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who is a much more nuanced and subtle character.
It became clear when they sat down at the table in her small kitchen that he didn't need to worry about the food and drink that he hadn't brought with him. Excellent assortment of pickled herring, gravlax, and smoked eel, an excellent potato casserole with just the right creaminess, golden-brown meatballs, and little sausages that sizzled as the hostess lifted them out of the oven. There was lots of beer and wine besides.
She must be rich too, thought Johansson, loading up another spoonful of scrambled eggs with finely chopped fresh chives. Nice to look at and fun to talk with. Prepares food like Aunt Jenny herself, motherly as well, patient, and......probably wealthy.
I was a little surprised in view of the author's close connection with the police, he has served as a professor at Sweden's National Police Board and an adviser to the Swedish Ministry of Justice, that he describes in detail the bigoted attitudes of members of the police. After all he is an establishment figure in comparison to investigative journalists Stieg Larsson, and Anders Roslund and ex -criminal Borge Hellstrom who have written so interestingly about the abuse of state power by the police.
Perhaps the attitudes of cops are the same the world over, and it intrigues me when my local police contacts always refer to being "in THE job" creating an emotional wall between themselves, their families, and the rest of society.
The back cover blurbs are full of remarkable praise such as:
"One of the best Swedish crime novels of all time." Expressen
"This is a masterpiece." Il Sole 24 Ore
Is this deserved? The book is amusing in places, so far very cleverly plotted, and has some memorable characters and situations, but like many blockbusters it could have done with a bit of editing.
On to read the endgame now as there are still 200 pages to go, and I hope to finish before winter's end.