Friday, December 3, 2010
Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End
Before I read Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End I had been thinking of it as a book version of a Law and Order episode. It's the first of a planned trilogy of novels based on a true, unsolved crime, the 1986 assassination of Swedish prime minister Olaf Palme. The author, Leif GW Persson has been an adviser to the Swedish Ministry of Justice, is Sweden’s most renowned psychological profiler and is considered Sweden's foremost expert on crime. So maybe this was going to be the behind the headlines, what they know but can't tell kind of thing and after reading it I would know the real story.
Between starts out with the suicide of an American journalist in 1970's Stockholm. Apparent suicide because Good Cop Lars Johansson doesn't buy it. From this possible murder to the assassination takes more than just years. It takes a village: CIA operatives, code names, high ranking government officials, secret police, incompetent bureaucrats, the Cold War, bungling and the ever popular crime novel crew of social misfits. There is a lot going on in Between and there should be. Remember this is book one of three.
Is this a case of throw the spaghetti on the wall and see what sticks? Could be. The incredibly dense start and stop plot filled with complex back stories could all come together triumphantly in book two but what would keep you interested enough to find out? There is a great deal of amusing dark humor in Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End but the lack of any memorable characters among the thousands the authors offers up is the novels' downfall.
I had a lot of expectations for this novel. I loved the cover--it might be my favorite of 2010--and Persson won the 2010 prize for Best Swedish Crime Fiction a few weeks ago. That was for a different novel, The Dying Detective (yet to be published here) but it's the third time he's won this award so he can write. He does sell bobble-head dolls of himself on his website so there's a plus. Maybe I'll try another of his books but probably not the sequel to this one.